My stepkids are all grown and on their own, but my one stepdaughter lives in our rental property right next door. She comes over to do her laundry, use our Wifi, get band-aids, etc. Well, recently we had to get a new router and, of course, a new password. My stepdaughters were over (on different days) and they commented that they couldn’t get on Wifi. My husband told them to ask me, but of course they wouldn’t do that. After his conversation with them, he got very defensive of them and mad at me. I won’t just give them the password, but if they asked I would put it in their electronic devices. He says I make them feel unwelcome.
I’ve given and given to the kids — provided insurance, gone to every concert, etc. I decided I was stressed and didn’t attend my stepdaughter’s senior awards night. Boy, did I hear about it. Yet my other stepdaughter had an awards night this past spring and her mom didn’t show up. Did her mom get attacked? Criticized? Chewed up? Nope. My stepdaughter didn’t want to hurt her mom’s feelings — and yet I get yelled at.
I’m tired of the lack of respect.
I’ve read that stepkids often displace their anger and hurt onto the stepparent, but then when the stepparent doesn’t feel supported by her spouse either, it really makes things difficult. I don’t care to be around my stepkids. My husband has said that he’s worried about my relationship with them, but he’s done nothing to encourage it — quite the opposite. Suggestions? – Not an Evil Stepmother
I feel your resentment loud and clear. I’m sure your stepkids do, too. My God, do you sound petty. Your stepdaughter used your lotion and rather than saying, “Hey, I noticed you used my lotion. It’s ok if you use my things occasionally, but I need you to show respect by asking first,” you write her a note?! Did you fold it in the shape of a diamond and pass it to her in the hallway, too? That’s just so…passive-aggressive and juvenile. Come on, you’re a grown woman. Your teenage daughter had an awards night at school, and you decided you were “too stressed” to go? Wow, that was really shitty of you. It was a special night. You made it about you because you feel you don’t get enough appreciation and validation from your stepchildren. It’s ok to feel the way you do — probably even justified — but to use a kid’s special night to express those feelings is incredibly immature and mean-spirited. That your stepdaughters’ mother skipped an awards night doesn’t make it right for you to do it, too. Imagine how they both both feel that both of their mother-figures have better things to do than to celebrate an important night for them. It’s stuff like that that will make a teenager act out. If you can’t get positive attention for achievements and good behavior, maybe you can get attention for bad behavior… (almost sounds like a page out of your book).
Come on, grow up. You want more respect and appreciation? Fucking ask for it then. Tell your husband and tell his kids that you are feeling taken for granted and unappreciated and that your feelings are hurt. Don’t write stupid, petty little notes when they use your lotion. Are you feeling like the adult stepkids need to stop using your laundry, Wifi, and medicine cabinet as their personal drugstore? I totally get that! Speak up, then — assert yourself! Tell your husband you want better boundaries. Maybe there are certain times of the day or week for which you can agree that the kids can come over and do laundry, or maybe you don’t want them doing laundry at your home at all. You are allowed to express that — first to your husband, and then, if you can agree on boundaries, express those boundaries clearly, together, to the step-kids. If they’ve always used the Wifi at your place and then you change the password, the onus in kind of on you to tell them that. To change it and NOT tell them it’s changed when you know damn well they’re trying to get online is basically the same as saying, “Nanny, nanny, boo, boo!”
You want to know why you aren’t being supported by your spouse? Because you’re acting like a child. I wouldn’t support a spouse who acted so petty with my kids, either. Get it together and stop being passive. Tell your husband how you’re feeling, tell him you need his support, tell your stepkids you need their respect – their respect of your privacy, of your personal belongings, and of the time and love you’ve invested in them. And, in turn, you need to respect them. Respect that they are people, too — they have feelings that get hurt, they can feel under-appreciated and undervalued, and they want love and support, too. When you treat them with obvious disdain, and blow off their special occasions because you’re feeling vengeful, it hurts them. Acknowledge that you’ve been wrong, apologize for the hurt feelings you’ve caused, and express — in a loving and gentle way — where they have fallen short with you, and I really think these relationships can be salvaged and can grow. But if that’s not what you want, well, that’s a topic you need to have with a shrink and probably your husband right before he files for divorce. I can’t imagine staying married to someone who resents my kids as much as you seem to resent your husband’s and who has no interest in maintaining a good relationship with them.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.