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Grandparenting

Difficult step daughter and husband

(28 Posts)
thelittlecherrytree Mon 14-Sep-20 13:26:25

I have been with my husband for 12 years since his eldest daughter was 12.

I have always found her to be difficult. Her parents were warring and her Mum made life very difficult for my partner despite him being a good Dad.

We had his daughter and his 3 other children around 40% of the time and it was hard work! I did all the normal day to day stuff for them all, washing their clothes, sewing name tags in school uniform, doing the school runs, cooking and shopping etc etc. We bought them all cars and paid for driving lessons, took them out ourselves in the car, took them on holiday, decorated their rooms how they wanted etc etc. We never had a child of our own and we both worked full time too, I have 1 child now grown up. One daughter moved in with us full time and barely saw her Mum. I think we did our best with all of them in very difficult circumstances. The two that lived with us full time are doing really well in adult life with relationships and careers etc.

Eldest daughter was always sullen and miserable whatever we did. I expected her to stop contact at some point but she never did. She came 40% of the time until she moved in with her now husband at the age of 19. When she was with us, she would just tell us how much better life was with Mum, even though it was clear Mum did very little for her or her siblings.

She has since got married and had a child of her own - we have financed a lot of this. Paid for the wedding and the deposit on their house and money for cars.

She lives about an hour away from us. She wants to come to our house every weekend and stay from Friday afternoon until Monday morning with her husband and baby.

My husband and I both work 6 and a half days a week, so only get a half day and the evenings together. We also still have 2 young adults at home. We say "no" every weekend to her requests because we are simply not at home and I refuse to just let them use our home as a free B&B. They do stay with Mum who doesn't have a job but they have said they would "prefer to sit on our sofa as our house is nicer".

I honestly think they thought we would be falling over ourselves to have them over all weekend because they have a baby. The baby is lovely and we want to have a relationship with her and we do see them 1 or 2 times a month for a few hours each time as well as regular messages.

We both find them very difficult to communicate with. They seem to be jealous of everything we do and have.

I just feel whatever we do, it is not enough and I do think they just don't like us very much.

She has now announced she is "depressed" by phone call to her Dad. She hasn't actually phoned her Dad for years. We have both tried to talk to her about this but despite her talking about her "medication" constantly and leaving tablets on the coffee table, telling us how she can't drive because of her "medication", telling us how her husband has to take time off work in case her "medication" affects her etc etc, she says she "doesn't want to talk about it" when I ask her how she is feeling.

I've always known she is unhappy and she says she is going to have counselling. I don't think her husband helps as he seems to be just as bad with his disdain of us.

But you know, I realise that all this affects MY mental health massively and I don't sleep after seeing them and have anxiety attacks when I know I am going to see them. Something I have not suffered from in the past despite a few pretty traumatic life events.

I am on a merry go round of trying my absolute best, getting kicked in the teeth, feeling guilty for getting it wrong and then trying some more.

mumofmadboys Mon 14-Sep-20 13:50:11

Could you say you are finding it too much if they come every weekend but it would be lovely to see them once a month and perhaps they could stay Saturday to Sunday? Tell them you are finding work more tiring as you get older and you realise you need to cut back a bit on your commitments. It sounds as if you did a great job with 4 step children.

Chewbacca Mon 14-Sep-20 13:56:43

So of the 4 children, only this one is an entitled, greedy little madam? Just keep saying "No". It's a complete sentence and doesn't need any further explanation.

thelittlecherrytree Mon 14-Sep-20 14:08:14

mumofmadboys - I do tell them this. We are not even at home all day Saturday and Sunday as we are out all day at work Sunday and a half day on Saturday. I am spending half my free time at weekends with them and they make it clear this is not enough. Obviously we have other family members to consider too.

We get half a day a week to ourselves. They somehow refuse or don't want to understand this and expect to stay for 3 full days.

bluebirdwsm Mon 14-Sep-20 14:14:16

It's your home, your life, your mental health, you and H's free time together and you tell them what is acceptable and convenient to you. They do not tell you. Set boundaries.

You are being manipulated and have stepped it up due to using the baby as a bargaining 'tool'. Your husband should have your interests at heart and need to step up and do the negotiating with his daughter [who sounds like she needs help...is resentful, entitled and feeling like a victim].

You can only do so much and you have done your bit, I suggest the problem is majorly with her mother [although I don't know] and you are getting caught in the turmoil. She is responsible for her behaviour and getting help with it. Her attitude towards you both is not good and needs adapting.

