Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend’s Daughters Are Excluding Me From Father’s Day!”

“Mike” and I dated in high school, went our separate ways after graduation, and then thirty years later got back together. I moved back to where I grew up, and he insisted I move in with him. We love each other and have fun together.

He has two daughters, 25 and 23, whom he raised and who lived with him. Their mom was/is around, but for whatever reasons the girls wanted to live with their dad. We have had our ups and downs, but that’s life. I have four sons, all grown, who live far away so we don’t see them much. Life with adult girls is very different than what I’m used to and there is a lot of drama. The younger daughter seems resentful and has moved out after graduating (I truly thought she was happy with her life). The older one moved back in and has taken the princess role — she doesn’t help around the house or contribute, which is ok with her father so I have not spoken about it.

Last month, the younger one said she wanted to have a dinner this week for Father’s Day because she will be busy on the weekend. Mike told me about it and I was excited because we haven’t been out together in a while and I thought it would be nice. Last week I asked where we would be going, and Mike informed me that it was some place downtown so that the older daughter could meet us; I said, “Perfect.” Then I was told last night that the daughters do not want me to come. This has happened before — they told him it was for Father’s Day and they just want him there. If this had not happened before, I may have taken this news better; however, I was very hurt.

Mike told me this morning that he will inform his daughters that this will be the last time this happens and, if they invite him, it will include me. I guess I’m wondering if I’m crazy to feel hurt? I have worked very hard to be inclusive of these girls; I even helped the older daughter paint her room when she moved back in. When the younger one moved out, I helped her move into her new place and bought her a housewarming gift. I then found out that, without my prior knowledge, she took my tv and end tables when she left. I did not cause trouble, but I did let Mike know I was extremely disappointed.

Should I just gracefully bow out of any social events with the daughters? — Excluded By The Daughters

I’m curious what you consider “gracefully” bowing out of social events looks like? Because, so far, you haven’t been very graceful. You assumed you were included in a Father’s Day dinner that your boyfriend’s daughters invited him to. (A dinner they are likely paying for, so were you also expecting them to pay for you, too?) And then you caused enough stink about not being invited that Mike is going to go to that dinner and, rather than enjoy his special time with his daughters, he’s going to inform them that this will be the last time he ever does anything with them without his girlfriend also being invited. You will have ruined their dinner–and very possibly damaged their relationship.

It’s not like you weren’t invited to one of the daughters’ weddingshttp://dearwendy.com/my-brother-says-im-wrong-for-not-inviting-our-father-to-my-wedding/ (although I suspect that is a possibility in the future now!). It was dinner. A Father’s Day dinner. Not even a birthday dinner. It was a dinner to celebrate the relationship they share with their father — a relationship that literally doesn’t include you, or at least didn’t until very recently. It sounds like they’re still warming up to you, and, while helping them out a few times (painting a room, buying a housewarming gift) are kind gestures, it takes more than that to build a relationship. You aren’t there yet, clearly. And now you have a much smaller chance of getting there unless you immediately do some damage control (by apologizing for sabotaging the Father’s Day dinner and by explaining that your feelings were hurt for not being included, that you over-reacted, and that you regret it).

None of this is to say that the daughters aren’t without flaws. Of course, they could have been gracious and invited you to dinner, too. They could be warmer and more welcoming to you. They could not take your TV and furniture without asking first! But, you are the newcomer here to this relationship trio. As you said, “for whatever reason” (and you should probably know the reason…), they chose their father to live with growing up. Those reasons, and the fact that they had so much time with their dad, probably make them especially suspicious and jealous of women vying for their father’s attention. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to break into this circle, but I promise you that causing a big stink over their taking their dad out to dinner isn’t the best way to do it.

Sometimes in life we have to swallow our pride a little, for the greater good. The “greater good” here is maintaining a happy relationship between your boyfriend and his daughters and nurturing a friendly one between you and them. This is important on so many levels, but even if you want to be 100% selfish about it and only think of the level that affects you most directly: If you keep making your boyfriend choose between you and his daughters, a resentment will begin growing. It may not be enough for him to break up with you, but it will be there, gnawing away at your relationship, keeping it from being as strong and as happy as it could be.

