Friday, 6 July 2007

Cinderella Syndrome.

I now question if I have become the evil stepmother the myth perceives? I suspect the attitude of my husband's ex wife's is yes, I most certainly have. On reflection of my experiences, I wonder if I have in fact, over compensated in my role and in an effort to gain acceptance from my stepdaughter, the actual achievement was aggravating her mother.

Did I try too hard to be the perfect stepmother in the beginning and did I have over ambitious expectations? I realise what I should have done is to have not become obsessed with how her mother was affecting our lives, but at that time, was far to involved emotionally so it would have been impossible to have detached from the situation. When you are able to observe from a distance, you can interpret and perceive it with an entirely different perspective.
One thing I can be entirely sure of is I have never tried or intended to replace my stepdaughters mother as I am fulfilled with my own mothering duties, but if I am honest, I did want to be better than she is and that was unfair. I know this happened because I needed my stepdaughter to like me and it was important for the success of my family unit. Perhaps subconsciously, it became a competition between us and unknowingly, we were drawn into a game that perhaps began with the ex wife's need to control our weekends, and my absolute non tolerance of it because I expected this blended family to work normally.

I suspect I appeared as a puppeteer for my husband and the influence I was having where decision making and arrangements were concerned, but his ex wife forgot, this was no longer an arrangement between she and her ex husband, suddenly he has a new family that needs to be considered too. It was her choice not to consider us. What she needed to remember is, it was her that caused her family to split not me, but it is me and my family who have suffered. I filled her role as her ex husbands new wife and now understand that it is not necessarily me as a person who she has targeted, but anyone my husband chose to be with. The relationship with my stepdaughter has been devised on a loss of her family and I am here because my stepdaughters life dramatically changed.

Being part of a stepfamily needs an understanding so in order to make the family work, there needs to be communication from everyone involved. This becomes increasingly difficult to navigate especially when one member seems to be constantly working against the other. Should being a great stepparent, allow a stepchild's mother to constantly be in control? Does being a great stepmother require you to become a conformist in order to make the stepfamily unit work, to have absolutely no input in your new family but instead happily succumb to the demands of a stepchild's mother? Why, when taking this role should we instantly but silently labelled as wicked, even before a relationship with our stepchildren has been created?

The whole time my stepdaughter spent her weekend with us, it was never brought to our attention by her mother that there was a major problem concerning my stepdaughter's attitude towards me apart from the visible evidence in her behaviour while at our home.

Both myself and my husband live with the torment each day of living without our respective children. But because it was us alone who made those choices, does this mean we are not allowed to suffer, be sad, and grieve the loss of our children?
If I am totally honest I do feel ashamed that I didn't do more, but what more could I have done? My stepdaughter and I had a great relationship at first and although I cannot prove anything, her mother's actions caused our relationship breakdown.

My stepdaughter quite rightly is loyal to her mum, and I wouldn't expect any different, but she was never encouraged to have a relationship with me, something I have done with my own children. My husbands ex wife told me to my face that I would never have anything to do with her child. How can that not happen when I am married to her dad? The school nurses has told me that there is nothing we can do until she deals with what ever issues she carries. I believe that even though she had an affair and my husband took her back 3 times, she just wasn't ready for him to move on. She wasn't sure if being apart from him was what she really wanted then when I came on the scene, decision taken away from her.

I don't blame her for that my husband is a fantastic husband and an equally fantastic dad. I am a lucky lady.
My problem is that when I started posting and asking for help, I couldn't act on the advise that was being given to me. What I was hoping for was for someone to say " what a horrid child, yes what you are doing is right." But responses were from people who weren't "living" my situation. I was so wrapped up in my own emotions, trying to understand why I was failing, what I was doing wrong, that I simply didn't have time to take into account how my stepdaughter must be feeling or what she was carrying around in her head.

I just couldn't act on any advice. I could understand it the days she wasn't here and my home was calm and normal, but by the time the weekend came and I was thrown back into the chaos, the good advice went out the window and I was consumed with my own feelings again. No room for reasoning.

I have been judged for leaving my son. How could I leave him especially with a violent father. He was never violent towards my children, just towards me. And His actions were through loosing control over me. He lashed out through not knowing what to do, desperation. All i will say is that my reasons for giving my son the choice to stay and leaving him were much greater than being able to stay. They were pretty bad. My son was at an age where he could make his own choice anyway. I miss him every day, and when you don't have a child share your life, that whole left behind is endless. You can say i would never leave a child how could you, but when you are faced with a situation that doesn't really give you a choice.... well. I have to live with that every day.

So I should have been more compassionate with my stepdaughter, more understanding, but to not be able to parent my son and then for her mother to take away my ability to involve my stepdaughter in our everyday life as best we could, left me with another loss. The loss of my son and that of my stepdaughter. So I failed twice. Once as a mother for leaving my son, and once as a Stepmother for not being able to handle a situation.

I have been told I was a mans woman. Well I suppose I am because I am desperate for my situation not to happen to someone else, but who am I to throw my opinions into the works? I have the experience of an ex wife who was set out to exclude my husband from his daughters life so I know for a fact that there is one woman out there who doesn't have the interests of her child at heart, even if she thinks she does.

I am a Mother myself and I can say hand on heart that I have learned a great deal from my stepdaughters mother and how to allow my daughter to have a relationship with her dad. regardless of how I feel about him. That includes me constantly having to defend and make excuses for him when he lets her down. That's my job because I love her and don't want to see her hurt. I don't want her growing up thinking daddy couldn't be bothered,even if this is the case.

As a step mum I'm not a bad person, my only failing was coming into a relationship with my own problems and emotions and then having to deal with another load I didn't know how too. I remember a time when a step mum in a group forum had an issue (if i remember rightly) where her own daughter was being abused by her stepdaughter. Why should she have had to accept this to happen. What choices were left to her? Pity for the stepchild or protection of her own child?

Being a step mum is a hard job and not always appreciated by ex wives Sometimes its just nice to be given a break. So conclusions will be drawn, opinions will be voiced, but the one final comment I will holler when part of a stepfamily is... welcome to the madhouse!


Online support for stepfamilies

Disengaging essay.

The top 5 reasons why second marriages fail.
Larry Bilotta.

The Divorce grieving process An overview.

"I'm over you daddy!"

So once again, my husband contacts his ex wife to request in seeing his daughter and maybe take her out for tea. Her response? " it’s taken a while for you to call!" The response of my husband? " You were supposed to get back to me, what do you want me to do, keep calling you every five minutes?" He had spoken to his ex wife two weeks ago asking to see his daughter but she had told him. "You have caught me on the hop.
I'll have to think about it and let you know."

Perhaps this is what she does want. She needs my husband to be constantly contacting her; after all, their daughter is the only route of contact she has with him. And why does she keep bringing up how happy she is? Why does she feel she needs to convey this to my husband? Who is she trying to convince? He kept the conversation to the point and was eventually told that his ex wife would talk to their daughter to see how she felt.

He was graced with a return call, but I assume this was simply to gloat by telling him their daughter did not want to see him again, ever. She no longer missed him and didn't need him in her life. She had the odd bad day but that was it. Nothing else. She had told her mother, "Perhaps when I am ten and I don't cry so much I can see him again."

