Handling an evil step mum

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Handling an evil step mum

I have 2 gorgeous children - 14 yr old girl and 12 yr old boy.  Their Dad and I have been divorced since they were 4 & 2.  Both their Dad and I have remarried so step parents have been part of their norm.  They have a great relationship with their step dad (my husband) and his kids (their step sister and brother).  The issue is their step mum who started life as their nanny (yeah I know!!!).  Anyway, since my daughter went to high school, (she is now in Ye 9), I have noticed increasing levels of anxiety and pressure she was putting herself under.  She is an extremely high achiever and drives herself very hard (as I do), so I put it down to settling into high school etc.  in year 8 however, we went through the horror of an eating disorder, which thankfully she has recovered from (physically anyway).  She still however has anxiety around food and keeping her weight in check (she is a healthy weight right now).  About 3-4 months ago after me pushing constantly with "are u ok?  Anything you want to talk about?", she broke down and told me that her step mum "was being mean to her and her brother".  It was huge for her to tell me and she made me promise that I would not interfere and assured me she was talking to her dad and he was "fixing it".  I do not want to misplace this huge trust she has put in me but she needs support in managing this - her tolerance is reducing and she is now saying "she is sick of it and she has had it" but still doesn't want me talking to her Dad.  Both children assure me the step mum has never physically done anything but she says awful demeaning things to them and about their dad.  She has also always spoken badly about me with nothing from my house being allowed inside their house!!!!  My view is she has lost control of them now they are growing up and has a mountain of her own issues.  My question is how to best support my kids to get away from this toxic woman.....ps they adore their Dad.  Looking forward to your insights

Community Manager

Re: Handling an evil step mum

Welcome @Crossfitmum! It sounds like a difficult situation but I really admire the way you've approached it - supporting your daughter, encouraging her to talk but respecting her request not to intervene. I can only imagine the strength it takes to bite your tongue and not go in with guns blazing on this one!

 

If your daughter is adamant that she wants to handle it on her own with her Dad, could she potentially talk to a counsellor, either at school or through referral from a GP? They might provide the kind of outside perspective on managing the situation that she would be prepared to take onboard. I was a fiercely independent teen, and did not want to take any of my mums advice even if it was in my best interests, but I happily listened to anyone else!

 

 

Contributor

Re: Handling an evil step mum

@Crossfitmum 

I am sorry to hear about your children's problem. 

 

I had gone through the same situation with my daughter's eating disorder just as the same age as your daughter. I warn you that statistically, eating disorder always comes back! And it often happens with perfectionist. So you really need to be careful. I am still struggling right now, walking on thing lines as not to upset my daughter in any way to give her more pressure.

 

Domestic issues are always hard to judge, is staying with you an option?

 

I could imagine the history of this step mum and the hard feelings between the two sides, however, it's already happened and we could not alter the history but we can change our attitude and the future.  May be you could avoid thinking about the step mum as evil to start with and try to stand back and discuss individual issues with your daughter and see what she can do to build relationship with her step mum. I agree with @ElleBelle, outside counciling might be a good choice.

 

 


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Re: Handling an evil step mum

Thank you @ElleBelle. I have suggested the school counsellor as I agree, often the mum is the last person an independent teen wants to listen to. I am also wondering if an online chat forum for teens such as this might work for her. My husband, seems to be able to get through to them as he had a similar step mum story when he was growing up so recently shared that and it did seem to connect.....
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Re: Handling an evil step mum

Thank you @readthemanual. I am very conscious of the deeper issues around food and how vulnerable she is and yes, the balance of pressure, school, food and with all that the need to be perfect is a challenging dynamic. I have suggested that the children talk to their Dad about changing the arrangements so they are only at his house when he is there....I believe she is getting closer to seeing this as a real option. My issue is she does not want me to talk to him so I am putting all my energy into supporting her to have this conversation and encouraging her to tell him straight. I believe however they are fearful that when they tell him, he will explode at his wife and then she will take it out on them. In 11years, I have never spoken badly of their step mum and even now, I am very aware and controlled in what I say about her - to be honest, I don't refer to her much at all. I do think though that based on what my daughter has said, the relationship is not salvageable at the moment....
Contributor

Re: Handling an evil step mum

Wow. I'd be calling a family mediation session quicker than you could say Restraining Order.

 

Your children are spending time in that home and feeling unhappy and their Dad hasn't noticed. Call a meeting with your kids and your husband, your ex and his wife. This needs to be dealt with out in the open, not with whispered promises to please not tell anyone.

 

Your daughter has told you the step-mother says awful thing about her, her brother and her father. I say at the very least you call this meeting and see what the woman has to say for herself. Maybe, your daughter has misunderstood. Maybe, her father hasn't realised the emotional toll this is taking on his kids. Maybe, a room full of people with good kind hearts will force the evil one to beg forgiveness and everyone lives happily ever after - I wish it could be that.

 

You daughter trusts you and has shown this by confiding in you. I just believe that as your child, she wouldn't be doing so if she didn't want you to "fix" it to some extent. 

Contributor

Re: Handling an evil step mum

Yes, @Mitzi I agree with you in most of your ideas!

 

Is family mediation session common practice for re-married families? I hear my daughter talking about friends' step mums/dads etc a lot, which are always quite complicated and sometimes a bit hard for teenagers. I guess that's why some of them are for 'open marriages'.


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Community Manager

Re: Handling an evil step mum

Hi @Crossfitmum, I agree, you've approached this admirably. Just wondering how your week has been since your last response on Tuesday, have your children been able to approach their dad and work out alternate arrangements? 

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Re: Handling an evil step mum

Hi @NickiPower.  Thank you for checking in and yes, I think we have had a break through.  Had a situation where my daughter had pocket dialled the step mum and as a result she heard a conversation we were having in the car about a family holiday we are planning.  My daughter went into panic when she realised !! saying that the step mum would now be hassling her to details....sure enough within 5 mins there was text asking my daughter to contact her.  I encouraged her silently thinking it would be a tangible occurrence that I could witness.  The questions and paranoia were crazy and upset my daughter.  I then insisted she ring her DAd straight away and she recounted the whole thing. He finished the conversation with "does she bully you?" and my daughter replied "she bullies everyone".  SO, have arrangements actually changed yet?  No, but he is having the whole time the kids are at his place during the holidays off and my daughter has told me that she has told him she will not stay there if he is not there.....stay tuned.

Community Manager

Re: Handling an evil step mum

Good to hear you've had a break through @Crossfitmum. Please do keep us posted on how it all goes over the holidays.