Speaking up to your partner about his grown-ass daughter freeloading in the home you share with him — which, I wonder, do you financially contribute to? — is appropriate (though maybe not on the heels of your behavior this week). Throwing a tantrum that his daughters aren’t taking you out for Father’s Day isn’t. I hope you can see the difference, and I hope you act accordingly.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

59 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Amber June 16, 2016, 8:44 am

    WWS 100%. Father’s Day is about the father and they probably just wanted to spend the day with only him, especially since he’s in a relationship. Having him tell him that this is the last time that he attends without you is definitely not going to warm them up to you. If anything, it is going to cause a larger rift.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark June 16, 2016, 8:50 am

    Christ. Drama. Drama. Drama. You bitch endlessly about your stepdaughters by way of introduction — and the you bitch about them actually just wanting some alone time… Seriously. Fuck off already. No wonder the one moved out — which is TOTALLY FUCKING NORMAL. Adult children move out. Oh, and the crack about there being DRAMA is hilarious. As you are causing drama drama drama.

    PS… I see no signs of finanial contribution from this LW. Just a bunch of whining…

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray June 16, 2016, 9:59 am

      In response to whether she contributes or not, I have a suspicion the very first comment – that she moved in with because “he insisted” will be the excuse for a lot of things. Well he insisted. He knew I couldn’t contribute but he insisted. But I’m sure there will be a follow-up justification “but I do all the cleaning and cooking.” But, meh, I don’t even care. Whatever works for that relationship. But it’s obvious that the relationship with his daughters is not “there” yet…
      *
      So, LW, relax, do not throw a fit about this Father’s Day dinner, don’t let your boyfriend have that silly talk where he puts his foot down and refuses to attend anything that you’re not invited to (seriously, what do you think will happen after that? Nothing good), and let more time pass. I would bet it must be really, really difficult for a kid to all-of-a-sudden have another adult in the house – especially a teenager kid, who is figuring out who she is in the world and, just, my god, all the stuff teenagers go through, especially one who grew up living with just a dad and no mom in the house – so have some empathy, give it time, and don’t force it, starting with the Father’s Day dinner – sounds like a perfect time for them to have some probably much needed alone time with their father. Relax. Meet some friends out, a perfect opportunity! Or just stay home and eat whatever you want on the couch watching whatever you want…. sounds way more fun!

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray June 16, 2016, 10:05 am

        Also, sure, maybe the daughters are brats. LW may want to hear that. My advice doesn’t change. Kids are brats. Teenagers especially. And 20-somethings, too. Especially ones having to adjust and cope with family changes, like having a new mother figure in the house – one who sounds a little dramatic. Give it more time. Maybe as adults they’ll come to appreciate what a nice, calming, supportive, selfless role you’ve played in their lives…. provided you start playing a nice, calming, supportive, selfless role in their lives.

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      • avatar

        Chrissy June 16, 2016, 10:51 am

        This! Exactly!

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    • avatar

      Nicole June 16, 2016, 10:04 am

      Rude. 😛

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    • avatar

      Katmich15 June 16, 2016, 12:26 pm

      What BGM said! I was going to say basically the same thing but I can’t improve on this!

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  • call-me-hobo

    call-me-hobo June 16, 2016, 9:04 am

    LW, you sound like a real piece of work. In your second paragraph, you bad mouth younger daughter for moving out (after graduation- a totally normal thing) and bad mouth the older daughter for moving in, literally in the same sentence!

    I also notice that a timeline from your romance is missing; I have a sneaking suspicion it’s because you and Mike have progressed very quickly. The daughters might not have had time to adjust to your presence in their lives.

    (PS- Not exactly related, but one of my barometers on if I’ll get along with a new woman I meet is whether she says some version of “women are so much drama”. Nine time out of ten, the women who says that is the one who actually causes trouble, and then acts shocked when people are upset with her shitty behavior.)

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy June 16, 2016, 9:06 am

      So true about the woman who call other women “so much drama.” I’ve rarely heard a an even-tempered, laid-back woman say this.

