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Stepdaughter problem regarding holiday in France

(74 Posts)
fuseta Tue 11-Aug-20 13:45:51

My husband will be 70 in January and I will be 70 in April next year. A few weeks ago, my Stepdaughter sent me a text to announce that she was taking her Dad to Carcassonne for his birthday, but it will probably be in the spring. Initially, I felt a bit upset because that will be around the time of my birthday and also Carcassonne had always been on our list of places to go together. I must point out that although she lives nearby, she never comes to see my husband and rarely replies to texts or phone calls from him. This upsets him very much, but he never stops trying. Anyway, after receiving this text, I replied to explain that although it was a nice idea, we were thinking of having a combined celebration for both our birthdays in the spring. She replied saying that she wish that she had never told me and would speak to her Dad, which so far she hasn't done. Since then, my two dear friends have said that they would love to take me away for my birthday. Although my husband and I hate being apart and much prefer to go places together, I thought that this may be a solution, so I contacted my Stepdaughter to tell her this. She replied to say that she doesn't think that she will bother now as it has all turned out so negative. I told her that now I have got used the idea and that my friends would like to know if and when she still plans to go and she just doesn't reply. This is supposed to be a surprise for my husband. I know that this probably sounds all about me, but over the years I have tried so hard to bring them together and find out what the problem is with her, but she refuses to have a conversation about it. If only she would pop round for a coffee, or arrange to meet up at times like Christmas, but she won't and so it seems so strange that she wants to take him away. If only she had asked me what I thought about it, we could have had a conversation and found a solution but because she just announced it, I was taken by surprise. If she won't answer the phone or reply to text messages or e-mails, I don't know what to do to make things better. Of course, with the pandemic, none of this may be happening!

Luckyoldbeethoven Tue 11-Aug-20 14:00:30

Oh dear Fuseta that all sounds very hard. You've told us a lot about the problem but it sounds like the roots are in the past which we don't know about.

The estrangement threads on here tell many sad stories of family misunderstandings and people trying to put things right but failing. Whatever the past circumstances were, my sense is that you're dealing with a lost little girl who wants her dad to herself but there is something in the way.
Divorce and step parenting is a minefield and probably not open to approaches of reasonableness. Your situation echoes a friend's family situation, I can't say any more on a public forum but I think you should encourage the two of them to speak to each other and perhaps keep out of it. Can you put all the plans on hold for a moment (and your desires) and calmly do that?
There are many wise posters on this forum, I hope you get some helpful answers.

Starblaze Tue 11-Aug-20 14:06:08

fuseta have you tried looking at it from her point of view? On the one hand you say her father is upset that she doesn't always reply to him or reach out enough, on the other, when she tries to do something meaningful, you immediately stood in the way.

I don't think she needs permission to surprise her dad. She obviously wanted to do something special that she knew he wanted to do and she obviously wanted some quality time with him.

This would have been a positive bonding experience for both of them and exactly what you say is missing.

Perhaps your stepdaughter feels pushed out by your relationship and the dynamic of you two always being together and being a package deal.

Perhaps she needs time alone with her father and you are unaware you are standing in the way of that.

Now she is hurt and unable to adjust back from your negative reaction. Perhaps she feels like giving up on ever having that quality time without upsetting you or her dad.

Its all quite normal and natural, I still also enjoy time with just my father and would arrange time without my children/husband/his partner so we could just be together. That is never any insult against anyone else, it's just something that even adult children sometimes want and need.

Hithere Tue 11-Aug-20 14:25:07

Agree with Starblaze.

sodapop Tue 11-Aug-20 14:47:26

I understand your point of view Starblaze and it was a nice thought from the stepdaughter. I do find it a bit odd that the stepdaughter suddenly said she was taking her father away with apparently no reference to fuseta
I would certainly expect my step children to at least ask me if I thought it was a good idea.

Starblaze Tue 11-Aug-20 17:15:34

Sodapop that's the question though isn't it. Should you expect/demand that? Or should they be able to come to you and say "I've arranged xyz as a surprise" and you just be happy and supportive. Unless the one being surprised would definitely hate it.

MissAdventure Tue 11-Aug-20 17:23:05

I'd be really, really cross if someone arranged a trip away without me being asked.

rafichagran Tue 11-Aug-20 17:37:37

I agree with Missadventure This couple are both 70 one in January and one in April.They should do so nothing together and the step daughter should know that. She should also have asked them both.
I think the OP has fallen over backwards to accommodate her step daughter.
I really do not understand why the stepdaughter did not do something for both of them. In mr opinion Fusrmeta has been reasonable.

MissAdventure Tue 11-Aug-20 17:54:41

I think it would have been reasonable for the stepdaughter to make sure that "taking her dad away" wouldn't fall around the time of other, quite important dates.

rafichagran Tue 11-Aug-20 17:58:05

I think if she wanted to take her Dad away she could have asked her step mother in case they had anything planned.
Also it would be nice to do something for them as a couple to celebrate both their birthdays.

Madgran77 Tue 11-Aug-20 18:09:11

I think Starblaze presents reasonable things that are worth you considering fuseta in deciding a way forward although your OP did not give me the impression that you expected her to "ask permission"! More that you would have liked to be asked about any plans you two might have.

If she won't reply maybe a letter saying that it would be good to talk things through?

lemongrove Tue 11-Aug-20 18:23:00

I don’t agree with Starblaze in any way at all.
Fuseta has first call on what she and her DH do in life, a grown up daughter or step daughter comes second.
The polite and right thing for the step daughter to do was to run the idea of this trip through with her Father and step Mother before she did anything else, and allow them time to think about it and come to a decision.
Adult children have no rights to control their parents lives, just as parents have no rights to control their AC.

