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#1 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I need some ideas for how to respond to a recent trend that's popped up with DSD (11 years old). Maybe I shouldn't respond at all; I don't know.

She's been making snarky comments about decisions I make or things I do around the house or the food that I cook. She doesn't criticize me directly, and she doesn't criticize the things her father does, but it seems pretty clear to me that she's trying to say something about my roll in her life.

For example, I always close the shower curtain when I see it open. Just so that it doesn't stay wet all day and get moldy. She got in the shower last night and grumbled - loud enough for us to hear downstairs - "UGH! I can't stand it when the shower curtain is closed!"

Or:

My kids and I moved into my DH's house (this was a while ago already) and in doing so, I had to rearrange the kitchen a bit to fit all of my stuff in there. 2 days ago DSD is looking for a snack and says, "Nobody wants me to find anything in this kitchen! Everything is hidden from me now! I lived here for 5 years and everything was always in the same place and now everything is moved around!"

Or:

I made homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner earlier in the week. DSD has eaten it dozens of times before. But this time, she just pushes it around in her bowl and when DH asks her why she's not eating, she says, "I guess I really just don't like homemade soup. It's not as good as what's in the cans."

Or:

I'm the laundry doer in the house. I wash, fold and put away the laundry. Last weekend I was folding clothes at the dining room table and DSD walks though, sneers, rolls her eyes, proceeds to UNFOLD all of her clothes and refold them, saying, "I HATE it when there's a crease in the middle of my t-shirts!"

If I could guess, I would say that she's feeling nostalgic for a time before my DC and I came to live at the house or, she's feeling a need to let me know that my presence in the house isn't welcome right now, or something. She never says anything to me directly; nothing like "you're not my real mom" or "you're not the boss of me." It's more passive-aggressive than that.

Does anyone else deal with this kind of behavior (especially once you're well into the blending process). What do I say to her, if anything? DH seems fairly oblivious at this point; should I say something to him? Truth be told, it hurts my feelings, but I don't want to make a mountain out of a mole-hill.

Is it just because she's 11 and I'm an easy target?

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#2 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 12:27 PM
 
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I would mention it to DP...

For the clothes thing, if she doesn't like the way you fold them, she can easily fold them herself, so I would just let her.



fyi: I do the same thing with the shower curtain!! lol

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#3 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 12:30 PM
 
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Is it just because she's 11 and I'm an easy target?
Yes! I remember giving those comments to my own mother and grandmother at that age. I was just trying out my passive-aggression skills and asserting my opinion, which I held in very high regard because I was 11. I would say don't play into it, just let it pass. Next year she'll be telling your DH that she only wants YOU to take her shopping, or asking you to make her favorite soup, or whatever. If I were you I wouldn't address any of the specific comments (unless they are really hurtful.) No sense in reasoning with an irrational 11 year old girl.
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#4 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 12:40 PM
 
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I was having the exact same issue with my dhs' son. I had to stop doing his laundry, my dh had to cook more meals and basically take over a lot more parenting for his son. If I did dss' laundry I asked him 'permission' if I could do it and we usually did it together. He would collect all his dirty clothes I would help him seperate whites and darks, make sure the machine wasn't overloaded and start the machine. He was also 11 and folded his own laundry. Sometimes he didn't fold it and walked around in really wrinkly clothes but at least they were clean !
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#5 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 01:08 PM
 
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It sounds to me like she's having issues with the move - in and transitioning to a blended situation.

I think dp should acknowledge that it's hard to transition - and then strategize ways to make it better. Discuss appropriate behavior - it's ok to be upset, but it's not ok to talk like this...

After talking with dp - I would sit down with the three of you to discuss.

She sounds like she's in a hard place.
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#6 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 02:08 PM
 
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Yeah, it really sounds like you all need a good heart to heart together about how you both have noticed she is having a hard time with some of the changes. Show her lots and lots of empathy and hear what she has to say.