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      • avatar

        Bcamber June 16, 2016, 9:49 am

        YES.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros June 16, 2016, 9:49 am

      It’s also interesting to me how stepmoms who write in pretty much exclusively have problems with stepdaughters, rarely stepsons. Feels like a little creepy jealousy sometimes.

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    • avatar

      jamie5015 June 16, 2016, 3:54 pm

      Yep… I know a few women who are always like “I can’t stand drama! I hate people who are DRAMA!” I’m just like… look around. The common denominator is *you.*

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  • avatar

    Kate June 16, 2016, 9:15 am

    I noticed the timeline thing was glossed over too. I noticed also that you say you and Mike “have fun together,” but you were so hard up for a night out with him that you had to get in on a Father’s Day dinner on a weeknight? Are you two not having regular weekend date nights, or even dinner together during the week? What’s going on there?

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph June 16, 2016, 9:21 am

    This line in particular stood out to me: “I was excited because we haven’t been out together in a while and I thought it would be nice”
    Maybe the reason they don’t want you to go is because of how you’ll make it all about you? As Wendy says, Father’s Day is about his relationship to his kids, its not about you.

    And your plan to never interact socially with them because they didn’t want to invite you to ONE dinner that was never about you anyways… it’s way overboard for the “slight” (if there even is one) that you experienced. And who are you punishing there, really? Probably not them, just yourself and your boyfriend. How old are you, 7?

    It sounds like this relationship moved way fast for them. I’d seriously consider moving out and slowing the relationship down. Get your own space, where his daughters can’t hang out and/or steal from you (btw, I can’t even imagine we got the whole story on that one) and where you can go to get some alone time (both to yourself and with your bf). Then work on being slowly/casually integrated into the family rather than forcing your way in.

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    • avatar

      Seriously? Seriously! June 16, 2016, 11:07 am

      I took the “we” in the “we haven’t been out together in a while and thought it would be nice” to mean “the two girls, dad and LW”, rather than just LW and “dad.” Not that it really matters for the overall issue, but just so we aren’t pigpiling on LW fo something she didn’t do wrong.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph June 16, 2016, 12:23 pm

        Ah, you may be right. I can totally read it that way now that you mention it.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 June 16, 2016, 9:26 am

    So this is a tough one, because there are two problems, you have the father that lets the daughters get away with anything, like not doing chores as adults, and just taking whatever they want without asking anybody, and then you have you who seems to think she is a lot nicer in this situation than she really is, you go on with life thinking that everything is ok in these girls lives, and that you should be functioning as a normal family does, but that’s not how it works. You have to learn to butt out of some things, and let them have a lone time with their father. You husband needs to have more discipline, but that is a lot harder from him since he is trying to balance his life and probably trying his hardest to keep his daughters happy since they had to deal with a divorce, and a new women who is demanding respect just for being there. It seems up to this point he has been more worried about keeping his daughters happy than keeping you happy, and that’s not such a bad thing.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros June 16, 2016, 9:47 am

    I feel like there’s a lot of, I don’t know, mixed messages here. It’s not unreasonable for his daughters to want to have dinner alone with him on Father’s Day or for other occasional outings. You note that you could bow out of “any” social event, which seems a little spiteful to me, because no one (at least how you described it) is asking you to not attend ANY social event, but just this particular one. The best call would be to not automatically invite yourself to EVERYTHING they do and if it’s something like Father’s Day or something else that might reasonable be more of father-daughter thing, then don’t decide you’re going unless you’re invited. Even when two parents are still married, they still try to have individual relationships with their children. I don’t really think it’s fair for him to say that you’re coming to everything they do. My stepmom doesn’t come to everything my dad and I do. Sometimes, she’s like, “OK, you guys go to lunch, and I’m having me time.”

    Also, are you meaning that his younger daughter is being resentful because she moved out? That’s generally the goal, for kids to move out after they graduate.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros June 16, 2016, 9:48 am

      Also, I will tell you that stepdaughters know when their stepmother doesn’t like them, so consider that might be part of why they don’t want you there.

