I really don't. I've tried. She is a mouthy, arrogant, entitled, lazy, immature 15 year old girl. I've only known her since she was 10 and my husband has a pretty minimal visitation schedule so I've not really had time to build a relationship with her. I do realize this is an awkward age and she is probably full of angst and is having a lot of emotional changes and stress in her life and I do try to be sympathetic, but that only goes so far. My husband knows how I feel about it and is actually sympathetic -- this isn't an evil stepmother syndrome. My perception of her appears to be pretty realistic as validated by a few other people.
There, I said it. Does this make me a horrible person?
Feel free to flame away. This is posted here because it is relatively anonymous and I would like opinions -- I don't want to make a big production of this issue with my friends/family for fear that they are going to think I am just awful. I feel some guilt about the whole situation, for sure, but I have no idea how to proceed in any direction besides just put up with her until she turns 18.
I was thinking about this thread and it jogged my memory back to, of all things, a pair of Looney Tunes characters that have proved pretty useful in my personal life.
It's about Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf. In the morning, they punch in on a time clock mounted on a tree, and for the rest of the day, Ralph tries to steal a sheep and Sam thwarts him at every turn. When the five o'clock whistle blows, they stop whatever they're doing and agree to pick up at the same spot the next day. Once they're off the clock, they sound like buddies.
Here's the link:
I said all of that to share a trick that has worked wonders in my family on more occasions than I can count. When I have been engaged in drawn-out battle with one of my kids, and there is no end in sight, I have sometimes suggested we call a temporary truce and go out to lunch or make a pizza or even just watch TV together. The argument isn't over, but we choose to take a break with the understanding that in four hours or whatever we decide, we'll pick up where we left off. Only thing is that this brief respite is sometimes just enough fresh air that neither of us is eager to resume with the same amount of vitriol and venom we had before.
I think our kids (bio, adopted, foster, step, whatever) sometimes get tired of being so angry and contentious, but they need help to come back. And we get tired of being on the other end of the tug-of-war rope, too. Taking a break is a way for everyone to chill and share a few minutes of connection over something non-threatening and maybe even a little bit fun. My kids used to love this "temporary" truce idea because it gave them a way to come down from the ledge without feeling like they were caving in. I felt the same way. You might still have thorny issues and serious matters to discuss, but a couple of hours of friendship can do a lot to take the sting out of the conversation.
This works with spouses, too.
Last edit by rn/writer on Jul 19, '10
Jul 19, '10
by Elvish, BSN, RN
I was a stepdaughter once too - my dad and stepmother got married when I was almost 10. And when I was about the age your stepdaughter is right now (maybe a little younger), our relationship went to hell in a handbasket.
Part of that was me doing stupid teenage stuff - I was a pill for my biological mother too - and some of it was her not realizing what she was doing. It was a hard, hard, slog, and it lasted off and on until after I was an adult. Things weren't completely normal until about three years ago.
We had to work it out - the two of us, independent of my dad, who wasn't really good at standing up to (or for) either one of us. As a teenager, I didn't care if she liked me...but I desperately wanted to know that she loved me. It smarted to see her treat her own kids differently than she treated me. My parents divorced when I was a preschooler, so I had/have little recollection of their ever being happy together - which probably helped, as I didn't feel like she was taking my mom's place.
And as an adult, I finally had to say (after several long, protracted, stupid fallings-out), "You all are welcome in my house, but your bullcrap is not." And after a few go-rounds of this, we have all grown up and learnt how to talk to each other as adults. Things are better, I'd even venture to say they're great, and we talk on a fairly regular basis.
You may not ever be 'good friends' with her, but with a bit of time and space you'll probably develop a cordial relationship with her. Good luck to you both.
Last edit by Elvish on Jul 26, '10