I'm confused. If my stepdaughter is over her daddy, why is she still crying?
Does his ex wife get some sick satisfaction when delivering this cruel message? Does she need to punish my husband for moving on with his life when she wasn't quite ready for him to do this? Speculation on my part? Of course..
At seven his daughter has no perception of what ‘never seeing daddy again’ means. I doubt she has any concept of time never mind weeks, months, years. To her it will just seem like a long time. Children don’t fully understand the sadness and loss they feel, and rarely have the ability to express or communicate their emotions; therefore it must be his ex wife that is putting words into his daughter’s mouth.

There is no doubt my step daughter will be feeling sadness. It won’t be okay for her to show this sadness to her mother, and I doubt she will be allowed to even mention her daddy without looks of disapproval and annoyance. To avoid her mother being like this she will hide her true feelings at home and be what she thinks her mother wants her to be by showing dislike towards her daddy. It is all very distressing to manipulate and brainwash children in this way but that’s exactly what parental alienation is. In my stepdaughters mind if she doesn’t do what mummy wants her to do, she may lose mummy too and heart-rending as it is, her mummy is her only source of security right now, much like my ex husband is to my son.

Then there’s unconditional love. Even if my husband’s daughter has an awareness of what her mummy is doing doesn’t seem right somehow, she will deny this to herself because she loves her mummy. She loves daddy too, but mummy has possibly told her so many untruths about daddy or his new family, but feeling totally justified in doing this, out of her need to protect her daughter. This conduct will totally confuse my stepdaughter, so no wonder when she’s at school, she is pining for him. It is the teachers that are aware of how she is feeling unlike her own mother. So whom do we believe? My husband’s daughter saying she is over her daddy, his ex wife in relaying this message, or the teacher? Personally I would have to believe the teacher, after all, she is the independent individual who has no emotional involvement, and in the classroom is where my stepdaughter can be completely free and express herself accordingly. That of missing her daddy!

What confuses me is his ex wife told him that their daughter was "over" him was quite happy to change her name and call her stepfather daddy. How can a seven-year-old child be over a parent? I am in my forties and even after how my father has treated me, I shall never be "over" him. I don't like the man but I miss my dad. I love him, and would welcome contact from him. When my husband reminded his ex wife of the conversation he had with his daughter’s teacher suggesting that his daughter quite plainly missed him, she replied, " Our daughter is finding the school annoying. She is angry that they keep ramming you down her throat."

My Husband received a telephone call from the Headmistress at his daughter’s school. His ex wife had written to the school signifying her own disapproval at how the school are involving themselves in a matter that "really doesn't concern them." The Head teacher told him how very clever the letter had been written, and on conversations with my husband’s daughter, it was very apparent that quite plainly, words had definitely been put into her mouth. At last! Someone who is not emotionally involved can see my husbands ex wife for what she really is. If she does not want what is best for her own daughter, my husband, the school and myself do.

The school have an obligation for the welfare of their students. If my stepdaughter’s behaviour should become cause for concern, then it must be dealt with, not only for her own well-being, but also for that of the other children she shares the classroom with.

So what options are left to us, to back off a little? My husbands ex wife knows how much he wants to see his daughter, she's not stupid in coming to this conclusion herself, but she's told him "No." Therefore he must leave her with the consequences of her decision. She will have to endure her daughter’s sadness that she herself has caused. It will affect her daughter’s schoolwork as it has already. But sadly, things must get worse before they get better, so my husband and I have to put our faith in knowing, for the time being, it is for the best. This action puts the ball firmly in my husbands ex wife's court.

We shall not ignore Christmas or Birthdays and my husband will continue to send his little notes to his daughter. He will not give his ex wife any more attention in asking her to see his daughter. He never stood a chance did he?
So on a last comment he asked that he could drop his daughters Christmas presents to her. On this request his ex wife told him," We can arrange to exchange them somewhere, as I don't want our daughter upset." Why is she trying to keep my husband away from his child? If his child were truly over him, why would she be upset when seeing him?

In my honest opinion I think it is my husbands ex wife who is trying to convince herself that it is in fact she who is not over her ex husband, my husband. The constant reminders of, "I am happy. I have moved on."
I myself am very happy but it is something I have never conveyed to my ex husband. What is the point? If I needed to keep telling him this, perhaps it would be because deep down, I was not. My husband is also very happy. We have a beautiful home. I have a wonderful, loving husband and he, in me, a loving wife but most important, a beautiful family. The only thing that is missing is his daughter, my stepdaughter and she is something that both of us will never be over especially my husband.

So all that remains is what my husband does now. Should he once again, adhere to his ex wives request and stay well away from his daughter so as not to upset her, or does he bulldoze in with no regard to his daughter or ex wife's request and feelings, simply to fulfil his own needs to see his daughter? By doing the latter, he could potentially upset his daughter if her request not to see him was true. To expect her to convey to him that she doesn't want to see him is far too much to expect a seven-year-old child to do. It would be heartbreaking for both himself and that of his daughter. So it looks as though, once again, his ex wife has her way, and again my husband has put his daughter and her feelings to the forefront of his own. He doesn't want his daughter to get into trouble with her mother by showing her love for him. It takes a big man to do that, which is why I adore him.

We have requested school reports and the school have sent a photo to us. We are constantly updated, on our request, for newsletters and forthcoming school events. Her drawings and keepsakes are safe in a box to be cherished, as are my own children's.
We must try not to see it as his ex wife once again having her own way, being in
control, as it will eat us away through the pain and grief. What we must take comfort in, is believing that one day this will come back to haunt her and she will not escape the consequences of making such immoral and wrong decisions so affecting her own daughters childhood. I cannot imagine how that must feel as a mother, to knowingly do this. So hopefully there will come a day that she cannot justify her actions and my husband’s daughter, will be old enough to know better. My husbands ex wife may have control just now, but one day my stepdaughter, my dear husbands daughter, willhave her own voice.

The remains of the day.

I am trying to be the best parent, wife, mother I possibly can by taking my children's and my husbands feelings into consideration. I find it hard making a simple decision. Would my husband be offended if I arranged for my daughter to see her father outside the normal contact arrangements? Am I being disloyal to my husband? Will he begin to wonder why I am being so nice towards my ex husband? I know I have felt this way when my husband has arranged things between himself and his ex wife for the sake of his child.

For me, I felt excluded and suspicious. Would my husband assume I still harbour feelings for my ex husband? The answer to that is most definitely no! I have no feelings, hidden or otherwise for my ex husband. I am simply trying to do the best for my daughter and trying to fulfil her need to be part of her father’s life. Likewise my daughter bears the added guilt of wanting to spend time with her father, but how will that make her stepfather feel? Will he feel she doesn't love him as much as her real daddy? My son avoids talking about his stepfather whilst in the company of his own father for fear of upsetting him even though my son and his stepfather have a wonderful relationship.

My son himself has expressed how he looks to his father for some things and then looks to his stepfather with help for the things his father cannot help him with. In his eyes, he now has the best of both worlds. Unfortunately we as the adults often miss this.
My daughter has to think long and hard when talking to her daddy that she doesn't call him by her step fathers name by accident, but to call her step father "daddy" when she has been in her fathers company, has no repercussions, in fact it is affectionately smiled upon even though my husband and I know he can never or will ever replace her daddy. All of these things we have loaded onto our children's shoulders, and amongst all of that, the hostility that the children have to endure from one parent towards the other.

