General Question

Feta's avatar

My stepmom thinks I'm coming between her and my dad?

Asked by Feta (925points) December 23rd, 2013

I think I’ve mentioned my problems with her here before, but I recently had a “heart to heart” with her and finally the truth came out.

As I suspected, she really does think I’m trying to take her position. The exact quote from her was, “You need to remember where you come from (poverty and abuse), you’re a spoiled brat and you need to get it through your head that I’m the queen of this house.”

I then proceeded to ask exactly what makes me a “spoiled brat” and she said because I’m never satisfied with what I have (I am), and that I always say I want things.

The only thing I ask them for are basic necessities. I do say that I want new camera lenses, but when I say that, I’m just trying to share my interest in photography by telling them about these lenses; I’m not asking for them.

I explained that to her and she got defensive because she realized she was wrong (it’s not the first time I’ve explained that to her though).

Anyway, recently she’s been making sly comments. Like at my birthday dinner, she ordered two big slices of cake and I was to split mine with my uncle and she and my dad were going to share theirs. She had already grabbed a plate with cake on it (unbeknownst to anyone, she was cutting it in half for me and my uncle) so I obviously got the other cake.

I tried to explain that I thought the cake she had was the one she was taking for herself but she wouldn’t have it. She just talked over me.

So she ruined my birthday basically.

If she had her way, I would stay upstairs all day and never come down to talk to anyone. She said I shouldn’t text my dad because it’s weird. I recently went to New York City and didn’t have time to call my parents, so when I got home I apologized and she said, “No, I’m proud of you. I expected that you’d be calling and texting your dad everyday. You’re almost an adult.”

So I said, “Well, in college I’m going to call…” and she blew up at me again saying I’m not mature enough for college and that I’m going to drop out of NYU because I won’t be able to handle being alone. That I’m so antisocial I can’t make friends at my (very cliquey and small) high school, then how am I supposed to make friends at college?
I don’t make friends at my school because the kids aren’t very intelligent…they go to parties and have a lot sex and do serious drugs and I’m not into that. And the geeky kids are just…weird. I’ve asked to be home schooled and she said no because it would ruin their retirement to pay $3000 for me to home schooled online.

This could get really long so I’m going to summarize the rest of the problems:

- She talks very badly about me on the phone to my dad. I’ve heard her say some pretty nasty things and he just doesn’t say anything. I’ve asked him to speak to her about it and he ignores me. One day I even got so upset about what she said that I started crying and he said he’d definitely talk to her because he didn’t know it made me that upset. He never did. I asked why and he said, “I haven’t found the right time to” or he makes excuses, “She’s just really stressed out at work right now.”

- She says that she comes first in my dad’s life because she’s his wife. I said, “I’ve been in his life longer than you have…” and she yelled again, “I’m his WIFE.” I asked my dad and he agreed that she comes first. He said that everyone would agree with him, the wife always comes before the children. When they first got married I asked if he had to choose between us, who would he choose (I was insecure about the situation because they got married after only a year of knowing each other and she was already calling the shots, if she didn’t want us over for visitation, we wouldn’t go, and she controlled what he said to us, what he bought us, and when he could call us; there was even a situation at Thanksgiving where her grandchildren and daughters and MY family got to sit at the main dining table and me and my brother were made to sit in a different room), he said he’d always choose her.

- She’s trying to claim my family.
My grandmother recently passed away and she tried to say that I was fake-crying at her funeral. When we got home my dad actually confronted me and asked me why I was “really” crying.

Last summer I went with my dad to visit my grandfather who I hadn’t seen in 10 years. She was a bitch to me the entire time before we went. I found out in this conversation that she begrudged me going with my dad alone on that trip (even though she had to opportunity to go, she refused to get on the plane). I asked why and she said, “Because he’s my father-in-law.” And I said, “Well I feel like I’m more entitled anyway because he’s my biological grandfather…” and she yelled at me, “He’s my father-in-law. I’m married to your father. I’m more important.”

She’s even insinuated that my grandfather loves her more because she’s sent him a few emails and he’s only met me once. She asked him in one of those emails what he thought about me and he said he remembered me being very quiet ( I had problems from the abuse ), so she rubbed it in my face for awhile that he thought I was weird and quiet and spoiled and he thought she was just perfect.

