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Want to know what the experts say the reason why SDs hate their SMs so much and why not stepdads.... STRAIGHT FROM THE EXPERTS.

Posted by on Aug. 28, 2013 at 2:52 PM
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3 moms liked this

So, I have been doing A LOT of research to try and understand the reason why stepdaughters hate their stepmothers SO much also why it is easier for stepdads to get along better with step kids.

I know there is a lot of information here, but it is worth the read.

Here is the information that I found from different websites: 

Loyalty binds. Many stepkids--and adult stepkids--suspect that liking stepmom would be a betrayal of mom. So they keep her at arm's length--or worse. And there's nothing she can do about that. Only mom can release them from the torturous loyalty bind and pave the way to a healthy stepmom/stepchild relationship, by saying, "I wish you'd give Jenny a chance. I won't be upset." Too often, no such permission is given.

When there is a loyalty bind, nothing's worse than stepmom bending over backwards to win the kids over. Drs. Larry Ganong and Marilyn Coleman found that such stepchildren and adult stepchildren are especially rejecting of a stepmother they find warm and appealing, as she elicits tremendously conflicted feelings.

Possessiveness and jealousy. Children may become remarkably close to their parents post-divorce, and used to having mom and dad "all to myself." Adult children may develop an intense, peer-like relationship with a single parent, making adjustment to a stepparent tough. With a preadolescent or adolescent girl, possessiveness and jealousy will pose an even bigger problem, psychologist Mavis Hetherington found. In her Virginia Longitudinal Study of families who divorced and remarried, preteen and teen girls especially described the stepparent as an interloper in their world and an obstacle to intimacy with mom or dad. A stepmother may encounter particularly fierce resistance from a teen girl, both because she is close to her father, and because teen girls tend to model the feelings and attitudes of their mothers.

The Ex Factor. While there are exceptions, an ex-wife generally poses more challenges for the stepmom/stepchild relationship than an ex-husband, stepfamily experts Constance Ahrons, Anne C. Bernstein, and Mavis Hetherington found. Why? Mom's more likely to be the primary parent, and to have a strong agenda about what goes on in her ex's household. The stronger the ex's agenda, researchers found, the more involvement across households--and opportunities for conflict. And high conflict situations between two linked households lead togreater resentment of the stepparent, who feels more expendable and less loved by the child than a parent. In addition, Hetherington found that ex-wives feel more anger, and feel it for longer, than ex-husbands. Stepkids pick up on these feelings--and often act them out on mom's behalf. Translation: stepmom loses this draw due to gender.

Permissive parentingResearch consistently shows that children do best with authoritative parenting--high levels of warmth and high levels of control. But post-divorce, permissive parenting (high warmth, low control) frequently prevails. Why? Mom is likely to have primary custody, and if she's single, that can mean a lot of work and stress. She might let the little things--and then the not so little things--go. Dad likely fears that if he angers his ex or the kids, he won't see them as much, and feels guilty that the kids went through a divorce. And so an "Always ‘Yes' Dad" is born. Against the backdrop of permissive parenting, stepmom's normal expectations about manners, scheduling and respect may seem draconian, rigid, and "unfair." And kids with permissive parents understandably don't have much sense that it's wrong to be rude to an expendable-seeming and "overreaching" (in their view) stepparent. This ticks off stepmom, who then seems even less likable and fun to her stepchild.

What builds a stepchild's resentment of "dad's new wife"?

 if you think it's her own wickedness of just plain lack of trying, guess again. It may have more to do with the children's mother than anything the stepmother is doing or not doing.

 According to researchers including Mavis Hetherington and Constance Ahrons, after a divorce women experience more resentment and anger, and experience it for longer, than do men, who are more likely to nurture fantasies of reconciliation and work for "smooth sailing" with an ex spouse. Based on her 30-year Virginia Longitudinal Study of life post-divorce, Hetherington concludes that stepmothers are frequently singled out for very bad treatment indeed by stepchildren who pick up on their mother's anger and resentment and become her proxy in their father's household. As more than one adult stepchild told me, "My mom wouldn't like it if my stepmom and I were close." Often, a stepchild who "hates" stepmom feels that in doing so she is expressing solidarity with her mother. If mom would explicitly give her permission to like her stepmother, and let her know that being nasty to stepmom is not an option, the behavior, and the resentment it stems from, would likely vanish.