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      • avatar

        Chrissy June 16, 2016, 11:26 am

        And vice versa.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros June 16, 2016, 11:40 am

        Yep.

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  • avatar

    Steph June 16, 2016, 10:00 am

    Everyone keeps saying “stepdaughters” and “stepmom” but the dad isn’t married to the LW. They’re only dating and living together…which makes her behavior much more appalling to me.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros June 16, 2016, 10:26 am

      Yeah, I realized that I made that mistake, but I can’t fix it. I just confused myself because I talked about my stepmom. 🙁

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    • Cleopatra Jones

      Cleopatra Jones June 16, 2016, 3:19 pm

      And she didn’t help raise the daughters so she is not their stepmother. She’s just the woman living with their dad.

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  • avatar

    Nina June 16, 2016, 10:19 am

    I’m agreeing with everybody here about the father and daughters spending time together. But the tv and furniture are bothering me. Did the LW demand her stuff back right when it happened? Did she only talk to her boyfriend about it and not say anything to the girl who took it? Did the boyfriend do anything about it? No matter if you hate your dads new girlfriend stealing her stuff is wrong. It doesn’t matter if she’s a bitch you can’t just steal stuff. If it was me at that time I would have became a bitch to demand my stuff back. If they weren’t giving it up and if he was okay with them stealing from me then there would be a problem. And if it happened that way I would see why the LW is bitchy but she only really mentions it a tiny bit at the end so I don’t know if she cared much or at that time she tried to be nice about it and forgive and forget.

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    • avatar

      Seriously? Seriously! June 16, 2016, 11:35 am

      See, I see the thing about the furniture/TV differently. For a lot of families, the dynamic of offspring using and “taking” things from the familial home never really changes, and there’s a good chance the younger daughter didn’t think of it as “taking” the LW’s “belongings.” For myself and my siblings, almost all of the furniture our first apartments after graduating from college was from my parents house (and ikea!). Sure, a lot of it was attic stuff, but my mom had no idea that my dad had told my sister she could take the coffee table from the den until she noticed it wasn’t there anymore when she offered it to me. (Her response was to laugh and tell me that I apparently couldn’t have it anymore because my sister claimed it first.) And maybe we sound like asshole entitled brats in describing this, but we weren’t thieves or sneaky, and we do fully respect my parents and their possessions; they just have always helped us in this way, and it has become a dynamic. One we greatly appreciate, but one we now expect. (In fact, I often won’t take something because I don’t want to have to treat it as nicely as I feel I have to when it is something given/taken from my parents.) Same with my husband’s parents, and a lot of my friends. And as we’ve become “real” adults with families and homes, we do the same thing — I’ve given my mother tons of kitchen gadgets out of my kitchen (and then replaced them) because she thinks they are cool; hair products, clothes, my parents got the surplus TVs when moving in with my BF.

      I recognize that this sounds weird to some people and it makes sense that the LW thinks of the furniture and TV as “hers”, but there’s a good chance that the daughter didn’t think of it like that at all; she thought of it as being part of the family home.

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      • avatar

        Seriously? Seriously! June 16, 2016, 11:48 am

        Also, our relationships with our parents have never been better. We are now in awe of how supportive, loving and generous our parents have always been and actively seek to return the kindness and generosity to them and our siblings– through thoughtful and meaningful “presents,” quality time and involving them in our lives, as well as hoping to be that kind of role model to our future children.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 16, 2016, 11:58 am

        Yeah, I took the furniture thing in completely the same way…

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      • avatar

        Ange June 16, 2016, 8:19 pm

        Yeah no, it can’t be both ways. If the relationship between LW and her boyfriend has moved as quick as some commenters say there’s no way the LW’s possessions should be considered fair game yet. The girls would know exactly what belonged to who and still took the belongings of someone they don’t consider family and don’t seem to particularly like, that’s bullshit. Unless the boyfriend gave them the green light behind LWs back that is straight up stealing.