My transition from mother to step mother hasn't been an easy ride and there are still many wounds that remain open and will never heal. My son choosing to stay with his father, my own fathers rejection and my husband loosing his daughter and myself loosing my stepdaughter. Each of us involved in our blended family has made a sacrifice. My husband has sacrificed his daughter. His daughter has sacrificed her daddy. I have sacrificed my son. My son has sacrificed his mother and his sister. My daughter has sacrificed her father and her brother. My ex husband has sacrificed his daughter, and what of my husbands ex wife? She has sacrificed nothing, her partner however, has sacrificed his three daughters and they their father. So each one of us involved in this blended family situation, has sacrificed someone, has endured the pain of a loss, my husbands ex wife has not. She hasn't given up anything.

In many books and articles is has been suggested that you cannot change someone's behaviour but what you can do is change your behaviour.
I have constantly questioned how could I change my behaviour? To accept that my husband’s ex wife has a problem with me that she wants me to have absolutely nothing to do with her daughter. The same daughter that came into my home every weekend and treated me the way she did? How could I have changed my behaviour, to sit back and pretend that it wasn't happening and to carry on regardless? The person that needed to change their behaviour was my husband’s ex wife. By her behaviour, I mean towards her own daughter, for her to have not involved her child with issues she harboured towards me and to have allowed her child to have a relationship with me. I have never been guilty of disrespecting my stepdaughter’s mother whilst she has been in my company. But I have had to listen to the multitude of comments passed from my husbands ex wife to my stepdaughter towards me.

Diary entry

Wednesday 9th August 2006

Your daughter hasn't been here for four weeks and it’s been wonderful. Horrible to say I know but that's the truth. Monday you spoke to her mother and told her you wanted your daughter back in your life. 1/2 hour before you were telling me that you have to accept what has happened and concentrate on us. I lost the plot completely and have ended up on tablets. Your ex wife says that your daughter has been saying things to her and she feels bullied by my own daughter. The health visitor is trying to get us all into mediation but how i feel at the moment, I don't want a child in my home that tells stories and causes problems. I will do everything I can to support you in seeing your daughter but not in my home, sorry. What surprises me is if all what she says has been going back to her mother, why hasn't she said something before. Where is the concern for her child? It is still obvious that when she says she doesn't know what her daughter's problem is she's probably right. Your daughter hasn't got a problem with me, her mother does!

I have indeed tried to be "The Adult" during the small time I have been permitted to be a stepparent. My only failing is to have allowed my emotions to constantly get in the way.
I wrote a letter I wanted to send but decided to step back and allow my husband to regain some control over his future when contacting his ex wife.

Dear Birth Mother,
Firstly thank you for taking the time to read this letter and hopefully you will get beyond the first paragraph before putting it in the bin.
Since the events of July and now the dust has settled a little, I hope it would be possible to begin to build bridges for my husband and his daughter to regain contact with each other.
First of all, I love my husband very much and will do anything I can to support him, something I have tried to do since we have been together. This has never been to replace you or for him to relinquish his parenting duty while your daughter was with us. Nevertheless, it is completely alien for me to have to stand aside and care for my children whilst he is caring for his own.
When I first came into your daughter’s life, and she was at Nursery, on occasion, it would be her request to stay at home with me, especially during the holidays when my daughter was not at school. I was upset when you contacted my husband to tell him that you needed to know where your daughter was and she should be at Nursery.

Nevertheless as a mother myself I can understand your anxiety. You didn't know me. Would it have been so hard for you to trust my husband’s judgment? After all he was expected to trust yours when your partner moved in with you. When my daughter visited her dad, she stayed overnight with his girlfriend and I didn't even know he had one, so I knew nothing about her at all. As a mother it concerned me, after all I was concerned for her well-being. I now have to accept that her father’s judgement of someone he wishes to share his life with is equal to mine. He is her Father.
It is very difficult to blend two families together and I have tried to do the best for everyone concerned in our family. That includes your daughter when she is here. To be told that you didn't want her friends at our home for her birthday was confusing for her and us also. Again I understand you anxieties but am not clear as to the reasons.

Changing arrangements is also hard. We are trying to be constant and be able to arrange things for our family, which includes my own children. It is not a simple case of having to consider one child in particular. I hope you can appreciate this.
Being told I have nothing to do with your daughter is a difficult task to adhere too. I am married to your daughter’s father and she comes into our home and interacts with my family to which I am part of also. She has expressed that she thinks i am the "best step mother in the world" so I find it hard but understand she tells you something different. She understandably feels loyalty towards you, which she must be credited for, but it is a heavy weight on her shoulders.
Being part of a stepfamily is the hardest role to play. There are so many "grey areas" It has never or ever will be my intention to be a better parent than you are. We both are mothers and have different ways of working. I accept I have acted in haste at times but these have been due to emotions running high, confusion and not understanding a situation and for those I can only apologise.

All I can hope for is a resolution and to be able to work together in the interests of all of our children.

On a visit to my stepdaughter’s school, the teacher has told my husband, that his ex wife has painted a very bleak picture of him. Quite simply, he doesn't want to see his daughter. My husband sat with his daughter’s teacher in tears at what she was telling him. His daughter has become introverted has long periods of silence and is in fact, pining for her daddy. He admits and accepts that the decision he has made may not have been the best one, but it was only supposed to be a temporary situation. Nothing permanent. He simply wanted to remove his daughter from a situation that was making her unhappy. The teacher understood that.

Her mother has recently remarried and is now changing my husbands daughters name, to that of her mothers married one. Her schoolbooks remain unchanged, but the book that she takes home, in her mothers writing, has been changed. The teacher has offered my stepdaughter a diary, to try to have an understanding of her feelings. Quite plainly she is indeed missing her daddy and there were quite a few extracts of this noted. Obviously her mother is sweeping her daughters feelings under the carpet as she gave the diary back to school and informed the teacher, "she doesn't need this anymore."

The teacher did tell my husband that she did find his ex wife quite "matter of fact" at times. I honestly believe my husbands ex wife can only think of one person. That is herself. As a mother she does not know how to talk to her own child. Past history has shown this. If his ex wife is capable of lying to the school about my husband, then I'm sure she's capable of lying to her daughter about her daddy.
My husband has continued to contact his daughter through cards and letters but the sadness and grief of not being able to see his daughter is painful to watch and there is nothing I can do but feel helpless.

It has affected our life to the point that he doesn't know how to be happy and I cant be happy knowing he is not so the thought of ending our marriage returns. Not because we do not adore each other, but because of the pain. The problems we have been exposed to has caused each of us to loose one another. We have grown apart and any issue my husband has regarding my son, is instantly responded with issues that my stepdaughter has brought about. It suddenly becomes "tit for tat" my kids your kids once again.

Diary entry:

Friday 01 September 2006

You came home last night and told me you had been trying to write a letter to your daughter. I know you have been missing her; you don't have to say anything to me. Changing the photo on your phone speaks volumes, I understand that. You asked me when the Health visitor was going to sort out the mediation she suggested. You talked about what you were trying to write to your daughter and I said I would help you. I will pick up some little note- lets for you too. Something special for her. I will be by your side there stomach. The fear of your daughter and the problems that come with her, are filling me with dread. You said you don't hold her responsible for any of the attitude she showed towards me. I'm afraid I have to disagree with that, as I feel she has learned to manipulate. She has shown to play you against her mother in an effort to gain some advantage.

I'm sure she has become an expert at reading the emotional environment, telling partial truths, and then telling out-and-out lies. Whether these are survival strategies that she has learned in order to keep peace at home and avoid emotional attack by her mother, it is still me that is targeted. I immediately had to text my Son, just some sort of contact with him, who since my stepdaughter has not been here, has been easier for me to accept his absence. Your daughter coming back into my life, unless there is a massive change with her mother’s attitude, will simply amplify my yearning for my son to be with me. I am panicked and at this moment in time looking back towards the tablets. Other than that, accepting that maybe we cannot live together, you without your daughter and me having to survive the attacks from her and on top of that living without is my son. One of us has to make a sacrifice. You simply are not strong enough to continue without your child and I am not strong enough to cope with the problems she brings.

