I want a Closer relationship w/ stepdaughter
I have been a stepmom for 12 years now since my stepdaughters were 2 and 4. I’ve been an active part in their lives and have always been good to them. I wish now that I had been more affectionate maybe we would've ended up being closer. But when they were little my husband and their mom fought a lot and the police were often involved and lots of court visits so when she claimed that I was trying to be their mom I backed off.
Now I do not feel like my older Step daughter and I are close. We enjoy each others company but I’ve noticed that she doesn't confide in me but prefers possibly to talk to her mother. I don't expect the same relationship just a better one than the one we have. She is quiet by nature but she started seeing a boy at school and didn't share anything with me and now that he broke up with her she still hasn't said anything we hear about it from her mom.
So she was sad yesterday and I was mean to her because she doesn’t help out around the house and expects us to do everything for her which my husband does but i was hurt and chose to handle it badly. She of course got upset and said she wanted to go to her mother's house. We went thru that for years, her not wanting to come over and crying for her mom. She is 14 and this did not stop til only a few years ago.
It was horrible and I will never get over that, the feeling that she did not want to be with us. I guess I am jealous of what she has with her overbearing mother, I do not have my own children. I have no idea how to make things better since I am not great at communicating when I am upset, I just end up crying and walking away.
What do you think? What can I do?
Thanks for your help
I’m a mother by marriage like you are.
I have a stepson and I bet I’d feel differently about a lot of things if I had s stepdaughter. You’ve got a lot of feelings tangled up in your heart and it’s very understandable. Let’s see what we can sort out to help you feel better about things.
First off, if you haven’t read “Get out of my life, but first could you take me and Cheryl to the Mall?” by Anthony Wolf, please rush somewhere and get yourself a copy ASAP. It’s great in so many ways;like he’s been living in our homes. Even though it's not about stepkids, he breaks the chapters into the issue and then a section about boys and a section about girls. He really gives a clear understanding of how to understand and connect with either or both in ways many of us (parents or not) just haven’t thought about.
When you read that, which I hope you will, you'll see he explains how teen girls need connection but don’t want to feel like babies about it. It’s a deep inner conflict which really annoys them BIG TIME and they unconsciously try to feel powerful and better by lashing out, usually, for girls, verbally. They can be connected and hot stuff. There are lots of ideas for you in this book and it can help you in many, many ways.
Secondly, I believe that you and many of us SMOMS are suffering from PTSD after years of high level, out of control, deeply painful and enraging experiences. It makes sense to me that you would feel a wave of old feelings when the same situation occurred recently. To me, this calls for a tremendous
dose of Lovingkindness towards yourself. I mean huge
does of patience, TLC, very tender self-talk and lots of loving support from family and friends who are willing to love and adore you through this.
Can you order some of that up ASAP? Since feelings don’t disappear until they are resolved, unprocessed (repressed, denied, suppressed, ignored) feelings sometimes leak out, pop out or overwhelm us when we least expect it.
You say you reacted and were mean to her.
Well, you can now model responsible actions by apologizing to her and telling her what was going on with you so that you leave nothing to her interpretation (which will be wrong).
Could you say something like this? “Honey, when you did X, I felt a wave of Y because of Z and I didn’t pause to think about it first, I just lashed out and I’m very sorry. I love you.”
These are just possible words to say things but it would be a powerful demonstration, versus a lecture, about how to handle it when we lose it. She is going to look for ways to handle things and if her mother is over-bearing she is likely to adopt that strategy unless she experiences other ways. She may STILL behave as her mom does but it will be mollified somewhat and recorded in her subconscious that there is more than one way to handle things. This is where SMOMS can be so helpful, even if they never get recognized for it. Make sense?
You have a right to your feelings. Really you do!
There's a lot of unprocessed pain here (or at least that’s my sense).
This is a chance to “recognize, acknowledge, FORGIVE and change.”
You’ve done your best and you seem very willing to self-reflect.
You can make some new choices to help yourself feel more honored and healed from the past AND you can begin to try new ways to communicate in ways that you are more and more comfortable doing.
These are all terrific options and qualities. GO YOU!!!
You CAN get over what happened to you and I encourage you to get some help in doing that for there are some serious emotional waters to navigate and a trusted guide will make the process so much faster and more rewarding. I know this from personal experience.
Your jealousy is also perfectly understandable. The good news here is that you're not without options going forward. You don't have to stay jealous. We can learn from our jealousies and find new ways to give ourselves what we really need (beneath the present form) so that we're not so impacted by the actions of specific others. (This is too big a topic for here but I wanted to put it out there to give you the hope and belief-hopefully-that this is possible.)
Please read that book asap.
Please be very, very gentle with yourself. It feels like there is a harshness about the way you judge yourself (like a parent?) and that’s not going to be helpful for you now. Stay as mindful as you can about your self-talk. Have you read my article about "Negative self-talk"?
Now's the time to give yourself
all kinds of emotional support so you can heal from the past and then move forward to create a new future, with new skills, new insights and a healed whole and open heart.
Ask yourself, "What do I need right now to feel a bit better?"
You can do this!
Your letter speaks to your ability and innate talents.
How does this resonate with you?
If you want to reply, please do so, via email or via the mailbox and we can continue this discussion together.
Thinking of you, Cathryn