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  • avatar

    saneinca June 16, 2016, 10:30 am

    The daughters are indeed brats. They are grown up women in their 20’s who are acting like teenagers. Since they had the focus of their father for long, they do seem to feel entitled and refuse to accept that their father has a right to live his life with a woman of his choice.

    I don’t believe the LW sounds anything bitchy. She wanted to be a part of their social circle which is not unreasonable. ( For example, if LW’s family is visiting and she excludes the daughter from a dinner she might be having with them, will everyone support her because the daughter had nothing to do with LW’s family ?)

    You all seem to think the LW had to win over the daughters like in a TV show or a movie. In real life, decent people act considerately about their parents partners.

    LW, do let this incident go. Girls occasionally want to have personal time with their father even if you had been the actual mother. But if you are moving towards marriage, your partner and you need to establish some rules for dealing with daughters. You and his daughters are both part of his family and you both need to be considerate towards each other in future.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray June 16, 2016, 10:48 am

      I must be easily swayed by comments because I’m reading yours now and thinking that’s a fair assessment of this. But what’s important here is our advice seems to be the same.

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    • avatar

      Not A Princess June 16, 2016, 11:00 am

      @saneinca, YES! This exactly! I read the article as the woman has gotten (back) together with an old bf, moved to his area, he invited her to live with him and therein threw her into the lives of his daughters. I’d like to know how long she’s been living with him, but it sounds like a while to me.

      LW, do let the father’s day thing go: it sounds like the man may have invited you without his daughters’ permission/knowledge (or you invited yourself). Either way, reasonable for the girls to have some time with daddy. Also, banish the princess concept. Daughter moves in and doesn’t help out? It’s childish but really isn’t her fault. Daughter 2 moves out and takes whatever she wants without asking? That’s more serious but again, not all her fault.

      The real issue here is that Daddy and involved Mom raised self-absorbed brats. Oh, and LW, you were 100% correct not to cause a scene when your furniture and tv (!) were taken without permission (i.e. stolen). Your fun boyfriend should have stepped up, stepped in, laid some ground rules for both daughters and been a f*cking parent.

      LW, talk to your fun-loving boyfriend because he needs to make some changes. Then move out: having fun will be much easier with your own space.

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      • avatar

        Not A Princess June 16, 2016, 11:02 am

        And when you move out, sweetly ask daughter2 to return your TV and tables.

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      • avatar

        Chrissy June 16, 2016, 11:23 am

        Exactly! The father needs to parent here!

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      • avatar

        for_cutie June 16, 2016, 11:28 am

        I agree with the beginning of the response here. The daughters don’t seem like they had the time they needed to get used to the relationship. All of the sudden they have a new roommate – you! No one wants to get to know a person by immediately having to share a kitchen or living room.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark June 16, 2016, 11:38 am

      Eh, you guys are all a bit off base here. This LW is a shack up honey who INVADED there home and has probably been causing drama from the start. And the furniture story is off. It fails to make much sense. I bet it was, more like… “See anything you want? Take it” And now that’s she’s mad — she’s all like, she took my end tables and my TV… It all just reads like total b.s. to me…

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    • Monkeysmommy

      Monkeysmommy June 16, 2016, 12:57 pm

      I am with you, Saneinca. I think all the dogpiling on LW is unnecessary and not at all helping her solve her issue. The daughters do seem like brats, sorry. They are mid-twenties acting like 13 and 14. It isn’t normal adult behavior to act as they are. She also says they have done this before, right?
      I also do not think it is fair to say the LW “isn’t family” but in the next breath say its okay foe the girl to take her things because it is from the family home… well, which is it?
      *
      At any rate, LW, you probably have to let this one go. You aren’t going to be getting an invite. Let them have father’s day. In the future, you’ll have to decide what is important to you and if you are going to take a stand or let it go. It isn’t something that I would tolerate for years, but maybe for now.

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      • avatar

        saneinca June 16, 2016, 1:55 pm

        Thanks guys. Looks like a lot of us agree on this issue.

        BGM, that is how relationships happen. Nobody invaded the girls house. The house belongs to the father and he has a right to have a relationship and a future with a partner of his choice. Just because he had kids does not mean he signed up to be a monk or forever be slave to his daughters opinion.