There are definitely things you can do to stop some of these comments. Like the clothes, I would tell her that you fold a certain way and she is more than welcome to fold her own clothes the way she wants. Then leave her clothes piled for her to do. For the food, I would just say that you are sorry she prefers something else perhaps the next meal will be better and she is welcome to wait to eat then. I would say all of this in the nicest voice possible, too. Try not to take it personally because she would be doing this same thing with any other person that would have come into her home. kwim

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#7 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 02:26 PM
 
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My DSS was similar with the food thing. If dad cooked, it was the finest meal in the world, but if I made the night's dinner (even if it was the same thing or something like grilling a hamburger) it wasn't to his taste, he didn't care for it, his tastebuds had changed, he no longer liked X, etc.

I talked to DH first to see if he noticed, or if maybe I was just being too sensitive. Once I mentioned it to him, he payed closer attention. He saw that it was indeed happening, and suggested talking to DSS together about it. In this case DSS didn't even seem to know that he was doing it, so it wasn't deliberately targeted toward me (at least not consciously.)

Some of it is the age thing, and it does sound like your DSD has a lot of change to assimilate. If it is hurting your feelings, then it is worth talking about with her. You don't have to accuse her of anything, just open the door from your perspective about how the little comments are making you feel.
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#8 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 03:13 PM
 
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It definately sounds like she's trying to communicate that it's difficult for her right now. I would suggest saying as little as possible, so as to engage in a battle. For her shirts, "Oh, you don't like the fold in the center? If you'd like I could pull out your shirts so you can fold them how you like them. With the dinner, "Hmm, so you like canned soup better". The kitchen, "Yes, there's more stuff in here now, isn't there? It can be hard to find things". Just repeating what she's saying will tell her that you're hearing her, and accepting her feelings. And you won't get into an argument with her, which may be what she's trying to do.

It can be so hard to keep your cool in moments like this. Good luck!
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#9 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 03:31 PM
 
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Oh man I used to do the exact same thing to my mom and my step-mom at that age. In fact one of my favorite stories about my step-mom (who I had a lot of conflict with growing up but absolutely adore now) is once I made a comment about "I HATE when people leave the kitchen counters a mess" (because it was my night to clean up after dinner). From the living room I heard from her "I HATE when people make passive-aggresive bitchy comments all the time". I was stunned. It took the wind right out of my bitchy little sails and I never did it again.
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#10 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 04:37 PM
 
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I would let it all go. She's having some tough feelings, she doesn't like some changes, and adapting to change can be difficult. It's a big change for her to have new people in the house.

I would try to accommodate her where it's easy to do -- like folding the shirts the way she likes. You could also explain that you leave the shower curtain closed so it can dry off.

I wouldn't change anything in the kitchen, she'll get used to it.

But this transition and change is difficult for her and she's expressing some of her frustration and that's OK to me. I think her frustration really is with things being different, and it may be as simple as that and not a big assault on you.

I wouldn't say anything, but I would fold her shirts different.

Good luck! It may take a while for things to settle down and so try to be patient. At the same time, be confident that you're there, and it will all work out in the long run.
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#11 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 05:03 PM
 
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Maybe you could try to have family meetings. Where everyone is free to express things that are bugging them within the household, as long as they can do it calm and respectfully.

Or just say "Hey, you know it's okay if you don't like how I fold stuff. You are welcome to tell me that kind of stuff, and we can find compromises"

I think if she gets the idea that you are willing to work with her, she may relax some and not feel like you have just taken over everything.
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#12 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 07:00 PM
 
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I vote for 11 and the beginning of puberty. And the wonderful thing is that it'll get worse before it gets better -- you'll be absolutely amazed at the depths of your own idiocy before she resurfaces as a human in her 20s. However, that doesn't mean it's acceptable. If she can't be civil at the table, she can leave and go to her room. If she doesn't like how her clothes are folded, she can fold them herself. (She can anyway. She's 11 years old.) If she doesn't like how the shower curtain hangs or how the kitchen's arranged, she can suck it up until she can pay rent on her own place. Of course, that's how I'd deal with it as a single mom; you'll need to talk to your dh about this.

She may have no idea, in her self-absorbed tweeny way, that she's being horrible. Her friends likely talk this way to each other. I don't allow my DD to watch the Saturday-morning tween shows because invariably she starts talking like they do.

I think a friend of mine put it best when he said he was trying to figure out whether his daughter was bipolar or twelve.