I feel like a guest in my father’s home, even though he’s had custody of me for four years. I asked her and she said, “Yes, you are a guest in my home. Everything you own is mine. Your bedroom furniture, your computer, TV, everything. You’re not taking that when you’re 18.” She also follows me around if I go downstairs. If I open a cabinet in the kitchen she always asks, “What are you doing?” and comes over to see for herself.

She also said I should be thankful that I escaped the abuse to live here because she didn’t want me to live here and if she didn’t want me to, my dad wouldn’t let me (which is true), and if she hadn’t found the kindness in her heart to allow me to move here, I’d still be living in squalor.

I’m so sorry this is long. To me, it’s just important to share every detail to truly paint the picture of what I’m going through.

I don’t know what to do! She’s ruining my relationship with my father and he’s just going along with it.

I’m afraid that when I move out I’m not going to be allowed to see him or call him even though he says I will, she says I won’t.

I’m also worried about my dad’s belongings. She’s got 3 money-hungry 40 something year old daughters who have no lives and when she dies, the only assets she has are what belongs to my dad’s family estate. She says that everything will go to me and my brother but my dad is so brainwashed into trusting her that he hasn’t had a will written.

He says that won’t happen, that if he dies first, she will give us what is “rightfully ours”.

I just hate this whole situation.

I don’t have my mother because of her mental illness and my stepmother is trying to take my father from me too.

What can I possibly do to fix it?

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18 Answers

Coloma's avatar

There is really nothing you can do to fix anything.
All you can do is be sure your behavior is good so the step mom cannot make any twisted claims about your intentions. As far as the estate issues, well, your father NEEDS to put his wishes and assets in writing. He is foolish to think that he can trust this woman to do the right thing. The only thing you can do is have a heart to heart with your dad and express how important it is to you that what he wishes for you and his other children be set forth in a will to avoid any misery and misunderstandings later.

You also have to accept the very real possibility your dad will continue to do nothing and that you may, very well, end up with nothing from his estate. As much as this situation sucks you can’t force your father to do anything. He sounds like a passive guy who is more than happy to let his aggressive wife call the shots. Sorry to say but unless he chooses to make a will it is quite doubtful you will see your fair share of the estate holdings.

Seek's avatar

I am so, so sorry you are going through this.

This could be my husband’s childhood, except instead of living with the bitch, he had to stay living with his brain-damaged mother, teaching her how to tie her own shoes when he was 18.

It’s been 25 years since his mom’s aneurysm, and 30 since his dad married the village bicycle, and the stepmother is still keeping his dad from being involved in his son’s (and by extension, his grandson’s) life.

Her grandchildren have their own rooms in my father in law’s home and go on vacation with them twice a year. My son hasn’t laid eyes on his grandfather since my husband’s grandfather’s funeral a year and a half ago. And it was another year before that.

I almost admire your dad for actually admitting that he places his chosen bride over his children, because my father in law denies it, saying that the other kids “don’t have anyone”.

You know, because there’s not enough love for his own family and hers. And quite frankly, my son doesn’t have anyone except his parents. My family is not in the picture, and my husband’s mother still thinks it’s 1988. Brain damage and all.

Sorry, didn’t mean to rant.

Coloma's avatar

I too am concerned about this very thing with my daughters father, whom I was married to for 22 years, divorced 11 years ago this month. His new wife of the last 3 years managed to drag him off to Texas where she is from 3 years ago. He has a high end corporate management job and is now making at least 100k a year, probably much more. This woman is a domineering, gold digging bitch, conspiracy theorist, rabid political nut case, read: psycho bitch. lol

She is 50 this year and didn’t work for 8 years in a prior relationship, misrepresented herself to get her hooks in my ex and has now managed to not work, inspite of claiming she would find a job, for a grand total of at least the last 13 years now.
She pushed my daughter out of the picture several years ago, and I too am concerned that between a hefty inheritance my ex is in line for from his wealthy family and his own assets that this woman will find a way to keep it all. Karma is a bitch and god knows my ex deserves this lunatic, but, it does piss me off that our daughter most likely, will never see anything from her dad. He is also a passive/ passive aggressive type and I seriously doubt he will take the steps to ensure his daughter ends up with something in the end.