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  • avatar

    Miss Anne Thrope June 16, 2016, 10:38 am

    I actually disagree. From the LW’s letter, this is what I get:

    The LW and her boyfriend are grown adults. In the LW’s mind they are for all intents and purposes, holding themselves out to the public as a unit. Her bf supported her in this by at some point) trekking his daughters that they are a unit, and invitations go to both or none.

    The LW ahsand her bf are adults. His daughters are adults. I get the impression that the daughters are used to getting what they want from their dad (taking furniture that isn’t hers). LW is throwing a wrench in this.

    I think the LW, at the least, is communicating to her bf what she wants, and he’s reciprocating.

    PS- regarding Wendy’s “why is it always step-daughters and not sons? Maybe the stereotype is true, and the average woman is more passive-aggressive?

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    • avatar

      Ron June 16, 2016, 11:29 am

      And I think that is much of the problem. She isn’t a step-mother, she’s just the father’s live-in gf. I think she is freighting the daughters with her unhappiness that her relationship with their father isn’t more formalized. If she wants the girls to treat her as their father’s second wife, then he has to actually marry her. I don’t take this as evidence that the girls are bratty. It sounds as though their father had not objection at all about a fathers’ day dinner with just his daughters. He agreed to bring the issue up with his daughters, because his gf made a huge issue of this with him. It also isn’t clear whether the TV in question was brought into the house by gf when she moved in, or whether she just now sees this as her house and everything in the house as hers. If it is her TV, it also is unclear whether daughter just took it or whether father wrongly gave her permission to do so. If the father (presumably) as well as his LW gf helped this daughter to move, as she says she did, then it seems strange that the TV moved without their knowledge and at least tacit permission.

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  • avatar

    Chrissy June 16, 2016, 10:50 am

    So, I agree that she shouldn’t be invited to the dad’s dinner but I’m kind of shocked about some of the nasty stepmother comments here. I am a stepmother to two teens who were exclusively brought up by their father, for most of their lives, and a bio mom to one son. Parenting stepdaughters is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There’s often a lot of nastiness you encounter as a stepmother, no matter how hard you try because you’re expected to do all the mother things, but you’re also not allowed to discipline them at all, even if they are living full time in your house. Often adult and teen stepdaughters are VERY resentful of what they consider to be another woman stepping on their patch, and are abusive to them. Imagine every day being verbally disrespected and abused in your own home with no support every single day. That’s what a lot of women go through.
    I am lucky my husband supports me and when we get attitude we parent together, and generally our girls are pretty good. But you have no idea until you’re in this situation.
    Adult children should be contributing and not stealing furniture. It sounds like this woman has no support from her husband, and this was the final straw. Unfortunately she’s chosen the wrong thing to get annoyed about. She should not attend the lunch but instead talk to her husband about how best the household should run for all of the people who live there. I also suggest family counselling which worked great for us.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray June 16, 2016, 11:02 am

      All great points.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros June 16, 2016, 11:37 am

      I think this is a sensitive subject because it goes both ways. As a teenager and young adult, I liked my stepmom and acted really polite at her home, more so than I would have if it was just my dad’s home. In return, I was called “disgusting” and told that I was allowed to use the kitchen and emphasized that “it’s not my home, it’s hers.” (Which is true, but a little sad when you are a college student who no longer has a family home.) There are plenty of stepchildren who are rude, but there are plenty of stepparents who are too. I think it’s a person thing, not simply a stepdaughter thing.

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      • avatar

        saneinca June 16, 2016, 11:47 am

        Dino, I am sorry to hear that. I think your step mom was a brat and totally out of line. Parental relationship does not end just because parents may marry other people.

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        dinoceros June 16, 2016, 6:00 pm

        Thanks. And I agree with what Chrissy says below. I think blended families are such awkward situations that they can easily bring out a person’s worst qualities. Like a person who is somewhat selfish or paranoid but is normally fine can go a little bonkers in a situation where they have to share a family member with someone who is new to them.