One thing you may need to remember -- in moderation -- is that if children are not taught politeness and respect when very young, the corrections can come as a huge slap in the face later on. It's no different from anything else -- you see it in how people are with cellphones. If they've been taught forever to respect other people's thoughts, work, reading, conversation, etc., they're at pains to be quiet or they leave to talk on the phone. If not, they'll yak it up regardless of what's going on around them, and be shocked if someone asks them to be quiet. So your dh may need to sit down with your dsd and explain that her behavior lately's been hurtful and disrespectful, and why, just as you'd do with a preschooler, and give her a push in the right direction, and make and enforce consequences if she persists, allowing for the fact that she's on the edge of being hormonally insane. Rinse and repeat until she goes to college.
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#13 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 07:04 PM
 
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Oh man I used to do the exact same thing to my mom and my step-mom at that age. In fact one of my favorite stories about my step-mom (who I had a lot of conflict with growing up but absolutely adore now) is once I made a comment about "I HATE when people leave the kitchen counters a mess" (because it was my night to clean up after dinner). From the living room I heard from her "I HATE when people make passive-aggresive bitchy comments all the time". I was stunned. It took the wind right out of my bitchy little sails and I never did it again.
Yes, that'll do it.

When my 5-yo starts complaining, and gets on a roll, I stop whatever I'm doing and ask her what else is horrible. I say, "Come on, let's get it over with, let's hear all the things that are horrible and no good and wrong right now." And then I start listing some, ratcheting up the silly as I go. Giggles ensue and we can get on with life. Of course, my dd hasn't yet hit the hormonally insanity yet, but for now, it works. I wouldn't recommend for an 11-yo.
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#14 of 62 Old 07-23-2008, 10:10 PM
 
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When I was around that age my father was dating and occasionally his girlfriends would "redecorate" areas in the house in an effort to help out the single dad and I generally hated it. It was my house and things were the way I wanted them. I remember when his, now wife, took down the curtains my mom and I had made (way after their divorce) and put up curtains that were more her taste and slipcovered our couch I was livid that she would show me that disrespect of taking over my house without even talking to me. She never did get that I was a person with my own feelings who lived there and had rights and feelings too. She was nice but she is also a large part of the reason my father and I have no relationship now. I would talk to her and validate her feelings but I would not take her bitchy behavior. Explain why the curtain is the way it is and offer to let her fold her own clothes so they are more to her liking and maybe make a little peace offering with the kitchen. Is there anything that can be done to make it feel more hers? Let her know that you respect her and understand that things are difficult but that she needs to respect you too and you both need to work together.
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#15 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 12:08 AM
 
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I'm really surprised by everyone who is saying to have the 11 year old fold her own shirts. Not that that's a bad thing for her to learn, but on the other hand, if my DH said he wanted his shirts folded a different way, I'd do it for him because I love him and want him to be happy. It's not like it's that much different work.

Now of course, the problem is that the 11 year old is being dramatic about it, and she's expressing her frustrations. But, I have empathy for her because this transition time has got to be stressful. Sure, it's not nice that she's being negative, but I think it's part of being an adult to show grace and compassion rather than rejecting or punishing. This is a new situation, and the goal is for everyone to feel comfortable and happy together. She may need some support to get there.
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#16 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 01:46 AM
 
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I'm really surprised by everyone who is saying to have the 11 year old fold her own shirts. Not that that's a bad thing for her to learn, but on the other hand, if my DH said he wanted his shirts folded a different way, I'd do it for him because I love him and want him to be happy. It's not like it's that much different work.

Now of course, the problem is that the 11 year old is being dramatic about it, and she's expressing her frustrations. But, I have empathy for her because this transition time has got to be stressful. Sure, it's not nice that she's being negative, but I think it's part of being an adult to show grace and compassion rather than rejecting or punishing. This is a new situation, and the goal is for everyone to feel comfortable and happy together. She may need some support to get there.
Sorry, I have actually done the same thing to my DH. He did not like how I pressed his shirts, so I leave them for him to do. Nothing to argue about that way.

I don't tolerate getting attitude from people. My DSD is very respectful of me because that is my expectation. She also expects to be respected by me in return. I don't think asking her to fold her own clothes if she doesn't like it is disrespectful in any way either. Reacting in that manner does not engage her behavior, but it sends a clear message.I always say not to complain about things that you aren't willing to do yourself.