You mentioned that you are resentful towards my children because they are not yours. Resent was a strong word you said. You loved them but resented them. You have had a few weeks of no contact with your child; I have had 4 years of not seeing my son everyday. I understand your resentment but wonder that it is not the same as my own. I resented your daughter because she couldn't allow me to parent her or told me "I didn't know what I no doubt of that, but if I'm honest, I am scared to death. I have a knot in my was talking about" Are your resentments simply because my children are here and yours is not?

The ironic thing is in all of this is that you once told me, had my son moved in with us, our relationship would not have lasted, yet I have had to live without my son AND be subjected to this hostile behaviour whether it is influenced by your ex wife or your daughters own demise, and I'm still here! But I really feel that I cannot be subjected to it any longer. You are distancing yourself through your grief missing her and work pressures and I understand that, but the resentment will become apparent through our,my kids your kids situation. I know there is a lot of work to be done but I haven't had time to get our relationship back on track.

I honestly think that this is now becoming a lost cause. Each time I think about it I am in floods of tears. Can I pretend to you that everything is ok, and spill out these feelings during the mediation if it gets that far? I want to be able to talk to you about this but you will instantly feel that you are back in the middle or will want to try to resolve something that cannot be resolved so I shall say nothing and have you continue to question that am I ok? You asked when you came home was I all right. I said I was feeling a little down and you responded, why, it's not because of my daughter is it? When I said no you said thank Christ for that!

So that's it. Its a subject you really want to bury your head in the sand over isn't it? So now you are left with hope in your heart of having your daughter back in your life and I am left feeling that my life is about to fall apart once again. You say because of my mood this evening, you feel like an alien well when your daughter comes back into your life all I will feel is excluded. Back where I was two years ago. And to top it all, you haven't even read any of the documentation that I have printed to argue our case. All I have done is try to support you and at the moment all I feel is alone.

I feel completely detached from my husband to the point where if I cannot be a good wife then I must try to continue to be a good mother. Alone if that is the option that remains. I sometimes feel I have lost the man I fell in love with. We have been sucked up into a tornado of problems. Unfortunately my husband has become bitter and angry towards his ex wife due to the situation with his daughter and this anger has consumed him. Focusing on this anger, everything else is unimportant. He has no room for his family. He has told me how much he loves me but at this moment cannot find room for us due to this anger. I don't know how to help him. He told me, "With all due respect, you cannot understand how I feel. You still have your son." Why is him not seeing his daughter so much more important than how little I see my son? Because he is so consumed with this anger and his emotions, he has no space for understanding and sympathy for mine.

Perhaps though, the comments my husband makes regarding my son is simply his way of communicating that he feels I don't understand, because from his perspective, I've not lost my son completely but knows he has lost his own daughter. I know comparing the situations doesn't help but understand why each of us does this. My husband is so consumed by his emotions and I understand this is normal as he would indeed be heartless not to feel anything at all. Perhaps how I feel is normal too.

I ignorantly thought, like leaving my son, once his own daughter was taken out of the equation, albeit for what we thought was her own good, we could have our "happy ending." But this would only have worked if my husband didn't care so much and one of the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place was because he was such a good father and caring person. But like any relationship, when someone is treating you badly you expect your partner to understand and support you but when its their children they can’t do this and that’s why I’m not convinced that blended families work well when it has so many problems to deal with. The needs and feelings of everybody just get too much.

I sometimes wonder whether we really had time to get to know each other in the normal sense of the word. When in fact, we have been flung in at the deep end with a bombardment of problems and emotions that blended families so often have. We have been so busy sorting out these problems that somewhere along the line, we haven't been allowed to learn about each other. I think about my past and wonder that if in year’s time when I am thinking about what has happened in my life, will I think of this moment and wonder where were our happy times? Did we ever really have any because we were too busy sorting problems? We need to change this. Our present will be our past and I want to remember them fondly not think "What was all that about?"
Perhaps I have come full circle from sitting alone with a bottle of pills before me wanting out of a life where a husband showed me no affection, to a man I love with all of my heart and who feels the same about me, but have no future with due to his grief. But he is aware of this and we can talk about it and move forward. United once again.

The truth will out!

The weekend July 9th 2006 has been the worst of all. I have been even more anxious on the arrival of my stepdaughter. Things seem to be getting worse again. As normal, there was nothing from her. No hello, nothing, and so I decided to clear the air and ask her, yet again, what was the problem. “Why are you ignoring me again? Do you know how upset this is making me? I just don't understand what has gone wrong again.”

A few weeks ago she was fine. After making the decision that my husband was to stop her from coming all together, she changed and things were back to how they used to be. I had a happy six year old in my home and for a short while my home was relaxed and stress free. The tension had gone, even though I was still cautious. She had written me little notes saying what a nice time she was having and that she wished she could see more of us.

So now we are back to the silence. She looked at me and said nothing. No response, no reply.” I give up.” I sighed.
It caused a disagreement between my husband and I, because as usual, I wasn't doing a great deal to coax her out of herself. "What am I supposed to do?" I enquired, "Ask what she has been doing to get no reply? How long is that going to go on for?"

There is obviously still an issue for her so as I see it, I didn't want to make her any more uncomfortable by making her talk to me. I told my husband if she wants to ignore me then fine, I don't have to stay in and put up with it. I can go out!
Sunday is still as bad. My husband has spoken with his daughter but there is still no resolution. She tells him she doesn't know what to talk to me about. The tension between my husband and myself is still stressful and I am annoyed with him for not being firmer with his daughter. He calls her to our room. She responds to her daddy like there is no problem, so when he asks what is going on she says nothing. He asks her to tell me what she told him regarding not knowing what to talk to me about. She cries and looks at me with a blank expression. I look back and shrug. "So, what is the matter?" She looks at me and says, " I have nothing to say to you." There. How can I even start to solve this? So I leave the room. I tell my husband there is no resolution. I don't want him to loose his daughter so I will leave. I am tired of this and I cant do it any more.

So he makes his decision. His daughter will stop coming, end of subject. He cannot bear the thought of being without our daughter and me. But more so, his daughter was obviously unhappy about something, was stressed when she visited us, so he needed to take her out of this environment. What I have struggled to understand is, if she has been so unhappy here, why hasn't her mother said something? Why has she continued to send an obviously upset child somewhere she was not happy to go? Having to see his own daughter away from our home will not work for him. What do we tell the child we have together? Another set of problems? His daughter is either part of this family or not. He takes her home Sunday morning, not before taking her to the local park to let her know how much we all love her. We don't know what is making her unhappy so to save her any more upset perhaps it would be better for a short while for her to stay at mummy's all of the time.

When my husband came home he was devastated. Having to explain to his daughter that she won’t be coming anymore was the hardest thing he has ever had to do. He felt ashamed. She had told him how much she would miss him, my children and myself. She didn't understand. None of us understand.

I have tried to think if there was any other way, but the decision had been made. I feel totally responsible, perhaps if I had done this or maybe if I had done that, but nothing made an ounce of difference. I have called in health visitors and have even taken counselling. This whole predicament was down to me and I have exhausted myself trying to resolve it. The problem will now go away but it has left an enormous void. Can my husband ever come through this and can my marriage possibly survive?