Oopsadaisy4 Mon 14-Sep-20 14:18:59

Don’t negotiate say No and mean it, don’t be a pushover.

Your DH should be helping you with this, so next time she calls get him to say No.

Would you put up with this behaviour from anyone else? I think not.

tickingbird Mon 14-Sep-20 14:35:29

You really need to be firm with this. Why do they even want to be at your place every weekend? Do they have their own place? Do as others have suggested and say No. Don’t feel guilty and don’t allow yourself to be browbeaten.

thelittlecherrytree Mon 14-Sep-20 14:48:27

Both my husband and I say no everytime they ask but often come up with a compromise such as popping in for a few hours or us visiting them when we get time off.

Other people would have taken the hint. But they don't. They dress it up as wanting to see us, but it actually feels like they just want to use us and not miss out on anything.

thelittlecherrytree Mon 14-Sep-20 15:01:56

They have a place of their own but I suspect they are bored. Covid probably hasn't helped as he is working from home and she hasn't been able to get out and meet other new Mum's although I suspect she wouldn't have done anyway.

They seem stuck between wanting to be "grown up" and have the house, wedding, car, baby and then still wanting contact weekends because they don't feel ready to make a life of their own without their parents.

Oopsadaisy4 Mon 14-Sep-20 15:52:47

Just say No.

Chewbacca Mon 14-Sep-20 15:59:17

The more information you're providing thelittlecherrytree, the more this young couple sound like Dave and Denise off The Royle Family. Is that really what they're like? If so, you need to be pushing them towards being an independent family in their own right.

thelittlecherrytree Mon 14-Sep-20 16:07:28

I've never watched the Royle family, so I can't comment.

Oopsadaisy4 Mon 14-Sep-20 16:19:32

The Royle family had a daughter and son in law who plonked Themselves down on the sofa and left poor Barbara to fetch and carry for them.when they had a child it came too.

She too was a facilitator, but she enjoyed it. I think...

Madgran77 Mon 14-Sep-20 16:35:23

They need to develop their own independence as a family. I am wondering what part Mum is playing in this rather demanding, difficult and "not listening" behaviour?

What are your partners thoughts on all this. It is his daughter and his ex partner.

thelittlecherrytree Mon 14-Sep-20 17:13:36

My husband feels the same as me and finds them both difficult. He was given the announcement of her depression but when he asks her what's wrong she won't tell him. He feels she is just attention seeking, which I feel horrible thinking is probably true to some extent. He says her Mother has just turned her against him and been her main role model. Mum has never worked but tells the world she is a successful business woman on social media. It sounds crazy but this is how it is. She claims benefits and lives off our maintenance. Her 3 girls have all been to proms and we bought the dresses, shoes, make up. Their Mum never even saw them. Their Mum has not been to any of her children's 3 graduations. Their Mum has moved man after man in and told the children they would be moving far away from us so she could be with the latest man. Mum received a lump sum of money but spent it all on herself. She has taken foreign holidays but never taken the children abroad and never taken the kids for even a day out unless she has a current boyfriend to chaperone her. And yet, we are treated like we are the uncaring ones. We simply don't have all weekend to pander to them and nor do either of us want to. I feel I have done more than my bit to be honest. I think her issue is with her Mum but it's a lot easier to think of us as the useless ones. I care about them and want to see them do well but I fail to see how dossing at our house is in anyone's interests.

Chewbacca Mon 14-Sep-20 17:22:24

I fail to see how dossing at our house is in anyone's interests.

Well, it's not really is it? Time for the "hard talk" I reckon thelittlecherrytree; gently moving them towards a more independent life is in the best interests of you all. The longer they "doss" at your house, the longer they're putting off having an independent, mature life. It's in their own best interests if they understand that sooner rather than later. Fingers crossed for you.

Madgran77 Mon 14-Sep-20 17:36:10

I think that you need to call a "family conference" with them and have a clear discussion about what is going on.If you can establish what is driving the request to come and stay every weekend. Ask directly "Why do you not want to stay in your home at weekends?" "Is it because you are feeling depressed?" (she told her dad so it can be a direct question I think) Are you tired and wanting a rest?" Do you want babysitting?" "Do you want someone else to cook?" etc etc. Listen really carefully and try to do it non judgementally, not rising to sullenness or rudeness because you are focused on sorting out what is happening and establishing a way forward. You can then offer whatever version of what they are looking for that you want to or feel able to. If you don't want to offer anything then don't.