What to do?
Nothing, it is what it is.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
LilCosmo's avatar

I tend to agree with @Coloma, there is really nothing you can do to change your father, step-mother, and their priorities – which are incredibly screwed up. If what you say is true, you are managing all the things you have control over quite well. You are avoiding the bad influences at school, working hard, and planning to head off to college. Whatever you do do not listen to what this woman has to say about what you are and are not capable of. She is clearly coming at your entire relationship from a place of intense jealously and mistrust and does not have your best interest at heart.

Here’s what you know for sure: you are resilient and tough, you are able to keep focused on what is important (school, getting into college, avoiding drugs) even in the face of relentless negativity, you are a survivor, you can and will rise above your circumstances.

You are stuck in a horrible situation that no child should have to face, and your story saddens me. What is awesome though is that you seem to have a good head on hour shoulders in spite of it all. Please just keep hanging in there. Hopefully there is some responsible adult role model you can confide in and go to for guidance. Good luck to you.

Vincentt's avatar

How old are you? I’m assuming in your teens due to planning to go to college later. If not, this might not make a lot of sense.

I was in almost exactly the same situation, except it was the new boyfriend of my mother and I had more siblings. First of all: I’m perfectly happy now, so take my story as good news. Bad news is: it took a while. Anyway, I’ll tell my story, and how it ended, so hopefully you can relate to it.

The annoying thing about the situation is that it’s so hard to explain why it has such an impact on you, while there is e.g. no physical violence. However, I know the feeling of preferring to sit on your room all day, as in fact that was what I did in practice. I hardly ever met up with friends, and did not meet new people. Sure, I’m the shy type, but the presence of this person exacerbated it greatly. In turn, this would lead him to sometimes suggest I might suffer from autism in my presence – which in hindsight I’m pretty sure was meant to make me feel bad.

The relationship lasted for five years, all of which felt like mental abuse. These five years which overlapped exactly with our growing up. In the last year, maybe two, the relationship was not that stable, but the boyfriend had “threatened” with leaving so often that we didn’t buy it any more. One day, however, he did actually pack up and leave. We later received a notice that he would inform the police about a blog that my siblings and I had jokingly set up to rant about his crazy antics – in hindsight, I think the discovery of this blog might have convinced him to actually leave. One can only hope.

After he left, and I moved out for college, I caught up in developing my social skills very rapidly. The switch to college was especially helpful, since you get to meet new people with a clean slate who do not yet know how shy you used to be – once you’re the shy guy, it’s hard to break that pattern because everything you do is extra noticeable.

Bottom line is: it will get better for you, but there’s not much you can do now.

As your father and his wife chose each other, but his commitment to raising you was non-reciprocal (and a commitment he made and should stick to), you should come in first. His statement that that is not the case does not mean that it is, in fact, not the case. Pressure from his wife is a very strong motivator for such statements.

However: realise that, besides being a bitch to you, this woman is also your father’s wife – and for a reason. I’d have loved for my mother to stand up against him and for us more, and definitely think she should have kicked him out much earlier (the last year they were together she stated she stayed with him more because she “might be able to help him”, obviously missing the guy he probably was in the beginning, but doing so at our cost). However, having been in a relationship now myself, I understand how that could be difficult, and I’m glad I didn’t force her to choose between her relationship and her children. (Fun fact: obviously I also did not manage to meet a girlfriend in my shy years at home, but this worked out fine afterwards as well.)

The sad thing is: one of my brothers does blame my mother, and hardly ever sees her or speak to her. He visits my dad during Christmas, but skips my mother. What I’m trying to say is: don’t become like that – it hurts the rest of your family as well, and your father probably doesn’t deserve it either.

One final point: Even though there’s not much you can do now, you have every right to demand from your father to keep his promises. Keep in mind, though, that as it’s so hard to explain how abusive her behaviour is, that it is first of all hard for him to understand what you’re going through, and secondly hard to mention specific behaviour his wife should not exhibit.

Vincentt's avatar

And one more tip: write down your feelings in a private notebook, and never re-read them (I might even suggest burning it afterwards). It’s a great way to rant and to get things off your chest, but if you re-read it you will only come across whiny to yourself, or take them into your chest again.