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#17 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It definately sounds like she's trying to communicate that it's difficult for her right now. I would suggest saying as little as possible, so as to engage in a battle. For her shirts, "Oh, you don't like the fold in the center? If you'd like I could pull out your shirts so you can fold them how you like them. With the dinner, "Hmm, so you like canned soup better". The kitchen, "Yes, there's more stuff in here now, isn't there? It can be hard to find things". Just repeating what she's saying will tell her that you're hearing her, and accepting her feelings. And you won't get into an argument with her, which may be what she's trying to do.

It can be so hard to keep your cool in moments like this. Good luck!
jjawm, I love this suggestion! Thank you! It lets her know that I hear her concerns but that I'm not willing to engage in an arguement over them. It also takes the emotion out of it. I'm more than willing to have a conversation with her about anything she wants, but I expect that the discourse will be respectful.

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#18 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 09:37 AM
 
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LOL I still refold and rehang shirts if my Mom does laundry at my house (it happens now and again) because I like them to lay/hang a certain way.

As for the shower curtain... I'm surprised no one mentioned that she may be afraid of "the unknown" behind the closed curtain. My parents are together, but I've always had an issue with the curtain closed, the darkness under the bed, etc. It really may have nothing to do with stepmom at all.

The soup? Maybe she had canned soup at a friend's and just liked it better since it was different.
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#19 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 09:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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When I was around that age my father was dating and occasionally his girlfriends would "redecorate" areas in the house in an effort to help out the single dad and I generally hated it. It was my house and things were the way I wanted them. I remember when his, now wife, took down the curtains my mom and I had made (way after their divorce) and put up curtains that were more her taste and slipcovered our couch I was livid that she would show me that disrespect of taking over my house without even talking to me. She never did get that I was a person with my own feelings who lived there and had rights and feelings too. She was nice but she is also a large part of the reason my father and I have no relationship now. I would talk to her and validate her feelings but I would not take her bitchy behavior. Explain why the curtain is the way it is and offer to let her fold her own clothes so they are more to her liking and maybe make a little peace offering with the kitchen. Is there anything that can be done to make it feel more hers? Let her know that you respect her and understand that things are difficult but that she needs to respect you too and you both need to work together.
I hear and agree with everything you're saying. And of course it makes sense that DSD is feeling a bit invaded and displaced and I certainly don't want to do anything to make that worse (I want to make it better!). I love both of my step-children very much and always have their best interests at heart.

BUT, since this is a safe space, if I may regress into a little bit of selfishness for a minute...

I moved into a house that was totally decorated and furnished by another woman. My children and I have lived there for a year and it still doesn't feel like my home. Even my kids have said, from time-to-time that they feel like they're still "just visiting." They don't feel like they have the right to "get comfortable" there. I know it sounds harsh and unfeeling, but I'm frustrated that I can't make any changes without causing this huge disruption for my step-kids. Not only can I not afford to buy new living room furniture (let alone a brand new house), but if all of a sudden the couch that their mother picked out vanished, my DSC would be devestated. It's like the house is a shrine to a family that no longer exists and even though it's MY house now (I'm on the deed, I pay the mortgage), I have absolutely no latitude to do with it what I wish. I'm not allowed to make it my own. And frankly, I don't really want to have a heart-to-heart with my DSD everytime I need to move a pot or measuring cup to a new cabinet. My heart just SUNK when I read that you were so angry over new curtains and a slipcover (which don't seem like huge changes to me). Do I really risk my step-children hating me if I dare to change something their mother did? The thought of that is paralyzing! When am I going to be allowed to

I am an EXTREMELY conscientious mother/step-mother. I'm very careful to involve the kids in every decision/conversation where their input is appropriate. I'm very conscious of their feelings around the whole blended-family thing. I'm extraordinarily respectful of their feelings and opinions and anger. The kids are always, always, always put first.

That said, at what point do my feelings get to matter again? I'm sick to death of the daily reminders (couch, coffee table, art, photos, rugs, bookcases, etc) that my DH used to live here with his XW. At what point do my opinions about things are in MY OWN HOUSE get to matter again? At what point to I get to say, "Honey, I know it must be very hard for you to have things change around the house, but it's time for the house to reflect the people who live here now?" Their mother is not dead. They see her regularly. It's not like they need the couch she picked out to be in MY living room to continue to feel connected to her.

