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#1 of 6 Old 03-08-2011, 07:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi everyone! I was hoping I could get some advice. Sorry if I'm asking questions that have been on here in 100 different ways...

 

Background:

My dsd (13) moved in with me in December. She's been with her dad full-time since she was 7. Her mom was on drugs and in and out of jail until last August. Since then, she's been in a strict rehab center and will be for a year. Dsd had a pretty tough life until she went to live with her dad. Mom was pretty much on drugs her whole life. She hasn't seen her mom in years. Anyway, dad works out of state and is home with us on weekends. I have two girls from my previous marriage (8 and 6) and am pregnant with our baby. So, my issues:

 

1. Dsd is awesome. She is kind, so well behaved and respectful, just a dream 13 yr old. I honestly can't believe it. My theory is she is more appreciative than most kids because of what she's been through...) She loves my dds, is super excited about the baby, helps around the house, etc. But I am afraid I am not making her feel like she fits in enough. It's only been a few months. I tend to be pretty reserved and have trouble being comfortable/ open with people. She is the same way. So there is still a lot of awkwardness. Like, she still asks if she can take a shower, and I'm brainstorming conversation starters.

 

I have no clue how to be very "maternal" with her... she seems so mature, but I know 13 is still very young. I try to show her that I care by helping her decorate her room, making sure she has everything she needs for school/ clothes/ etc, and getting her little surprises on occasion. But I know she needs more than that. Does anyone get where I am coming from? I don't want her to feel left out... I am so used to interacting with my dds... this is so different.

 

2. Her mom recently started calling once every week or two. I have really negative feelings toward this woman, and I don't even know why! I *know* that's the only mom she'll ever have and that I need to support that relationship. I do. But I think she is an awful person and I feel jealous. Why!? What can I do to control this? (I never, ever let this show, btw.)

 

Whew... this is long. Sorry! Thanks for reading. 


Amanda, mom to dsd (16), dd (11), dd (8), and ds (born 11/12/11).
 

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#2 of 6 Old 03-08-2011, 11:23 AM
 
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I think you are doing exactly what you should be doing. You guys are both finding your way into this new relationship and the fact that both of you are feeling your way through it slowly and carefully seems like a good sign to me. If there are things the two of you discover you both like to do, you might find some times to do those things together to find a special bond you can share. Also, if you are both quieter or more reserved, I think it's okay to say "it's nice to spend time with you, and I like that we are sometimes comfortable just being quiet together," or something like that. I think as you share more experiences together, you will naturally have more to talk about, and as she feels more comfortable and secure over time, she will stop asking permission to take a shower, etc. 

 

It will probably take time to deal with your feelings toward her mom. It helps me to remember that, even when she did AWFUL things, my step-daughter's mom LOVES her daughter and is doing the best she can with what she has to work with. It also has helped me to remember how difficult it is to be her (sd's mom) and to feel sympathy for her instead of hatred... so I remember that when she is being really awful, that it is a reflection of how bad she feels about herself as a person and as a parent, and I try to have sympathy for how that would feel to go through life feeling so bad about yourself.  It doesn't help all the time, but it helps me sometime. 

 

Hope that helps. I'm sure there will be others along with more! My oldest (my step-daughter) is 8, so I don't have a lot of teenager experience, and my path to step-parenting has been a lot different. But I know there are others who have been through something similar who will have a lot to share!


Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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#3 of 6 Old 03-08-2011, 12:36 PM
 
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Welcome!

 

I'm a custodial step-mom, too - also with "my own" kids and a baby with my husband!

 

Re the affection:  I think it's completely appropriate to follow your SD's lead, in terms of how much "maternal" affection she's comfortable with, from you.  Your desire to ensure that she feels equal to the other kids in the house (equally loved; and that it is equally her home) is a good start.  Those good intentions should slowly, naturally lead to the relationship the two of you should have:  not mother-daughter, but probably closer than aunt-niece, or grandma-granddaughter (or similar family relationships between people with separate homes).  But it doesn't feel equal right now because it's not.  She doesn't feel like she has a mother in her new home because she doesn't.  The other kids have known you since birth.  You changed their diapers, bathed them, slept with them, taught them to dress themselves and have a lifelong, physical closeness with them.  If you'd known her as a toddler, things would be different.  But you simply can't manufacture an identical comfort level, with someone you only began living with after she began puberty.  

 

There's room for debate on this, of course, but I think kids feel uncomfortable with adults who insist on hugs or say "I love you!" all the time, before that closeness or those feelings have really taken root.  As you get to know your SD better, every time you feel inspired to hug her, pat her hair, say "I love you", etc... don't let yourself hesitate!  When it's genuine, it will feel - and come across - as genuine and meaningful.  She'll know you're not just doing/saying it, because you think you're supposed to.  And, in my experience, when your step-kid initiates affection, or says "I love you" first, it will feel so welcome that you will react without any awkwardness.  So don't sweat that.  But what I'm trying to say is, don't sweat it if you two aren't saying/doing these things much, yet.  You're going to have a life-long relationship.  There's time for it to evolve naturally and honestly.  It'll be better that way.  While it's evolving, as long as you're taking care to do the same things for her that you do for your other kids (saying "Goodnight", helping with homework, asking if she wants a drink, but also expecting her to help wash the dishes...) then you're doing just fine.