 

Girls, young women, and adult women in particular are likely to model their mother's feelings and behaviors and subscribe to her beliefs regarding her divorce from their father. This fact, plus the fact of an ex-wife's resentment of her husband repartnering, often fuels the fire of a stepdaughter's hostility toward her stepmother.

 

Divorced and repartnered or remarried fathers often feel fearful of incurring the anger of their ex-wives ("If she gets mad, I might never see my kids again") and of alienating their children if they say "no" or hold the kids to a high standard of behavior. For these reasons, an ex-wife may be a very powerful presence in her ex husband's home, her agenda profoundly felt. And Dad's house may become the "no rules" household-meaning there are few rules about treating stepmom with respect, both because he is fearful of alienating his kids, and because of his ex wife's influence.When a wife or partner with stepchildren attempts to assert her right to being treated fairly in the household under these conditions, her husband or partner may not support her position. This causes tension within the couple, tension which the stepmother may attribute to the stepchildren alone. And so the tension between stepmother and stepchild is further fueled, this time from within the stepparent/stepchild dyad.


·         Recognize that your stepchild is almost certain to feel a huge, disloyalty towards their [absent] parent as they develop an attachment to you. This may be expressed when, after having a very positive or pleasant experience with you, and without apparent provocation, they "turn" on you.  Your challenge is to refuse to personalize their reaction, and "metaphorically, take the child by the hand to their bioparent." To elaborate, never "come between" the child and his or her biological parent-especially an absent biological parent. Always speak respectfully of their biological parent(s). Acknowledge that, at times, the child's loyalty to his/her (absent) parent may produce situations that are exceptionally difficult for the child. If the situation warrants it, you might also say to the child: "Whenever it comes down to having to choose between me and your biological parent, pick your biological parent every time. It is the right thing to do, and I will always support you in that choice, to the best of my ability."

 

·         Absolutely refuse to compete with that child on the child's level. Discuss your concerns about the child with his/her parent, in private. Don't plead "your case" to your partner in the child's presence. Children will get the sense that their parent and the step parent are not on the same page and further use that to their advantage and likely cause problems in the home.

 

·         After a divorce, the daughter often has her dad "all to herself" when they are together, and their lifestyle can often be dominated by her needs and desires. The daughter learns well how to get what she wants from dad, and the guilt he feels about the divorce often fuels his tendency to give, give, give and expect little in return.

·         It is often not a balanced relationship with regard to healthy parent-child relations, and she may not be getting the discipline and structure that are needed.  The same complication can easily set in with mothers and sons, as well as dads and sons

·         Enter the stepmom, into an icy atmosphere of "daddy belongs to me; I don't want to share him!" If the daughter's father follows the first piece of advice "my kids will always come first", then the stepmom stepdaughter relationship will be frozen, unable to flower, and the stepcouple will be beholden to the daughter's approval every step of the way.

·         This will drive a wedge between the couple, and if allowed to build, another breakup is on the horizon. Certainly, the daughter's needs are important, and her feeling of grief over losing her primacy in her dad's life needs to be acknowledged, but dad need to let his daughter know that while she is important to him, she is not the only thing in his life and other people are important, too. Daughters do not want to share their father with anyone and stepmothers usually can feel that and will likely resent their stepdaughter for the father letting this behavior occur.

·         But if her father does not in some way let his daughter know that, as special as she is to him, he is committed to his partnership, then the daughter has an unbalanced level of power in the family that will have a negative outcome for her in the long run, and for the family. The daughter needs to be "put in place" so to speak.

