13 answers

Issues with Adult Stepchild

My husband and I have been married 18 years and he has a 29 year old stepdaughter. Over the years we have had our ups and downs with the "step" relationship. Many of our problems with her were caused by issues with her mother. Anyway, she is married and has a two year old daughter. She lives about an hour away. Her husbands family and her mother and her family both live out of state. We are constantly extending invitations for them to come to have dinner with us or a visit or whatever. We want to spend time with them and see the baby. She can NEVER commit to anything and she almost always cancels. The last time she was here was in April. However, she is able to plan long weekends out of state with her other family members. She never seems to cancel those visits because the baby has the sniffles. We do not go to their house because my husband and I are both highly allergic to cats and they have 3 dogs and 4 cats. But, quite frankly, we are not invited there either or to even meet in the middle for lunch or at a park. I am disgusted by the whole thing and my husband is hurt, but he does not like to "rock the boat" with anyone. What scares me is I can see as she gets older she is getting more and more like her mother; inconsiderate of others feelings and selfish; and I am fairly certain this relationship has nowhere to go but in the toilet, because I cannot tolerate it. Then there will be problems at my house, because my husband won't want to hear it and will want me to suck it up! Any advice???????

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I have similar experiences from the daughter in law perspective (my sister is out of state), tho my inlaws aren't interested as you are...
have you tried asking to pick up the little girl and taking her out to lunch close by? or breakfast or dinner? I know it's a far drive, but if this relationship is important to you.. it's worth working at. You don't have to have the parents involved. THe more this happens the more comfortable they all will be and know you're serious about being in this childs life the more you'll see her and the more you'll be invited to watch her or take care of her when they are in need.. you could also (if you're in a financial position) to stay close by or to give them a gc for dinner or a movie along with the situlation that you watch the baby... good luck! xo

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Honestly, you need to butt out. This is your husband's daughter. If he is hurt by her actions then he needs to mend things with his daughter, not you. You are not making things any better by getting in the middle of their relationship and telling him it is going down the toilet. He is her father. He has to want to fix the relationship, as well as his daughter, to make it work. Don't try to get in the middle of this because it makes you look like the bad guy.

Also, please do not talk bad about this woman's mother. It only makes you look like a selfish, spoiled person out to bad mouth your husband's ex-wife. I am sure you do not really know her, you have only heard the bad side from your husband about his ex. Please do not make assumptions saying she is a bad person. This will make his daughter resent you.

I speak from experince as I am an older daughter (28) with a step-mom that likes to express her opinions without thinking. She has caused many a rift between my father and I in the past. I have learned to take all her words with a grain of salt. I also don't plan to spend much time with her one-on-one because of her personality.

1 mom found this helpful

I see so many families dealing with similar circumstances so don't feel you are the only ones.

On my side my sister-in-law and brother live less than five minutes from my mother. I live 16 hours away. My brother loves my mom dearly, but my sister-in-law is so hateful toward her and resents anything my brother does for our mother. She tries every chance she gets to exclude my mother from anything. I could go on and on, but it hurts my mother deeply that her daughter-in-law is so hateful. None of us can figure out what my mother has done to her. She's turning the grandkids against my mother as well. That cuts my mother deep. My brother won't do much of anything because their marriage is so unstable. So she has a emotional strangle hold on everyone and can do whatever hateful thing she wants because no one wants to challenge her and thus give her any fuel to use against us. It is a very sad situation.

Then on my husband's side we have a sister-in-law that does so much with her family on a regular basis, but I bet we don't see them but a handful of times a year. It is a major feat to get them to do anything with us. With her husband's immediate family and especially the extended family. My husband and I live one street over from them and you would think we lived miles away. We see them less than the neighbors. If you invite them over, they may or may not show up and they are sure to leave very early because they already have plans to do something with a neighbor or her family. My husband would love to move back to the other side of town to be closer to his mom/dad and other sisters if we could because it hurts him that he lives practically next door to his brother but never sees him. I could go on and on with that as well.