Monday morning my husband has spoken little of the events of yesterday. Am I to be left wondering if he, somehow still holds me responsible? I called him at work and he sounded completely devastated. Panic set in. As a couple can we survive this? If I had known this was going to be as hard as it was, I would never allowed him to make the decision. But once a decision is made he never goes back on it and this one he did without consulting me. If I am honest, my husband, my marriage and our relationship are my priority. His daughter being left not seeing her daddy came a close second. I had to do something. I had to make things right again, even if it meant stepping to one side. My husband’s happiness is everything to me and I couldn't bear to see him so distraught.

So I did the silliest thing I could possibly think of. I bundled my youngest daughter in the car and set off to see my husbands ex wife, my stepdaughter’s mother.
I was surprisingly calm. I'm not big on confrontations at all and I was unsure of the reception through my head. Yes, we could sit down as adults and sort this mess out. Yes, my husbands ex wife would be happy to discuss where we went from here; after all we both wanted the same thing didn’t we. Her daughters happiness. I honestly thought I could persuade her to let me collect her daughter from school with an overnight bag, and we could pick daddy up from the station and see the look of complete elation on his face at having his little girl back in his life. How naive.

I pulled up outside her house and walked up the path. I knocked lightly on the glass. My husbands ex wife slowly came to the door. "Can you spare me five minutes of your time to sort this mess out?" I must say I wasn't really prepared for the reply. I stupidly thought she would put her daughters feelings over her own. Absolutely not! She looked at me with contempt and hatred.

"How dare you stand on my doorstep? I'm not going to talk to you. I suggest you go away." She closed the door in my face, leaving me stood on the path. I couldn't let this go and I wasn't leaving until this was sorted so I knocked again. She came back and opened the door. Again I was told.
"Go away you don't want my daughter."
At which point she again shut the door in my face. So I resorted to pleading to her through the glass.
"Please." I said, "This isn't down to me. I never stopped her from coming. I just want her to keep on seeing her daddy, that's all."
Again she opened the door so I continued.
"Who had told you I didn't want your daughter? It has nothing to do with not wanting her Of course I want her."
What I wanted most of all was my fantasy and my stepdaughter was always part of that. For my husband, his daughter and my own children to be able to live a happy, uncomplicated life together.
"Was it my step daughter that had said I didn't want her?" I questioned. "Or was it someone else? She's told me things that you have supposedly said too. She didn't have to talk to me if she didn't want to."
The reply came.
"Yes that's right. I have told her she doesn't have to speak to you or anyone that makes her uncomfortable. So what?"

I was flabbergasted. No wonder we were having such problems. Every time she visited us, she wasn't allowed to talk to me. Each I had asked her what the problem was and she said she didn't know, she was telling the truth. Each time I asked her if she disliked me and she said no, she was telling the truth. Each time she was asked why she was ignoring me and she said she had nothing to say, she was telling the truth. She had nothing to say because if she had spoken to me then she was being disloyal to her mummy. I cannot believe the pressure this little girl had been under for such a long time, let alone the effect it has had on me, based on a comment made by her mother because she possibly felt that I gave her daughter more attention than she did herself. Perhaps she felt she couldn't compete with how I am as a mother. I wasn't caring for her daughter to score points or make it into some competition as to who was the better mother. There were no special favours or treats. We did nothing together that I wouldn't have done with my own children. But after a comment like that, for a moment, I certainly felt like a better mother than she was. I could never have made my child do something because of my own issues or to get back at my ex husband.

I told my husbands ex wife that I had tried everything in my power to find out what the problem was. I had even telephoned my step daughters school. At this point she stared angrily at me and asked. " What right do you have to contact my daughters school? How dare you. You have nothing to do with my daughter!"
I responded. "How can I have nothing to do with her? I am married to her daddy!"
" I don't care, go away." And once again she shut the door. I watched her walk up the stairs through the glass and as a last resort called through the letterbox.
"Please," I begged, " I am willing to sacrifice my marriage so your daughter can have a relationship with her daddy." There was no response. Instead she continued to climb the stairs. I stood on the step for a few seconds, still hoping that she may come back and talk, resolve this for her daughter’s sake. But no. So I turned around and holding back my tears, walked up the path, got into my car and drove away. I was astounded this woman was not even prepared to talk about what had happened. An overwhelming feeling of failure gripped me. I have failed as a stepmother and failed as a support for my husband.

The feeling of complete despair suddenly changed to a feeling of resolution, as I now knew for sure that the problem was not mine. There would have been little I could have done to forge any relationship between my stepdaughter and myself. His ex wife would never allow it. I believe she would have acted in the same way towards anyone my husband formed a relationship with so I should not take her actions personally.

When I arrived home, I contacted my husband and told him what I had done. The desperation in his voice instantly told me I had done the wrong thing. Any possibility of reconciling with his daughter was now gone. I had destroyed any chance of that. Little wifey going off to fight his battles again. That's not how it was. I explained the reason I had subjected myself to complete humiliation on her doorstep. I had done it for him and his daughter and after explaining everything his ex wife had said to me, he started to listen and seemed less agitated.
He came home from work early to talk, and slowly realised that yes, it was down to his ex wife that this situation had happened and we both agreed that there would be nothing I could ever have done to continue and have a relationship with his daughter. Even though he had told his daughter she was to stop coming and how desperately sad it had made him, he suddenly felt a little easier with his decision. He could see it wasn’t my fault and I think we were both relieved. His ex wife had called him a coward; she was good at name-calling. After his birthday weekend and the fuss he made about arranging a party on his birthday weekend she had called him a big baby. He didn’t regard himself as a coward at all. He felt by taking his daughter out of a situation that was making her so uncomfortable, he was actually doing the best thing for her .

It is not the best for my husband to be without his daughter, but if his ex wife cannot be adult enough to accept he has moved on, has a new wife who shares an interest with his daughter, then there is no hope. The most important thing is that he has not made a choice. By this I mean he has not chosen me over his daughter. She knows she can call him any time, if she is allowed too obviously, and we will always be here for her, but until she can make choices for herself and not be influenced by her mother, it would be best for her to remain stable and nearly completely happy, rather than have her distressed and troubled in a situation she can not understand. I respect my husband completely for his decision. He feels he is doing the best for his child. He is putting her first, something her mother should take a lesson from.
Myself, I came away from his ex wife’s house feeling a better person than she will ever be. I would sacrifice anything for my husband’s happiness and do anything for him and his daughter for them to have had a relationship. Clearly something his ex wife has no intention of doing.

It’s going to take a while to come to terms with my stepdaughter not sharing our lives. This is not how it was supposed to be. We were supposed to be one big happy family, but a bitter ex wife, with insecurities regarding her own motherhood, or the need to control, has taken our lives on a different path, and I don’t believe we shall be hearing the last of it. What I need to do now is focus on my relationship with my husband and help us both to help each other come through this. I need to get my mind out of the rut it has fallen into by validating the many fears that I have and focus on the rewards, my three wonderful children, my beautiful home and my Husband. The most attentive, supportive, wonderfully sexy man I have ever known.