Okay, that was some serious vent. Thanks for letting me get that out. Sometimes the whole mother-sacrifice thing gets to be a bit much to keep inside.

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#20 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 11:49 AM
 
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jjawm, I love this suggestion! Thank you! It lets her know that I hear her concerns but that I'm not willing to engage in an arguement over them. It also takes the emotion out of it. I'm more than willing to have a conversation with her about anything she wants, but I expect that the discourse will be respectful.
I have to say that I don't much care for this approach, personally, because it's passive-aggressive. (Unless, of course, you mean to be aggressive.) It's a form of attempting to control and shut down the other person, and it doesn't take the emotion out, either. If you don't want to engage, you can say, simply, "I'm not willing to talk about that," or "If there's something you have a problem with, you may say so, but only if you do so respectfully, and with some recognition of the fact that a) you're not the only one here; b) other people are actually working hard just to get to the point of something you don't like."

Or, if you're hearing her concerns but are not going to do anything about them, you can say, "I understand you don't like it. But until you're old enough to have your own place, that's the way it goes. This Is Not A Democracy." Or, as I say to my daughter, "You got your answer. Now stop asking."

As for the furniture, etc...that's a very touchy thing. But if you'll notice, the pp said she was upset because she and her mother had picked out those curtains. Had someone asked, she might have been able to tell them what furniture, etc. she didn't much care about. That's the sort of thing a family meeting is good for.
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#21 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 12:02 PM
 
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I completely understand what you are saying and your feelings are just as valid as hers...but you are the adult so at this point you need to care more for her feelings than you can expect her to care for yours. It might help to consider the things in the house your stepchildrens things and the decorating to be their decorating in order for you to be able to organize your feelings better on this. People redecorate all the time so I wouldn't expect any house to be frozen in time but you might need to consider that while your own children might have no opinion about the way the house is decorated your stepchildren may have a big one. I would try to involve EVERYONE in making the house a home that is inclusive. You may have a right to change it up and redecorate as you please but that may not set the stage for a good long term outcome.

Just a note...my mother may have helped ME with stuff for the house but I considered it MY house and when my SM came in and remade things in her taste my mother wasn't the one I was concerned about I was the one who felt disrespected and pushed aside. My father took her side for the next 6 years and now I have not seen him in 11.
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#22 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 12:18 PM
 
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I moved into a house that was totally decorated and furnished by another woman. ...It's like the house is a shrine to a family that no longer exists and even though it's MY house now (I'm on the deed, I pay the mortgage), I have absolutely no latitude to do with it what I wish.
These are things you need to talk with your dh about, and -- though I'm less and less a fan of therapists -- I think a family counselor/mediator would be a good idea in here, too.

Part of the problem is that you did move into this house, and my guess is that there was no discussion ahead of time about how you were going to make it the new family's house rather than a shrine. Part of it's that to your DSC, there's no reason why it shouldn't be a shrine and an important part of how they hold their world together -- that bit of constancy in their home. Yes, they see their mother. They've still lost their "real" family, and they were old enough at the time to remember how things were before. A year is not that long when you're a kid losing your family. I don't think it's realistic to expect them to just adjust to "the family that's there now".

So where do you come in? Do you have a room in the house? Is anything there yours? If not, why not?
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#23 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I completely understand what you are saying and your feelings are just as valid as hers...but you are the adult so at this point you need to care more for her feelings than you can expect her to care for yours. It might help to consider the things in the house your stepchildrens things and the decorating to be their decorating in order for you to be able to organize your feelings better on this. People redecorate all the time so I wouldn't expect any house to be frozen in time but you might need to consider that while your own children might have no opinion about the way the house is decorated your stepchildren may have a big one. I would try to involve EVERYONE in making the house a home that is inclusive. You may have a right to change it up and redecorate as you please but that may not set the stage for a good long term outcome.