Basically we have learned that it is best not to say anything, insinuate anything, or do anything to make things better...because it always makes things worse. It is their choice to exclude us for whatever reason they are not sharing with us. It is their choice to disregard invitations or only show up for a token visit. It is their choice not to share anything about their lives with us. It is their choice to keep their children from developing relationships with us. We make the invitations and leave it at that. At no time will they ever be able to say we didn't try.

just be polite and keep trying to get them to visit. If they do, great. If they don't, they don't.

Maybe you could develop a friendship with a neighbor with kids and spoil them instead. Maybe join the Boys and Girls Club and pour your grandparent skills out on kids that don't have a good family.

1 mom found this helpful

In my 37 years I have come to point where I stop pussy footing around and just say it. Invite them to one more dinner this time add that you have noticed that she has canceled just about every dinner and would like to know should you continue to ask them over. Let her know that this hurts you and your husband and that you would love to see the child and just want to know where you guys fit in. Just be prepared for the answer.

There is nothing wrong with wanting the truth and it's time you get it. Yes every one is grown but being rude in not always a part of being grown. Just ask should you continue to ask them over if they are not going to show up.

I wish my in-laws would come to dinner but I have long let it go that they want and I have the closure I need.

Many blessings to you.

Honest opinion....everyone is grown up now and has their own life. While it may hurt not to have her apart of your life anymore she clearly isn't interested in being apart of it. Just let her go. You did all you could to include her.

Give her the space she needs. I've have and in some ways still are a lot like her. I am one of those people who if you continually push to do something with me or my kids I will go in the exact opposite direction. I feel like I am being cornered and forced to do something I might not want to do. Just let her go, if she invites you to something ( which may be rare if ever) thank her a LOT and do not ask to see her again or if you can do it again sometime. Thank her and walk away. I have found with myself and my family that if they just thank me when I invite and do not force themselves on me I will invite them again to something with me and the kids.

If you invite her to something expect her not to come and if she does thank her and say that your so excited that she could make it. Dont talk bad about ANYONE around her or with her. My MIL did this with me and it made me not want to have anything to do with her for awhile because she was such a negative person. I'm not saying that you do this, but something to think about thats all

Stepdaughter = mom was married previous to your husband's 1st marriage? Did I do that right?? Just curious, how long was your husband a father figure in this child's life when she was a child? 11 years? Just trying to figure out how prominent your husband was in her life as a child - was there another dad that competed for her attention?

And,when you say "WE"...does your husband physically make THOSE call or do you always make them? Don't get me wrong, I think it is commendable that you continue to try and have a relationship with her. And...it certainly sounds like going to her home is not an option. And your husband "rocking the boat" sounds like he would rather be done with this relationship because, if it was worth fighting for....he'd gallantly continue the fight! If he feels that he would still like to have this relationship in his life, then he's going to have to confront this and be the one who continually extends an offer and one day, it may stick. Offering to meet in a neutral location, even enticing her with a weekend get-away at a water park that her daughter would enjoy and so would your son...(not sure if she's an hour north but Gurnee has a new wonderful indoor water park.) At some time, your husband may just, bluntly, have to ask her the question, "What is it going to take for me to have a relationship with your family - I miss you - I love you and I want to get to know your lovely daughter and husband????" She's an adult now so comparing her to her mother is not totally fair and will not get you in her good graces. Since you haven't had a lot of contact with her, you don't know what stresses she has in her own home or what resentment she is carrying from her childhood. Don't get angry....just keep plugging away...get your husband more involved, instead of him trying to bury his head in the sand. Ask him to make more of the phone calls if he hasn't in the past. If she wasn't worth something to your family, it certainly wouldn't be as frustrating. Miracles can happen - I've seen many in my life. I hope that you are able to break through these barriers soon. Best of luck.

