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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!

I've been married for 3 years and have two stepkids. My SD is 15 and my SS is 14. Their mom died five years ago. My husband and their mom were separated at the time of her passing, which the kids appeared to take okay, according to family members and friends.
Their mothers death hit them hard, which is understandable. I don't know anyone who wouldn't be crushed by their mothers death. But that seems to have cemented the idea in their heads that they can't/don't want to have anything to do with me whatsoever.

There are times in the house I feel like I'm invisible. If my husband is out of the house and my stepkids are here, it feels so lonely. They don't talk to me, they avoid coming into rooms I'm in. If I want to do something with them, you know, quality time, they say no or sulk and drag their feet if their father says they have to do something. My husband organizes family time once a month, when he's off work completely. The kids hate it! They love spending time with him and just him, which happens every week when he finishes work, but add me to it and they refuse to have fun.

Their mothers parents are still active in their lives as are her siblings. SD, especially, will ask if they can live with them because she doesn't want to live in the same house as me. When asked why, she tells her dad she doesn't want to live in the same house as someone she doesn't love or like. He asked her straight out why one day and she said it's because she doesn't accept me and doesn't want a stepmother, she wants her mom, something I'll never be. She's even gone as far as to say she counts down the days until she can go away to college and get away from me. My SS has expressed a similar desire. :frown:

My SD almost snaps at people who refer to us as "your parents". A teacher of hers did it and she corrected her before she could finish the sentence. My MIL told her and SS to "ask your parents" one day and she told her we're not her parents, her dad is her parent, I'm just his wife. My MIL corrected herself, but I know she was surprised by the anger in her voice.

I have tried everything to get close to these kids. I have always tried to be a friendly person in their lives or an aunt-type person. I never wanted to take their moms place, which my husband and I have both told them, and they still act like this. It hurts and makes me feel so sad. I think the problem is I love them. I'd do anything for them. And I don't know if they'll ever love me. I would understand if I'd been "the other woman" but there is no "other woman" and I didn't help break up their parents marriage.

Any advice?
 

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I have a couple thoughts;

Your husband should stop trying to get them to treat you as one of the family. He should however insist that they treat you politely.

Whatever you may have said to them, it seems clear that these kids feel like you're trying to replace their mother. They probably also feel that their dad is replacing her. And because she's dead, rather than alive and remarried, it likely seems like a betrayal of her. You are a living reminder of the mom they DON'T have. Which means it's not about you, but about their grief.

If they aren't already, they should see a therapist to help them deal with their grief and move forward.

I don't think there's much you can do but be patient. Be kind and interested but don't push them to spend time with you. Eventually, when they aren't in the throes of adolescence and still grieving their mother, you can build positive relationships with them. But right now they aren't ready.

I'm sorry you're in such a difficult situation. Whether they know it or not, it sounds like they're lucky to have you.
 

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I agree with Lturtle. My first thought was that, in their minds, to like/love/enjoy spending time with their dad's wife is a betrayal of their mother. And a reminder of their loss.

Grief councelling sounds like a great idea.


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I'm on board with everyone else. They need help processing the loss of their mother. Greif counseling.


As very difficult as this is right now, it really could turn around. These aren't evil children, they are just in pain. Insisting that their father find a counselor to help them out of their pain is in everyone's best interest.


It could get worse, though, before it gets better. At first, it could taken those semi-buried feelings and bring them to the surface. After that, though, they'll be able to start letting them go, and then be able to really live in the present.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies everyone!

The kids were in counseling for a year. My husband took them out after little progress was made. They insisted they weren't going to accept me. She asked why and my SS was the one who said because they don't want me in their lives and they never will. It was frustrating. They seem to have gotten better when in comes to their moms death. They're able to talk about her and smile, etc. But they still want nothing to do with me.

Someone suggested family counseling to us, but right now that's not on the table. We might revisit that idea later.
 

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Maybe they weren't seeing the right therapist. It's important to have a good rapport in order for therapy to have any benefit. Also, the benefits it has may not be readily apparent from the outside. Lastly, if your DH will agree to get them back in counseling it's important that the counselor not share anything that the kids say with him and not bring you up as a subject.
 

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What do they do to remember their mom? Do they have any traditions to honor her, or any keepsakes? Are there pictures of her around the house, even if only in their rooms?

Does their father talk about her with them? It's difficult because they were separated, but it may be easier to feel like she isn't being replaced if he could talk about the good times with her and when he did love her.

Giving therapy another try isn't a bad idea. It could have been a bad fit, and your husband also may not have given it enough time.
 

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Would their mothers parents be willing to speak to them? I think they'd benefit from hearing support for your relationship with their dad from someone whose loyalties are with their mom. If there's anyone on their moms' side who could give them some guidance it might hold more weight than from their dad or a counsellor.

Obviously I'm not dead but my son had a pretty big chip on his shoulder about my ex's girlfriend for a while. I told him that he needed to be polite with her and that it'd be a lot nicer for him there if he just accepted his dads' relationship. You don't need to be buddies but you are going to have more fun with your dad if you try to have a positive attitude. I think getting permission from me helped him get more comfortable with her.
 
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