·         The second piece of advice, leave the disciplining to him, can also create tremendous havoc in the stepmom stepdaughter department. Commonly, in the household after divorce, the dad working to make ends meet, managing a household without help, going through his own pain after the divorce, and trying to be both dad and mom,  has understandably put structuring the home life pretty far down on his priority list.

·         Expecting good manners, getting the family at the table together for nutritious meals, rules about homework, TV etc. might have escaped him as he tried to juggle single parenthood.

·         The dad's awareness, on some level, of the need for structure in the home may well have been part of the drive to remarry to find a helpmate. And so he brings in a woman and expects her to structure the household at least traditionally, that's part of what a wife does, isn't it?

·         But how can it be done without her having any authority? If all the discipline is left to him, then the stepmom is completely stifled, with no power to do what it takes to make the household run well. If she does take over without his blessing, she becomes the wicked stepmother.


·         Stepmothers are not required to like/love their step children and visa versa, but the children, if raised properly, are expected to respect adults, right? This is where the dad must step in and discipline his children to have manners of others and to respect adults. Relationships are possible even if the two people are not fond of each other, it is known as a relationship of respect. However, if the step children are not respectful of the stepmother, unless dad steps in and puts rules in place and follows the above steps and advice, why should that stepmother respect that child? Yes, a lot of people will say "because they love their husband". While that is probably true, that doesn't mean the stepmother loves that stepchild, nor are they expected to. Keep that in mind. Dad cannot force stepmother/stepchildren to like/love each other, but he must enforce his children to respect the adult in the house and their partner. If respect from the stepdaughter is never received then dad should not expect there to be any type of relationship between his partner/the stepmother and his child.

by on Aug. 28, 2013 at 2:52 PM
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Replies (1-10):
MammaPK
by Member on Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:02 PM
3 moms liked this

Two things:

1) I have three biological daughters and 2 stepsons.  I have always said how fortunate I am to have stepsons instead of stepdaughters!

2) When my daughter was younger, I constantly encouraged her to have patience with and get along with her stepmom. Her stepmom is younger than me and had no children when she married my -ex.  She also asked me for guidance from time to time. I definitely think that it helps  for BMto be supportive of that relationship.

Thank you for sharing!!!  The differences between boys and girls in this situation are big!

~PK

EMMA6984
by on Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:06 PM


You are lucky. I have 3 step daughters and 1 daughter of my own. I am also younger than BM by 10 years and when my husband and I got married my daughter had just turned 3. At the start I didn't have many problems with the girls really. Normal things really, but when their BM started figuring out they liked me shit hit the fan. I still have a good relationship with the younger girl, she just turned 9, but I am sure that will fade soon, too. 


I do think it would help. I agree with everything in the research I read.

Quoting MammaPK:

Two things:

1) I have three biological daughters and 2 stepsons.  I have always said how fortunate I am to have stepsons instead of stepdaughters!

2) When my daughter was younger, I constantly encouraged her to have patience with and get along with her stepmom. Her stepmom is younger than me and had no children when she married my -ex.  She also asked me for guidance from time to time. I definitely think that it helps  for BMto be supportive of that relationship.

Thank you for sharing!!!  The differences between boys and girls in this situation are big!

~PK



MammaPK
by Member on Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:16 PM
1 mom liked this


Yeah, that stinks!!!  I know that it can be really difficult sometimes, but using the kids is never the way to go.  I'm surprised that she has had that much influence.  Girls are really defiant during their teen years, even with their moms!  Hang in there, Gurl!

~PKhugs

Quoting EMMA6984:


You are lucky. I have 3 step daughters and 1 daughter of my own. I am also younger than BM by 10 years and when my husband and I got married my daughter had just turned 3. At the start I didn't have many problems with the girls really. Normal things really, but when their BM started figuring out they liked me shit hit the fan. I still have a good relationship with the younger girl, she just turned 9, but I am sure that will fade soon, too. 


I do think it would help. I agree with everything in the research I read.