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      • avatar

        Chrissy June 16, 2016, 12:55 pm

        Yup. There are a lot of bad step parents out there. Blended families are so difficult.

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      • avatar

        Ange June 16, 2016, 8:27 pm

        My father had a terrible girlfriend for years who refused to even let me in their house. At that point I would invite him for meals and not her because, well for obvious reasons. But before all the blow up I was really nice to her because I wanted my dad to be happy. I certainly never took stuff from their house and when I visited I helped out. She in turn would have rather died than help me paint a room. It cuts both ways.

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    • avatar

      saneinca June 16, 2016, 1:57 pm

      Chrissy, totally agree with you.

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  • avatar

    rebecca June 16, 2016, 11:43 am

    Long-time reader, first-time poster—coming out of lurkerdom because I feel so strongly about this! LW, I sympathize with the frustration you must feel, but having dealt with the challenges of blending a stepmother into the family when I was a teen girl, I promise you that private time is in fact what every relationship in your family needs to thrive. When you insist that you be included in everything your partner does with his children, I think you’re acting out of an understandable (and commendable!) desire to keep your family and partnership strong. However, you end up unintentionally doing the opposite—namely, contributing to a situation in which competition between you and his daughters dominates and destabilizes the family.

    Let their dad have alone time with them. Enjoy the night to yourself! Eat pizza! Drink wine! Watch a movie! Conversely, you should be enjoying private date nights with your partner. (If this isn’t happening, that is its own problem, and you absolutely deserve to have it addressed.) And, importantly, you should try to spend one-on-one time with the daughters. This doesn’t have to be high-stakes; in fact, it should be low-key: watch a TV show together, go out for a treat, ask them about their lives. (Helping paint the room and set up the new place are excellent signs that your instincts are already leading you in the right direction on this!)

    I urge you to listen to this fantastic Dear Sugar episode about stepmothering: http://www.wbur.org/news/2016/03/25/dear-sugar-episode-forty-eight. It contains empathy, perspective, and some fascinating sociological insights into differences between bonding in first and blended families. The key takeaway? Whereas first families thrive on group time, blended families thrive on dyadic (pair) bonding. In other words, in a blende family, each relationship has to be cultivated individually, and insisting that the group never split up is a big and unfortunately common mistake.

    There are, of course, caveats: nobody should be excluded entirely from important whole-group family events. However, speaking from my experience as a stepdaughter, I can tell you that every time you make the conscious choice to warmly encourage your partner to develop his relationship with his daughters, THEY WILL NOTICE (even if backlogs of resentment and life-stage-induced brattery means they don’t necessarily acknowledge it as gracefully as they should in the moment!) and it will pave the way toward the happy family you and your partner both want.

    Good luck!

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      rebecca June 16, 2016, 11:47 am

      Drat, the link was broken! Here’s the Dear Sugar episode (despite the title, it’s centered around and very sympathetic to the stepmother’s perspective):

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray June 16, 2016, 11:59 am

      Loved your post! So insightful, and likely very helpful and effective for this LW. You should comment more, I decided.

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        rebecca June 16, 2016, 12:25 pm

        Addie Pray, as one of your (presumably many) lurking fangirls, thank you so much! That means a lot. And since I think it’s a DW rule that what AP decides Must (Or At Least Should) Be, I guess I have no choice but to start commenting!

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray June 16, 2016, 12:40 pm

        i like this rebecca girl, guys. nay, LOVE

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  • FireStar

    Firestar June 16, 2016, 12:26 pm

    It’s Father’s Day for the love of all things holy. THIS is the hill you are going to make your last stand on? Why can’t the girls have alone time with their dad? Why must you be included all the time? Because you love and miss them? Because you are dying to spend time with them? Please. You had lives before getting together with each other. Being married – or in your case living together – doesn’t automatically mean you have to be front and center in everything the other person does. His friend inviting him to a BBQ with couples and leaving you out – sure – you should be included. His daughters taking him out to catch up or FOR FATHER’S DAY – no – it has nothing to do with you. What exactly is your beef? Being a unit doesn’t mean being conjoined. And your solution is to throw a hissy fit so the father tells his girls you have to come all the time now. Your goal is what? Division in the family? Making the girls dislike you? Staking your claim? Why don’t you just pee on him and have done? You are so worried about others showing you respect (as opposed to earning some) but how about YOU show some… To your partner? How about you act like a grown woman who WANTS her partner happy and having a successful relationship with his children…even if that means you have the house to yourself for an occasional night. Then, when you talk to him about legitimate complaints like shared housework and respect for your property it will actually mean something.

