I’ve been living with my partner for 2 1/2 years now – I have 2 step daughters. We started off when i first moved in – the girls seemed to really like me and we had some good times together. Since then i have come to realize that they are both quite spoilt. I try to discipline them and because they aren’t used to it – this develops a negative reaction. The girls come from quite a wealthy background and I do not. I had a fairly normal upbringing and had to earn treats. The youngest daughter has terrible eating habits and for a year now i have tried to teach her to eat better only to see her leave back to her biological Mothers (of whom they live with for 80% of the time and return to her terrible eating habits (food even falls out of her mouth when she eats)
My other step daughter is a real madam – she is older and very clever. She listens to our every conversation and goes back to her Mother to report on us. And then the Mother phones and moans at my partner about certain things. It really is a nightmare.
My partner is a very good father – we are trying for a baby ourselves – but he is far too soft with the girls and their mother. I feel like i am fighting a battle that I will never ever win and quite frankly tired of feeling so unhappy. I love my partner dearly but dread the girls coming to stay for their weekends with us. We have them every other weekend. I am absolutely dreading Xmas.
What should i do? I don’t want to leave but do I have any other option?
If you could offer me any form of advice I would be so so grateful.
First thing I want to do is to let you know that I understand what you’re saying about how upsetting it is to be living in a house that you are not feeling you have control over. Growing us, so many of were told, “when you get older and have a home of your own, YOU can make the rules.” Most of us bought that idea and looked forward to that time.
Well fast forward to our present, we’ve fallen in love, have moved into a home where we are now the lady of the house and without realizing it…BAM! All those emotions which were shoved in our unconscious as children come to the surface.
“We get to be in charge.” Yay!
“We get to make the rules!” Yahoo!
“Any children in the house, have to do what we say, like we had to do what the adults in our home said.” WRONG!
This is where so much rage and anger can flow out of us at surprising times and with unexpected intensity. Is any of this making sense for you?
If this feels like something that may be true for you, then the first thing to do is to honor the feelings that are within you. The energy is real. The hopes were valid. People told us something to keep us quiet at the time and we believed them by investing in the future truth. Sadly for many stepmums, we are NOT in charge of all the things that go on in our own homes. This is infuriating. Honoring and validating this reality is very free-ing and will ease some of the inner turmoil.
Once you’ve acknowledged your feelings and honored and hopefully released some of the energy, it’s time to get to work on differentiating between what we can and can’t control/influence. This is the Serenity Prayer in action. You may have seen that our first group (in 2000) wrote our own SMOM version of this prayer.
In your situation, what can you control? Hmmmm?
What food you serve at meals?
What manners you would like to see observed?
Asking/telling your beloved what manners you would like him to uphold at your table? In your home?
What kind of language/behavior that directly affect you is OK and no OK from your stepkids?
Setting consequences for them not observing your rules when indirectly interacting with you?
Efforts made to keep your conversations with your beloved private?
What you do and do NOT give your attention to? (Sometimes choosing to NOT paying attention to things is much harder than doing something.)
What are some things you can’t control? (There are so many)
What they do at their bio-moms.
What they tell her about their life with you, your activities at your home, etc.
How they feel about you.
How your beloved chooses to respond to the actions of his kids. (This is a tough one to accept. We can try to control him but this doesn’t lead down a very happy path. More on this in my next smommentary.)
These are some frustrating out of control things, aren’t they?
Especially if your beloved has a different parenting style.
Gaining more insight into the urge to control can also be helpful. I’ve written 3 articles about this to help us understand the underlying motivations and clues in this urge and to learn how we can best help ourselves without negatively impacting others. No matter how effective controlling seems, it doesn’t work in the long run, it is NEVER loving or respectful of the freedoms of others and there are wiser ways to create boundaries that we can enforce.
If you haven’t yet read my post about “The Stop trying Plan” that might be something to consider. As you are at the early stages of your lives together, this may be a time to make some new boundaries, not only with what you do for and with them but how and what you think and care about inside your own mind and heart.
This is a huge issue.
You’re right. This can be a living nightmare when we feel like we are living in a home that we are not in control of. It’s like the issues grind up against our most raw emotional wounds and we can’t figure out how to stop the pain without losing the man we love. Being in this situation is going to bring up every un-healed emotional wound from our childhoods and it is going to challenge ever belief and “rule of behavior” that’s we’ve been taught or tortured by in our lives. I can’t explain why.
I can tell you that I believe we all have the ability to heal, grow and become wise from our situations IF we want to make that grand, difficult and courageous choice. The good news in all of this, if you can call it good, is that there are many lessons to be learned, wounds to be healed, false beliefs to be uncovered and insights to be gleaned from interacting with your beloved and his daughters. Because you love him, this is going to make the challenge even greater as you’ve become vulnerable and open to him…this exposes you even more.
Please take a look at the other letters, the smommentaries and my article about relationships as there is a lot of material to sift and sort through. I hope you will join our bulletin board forum so you can chat with other women in our situation.
Happy Christmas to you too!