It may seem that I am obsessed with my husbands ex wife. Infatuated with her perhaps. But this is certainly not the case. I know I waste far too much energy on her. She is simply the key to my stepdaughter’s behaviour towards me I'm sure. Or would it be easer to accept that she is actually a child with a very nasty streak in her, capable of treating an adult with such disrespect? I don‘t think for a moment she is. She would have to be very clever for her age to be a normal happy child to most of the people in her life, and then try really hard at being someone else when she is at home with us.
This whole situation makes me miss my son even more. I have to share my home with a disrespectful child when in actual fact I want to share my home with my son. Her behaviour brings all the emotions of being without him to the surface. That in itself is hard for me to carry, which adds to the resentment.
Understanding her actions is all I seem to concentrate on at present. We have been graced with a school report this year and already I am looking for a hidden agenda. I don't trust my husbands ex wife’s nicey nicey approach at all. It just isn’t in her character. There is always an alternative schedule with her. I cannot accept that she is simply giving my husband a school report to give him some involvement in their daughter’s progress. We never received one last year. Even the school photograph that his ex wife sent was passport sized. The size we would of liked was sent over to “ grandmas” Who was more important here, daddy or Grandma? Obviously Grandma!

The school report was wonderful. My stepdaughter is making excellent progress. Her work is consistently high. She is confident and independent. Her reading and writing is to a very high standard but her greatest pleasure is performing! She adores drama, role-play or reading to an audience. Fantastic. But all I can sit and think about is, if she can read to an audience of complete strangers, is confident enough to act, why cant she talk to me? We have been in each other’s life for over three years. Where is her confidence with me? Why, when she is here, does she look so frightened and timid? Where is this confident independent child? Are we talking about the same one?

I do wonder what the agenda was of my husband’s ex wife in the summer holidays of 2005. I had taken my daughter and our new baby daughter to the local park. My stepdaughter was there with her mother. Once my stepdaughter had noticed my daughter she came running over to me and our baby daughter, who was in the pushchair, jumped onto my lap and started talking to me. To my horror, shortly behind her was her mother, my husband’s ex wife. Was she coming towards me? Sure enough, she strolled up, her own new baby in her arms and began chatting like we were old friends. I made pleasant conversation. What was I supposed to do? Our children surrounded us. She commented on what a lovely baby I had. Now I found this very strange and a tad uncomfortable to say the least. Was she comparing babies? Did she simply want a look at the child her ex husband and I had made together? I will admit I was extremely two faced but was polite, and was glad to get away. My husband’s ex wife has never made polite conversation with me since. Perhaps she is the one who is obsessed with me!

It is hard, not to create a personal vendetta towards my husbands ex wife over the way she is raising her daughter and for me to imagine that I can perform a far better job that she can. She constantly gives me reasons to doubt her role as a mother. My stepdaughter has a new bicycle, and has told my husband that she rarely uses it because no one will go outside with her. A new pair of rolling skates remains unused in the cupboard, again for the same reason. Mummy doesn't have the time for bedtime stories and we often frown upon my husbands ex wife. Why is she not spending the time with her own daughter to teach her these menial things? But then, if I'm honest with myself, there are such things that I am guilty of for not spending time with my own daughter, bedtime reading being one of them.
Does that make me a bad mother? I should hope not as we do so many other things together as I am sure my stepdaughter’s mother does with her. We only seem to hear of the things that her mother fails to do with her.


Our next plan of action is to change the weekend arrangements. We are to suggest that my husbands daughter, instead of being collected Saturday evening and returned home Sunday evening every weekend, we alternate them. My husband collects her Friday evening and returns her home Sunday evening. In theory, she will be here two nights so she can settle in and be more involved with our family. I always thought what a silly arrangement it was for her to come for twenty-four hours. By the time she has settled in, she is going home. It will then give me a weekend off if she continues to be hostile towards me. I am hoping I can cope with two days a fortnight.

I doubt this will be convenient with her mother. I still believe that she cant wait to have her weekends without her own daughter, so suggesting this to her, I'm sure will have some excuse as to why it cant happen. But then thinking about it, she will have a whole weekend too. For me, it will free up a weekend so I can visit my son more frequently. This seems like such a better idea. My husband seems in agreement also but I do sense that even though he will have contact for longer, the idea of seeing her every weekend is more appealing to him. He knows suggesting this new arrangement is a hopeless case though. Having to "ask " to change plans simply to be told "no" makes him wonder why he is even going to bother to try. His ex wife likes to be in control and by saying no she is doing exactly that.

Regarding the party situation and my husbands ex wife accepting them on our behalf, he has asked that he be given the decision to accept or decline. She has accommodated him recently, but this hasn't been the first time and she slipped back into her controlling ways after a few weeks so it certainly wont be long before she is taking control of our weekends again. She just can’t help herself!
My husband and I (I sound like the Queen!) haven’t discussed the downside to this potential arrangement change. It all seems like a good idea but things never run smoothly, and this was another incident that did just that.

My husband returned form collecting his daughter and told me that arrangements had been changed and his ex wife was in agreement. The only problem that there was is that his daughter had swimming lessons on a Saturday. So I asked what time the lessons were. He didn’t know. I asked this because my daughter has riding lessons on a Saturday, has done for the past two years so hadn’t he thought about checking to see that they didn’t collide? Instantly this caused another heated discussion. Why was I looking for problems? I didn’t think I was. I was annoyed that he had not mentioned that he was going to change the arrangements so soon without a deciding discussion. The last thing we talked about was that he didn’t think his ex wife would go for it and he certainly never mentioned he was going to suggest the change when he left to fetch his daughter that night. We hadn’t sat down and thought about if either girl had a party on the same day, at the same time, how were we going to get each of them to their respective party at the same time? What annoyed him the most was my comment regarding his daughter swimming. I assumed that he would be expecting me to change my daughter’s horse riding to accommodate his own daughter swimming lessons. Would this be the case with the party’s too? Because he was now seeing his daughter once a fortnight, would my daughter come second to his, where organised functions were concerned. My answer to that is yes she would.

This is obviously the wrong thing to say. One minute I want to change the arrangement the next I am going back on it. How is he supposed to go back to his ex wife and tell her that he’d changed his mind because there were things we hadn’t thought about?
Had we discussed this properly instead of him jumping in feet first and making his own decision and not discussing it with me first, we wouldn’t be in this mess would we? I get so tired of not being able to make a straightforward decision. Everything has to be so thought out. What happens if this or what happens if that? It is draining. Would it be simpler to leave things as they were?

I think he sometimes forgets that we are not in a normal relationship. He has a daughter that visits once a week. I have a daughter here all of the time. If we all lived together as normal families do, and there was the odd occasion that weekend activities overlapped with each other, then you work around that. I wasn’t having my daughters arrangements changed just to accommodate my step daughters infrequent visits. Instant favouritism and another problem that I certainly didn’t want to have to deal with.

My kids your kids!

Concerning our respective children, perhaps I look for differences in the way they are treated or who my husband prioritises, his child or my child, but I know they are not all in my head. This weekend has been a good example. I know I haven’t had my stepdaughter visit for the last two weeks as she has been on holiday with her mother, but last night she persisted to chase my young daughter around the chair and after several attempts asking her to stop, she continued completely ignoring me. Had this been my own daughter my husband would have told her to stop expecting his request to immediately be carried out.

I have been witness to the preferential treatment my stepdaughter receives from her daddy, my daughter is disciplined with a distinct tone, my stepdaughter receives a much softer tone making the request more of a gentle statement. The bed-time routine causes the most problems. My daughter has a bed-time routine of 8.30pm my stepdaughter 7.30pm. My daughter being four years older gets the extra hour. When my stepdaughter arrives on Saturday at 6.30pm, her bed-time is often overlooked, my husband’s excuse is his daughter has been in the house an hour, then he’s packing her off to bed, so 7.30pm often creeps on to 8.00pm. My daughter, quite rightly, requests the extra half hour as it seems quite fair to her to have her bed-time extended alongside my stepdaughter, but this doesn’t happen, 8.30pm on the dot, my husband insists bed-time.