Edit: (I can keep going on about this :P) About inheritances and what not: it’s all just money. Sure, it’d suck if she’d take it away or whatever, but there’s not that much you can do now about that. Just stay strong, keep your head down (confrontation won’t work with such a person) and don’t be too hard on yourself and your father. You’ll get through it.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Your stepmother sounds, dreadful and positively irrational. She’s definitely jealous of your father’s healthy relationship with you potentially has psych problems underpinning her strange behavior as well. Sadly, there’s very little you can do about this right now, but from personal experience, I’ll tell you that it’s important not to lose sight of your goals and surround yourself with positive people, friends, other adults, etc. you can speak to about your problems.

I hope you do come to NYC to attend NYU, it’s a wonderful city and a fantastic school. Keep working hard and doing you, and soon enough this woman will have no power in your life and will be good for a laugh when you have to tolerate her around the holidays, family gatherings etc. My father was and still is an abusive jerk who shat on my dreams and discouraged me but the way I “dealt” with him was to become a successful adult and maintain a healthy relationship with my Mom until she died last year.

CWOTUS's avatar

Sadly, this is the occasional downside of broken families and second marriages. Your stepmother isn’t the Wicked Queen (I can’t imagine why that image popped into my head), but you aren’t Snow White, either.

Clearly your stepmother is irrationally jealous and insecure. A secure woman would be not the least bit threatened by a healthy, loving relationship between a daughter (who means her no harm) and her father, the woman’s husband. (You may want to search your own conscience to see whether you have perhaps meant this woman some harm in the past, even unwittingly or involuntarily, say, early in the relationship when it was no longer just “dad and me in our own little world”, but she entered it, distracted some – a lot! – of his attention and time, and you may have more or less naturally resented that. That resentment – which she would have certainly felt! – may have stoked her insecurity to grow into… this mess that you have in front of you now.)

Aside from that, of course (and I can’t imagine why no one seems to have commented on this), no matter how much you love your dad, and I’m not trying to undercut him in your eyes, you should recognize that he has his own issues with courage (standing up to his wife and speaking in your behalf, or simply taking the initiative to make peace between the two of you) and his own attentiveness to you (or honesty: what father can honestly say both of those things and mean neither of them? “I didn’t know it was hurting you so badly” and “I’ll talk to her”?

So. The adults in your life are acting somewhat childishly and it’s up to you to try to make the best of things. Here are some specific actions that you might be able to take:

1. Don’t trust this woman, obviously. But do “take her into your confidence” in some matters that are essentially trivial and more or less meaningless, but might help to make her feel more important or valuable to you as a source of advice, opinion or thoughts. And after you’ve asked for her advice, take it. Don’t slap her in the face by asking for advice – and then doing the opposite. (That’s why I recommend that you start with trivial matters.)

2. Recognize that your father, whom you obviously love, has seen something in this woman of enough value to tie his future to hers. Try to see the good in her. Try to compliment her (honestly!) and thank her when things are going well and you can recognize the good.

3. Also recognize that your father is perhaps not as perfect as you may have once thought. He hasn’t noticed the hurt that has been caused to you? Or he noticed but was afraid of his wife to try to improve the situation? Neither of those observations is very good, is it? At least one of them is true. He listened to lies about you and didn’t talk to you about those things? I hate to say it, but as you mature you need to grow your own independence away from your father. Your stepmother is right about that, even if her advice on how to do it is caustic and hurtful.

4. Be aware that your stepmother may be projecting very strongly. When she accuses you of trying to drive a wedge between her and her husband that may be exactly what she is trying to do with you and your father. We can talk more about that later. For now, just be aware, and try to keep open the lines of communication.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Cut your losses, minimize your dad’s role in your life and get out of there. Don’t call or text unless it’s necessary. She has poisoned him against you and they are only going to bring you down if you keep letting them.

You could dress up as Cinderella at the next dinner…lol

ccrow's avatar

You’ve got some great answers here. But I agree, you really can’t fix anything. I would just add, try not to piss her off when possible, remember that the nasty things she says say more about her then they do about you. People who truly know you know better, right? You could try being extra nice to her, I mean like sickeningly nice and considerate… it will probably drive her crazy trying to figure out what you’re up to.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Also, I have a relative who almost caused her parents to divorce by playing them against each other to get her own way. I know you don’t THINK it’s you and your manipulations, but I’d really do some soul searching while you’re away from them both. If you find you may be part of the problem, get some counseling for yourself and maybe later with your dad.

geeky_mama's avatar

I agree very strongly with @CWOTUS.