Just a note...my mother may have helped ME with stuff for the house but I considered it MY house and when my SM came in and remade things in her taste my mother wasn't the one I was concerned about I was the one who felt disrespected and pushed aside. My father took her side for the next 6 years and now I have not seen him in 11.
I always take my children's and step-children's feelings into consideration before my own. My venting was just that; an expression of the frustration that comes from sometimes losing oneself in doing what's best for the family as a whole. I was not, in any way, suggesting that I was just going to start doing my own thing without input from the kids.

We do have family meetings and we do discuss the kinds of things you mention above. DH and I have been working very hard to include everyone in the decisions that involve making the house "our home," but the fact of the matter is, whenever one of those decisions means that something is going to be different from how it was before I moved in, I encounter a lot of resistence from my step-kids. And usually, I just swallow it and respect that they're still adjusting and try not to make waves. If it was just me, it would be fine - I could just resign myself to the reality that for the next 10 years, I'm living in a house that I can't make my own. But some of the changes DH and I would like to make are so that my bio-kids feel more at home, too. Just as it's not necessarily fair for me to be changing things the XW did before I came into the picture, it's equally not fair for my bio-kids to have to endure living in a home that they can never feel is theirs. The harsh truth is, it's not just the DSK's house anymore. And as much as I love them, they're still running the show. But when push comes to shove, we often end up deferring to the DSK's feelings about these issues and as a result, the house really is sort of frozen in time.

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#24 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 12:24 PM
 
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BUT, since this is a safe space, if I may regress into a little bit of selfishness for a minute...
Just FYI, MDC is not really "safe space".

Gosh it sounds challenging. Like you both have such competing interests in the house.

I'm sure she can sense some of your tensions as well. I would be looking for a win win. Does she like to decorate? Can you involve her in ideas? Maybe if she got to do some cool stuff to her room it would help.

Have you smudged the house? Smudging and decluttering could help clear the energy some.

In general, I'm not a big fan of mother sacrifice. Not as a standard way of life...it's not sustainable. I would identify your needs and have a heart to heart with your partner. Look for creative ways to meet them.
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#25 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 12:43 PM
 
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*prepares to be scourned...*

I totally understand respecting children's feelings and it's a tough adjustment for everyone... but it seems to me that HER children's feelings are being dismissed simply because it used to be her step chidren's house with their Mother. What about her children's feeling that after a YEAR it still doesn't feel like home?

I'm sorry but a year is plenty of time to be tip-toing around... They are a FAMILY... and they should all have every right to feel comfortable in their own house. I'm not saying the stepkids shouldn't have a say in how it gets decorated.... but everyone should have an equal say as they are all living there now and have been for plenty long enough.

mild_adventurer and her kids have just as much right to feel comfortable and have their feelings validated.

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#26 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 12:51 PM
 
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I know not everyone can do this but we moved into a new house when we combined households. It was hard on everyone but we felt we had to have a new, nuetral space to start out in.
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#27 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 01:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mild_adventurer View Post

We do have family meetings and we do discuss the kinds of things you mention above. DH and I have been working very hard to include everyone in the decisions that involve making the house "our home," but the fact of the matter is, whenever one of those decisions means that something is going to be different from how it was before I moved in, I encounter a lot of resistence from my step-kids. And usually, I just swallow it and respect that they're still adjusting and try not to make waves. If it was just me, it would be fine - I could just resign myself to the reality that for the next 10 years, I'm living in a house that I can't make my own. But some of the changes DH and I would like to make are so that my bio-kids feel more at home, too. Just as it's not necessarily fair for me to be changing things the XW did before I came into the picture, it's equally not fair for my bio-kids to have to endure living in a home that they can never feel is theirs. The harsh truth is, it's not just the DSK's house anymore. And as much as I love them, they're still running the show. But when push comes to shove, we often end up deferring to the DSK's feelings about these issues and as a result, the house really is sort of frozen in time.
Just to give you a viewpoint from the other perspective... The home my ex lives in is not one we shared. However, our children helped him pick the house out, helped him decorate it, helped him make it their home together. Now, granted, they spent a limited amount of time there. However, they still had "their" space at Dad's.

Until he remarried a woman with two kids. They both accepted having to share the rooms that were once their own, decorated as they chose. They were both willing to accept those rooms being redecorated to reflect their new ssib's tastes. What got hard to swallow was being told that they were not allowed to express their own tastes or preferences in those rooms as "it wouldn't fit with the decor".