My daughter looks heavily towards me to defend her after all, what’s good for one is
good for the other. It’s taken a while for my husband to accept how important it is to not show any favouritism, even though to him, he is not.
We have had an incident concerning a watch. My daughter has a watch with a very distinctive strap, blue with little pink dolphins embroidered on it. It has been well worn so is far from new. A few weeks ago while my daughter and stepdaughter were playing in my daughter’s bedroom. My stepdaughter asked if she could wear it and was told ‘of course you can but I don’t want you wearing it home okay.’ My daughter was more than happy to let her wear it while she was here as in the past hair bobbles that are used to tie up my stepdaughters hair are never returned and I spend an absolute fortune on them. If they’re not in one of her dollies hair they’ve found their way to the bottom of a drawer never to be seen again.

Monday morning while getting herself ready for school, my daughter commented she couldn’t find her watch. I told her not to worry, I was sure it would turn up. A few weeks later on one of her visits my stepdaughter walked into the house wearing a watch identical to the one belonging to my daughter. Unable to find my daughter’s and not wanting to point fingers I commented on the watch my stepdaughter was wearing and she told me her mummy had bought it for her recently. It was certainly far from new, quite grubby and worn in fact and as my daughter was clearly upset over the loss of her own, I decided the only fair way to handle the dispute was to confiscate it from both children until the second one turned up. I wanted to treat this situation as if they were both my children as I didn't want either child to think I was favouring one over the other.

After my husband dropped his daughter home he received a text message from his ex wife demanding the return of her daughter’s watch. The week leading up to my stepdaughter’s next visit, along with my daughter, we turned her bedroom upside down but to no avail. My daughter’s favourite watch had simply disappeared. This dispute went on for a few weeks. My husbands ex wife put her ex husband in the picture on how upset his daughter is and that I had called my stepdaughter a liar. My husband asked, ‘exactly how did you handle the episode?’ I felt he was questioning the way I dealt with the situation but one thing I will say for my husband is we can be brutally honest with each other and he knew how I intended to handle the loss because I had discussed it with him prior to talking with the girls. He told me he needed to know just in case he had to defend me to his ex wife.

Communication is the key to our relationship, apart from the obvious, something that was lacking in both mine and my husband's former marriages, my ex husband assuming any problems I had were brought on by 'that time of the month.' Being honest is the key but becomes difficult when dealing with each others children. How do you tell the person you love, 'can't stand your child.' Its not quite so easy to love me love my kids. My husband collected his daughter the next weekend along with a message from his ex wife. She had purchased an identical watch for her daughter the previous year because my stepdaughter liked it so much but unfortunately she had mislaid it. My stepdaughter had discovered it behind some books in her bedroom and was over the moon that she had found it again, roughly about the same time my daughter had lost hers. So I am thinking, what a coincidence, perhaps she 'replaced' her own watch with my daughters, frightened she may get into trouble. I felt I was under suspicion myself so to keep the peace, gave my stepdaughter the watch, leaving my own daughter without hers which, incidentally, we have never found.

Sometimes when my son visits I feel my husband is constantly on his case. He is
expected to respect how we live and follow our rules of the house but regarding my step daughter, her behaviour is often overlooked because my husband doesn't want to confuse her. There seem to be rules for one and rules for the other. I loose my patience.
It is not a common occurrence but my stepdaughter knows how to tweak daddy's heart strings. Both she and my daughter were outside playing. My daughter came in through the front door but my stepdaughter came through the back gate and sat in the garden. After a short time she eventually came inside, appearing to be deeply distressed. My husband, rushing to her aid, asks what is wrong? She said she didn't want to use the front door because our daughter was asleep. I was confused as our daughter certainly wasn't asleep and my own daughter had walked through the front door with my stepdaughter right behind her. She can turn on the tears and my husband falls for it every time.
When my step daughter arrives on Saturday evenings, it is an awful time for me as I am trying to settle our young daughter to bed and all my step daughter can do is excite her. While I am trying to calm my daughter for bedtime, my stepdaughter is stimulating her. She continues to do this and daddy says nothing. Is it because my husband sees it as my job to tell her or his guilt preventing him from discipline? I have repeatedly spoken to her regarding this which hasn't impressed her too much as she tells my daughter how much she hates me and wants to go home. I feel for my daughter having to listen to a child slander her own mother and there is nothing she can do except listen to it. My stepdaughter is able to disrespect me to my own daughter then threaten my child with telling her daddy.

My daughter is told off by my husband for not sharing her things, but when the tables are turned and my stepdaughter refuses to share her toys, I advise my daughter that's it's ok. If my stepdaughter chooses not to share her things then fine, she cannot expect my daughter to share her things too and this normally makes both girls stop and think.
My daughter has a games console in her bedroom, and after a disagreement between her and my stepdaughter, my daughter took herself off to her room to play alone. My stepdaughter asked if she could come in and play her console. She shows little interest in the playstation but seems contented to watch my daughter. Her request was denied as my daughter wanted to be left alone, so immediately my stepdaughter sought out her daddy and told him my daughter wouldn’t let her in her bedroom to play the playstation so would he come and play on it with her and on that request he did. My daughter was distraught and came downstairs in floods of tears. She had gone to her room to be away from my stepdaughter and because daddy said he would play with her, my daughter’s space was invaded by the child she wanted to escape from. I explained the circumstances to my husband, much to my stepdaughters disgust, and they left my daughter’s room. My daughter relies on me to come to her defence, she has no one else all though there are times, incidents with lost watches, I just cannot.

I think I am quite a fair parent. I have three children so I've been here before with sharing and invading each other’s rooms. Children, at times, need their own space but my husband frequently undermines my decisions in favour of his own daughter because of his guilt and little possessions his daughter has while she stays. Over time, how we parent the children is becoming more agreeable to us both and even though I may have views on some things my husband has his, we always try to meet somewhere in the middle. But there are instances I have my way and he has his. The favouritism results in my daughter’s dislike for my stepdaughter, simply for turning on the tears and running to daddy all of the time just for her to have her own way, but I know sibling rivalry occurs in normal families, blended families seem to enhance it.

Any issues that are raised over the course of the weekend are often a hot topic for my husband and I to discuss when the children are in bed. We give our views or opinions then listen to each others responses which, hopefully, will enable us to try and find some common ground. But although my husband agrees on most issues I raise concerning his daughter, and his concerning my children, his emotions always get the better of him, leaving me the feeling of no way forward. It seems our whole house is turned upside down when my stepdaughter visits so after the recent scenario concerning my daughter’s bedroom, my husband decides, because of his daughters banishment from her room, toys must now be played with downstairs. What if I don't want the mess? Surely this is what bedrooms are for so this is not a solution. My stepdaughter will never learn respect for other people’s belongings and personal space, but my husband cannot bear the thought of her being upset so, once again, my stepdaughter and her feelings are put first.

My children are not perfect and they have their faults. My son, a typical teenager, has many and I am subjected to constant criticism concerning them from my husband. I agree on the many points my husband raises regarding my son, taking them all on the chin, because much of the time I hate to say, he is right. My son can be an obnoxious teen at times, yet it is hard for me because I am not raising him, forcing me to relate to my husbands guilt concerning his daughter. I try to have as much input in my son’s life as I can but it’s not the same, as he is not living with me. Unfortunately any criticism I have of my stepdaughter is taken as a personal attack and then we have a my kids your kids debate.