MissAdventure Tue 11-Aug-20 18:25:09

Absolutely agree.

Starblaze Tue 11-Aug-20 18:28:10

I don't mind people disagreeing with me. I can only give my own thoughts on the subject and how I raise my own children

MissAdventure Tue 11-Aug-20 18:41:24

That's what we all do, I'd imagine.
I don't think there's a right or wrong answer, but there is plenty of room for compromise, if the stepdaughter allows it.

Madgran77 Tue 11-Aug-20 19:04:14

Adult children have no rights to control their parents lives, just as parents have no rights to control their AC.

I agree lemongrove but in terms of trying to sort things out it might be worth fuseta considering the perspectives Starblaze suggests, to help her find a way forward.

I imagine we all give our own thoughts based on how we raise/raised on our own children, what worked, what didnt, our experiences, what we have learnt! All we can do really!

Grandmafrench Tue 11-Aug-20 19:06:24

In order to successfully organise a surprise for her Dad, she clearly needs to have some proper idea as to his and his Wife's own plans, to avoid her idea falling flat on its face. Speaking about it to the OP - and in a reasonable way to find out what she thinks - would have been the only polite thing in the circumstances and avoided unnecessary flouncing, IMO. She is not suggesting taking her Father away for his birthday but this is a little more than a day out somewhere nice and will take some organising. People who do very little in terms of contact and day to day stuff can be more than irritating when they suddenly decide on grand gestures. Most of us don't want grand gestures, we want some certainty and the security of knowing that our families care enough to keep in touch and will consider that we have lives and arrangements too. She is much more than a little lost girl : she sounds like a middle aged woman who has long had problems in her relationship with her Father. Such problems won't be resolved without at the very least some consideration for that Father and the ability to speak to him honestly (and listen) and decide how best to repair (or not) the relationship for both their sakes. Don't think that Fuseta is standing in the way of any of that. She has already stated how hard she has tried to encourage the relationship between them and I can only agree with what lemongrove says here.
Hope you get your birthday trip sorted out, Fuseta and if you do both manage to get to Carcassonne, enjoy it all, it's lovely.

Chewbacca Tue 11-Aug-20 19:16:09

Knowing that both her father and her step mother are having significant milestone birthdays, within a few weeks of each other, would indicate to most caring people that it would be likely they'd be arranging some sort of joint celebration and it would seem obvious to most people that it would be worth checking this before making any plans for one of them. From what fuseta said in her OP, there has been ample opportunity for the step daughter to have quality time with her father, she just hasn't availed herself of it. Lemongrass is right: Adult children have no rights to control their parents lives, just as parents have no rights to control their AC. The reasonable thing to have done was check first. But she didn't, and now she's seen her arse and has gone off to sulk. Very mature. Not.

Madgran77 Tue 11-Aug-20 21:22:09

I tend to agree Chewbacca re checking; I imagine most people would check first, its the sensible, right, mature thing to do.

As fuseta is wondering how to make things better it probably is worth her thinking about her stepdaughters possible perspectives though.

fuseta I hope that you work things out in a way that works for you and your husband and hopefully for his relationship with his daughter

CanadianGran Tue 11-Aug-20 21:50:33

Frankly I'm amazed she would invite her father for a holiday without you.

If I were you I would go ahead and plan a trip for the both of you, and perhaps suggest to your friends you could stay close to home to celebrate.

Let your husband know you are planning something so he is able to plan around it if an offer does come from his daughter.

crazyH Tue 11-Aug-20 22:29:08

My ex-husband’s wife doesn’t allow me to do anything with our children unless she is there as well. They are adults now but my daughter was especially close to her father and she would have loved to have some daddy-daughter time with her . I think she has been affected emotionally, although she now has children of her own.

crazyH Tue 11-Aug-20 22:29:55

Allow ‘him’ not ‘me’

Summerlove Wed 12-Aug-20 01:15:49


I don’t agree with Starblaze in any way at all.
Fuseta has first call on what she and her DH do in life, a grown up daughter or step daughter comes second.
The polite and right thing for the step daughter to do was to run the idea of this trip through with her Father and step Mother before she did anything else, and allow them time to think about it and come to a decision.
Adult children have no rights to control their parents lives, just as parents have no rights to control their AC.

I agree that AC shouldn’t run the show, however, surely OPs husband can make his own decisions without the women in life making all his choices?

BlueBelle Wed 12-Aug-20 06:54:57

I think the clue is she hasn’t had that close a relationship with her dad for whatever reason and had thought of something that could bring them together and of course was devastated when you negated it all
I can also see how you felt totally left out as your birthday was coming up and you wanted to celebrate with your husband

I don’t see why you couldn’t have let him go away in the spring with his daughter but still had your own celebrations on both your birthdays in what ever way you wanted
I think it all points to where’s she’s taking him.... you had that place in your mind and don’t like it taken away, well it looks like she won’t be taking him anywhere now, so I guess you’re back to where you all were before and you can take him to France after all but unfortunately it’s all tainted now
What a shame

Frizzywizzy Wed 12-Aug-20 10:09:48

It sounds as though she’s very upset because initially you responded quite negatively. Her Dad being 70 will be a big deal for her. I’d text again and say that you know he would really love to go with her and that you’re sorry that your initial response may have sounded a little negative. Tell her he will be over the moon and that you’re looking forward to going on holiday with friends so it’s all worked out really well. Maybe offer to pay for his flights as the cost may have gone up a little since she first made the suggestion? Your contribution towards his big day and a fantastic surprise with his daughter.