Your stepmom is irrational and jealous and while she should be the adult here and realize as a kid (and you are still your father’s child…ALWAYS) this is your father and your family she’s joining..not the other way around.. she is either too emotionally damaged, insecure or otherwise immature/selfish to realize her actions are out of line.

As @CWOTUS points out your father isn’t helping matters by taking her side. He may think he’s “keeping the peace” or may be avoiding conflict with his spouse…but he is wrong to not stand up for you.

All you can do is find a trusted confidant or friend who knows the dynamics and who you can safely vent to..and then survive until you can move out next year to go to college.
Then do your utmost to thrive, succeed and prove her all wrong. You’ll find lots of good new friends at NYU and you can make your own new support system.

Also, try not to project too far ahead just yet. Your worries about your Dad’s Estate may be valid..but premature. Who knows what can happen between then and now, y’know? Better not to waste your energy on those worries just yet.

It sucks—but as you well know, there are worse family situations out there. (Abuse, neglect, Foster Care) The best you can do is try to get along while you’re living under their roof and hope that with time either she’ll start feeling more secure (and thus, less weird about you spending time with your Dad) or that you’ll “make” your own family and be surrounded by people who love and care for you.

Last but not least..the advice to keep the lines of communication open with your stepmom is VERY good advice. Ever heard the expression: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”? Only good can come from you talking with her. You might learn what makes her tick, why she’s as irrationally insecure and jealous as she is..and you can maybe find a few good things about her. Is she reliable? Does she buy food that you like? Is she trying to do nice things for you? Be sure to be grateful whenever she does something in an attempt to be nice—because it’s like positive reinforcement.
(“Thank you for getting me that cereal that I like!”...noticing that kind of stuff and sounding grateful will help—and might improve the dynamic between you two a bit over time.)

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

NYU costs nearly $50K per year. Who’ll pay for your tuition, fees, books, travel, and other expenses? I’m guessing that it’ll be your Dad, and I’m further guessing that this infuriates the stepmother. All that money and/or wealth’s about to be removed from her household. You already know that she’s never really liked you, and this upcoming change might be making her resent you beyond reason.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul It’s very likely she’s getting some kind of financial aide, scholarships, loans etc. At least I hope so so that won’t be the case. The less her parents can hold over her head, the better.

That said, I hope she avoids Sallie Mae like the plague.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@feta. Sadly, there are a few realities that you need to accept now, so that you’ll be ready when the time comes.

1) Statistically, women liven longer than men. Your stepmother is likely to outlive your father.

2) Your father’s made no provisions for the distribution of his estate, and he may even hold 100% of his property jointly with your stepmother. Regardless, all of his assets will pass to her, either through probate or by right of survivorship.

3) You won’t get anything. Your stepmother has such an unreasonable sense of entitlement, she even ruined your birthday with a hissy fit over which piece of cake should go to which person. You’ll be lucky if she gives you some sentimental object, with no monetary value, as a memento of your father.

If you prepare yourself now, you won’t be disappointed down the road. Bitter and angry, perhaps, but nothing will surprise you.

jca's avatar

What @SadieMartinPaul said. I would try to get far away from the woman when I was old enough to leave home, if I were you. I would also make sure your father knows your feelings at that time. I think your father is probably very happy getting what he gets from her (without discussing details) and I think he wants to keep the peace by playing passive.

Haleth's avatar

My teenage situation was a bit like yours- moving in with dad and stepmother a few years after my parents’ divorce. Mine wasn’t anywhere near as bad as yours, but it was still enough to make those years pretty miserable.

You’re doing all the right things now, by studying hard, being honest with your dad, and planning for the future. Once you’re in college (and adulthood), you’ll start building your own life and surrounding yourself with positive people. Their influence over you will get smaller and smaller, until it hardly matters anymore.

In my case, that meant spending the few years after high school with minimal contact on my end. Barely any phone calls, no holidays/ birthdays at home, etc. It felt necessary to be away from that situation. Once you get a real start in your adult life, and get some distance, you’ll feel on much more even footing with her.

Spending some time away might make people upset, but this woman is harming you in her own way, and sometimes time away is what it takes to really feel better. Hang in there!

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