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KansasTherapist, LSCSW
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 566
Experience:  17 years experience with depression, abuse, and borderline.
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I am a 48 yr old stepmother of 2 daughters ages 17 and 18,

Customer Question

I am a 48 yr old stepmother of 2 daughters ages 17 and 18, 11 months apart. My husband and I have primary custody of them since they were 12 and 13 yrs old. They live with us full time, except for when their mother is not high on drugs and she wants to see them. Legally the court said she could see them every 2 weeks for visitation, but she has not seen them since Christmas. They obviously have a very shaky relationship with their biological mother, since she is not consistent with them.
I have a problem with their mother, in that she is a low-life scumbag. I cannot stand her, because of all the BS, and not to mention the thousands of dollars we spent on getting the kids, she makes me sick. I sometimes see the girls acting like her, i.e. they will sound like her or walk like her, and I get upset at them. I know this sounds stupid, but I don't have any children of my own, because I could never get pregnant, and I resent them in some way. I can't even tell them to clean their rooms without the younger one getting offended. I have more jealousy issues with the 17 year old than I do with the 18 year old because she is always around my husband and I, monopolizing his attention. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of it!! I have been having kidney problems and colon issues, and am concerned about my health, and lately have not been paying much attention to them. I feel like they do not respect me when I ask them to do something (they are lazy), and so I act disinterested in their lives and what happens. Just tonight, the 18 yr old was driving our moped back from her part time job with her sister on the back riding with her, and was hit by a car in the back. They subsequently called their father and said they were in an accident but were o.k. Their father went to meet them in his car and followed the moped home to make sure they wouldnt stall. When the older one got home, she came inside and asked if I knew what happened to them. I said, "Yeah, I heard." She said, "uh huh", and walked back outside. My husband then came inside and told me they were both mad at me because I didnt come outside to see how they were. To tell you the truth, I really didnt care because I feel like they dont care about what I say to them, so why should I care about what they do? I am really at my wits end because I love my husband so much, but sometimes he can be a wimp with them.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  DrFee replied 5 years ago.

Hello! Please remember that my responses are informational only, we are not establishing a therapeutic relationship.


It sounds like you are dealing with multiple issues and losses:

1. Your struggle with infertility (which is very painful)

2. Your current health issues

3. The difficulty of being a step-parent (even in the best situations, issue arise from this).


What do you mean that your husband can be a "wimp" with them?


It sounds like a situation where your issues are colliding with their issues. They have to deal with the fact that they have a drug-addicted mother, you have to deal with the issues named above. On your side, you have resentment toward the girls, on their side they respond by being "lazy," perhaps attention seeking from Dad, and giving you grief over household issues. Even the acting like their mother might be a way of trying to have some kind of connection with the mother who gives them virtually nothing.


On top of those issues, you have the normal issues of late adolescence, where young people are trying to individuate from their parents anyway and become more independent. Trouble is, they still need their parents in ways that they won't in just a few short years.


I am not excusing any of their bad behavior, but I imagine that they have a lot of unresolved issues toward their mother. Therefore, whether they acknowledge it or not, there's a lot of pain there.


And, it sounds like you have some pain too. So my question back to you is --how can you be caring to them AND have your own needs met as well ?


--Do you need more from your husband (or is there something in your relationship that needs attention) ?


--What do you need to effectively address your health issues? (Rest, support from husband, more effective medical care)


--Do you need to grieve the fact that you never had your own children?


These are just some ideas. Both you and the girls need compassion and care.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
What I mean by he's a wimp with them, it means he doesn't enforce them say, cleaning their rooms or to do the chore list that I put up on the fridge that they are supposed to do every day. He just kind of sits around on his days off and plays his video games, and I end up yelling at the girls for not doing what I have been telling them to do for the past week! When I see the house dirty, I get crazy in my head and end up yelling at them to clean up! My husband says, "Why dont you just tell them in a calm voice to clean, and they will be more responsive." Well, when I was growing up, my parents were Italian, and most of the time we were ordered to clean our rooms, household chores, etc., so why should I be lenient with my stepkids? My husband says, it's not 1970 anymore, and parenting is different. O.K. Whatever! My husband thinks I should just be a mother to them---but they have a mother--albeit a bad one---but I feel that whatever she does it doesnt matter because she will always be their mother. He also thinks I shouldnt make it about me all the time and to grow up. What do you think about all this?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Answer came too late.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Expert:  KansasTherapist replied 5 years ago.
I agree with you that your husband should take a more active role in parenting his daughters. Since he is offering suggestions, you could ask him to show you how his ideas would work. The girls are more likely to listen to him because he's their dad but he's also likely to see how frustration it can be went his kids don't act responsibly. Try having a discussion with him about this when things are calm, not just after you've gotten angry and frustrated.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Why do I resent the kids so much?
Expert:  KansasTherapist replied 5 years ago.
In part I think it is related to your anger at their mother, and the way the girls remind you of her. I also think you would very much like to be loved and respected by them, as though they were your own children, but they continue to have a relationship with a mother who does nothing for them and who cares more about her drugs than her daughters. At the same time there is an irrational component to your resentment and frustration. It is not unusual for children in their situation to be willing to forgive almost anything to keep their mom in their lives. It is a sad reality that they will cling to her in the hope she will someday be a real mother to them. it would be better for your relationship with the girls if you could accept their fear of abandonment and care for them in spite of it.
KansasTherapist, LSCSW
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 566
Experience: 17 years experience with depression, abuse, and borderline.
KansasTherapist and other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
ok, well thank you for helping me to see into it more. I am trying the best I can and know how to do. I guess sometimes it's just not enough. I am trying to find a therapist in my area that I can speak to on a regular basis. I think I need it.