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    Sketchee June 16, 2016, 1:02 pm

    Isn’t this one of the Geek Social Fallacies? That everyone must be included in everything and that one on one relationships are Not Okay? The daughters definitely should expect some occasions together. Heck if it were a married man and his wife was the mother of his kids, one on one bonding would be completely expected and healthy.

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      Ron June 16, 2016, 2:22 pm

      I think it’s more that her gripes are with her bf. She wants to go with bfs/his daughters on fathers’ day, because she and bf never go out together? So… the problem is bf never takes her out to dinner/entertainment. She wants to press this issue of furniture, etc, because she is living in a house, which isn’t part hers, and living with a bf, who doesn’t want to marry her, and living in a pseudo-family, where she doesn’t feel she gets enough support from her bf. She complains excessively about both daughters, but her true beef seems to be with her bf. She seems to be ‘caught’ having moved in, with none of the dates and wooing of being a gf, is probably the guy’s housekeeper with little help from the daughters, has to relate to daughters as best she can in her ill-defined status. She is as settled as a wife of an older guy (not older than her, but apparently damned near sedentary in his habits) without the security or status of actually being his wife. She is unhappy with her lot and she needs to move out and get her own place. That is really the only way her bf is going to think hard and decide how he wants the domestic side of his life to be.

      It’s a tough situation for the daughters and who knows how dad has explained the situation to them. Youngest daughter bailed as soon as she could. Oldest daughter seemingly is back by necessity. I suspect she’ll be gone as soon as she can make it happen. I think LW and the daughters’ basic conflict is whose house it is. They see it as no longer their family home and blame LW for that. LW sees it as not her home and blame the daughters for it. It’s really entirely the dad’s house and he has to make all those whom he wants to live there feel comfortable and that it is their home, even though he owns it. He seems to sway this way and that, depending upon whose asking him most recently. It is up to him to set the tone.

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    AndSoItGoes June 16, 2016, 1:39 pm

    The daughters seem to be entitled. The LW seems to be overreacting to the Father’s Day dinner exclusion. But it is very difficult to know much without having a sense of what role the BF/father has taken as the center of these relationships.

    Telling the daughters, for example, that the LW must be invited to all future events is not the way to engender harmony. Everyone involved has a responsibility to put some effort into demonstrating at least a basic level of politeness and respect, but when it’s not working, it’s largely the BF/father that needs to massage this thing and, if necessary, set some boundaries.

    If the daughters are disrespectful, he needs to speak up. If the daughters are feeling neglected, he needs to speak up. If the LW is being presumptuous, he needs to speak up. It may well be that all the women in his life need a bit of assurance that he loves them and remains invested in his relationships with them.

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    Brise June 16, 2016, 2:23 pm

    In total agreement with Wendy. I am also concerned about the LW’s four sons whom she doesn’t see. Is this relationship really worth this distance with your own family? You should nurture your connection with your own children. Do visit your sons. It will make you happier, and give some room to your BF’s daughters.

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    wobster109 June 16, 2016, 5:10 pm

    I’m sympathetic to LW here. It sounds like “Mike” told her about the dinner and made it sound like she would be included. LW got excited, then realized she wouldn’t be included, and she was disappointed. I’m wondering what Mike said. Was it “I’m so sorry, I misunderstood what the girls meant”? Probably it was more like “the girls don’t want you there”.

    LW, let the dinner thing go. Go out with Mike another night. But. . . he should talk to the younger daughter and get your furniture back. He’s the father she knows and loves, so he should be the one to talk to them. I think he’s being spineless and not treating you with basic decency to let anyone, including his daughters, steal from you.

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