It sounds like they haven't that great of relationship ever and if it isn't her biological dad she may have some issues with it, no matter how great of a step-dad he has been to her. I would continue to show her love and support and to continue to invite her. That is all you can do. Pray that God changes her heart and softens it towards others so she is able to let them in. That's all you can do. If it is her biological Mom she is visiting, I wouldn't get so upset. It sounds like you aren't fond of the Mom and there is something that is underlying there for you. I challenge you to explore those feelings and start to come to terms with what will help the situation move forward and not blow up.

I would suggest writing a letter to tell her about your feelings. I would try to not make it negative. Start every sentence with. I feel, we feel, your father feels... Maybe if you express to her in a heartfelt way that you would like to be a part of her life, and more importantly her father would like to be a grandfather etc. I think she would be more responsive if you make the letter about your husband's feelings vs. your own and the concern you have for your husband and his feelings. Divorce,step-people situations are always hard and the resentment on all sides continues for a lifetime unless all people( mostly parents) are willing to take the blame for the effects divorce/remarriage issues has on children. Put yourself in her shoes. Why would she not want to involve you or your husband in her life? Has there been issues in the past(post divorce) involving you and her mother? Her mother and father?

You sound like such a kind person and you are setting a wonderful example for your own child to be open to all kinds of situations. I am thinking that perhaps you could find a 'substitute' family to visit with and enjoy, we have had to do that type of thing in our own lives when geographical distance or emotional distance has caused our relationships to temporarily dwindle. There are other families out there who are yearning for a connection also and you can find them in your church, or community activities. You may not get this relationship going, but perhaps there will be some other strong new connections.

I agree with Lyndsey. This is between your husband and stepdaughter. Speaking from experience if you start making accusations and corner your stepdaughter she probably won't have anything to do with either of you ever again.

hey kathy
first things first, you are no longer dealing with an 11 year old.she is an adult now, she is your STEPDAUGHTER not STEPCHILD, second try to refrain from saying " she's acting just like her mother". that in itself says that you have some underline issues with her mom and no one wants to hear you say that to them about their biological parent (if you've done that). It also sounds like she really don't care for you personally or it may be that she didn't care for the two of you getting together in the first place. This relationship (with stepdaughter) was probably doomed at the begining. A child of a divorcee goes through alot of mental and emotional turmoil and they do tend to act out even up until and through their adult life. and i know hubby just wants her to love you as he loves you and is understandably hurting at how his family seems separated.and you wanting to be LOVINGLY accepted and bring some peace to the family, I know it's hard and hurtful and you feel helpless and hopeless. try this, START OVER, REASTABLISH A NEW RELATIONSHIP with your stepdaughter. she's an adult now and should be dealt with as such, don't push. Tell her that you love her and learn to be ok with the decisions that she makes, still envite her over and EXPECT her not to show. youre going to have to give her the same love, pateince,tolerance and understanding that you give when working with others in the community. she'll eventually come around and be ready to talk about whats been bothering her ALL these years and you'll be able to hear her and respond in a loving and reassuring way.hang in there.

I have similar experiences from the daughter in law perspective (my sister is out of state), tho my inlaws aren't interested as you are...
have you tried asking to pick up the little girl and taking her out to lunch close by? or breakfast or dinner? I know it's a far drive, but if this relationship is important to you.. it's worth working at. You don't have to have the parents involved. THe more this happens the more comfortable they all will be and know you're serious about being in this childs life the more you'll see her and the more you'll be invited to watch her or take care of her when they are in need.. you could also (if you're in a financial position) to stay close by or to give them a gc for dinner or a movie along with the situlation that you watch the baby... good luck! xo

Deep breaths. I think you have a few options. One, only let your husband talk to his daughter. He does all the calling and inviting. Two, talk to his daughter and ask if you should keep on issuing invitations. Find out what the issue is. Three, keep reaching out and trying to see them. Let them know how much their visits mean to the both of you.

Stop viewing the daughter as her mother. I know you are frustrated, but "cannot tolerate" the situation? Really? I can "hear" the bitterness and resentment in your post. I wouldn't be surprised if that's what your step daughter hears when you talk to her. No wonder she doesn't want to come for a visit. Take a step back, calm down and then approach the subject. Good luck.

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