 

Re your feelings about her mom:  I could write a book!  The more you love her, the more angry/frustrated you will feel, that the person who actually gets to have the title of her mother does not do the things for her that you think she deserves.  There is no wiggling out of those feelings.  How could you possibly feel otherwise, and actually care about the child?  Tell yourself you do not deserve to be criticized about this.  As long as you're not bad-mouthing the woman where her daughter can hear...or to people like her teachers, who could potentially repeat it, or who might someday meet her mother...what more can you do?  Get it out in a journal, or here, or talk about it - in secure privacy!! - with your husband, if it doesn't drive him crazy.  

 

Women naturally feel competitive with each other.  You are trying to establish a semi-maternal relationship with a child, knowing some other woman is actually her mother; and despite the fact that the child lives only with you and does not even visit her mother, there's been no definitive transfer of the title "mother", as with an adoption.  So, it's natural for you to feel confused; threatened by this other woman; and to feel simultaneously competitive with her and guilty for feeling that way.  Luckily, those feelings will likely subside or diminish, as you become more comfortable with your own, unique relationship with your SD.  Some of these feelings will be replaced by growing sympathy for her mom, because the mom's weaknesses and shortcomings have caused her to miss out on the time with her daughter that you're getting to enjoy, instead of her.  If the sympathy ever completely replaces the anger and frustration, then you are a better person than I!  But some amount of sympathy will come.

 

Give it time.  It sounds like you're doing all the right things and that you have a good kid on your hands.


One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:  partners.gif  orfencing.gif... twin sons:lurk.giflurk.gif(HS juniors) ... step-son: guitar.gif (a freshman) ... our little man: kid.gif  (a kindergartener) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  ourdog2.gif. 
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#4 of 6 Old 03-08-2011, 12:57 PM
 
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Hi TTMN!!

 

1. I think it'll just take time... just keep doing what you're doing. Maybe letting her have a friend sleep over on weekends would help? Tell her she's the hostess... she'd have the opportunity to show someone around, she'd know where stuff is, etc. I'm thinking it might make her feel more at home to be in the position of trying to make someone else feel at home there? Does that make any sense at all? LOL!

 

2. I'm the bio parent, but SO struggles with this sometimes... he has no respect for XH whatsoever. He thinks XH is a complete idiot to not even know how lucky he was to have the kids and I. He wishes he could erase XH and all the hurt he's caused the kids, and that he was their 'real' dad. Sometimes it seems almost like a personal insult to him that XH has abandoned the kids (this could be because of SO's own history though.. he was abandoned by his dad, too) He can't stand that XH devalues the kids so much.

 

You say in 1. that you don't know how to be maternal to DSD... I'd say these feelings are part of it. Her biomom is a threat to her well being and the mama-bear in you is wanting to protect her. The best thing you can do is trust DSD to sort things out for herself. She will learn who she can rely on... SO has been living with us for about a year and a half & DS (9) already has it figured out. 


~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#5 of 6 Old 03-09-2011, 03:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mummoth View Post

1. I think it'll just take time... just keep doing what you're doing. Maybe letting her have a friend sleep over on weekends would help? Tell her she's the hostess... she'd have the opportunity to show someone around, she'd know where stuff is, etc. I'm thinking it might make her feel more at home to be in the position of trying to make someone else feel at home there? Does that make any sense at all? LOL!

 


I really like that idea!


One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:  partners.gif  orfencing.gif... twin sons:lurk.giflurk.gif(HS juniors) ... step-son: guitar.gif (a freshman) ... our little man: kid.gif  (a kindergartener) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  ourdog2.gif. 
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#6 of 6 Old 03-09-2011, 07:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for all the advice, everyone. I really appreciate it. 

 

Jeannine, everything you said is so right on. We will have to naturally develop our own relationship. I think the challenge for me is making sure that it is not too friend-like, if you know what I mean. Being here during the week without her father, I have to be able to show some parental authority. I think she is nervous about this too, so she is extra careful to do everything "right" and not give me any reason to correct her. I love what you said about the relationship being more like aunt/ niece, or something similar. Makes so much sense. 

 

Neither of us are into physical affection. We've talked about this before--how we're not "huggers" with anyone. But I think we are both okay with that in terms of each other. 
 

"The more you love her, the more angry/frustrated you will feel, that the person who actually gets to have the title of her mother does not do the things for her that you think she deserves." That is it exactly! I just couldn't put it into words. It's so funny, because before she moved in, I would try to be the voice of reason with her father. I'd say things like, "you have to honor that relationship... her mother made mistakes, but if you come between them, dsd will just resent you..." Now, I just want to smash the phone when she calls! I have a lot of control, and I *never* say anything. I ask how she's doing, act totally neutral, etc. I think what's tough is that I'm pretty sure that I've done more for her in three months than her mother ever did. Poor kid tells these devastating stories about living with her mom, and she tells them so matter-of-fact, like it was just normal. 

 

"Some of these feelings will be replaced by growing sympathy for her mom, because the mom's weaknesses and shortcomings have caused her to miss out on the time with her daughter that you're getting to enjoy, instead of her."

 

Great advice. 

 

 

Again, thank you all so much. This has really helped! I try not to talk too, too much to her dad about all this, because he tends to try to make things happen instead of letting them flow. Like telling us to hug. He means well, he's just very different than dsd and I. She and I are very similar.



 

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Amanda, mom to dsd (16), dd (11), dd (8), and ds (born 11/12/11).
 

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