C-What to do when bio-mom turns my stepdaughter against me? (9/16)
What to do when Bio mom hates me and starts turning step daughter away from me?
I’ve been with my husband for 8 years since my SD was 5 years old and I had no kids prior. My relationship with SD, growing up had been fine but her bio-mom has found ways to not like me. Whether I tried getting SD to spend more time with us and it being said I shouldn’t do that to a child who already has to choose things or us taking our kids somewhere when SD was busy with her bio-mom but yet turning into I love my kids more than SD.
Now that SD is older she is turning exactly into her mother and listening to all negative things about me. And my SD too is at that age where she is a girl and breaking into the teenage years of bullies and boys and everything else. There are times where maybe I have said things out of context like she mentioned something about her mom and I replied well I’m not her and I admit it was a wrong answer. But there was a time I made a comment about her hair and I didn’t mean anything bad I was just wondering what happened, but like her mom it turned into me saying her hair was ugly.
Just so many things I say and do gets warbled and now it has gone too far. Recently my SD was crying to our family that she wanted to spend more time with her dad. I talked to her and I told her if she felt so strongly she needs to talk to him since she is already old enough. The next day was Father’s Day. Instead of spending the day with her dad she left. But before she left, I told her if she really wanted that time with her dad she shouldn’t leave.
She left anyway and later called us to pick her up. When we did she was in a mood. Obvious she said something to her mom and again it backfired on me. My SD started telling relatives that I’m not letting her spend time with her dad. And again I talked to her and asked if I did something for her to feel this way.
Here’s what she said, “Well I can’t talk to you because I know how you are…the way my mom doesn’t like you.”
I just said I’m sorry my actions couldn’t show her more than the words her mom says. Days passed and I tried calling her to check on her. She called me back but had me on speaker phone with her mom. Long story short her mom and I argued and now SD is only allowed to spend time with her brothers and my husband but I am forbidden to talk to her or see her.
The only way I could see her is if someone else is there. I’m so hurt and angry that this woman makes me feel like an evil step mother. It makes me question myself as a parent in general.
What do I do? I’ve tried being civil. I’ve tried talking to everyone, but I’ll always be the most hated step mother.
Dear Sister Stepmom, First of all big giant cyber hugs coming your way. It can be so crazy-making to be trying so hard and feel like the very effort is then being blamed for the painful results coming from others. I’m really sorry for the pain you’re in now.
Let’s see what I can offer you here to support your new stance going forward. These thoughts are in no order of importance.
Let’s start with your last line. It’s very hurtful for you to make that statement or even to imagine this is true. Teenage stepdaughters seem to have the deepest sharpest (most deep? most sharp?) verbal daggers for us Stepmoms. It makes sense that you’re hurt by this situation. Can you pivot away from this option and instead start saying soothing nice things to yourself? Doing this will make this healing process much less painful for you.
One way you can help yourself is to do your best to stay in the present situation and avoid catastrophizing. I see that you joined our group at a Guest (welcome). Because you are a Guest you can access this article when logged into the site. The article is called, “The Pros and Con’s of Catastrophizing.” Here’s this link Catastrophizing article
About you being banned from contact with your SD unless upervised…Since I only know what you’ve written above, I’m unsure how an argument over the phone could bring about such a restriction. That is very harsh. It sounds like you have a seriously hostile bio-mom in your life and we know how excruciating this can be. There may be another way to look at this situation—what if not being around her is a good thing for you at this time?
It feels like she and her bio-mom have been using you as a rage target. Bio-mom may even be using anything you say or about you to try to bond with her daughter. This is very common and sad. It feels clear to me that you’re trying to be a good influence in your SD’s life but that the SD and bio-mom are using your own efforts against you. NOT giving them material to use is about getting good at being a “Non-Reactive Warrior.”
Yes, in many ways, this is an emotional behavioral war and your SD is in the middle of it, fanning the fires consciously and unconsciously.
Because you’re a member, please review the many articles about dealing with hostile bio-moms. If you haven’t seen it yet, we have a Forum devoted to this topic. I’ve written several essays and articles about how to best protect yourself and claim you own power in these situations.
When we Stepmoms have entered our stepkids lives when their little, we’ve usually grown to love them and want to be included in their parenting inner circle. IF the bio-mom doesn’t want us there ANYTHING we do or say can get turned into a problem, a loyalty war issue for our stepkids and a problem for our partner—who can feel trapped in between.
As you find ways to take your attention away from her, focus it on your sons (sound like you had at least 2 after marrying you DH?) and give your attention to other areas of your life—for now.
Yes, being excluded, left out, ignore, disregarded and unfairly treated is likely to bring up a LOT of emotions for you—for most of us. Can you use this time to help yourself? Can you think about how what you’re feeling now how it is reminding you of how you felt as a teen? It would be a great time to work with a therapist who understands how present events can trigger past feelings. (Reading Dr. Alice Miller’s book “Drama of the gifted Child” is also an option but I have feedback that it’s a bit too heavy for many.)
What if you looked at this situation as a chance to turn your attention to yourself, help yourself heal, become wiser, claim more of your power? What you’re likely to find, if you choose to do this is—that your SD comes to you. It’s funny how that works.
Looking at our own need to be included, to offer unsolicited advice, to do what we can to help our DH’s relationship with his kids…all these urges have meaning and what if you got curious to learn more about yourself? Please check out this article about “over-giving vs natural giving” Over-Giving Article
You will see a lot more on the site about this. I believe we Stepmoms on a mission can do a LOT to help ourselves, our partners and our relationships when we look at the pain and rage as opportunities to learn.
While I’m giving you some practical ideas, please know that I know how deep this pain can go. It’s very difficult AND having been through much of this myself, I can hold out the lantern for you as an intention of hope for you. There are healing lessons to learn and now that you know how this bio-mom is working you can begin to manage things in a whole new way. It can be astounding how NOT doing & NOT saying transforms situations. Please stop in that forum for lots of ideas. Learning the power of not reacting was a whole new world for me. It saved my emotional life and probably my marriage as well.
As Stepmoms we can be viewed as the disposable parent when our stepkids are feeling they have to choose between their bio-mom and us. Another aspect of this situation is that sometimes our stepkids lash out at us because some part of them believes we truly love them but they aren’t so sure about their bio-moms. Since they are desperate for connection with their bio-moms, as all children are at varying levels of consciousness, it makes sad sense.
Learning to love our stepkids sometimes means stepping back to ease the pain they are feeling from their bio-mom. Again, not fair, but sadly what is. As we choose to get stronger and wiser from what is happening to us, the impact of hostile bio-moms and angry teens becomes less hurtful. You can learn, as so many of us are, how to not take their actions personally and re-categorize their actions into the, “sounds about right” bucket.
Thanks for writing in as this issue touches so many of us. You’re not crazy to be hurt by their actions. Looking to them to change to sooth your pain is also not the answer. It’s about increasing your own sense of awareness, strength and connection with yourself, your DH, your own kids, family and friends. Who, by the way, ALL feel like you’re an amazing person. Let’s make their opinions more important than anyone else.
With more hugs and warm regards, Cathryn