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Thread: Relationship with stepmother ruining one with dad

  1. #21
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    From what you've written the stepmom sounds like a pretty decent person who does come with same jagged edges and issues. However, your dad seems like the perfect laid back mate. They are sort of the ying and the yang to each other. Them helping you financially is rather impressive generosity on her part. She could have easily blocked that and would have been well within rights to do so.

    So, I think you need to take a step back and chill out. Yes, this woman is OCD, but maybe try to understand that her issues with that are not personal to you. She will be like that with absolutely everyone ever. It's one of her downsides, but one you can easily step away from or step around. If exact placement of cutlery makes her break out into hives, then just leave her to handle cutlery. If you can wrap your mind around the fact that her behavior is not really personal to you, you'll find that you don't feel so much tension around her.

    Ditto for any episodes in public. She pitches a fit, yes, your perfect response is "sorry you feel that way....shall we have some pie?" Let it go and leave her to calm down. Pick your battles and again, this is her personal battle not yours. When you are choosing to step in and then take her frazzled reaction personally, you are in effect causing a fight. Unfair to then want your dad to step into that and protect you or choose sides. Not his battle to begin with.

    As for having different views regarding religion, politics, etc. - welcome to every family ever. Again, you can choose to fight or you can choose to smile, nod, and change the topic to something more pleasant and neutral. Up to you. Consider also respecting other people's choices. You might be an atheist and that's fine. Your refusal to go to your dad's baptism...was rude and she was right to be upset about it. Nobody asked you to get baptized or change your beliefs, only to attend a ceremony that your dad thought was important to him and his future wife. In other words support him. Would it really have harmed you to show up? Whether you realize it or not, you are picking conflict and might want to give that some thought.

    Work on the concept of live and let live, tolerance and also respect. It will save you a lot of grief.

  2. #22
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    When you are choosing to step in and then take her frazzled reaction
    It is true, you don't have to react to her. I know, easier said than done. But you can choose to not react to her and not take her personally.

    She sounds like she has her own set of issues she's struggling with and you can do your best to not let her issues affect you so badly.

  3. #23
    Platinum Member Cherylyn's Avatar
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    I agree with others regarding 1:1 time with your dad and brief home visits. Bow out and make your exit before there's a chance of a brewing fight and escalation.

    Nothing in life is truly 'free.' The fact that she helped you buy your home will always make you feel indebted and obliged. Your stepmother holds the power in the relationship. This is why there's the age old adage of never mixing business with family and friends. It never mixes. This is why it's easier to do business with strangers because there are no strings attached, it's strictly just a straightforward business transaction and you never have to cross paths with them again. With family or friends, it's different when it comes to money. If you are indebted, you'll feel beholden as long as you haven't repaid her monetarily and if she saved you interest, then the power in the relationship is still not in your favor nor equal.

    My father taught me: "Owe nobody nothing."

    I never put stock into people's 'lovely streak' if I have to endure their intolerable dark side. That type of package is a real deal breaker. Jekkyl 'n Hyde behavior is too high maintenance IMHO.

    Be strong and tough. Enforce healthy boundaries. You need a 'true grit' mindset and then your self esteem and self confidence will soar.

    Regarding your stepmother's outbursts, I've found that people tend to exercise more self control if you're out in public together such as a restaurant or anytime you're surrounded by strangers. I've noticed this with some of my relatives and in-laws. Those 1:1 private conversations whether in person, on the phone or electronic correspondence (texts / emails /messages) are awfully risky! People tend to behave better whenever there are a lot of witnesses abound or so I've noticed. People tend to be more self-conscious and practice self control whenever you're not in the comfort and privacy of a home. This means you will feel safer.

    I've noticed whenever I'm next to my husband and sons especially in public, there is no 'funny business' hurled at my direction from anybody. No one wants to feel embarrassed in front of a public audience so everyone tends to be on their best behavior. You ought to try a different tack for your own protection.

  4. #24
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Why did you need financial help from her?
    Originally Posted by Jay98
    she helped us buy our home

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  6. #25
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SherrySher
    Honestly? I'd be more upset that my Dad did not care or didn't bother to tell his wife to smarten up if I were you.

    I think you're upset at the wrong person.
    Nah, adults are beyond the point of trying to manipulate one person into controlling another. You get to pick how much time you're willing to spend with this woman, and you get to decide how to deal with her when you do see her.

    It helps to stop viewing your Dad and stepmom's home as your own. That lets go of the 'child' lens that emotionally seeks protection from a parent. That's not useful for adults who have grown to an equal adult level with their parents.

    I'd invite Dad to spend one-on-one time with you as often as possible. There will be times when he turns you down, but as long as you respect that and keep offering those options, you'll likely get to enjoy his company sometimes with her--sometimes without her. I'd play 'stupid and cheerful' whenever she acts out. That means her words can't penetrate because you fein a misunderstanding of them. You either overlook them, changing the subject, or you remark how kind she is, or what a great sense of humor she has as you roll past the point of her comments.

    Don't internalize someone who behaves obnoxiously--it's a reflection on them, not you. Make private jokes about her with your husband later, but don't take any bait at the moment, and you'll earn pride in your own self control.

    Head high, and enjoy Dad whenever you can. Let stepmom enjoy her own dramas without feeding the beast.

  7. #26
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    No one said anything about manipulating or controlling. But if someone was being a jerk to my kid, my partner or not, I'd say something. I wouldn't watch it and let it go on.

    I don't care how old you are, you still have a certain amount of responsibility as a parent.

  8. #27
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SherrySher
    No one said anything about manipulating or controlling. But if someone was being a jerk to my kid, my partner or not, I'd say something. I wouldn't watch it and let it go on.

    I don't care how old you are, you still have a certain amount of responsibility as a parent.
    We can view it that way for ourselves, but assigning 'shoulds' to anyone else is an exercise in frustration. It sets us up for an unsolvable equation. We don't get to control the level of responsibility alone else takes, but when we're willing to take on our own interactions as our OWN responsibility, that's where we DO have control.

    The same Dad who's always allowed his flakey wife to run over him isn't going to suddenly step up and grow a pair today. So if the goal is to navigate yourself through a dicey relationship with another adult, then 'self' is the key word.

  9. #28
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    This is why on a forum we all have different opinions and OP gets to pick and choose which works best for them. :)

    I personally feel that the Dad does have a certain amount of responsibility in speaking to his wife on not treating his daughter so badly.

    But yes, this man hasn't exactly done much in the past so at this point, it does look more like, OP has to decide on how to deal with it personally, which is why I said that she should try her best not to react to the stepmoms fits.

    It is a shame the Dad doesn't say something though.

  10. #29
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    Have you ever head of the term "religiosity"?

    A lot of disturbed people resort to quasi-religious rituals in an attempt to calm themselves.

    Your MIL sounds disturbed to me.

    You issue is in taking it personally. Plus, you want your family back -- your father.

    Well, even if she were out of the picture you still have to grow apart from your father. That is the way of things.

  11. #30
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    OP followed up with the fact that the MIL is diagnosed bipolar. OP needs to learn to step back and stop taking her behavior personally or trying to pick fights. It's really that simple.

    If her dad is good with this dynamic and this relationship, that's his business and instead of judging him as a doormat or whatever, she needs to respect him and who he is in addition to loving him. A big part of love is accepting the person you love for who they are, not who you want them to be. OP being constantly combative and making everything about herself is not conducive to healthy relationships with anyone. There is also plenty of literature online where she can get educated more about bipolar illness and also how to interact with a family member who has it. It would go a long ways toward better relations all around.

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