Quoting MammaPK:

Two things:

1) I have three biological daughters and 2 stepsons.  I have always said how fortunate I am to have stepsons instead of stepdaughters!

2) When my daughter was younger, I constantly encouraged her to have patience with and get along with her stepmom. Her stepmom is younger than me and had no children when she married my -ex.  She also asked me for guidance from time to time. I definitely think that it helps  for BMto be supportive of that relationship.

Thank you for sharing!!!  The differences between boys and girls in this situation are big!

~PK





pepper504
by Gold Member on Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:21 PM
2 moms liked this

I have a SS and had this issue from the moment that BM found out about my existence.  He was told to not like me and to not listen to me.  It wasn't until BM made an ass out of herself and embarrassed SS after his baseball game that it opened the doors for me to have a talk with him in regards to his mother and her actions/issues with me. 

I think that SFs have it easier because BD is not the one who is telling the child to not like their SF.  So the child is free to make their own decision with regards to that relationship.  FTR, SS14 despises his SF, but that would be because his SF is a total douche. 

DD16 does not like her exSM nor does she like her father's current GF (who just had ex's baby 6 months ago).  DD is told to respect her and to listen to her.  I do hope that she is able to form some sort of bond with her dad's current GF as she is the mother of her half sister. 

Sometimes the child wants to like the SP (SS14 did and wanted to but wasn't allowed) and sometimes the child doesn't want to like the SP, regardless of giving the "Hey, it's ok to like xyz."

BasketballMama8
by Member on Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:24 PM
1 mom liked this

I can see this happening in some stepfamilies. Never with me though, I have always loved my SM 

EMMA6984
by on Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:29 PM

No, I haven't. That will be my next research project for myself... THis is harder than my job... haha.


Quoting BasketballMama8:

I can see this happening in some stepfamilies. Never with me though, I have always loved my SM 



soonergirl980
by Gold Member on Aug. 28, 2013 at 5:32 PM


I agree it can be the parent but it can also be the kid. Not everyone is going to like everyone and sometimes personalities clash even in intact families. My sister and I do not get along tbh I probably will never speak to her again after my parents are gone.


SF aren't always on the easy side either. My niece spent her entire Christmas in melt down mode last year because she accidentally called her dad by her SF name on the phone and he went ballistic and then hung up on her. He absolutely does not want the girls to have any bond with their SF.

Quoting pepper504:

I have a SS and had this issue from the moment that BM found out about my existence.  He was told to not like me and to not listen to me.  It wasn't until BM made an ass out of herself and embarrassed SS after his baseball game that it opened the doors for me to have a talk with him in regards to his mother and her actions/issues with me. 

I think that SFs have it easier because BD is not the one who is telling the child to not like their SF.  So the child is free to make their own decision with regards to that relationship.  FTR, SS14 despises his SF, but that would be because his SF is a total douche. 

DD16 does not like her exSM nor does she like her father's current GF (who just had ex's baby 6 months ago).  DD is told to respect her and to listen to her.  I do hope that she is able to form some sort of bond with her dad's current GF as she is the mother of her half sister. 

Sometimes the child wants to like the SP (SS14 did and wanted to but wasn't allowed) and sometimes the child doesn't want to like the SP, regardless of giving the "Hey, it's ok to like xyz."



DDDaysh
by on Aug. 28, 2013 at 5:36 PM

A handful of quotations from the internet isn't exactly proof of anything.  

runinpinkshoes
by Bronze Member on Aug. 28, 2013 at 5:38 PM
1 mom liked this

The part about teenage SDs is very true of my situation. This was very helpful, thank you for posting it!


runinpinkshoes
by Bronze Member on Aug. 28, 2013 at 5:41 PM
1 mom liked this

I really like this part too. Very true.

"Mom's more likely to be the primary parent, and to have a strong agenda about what goes on in her ex's household. The stronger the ex's agenda, researchers found, the more involvement across households--and opportunities for conflict. And high conflict situations between two linked households lead togreater resentment of the stepparent, who feels more expendable."

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