Be careful to make it clear that you like to spend SOME free time with them and to see the baby. Say that you would welcome a visit once a month for a lovely catch up but you are not able to make your house available every weekend because you need time to yourselves as well.

I sympathise with this affecting your own mental health which is why I think you have to take some control in a way that enables your husband and you to understand, set a boundary re what you can offer to help/support and hopefully move forward as a family flowers

TrendyNannie6 Mon 14-Sep-20 17:48:22

I think I would be having a few words, you both have done soo much, you sound such a caring step mum and her dad sounds as if he’s doing his best, you seem to be funding such an awful lot too, I wonder how much of input the mother is having with this! Goodness me you work hard and need to have time with your husband, i know for a fact if it was me and my husband we wouldn’t be doing it, it’s all very nice helping out financially etc, but I think they are taking the mickey

sodapop Mon 14-Sep-20 19:16:21

Enough is enough thelittlecherryteee clearly you are being too gentle with your family.
You and your husband need to be firmer with your boundaries and agree to less frequent visits, if necessary remove yourselves from the situation, from time to time.
It's not helpful to resent the mother and her lack of involvement but concentrate on what is best for the two of you. You have gone over and above caring for the family now it's your turn.

thelittlecherrytree Tue 15-Sep-20 12:17:33

Thanks for all the responses.

We do tell them we are busy every time they ask but they keep asking. They haven’t stayed all weekend at all but that doesn’t stop them asking week in and week out.

I rarely think about her Mum nowadays but was just posting about her here as someone asked how it had got to this position.

I know some people struggle to see much of grandchildren so I didn’t know if maybe I was being a bit unfair but really I wish they would just have some understanding of our lives instead of assuming every spare minute we would want to spend with them. 🤷‍♀️

I almost feel that they are pushing us so we have to have an awkward conversation with us and they can confirm we are the bad guys.

Fennel Tue 15-Sep-20 16:36:08

Another possibility is that the couple are having marriage problems and she sees your house as an escape.
Even so they need to be persuaded to be responsible for themselves. They have their own family now.
We had a similar family setup ages ago but never did as much for them (mine or his) as you've done.
But I sympathise - reconstituted families are very complicated.

Madgran77 Tue 15-Sep-20 17:28:32

Try to have that "family conference" you need to know what is driving this, in order to identify a way forward

Dinahmo Fri 25-Sep-20 15:56:21

How do you know that she wants to stay with you every weekend? Has she said so? She asks if she can come over for a weekend and you say no. So she asks the following week and again you so no. Ad infinitum?

Look at it another way - your OH left her mother with 4 children, the eldest being 12 or younger. There is bound to be resentment. No doubt she sees you as the one responsible for breaking up the family home.

Such resentments can last for many years. When my younger brother was about 10 or 11 he spent a year in a long stay orthopaedic hospital in Hampshire. We lived in Essex. My parents visited him every Saturday and took him sweets and comics - more than the allowance of the rest of us. My sister, the youngest of 4 resented this until she was in her thirties, maybe even longer. Now at the age of 73 (me) and 66 (her) we are on friendly terms having fallen out about 30 years ago when our mother died, our father having died some years before. I have not seen my 2 brothers since then.

DiscoDancer1975 Fri 25-Sep-20 16:16:20

I think you’ve kind of worked it out for yourself. Writing it down often does that I think. You are on a merry go round, and it’s time to get off! She may well be resentful, but she’s a grown up. She’s got her own baby now, and should really be focusing on him/her. Why on earth do they want the bother of upping sticks every weekend? With a baby too. We can’t constantly be the battering blocks for our children, even if they’re ill. Like you say, you’re starting to be affected, and to be honest, your husband should be protecting/ supporting you. There are people helping because she’s on medication. We can only do so much. Tell her to get professional help, and you stop now before you’re too ill to do anything 💐

paddyanne Fri 25-Sep-20 18:13:57

does she have PND? My sons partner has been struggling for months without saying anything ,she now has medication .She was spending every day with her mum or sisters as she couldn't stand being alone with baby.Lockdown of course made it all much worse .I would say make sure you know exactly whats going on with your SD before labelling her as lazy entitled or any of the other things said on here .She may NEED help and her Dad (and you) are who she wants to be with to get her through .I'm sure you'd never firgive yourself if anything went seriously wrong and you had been bad mouthing her when all she needed was support