Then there was the rest of the house. Which was remade to SMom's taste. Our daughter is artistic, and she'd often draw or paint something for her Dad. None of those pieces were allowed to be displayed in the house (frankly, by that point, neither of our kids considered it in any way their home).

End result? Both of the kids resent their smon/sibs and really aren't interested in spending time there. Dad apparently isn't too interested in having them spend time there.

There really needs to be a middle ground. I know our two would have been okay with that. But being as they only saw their Dad periodically, it hurt them a lot to have their existence pretty well erased from his home.
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#28 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 01:30 PM
 
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mild_adventurer and her kids have just as much right to feel comfortable and have their feelings validated.

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#29 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 02:02 PM
 
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I moved into a house that was totally decorated and furnished by another woman. My children and I have lived there for a year and it still doesn't feel like my home. Even my kids have said, from time-to-time that they feel like they're still "just visiting." They don't feel like they have the right to "get comfortable" there. I know it sounds harsh and unfeeling, but I'm frustrated that I can't make any changes without causing this huge disruption for my step-kids. Not only can I not afford to buy new living room furniture (let alone a brand new house), but if all of a sudden the couch that their mother picked out vanished, my DSC would be devestated. It's like the house is a shrine to a family that no longer exists and even though it's MY house now (I'm on the deed, I pay the mortgage), I have absolutely no latitude to do with it what I wish. I'm not allowed to make it my own. And frankly, I don't really want to have a heart-to-heart with my DSD everytime I need to move a pot or measuring cup to a new cabinet. My heart just SUNK when I read that you were so angry over new curtains and a slipcover (which don't seem like huge changes to me). Do I really risk my step-children hating me if I dare to change something their mother did? The thought of that is paralyzing!
...at what point do my feelings get to matter again? I'm sick to death of the daily reminders (couch, coffee table, art, photos, rugs, bookcases, etc) that my DH used to live here with his XW. At what point do my opinions about things are in MY OWN HOUSE get to matter again? At what point to I get to say, "Honey, I know it must be very hard for you to have things change around the house, but it's time for the house to reflect the people who live here now?" Their mother is not dead. They see her regularly. It's not like they need the couch she picked out to be in MY living room to continue to feel connected to her.
I can certainly see why you are so frustrated. Would it be possible to make re-decorating a special project between you and DSD or maybe the whole family? Perhaps it would be easier to accept if she had some say in the way the home is changing? Then she might not feel so much like it is you taking over HER house, and more like the FAMILY house is evolving along with the family?

I also want to add that my dad, my 3 brothers and I all moved into my dad's fiance's house when I was about 12, and there was some MAJOR conflict between me and her. Most of it was from my end; I had had a LOT of responsibility as the oldest in our single-parent family and suddenly felt like I was being treated like a five-year-old, even though now, looking back, I can see it was all very age-appropriate. On the other hand, I feel like she could have been a little more patient and worked WITH me to help me feel more comfortable.

From what you’ve posted, you seem to be doing a great job of trying to balance everyone’s needs and feelings (although yours have been on the back-burner awhile). I think, after a year, it is appropriate to change the décor so it is more “home” for everyone in the family…not that you won’t hit some resistance still, but I think (from your previous posts) that you will handle it gently, while getting input from everyone and keeping the ALL the children’s feelings foremost in your mind.

Good luck mama!
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#30 of 62 Old 07-24-2008, 02:17 PM
 
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I'm really surprised by everyone who is saying to have the 11 year old fold her own shirts. Not that that's a bad thing for her to learn, but on the other hand, if my DH said he wanted his shirts folded a different way, I'd do it for him because I love him and want him to be happy.
Our house is a do-acracy. Meaning, the person who is DOing the work gets to decide how it will be done. If DH wanted me to fold shirts or wash dishes or sweep the floor a certain way I'd tell him where to stick it. Nicely, of course. It would never occur to him to tell me what to do anyway.

mild_adventurer, I personally would not have moved into that house. Is moving a possibility? That way everybody would be on more equal footing and there wouldn't be the same emotional attachments to how things used to be.

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