If my husband passes comment regarding my son then I counter attack and pass comment on an issue I have with his daughter. It is my way of getting him to understand that he can criticize and punish my son when he messes up, but where his daughter is concerned, his pain and guilt because he is unable to share her life full time, gets the better of him. I don't have a problem with him disciplining my children, most of the time the decision is a joint one anyway, if only he could do the same with his daughter when required. I only have the one issue with my stepdaughter, my husband has many issues with my son; one of them ironically is the way he talks to me.

Mothers day and the weather is cold, damp and windy, quite depressing so doesn't help lift my mood. I wait for the post on Saturday but nothing except the odd bill. No card from my son. My husband spoke to him the previous day with a reminder of how important Mothers Day is to me, especially as we are apart. My son’s excuse is he doesn’t have the money to purchase a card, just like the excuses his father used to make, but instead he is working on a power point presentation for me. I assume this means I will be expecting something via e-mail, so this morning, I excitedly check the mail to discover... nothing. I cannot express my sorrow as my daughters have bought cards and presents and I must to keep my disappointment from them. My daughters, and their excitement about this day, have the desire to pamper me alongside my husband as he senses the need to compensate for my sons insensitivity. No doubt my son will contact me in due course to offer his apologies and as his mother, because I love him and miss him, will accept them.

So my husband offers a hug providing the opportunity to cry into his shoulder. Unfortunately I have to listen to my husband voice his opinions and how inconsiderate and selfish my son can be and how he is the one who is subjected to my depression brought on by my sons actions. My husband is sick to death of him continually hurting and showing such little respect for me but I know my husband's actions are purely out of love and his need to protect, but who's going to protect me from my husband when he is ranting this way about my son? He cannot shield me from my own child.

My protective instincts kick in and I temporarily detach from my husband. I sit and listen to everything he has to say but it is difficult. My husband can moan about my son and openly express his anger, but forgets how his own daughter, my stepdaughter treats me. My husband has to understand and accept, if I can forgive my sons behaviour, then he must too. Am I allowed to express my anger towards her? No and kids can be so selfish and cruel at times.

When talking to my husband, his daughter is a closed topic because the anguish and guilt of only seeing her one-day a week, always gets the better of him. How frustrating, but what annoys me most, is when my son comes to visit, he uses our shampoo, how trivial, but my husband will pass comment on how my son is using his shampoo and really should bring his own. Is this an indication for me to suggest to him that perhaps his daughter should bring her own soap and toothpaste? So you see how it gets? His daughter is a separate issue to my own children. My kids, his kids.

Diary entry

Monday 8th August

You’ve mentioned about the toiletries in the bathroom for my son. Well you moan when he uses your shampoo so I’m sure you would moan if he used your smellies too. We have things for your daughter to use every week so you see, they are out for her too use every week too, but because they are girls stuff, you don’t see it. This must really eat you up, but you forget, that you have your Daughter in the flesh every week. I get my son when he feels like coming. You are seeing things as though I don’t care about your daughter at all and all I’m interested in is my son. All I have lately is you verbally bashing me over events of the weekend regarding your daughter and what I’m not doing for her. I think I’ll just have to stop my son visiting and go see him in on neutral ground. Perhaps a hotel.

Fantasy and Grief.

A dear friend who studies therapy suggests that I may actually be grieving. Not the loss of a loved one, but the loss of my dream and on entering this relationship imagined everything would be perfect, with well balanced children, an understanding loving husband and an ex wife who would have no involvement in our life whatsoever, if you get the picture.

When I realised that my life isn't like that and it never will be, it has been a bitter pill to swallow. Even a flagon of whiskey wont get that little sucker to dislodge itself from my throat. I don't think anyone has the perfect blended family, certainly the one I imagined ours would be. It is always going to be an unrealistic dream when dealing with an ex wife with an apparent personality disorder! Perhaps I am also grieving the loss of parenting my own son and parenting my stepdaughter. My son deciding to stay with my family and school friends and my husbands ex wife, deciding that she really doesn't want me to have any involvement in parenting her child so in turn has manipulated a situation that has become impossible for myself and my step daughter to have any kind of relationship.

I must have denied the signs that were staring me in the face from the start. My husbands ex wife inviting him for tea, playing happy families and taking shopping trips together to clothe their daughter, even if she needed him to pay the bill! Asking him to lift a bag into her car because she was pregnant and she thought the bag looked heavy, playing her venerable damsel in distress card, the little touches on his arm. Perhaps it was apparent from the start his ex had not completely emotionally detached from my husband, but that's what being in love did, it made me blind and completely ga ga. I just accepted and never questioned what had gone on between them, in fact I felt quite sorry for her.

My husband and I love each other enough to suffer all of these aggravations because we both feel they make us stronger as a couple. We emerge from one tug-of-war fracas ready for the next torrent of hostile behaviour from the ex wife camp, even though at the time, it leaves us completely defeated with absolutely no glimmer of hope feeling distraught, drained and questioning our future.

At the same time we moved into our new home, my husband seized the opportunity for a career change. Due to the behaviour of our respective ex spouses both my husband and myself decided against offering either of them, especially my husband's ex, a direct telephone number. They both have mobile numbers should an emergency arise and the mobiles have proved to be far more reliable than our home telephone number as either of us are instantaneously contactable. While at work, my husband's ex called him to ask if everything was ok as she heard he'd lost his job. If he was out of work, why was he taking her call from his new office? He asked how she managed to obtain his number and she told him he had given it to her. We both know this is untrue.

About a year later my husband's ex called our home. I was enraged, felt totally violated and for a time was completely inconsolable. How stupid for me to react in such a way but it is essential for me to be able to answer my telephone without wondering if she is going to be on the other end. I really have no desires to speak to the woman, but she proved that under no circumstances is she going to respect our privacy. This woman can invite herself into my home at any given time and there is nothing I can do to prevent her. She is determined to let us know that however we try to keep our lives separate from hers, she can and most certainly will enter it if and whenever she pleases, not once stopping to consider our feelings. Perhaps we should be flattered in thinking she needs to be so involved in controlling our lives, but after four years of trying to get her to accept our relationship and to refrain from domineering the weekends my husband has his own daughter, it still leaves me tired and subjugated. There is nothing I can do to change this, so I find myself having to accept it is me that has to change by not focusing on the problem, his ex wife or her child, but try and find a solution.

I know I have the strength to bounce back, I always do and I accept I may never have a great relationship with my stepdaughter as her loyalties lie with her mother, naturally, but can I find it in myself to be civil to her? Yes I can. I can search deep within myself and try to understand how manipulated she has become and respond to her accordingly. I understand my husband finds this hard but he knows I will never be spiteful or take my resentful feelings out on his daughter, so I take myself out for a while and that gives me some much needed breathing space.

Every so often I don't want to be nice to my stepdaughter. I don't want to French plait her hair because mummy cant do them, I don't want to cook her favourite roast potatoes or Yorkshire puddings because they are light and fluffy so if i refrain from doing these diminutive things, she is unable to go back to her mummy's and sing my praises. So perhaps this may change her mothers opinion of me but then again, in her mothers eyes, I can't do right for doing wrong.

The insincere hug my stepdaughter offers, purely for daddy's benefit I'm sure, also gives false hope, but I cannot reciprocate it as I don't trust her and I refuse to allow her back into my affections, merely for her to tear them apart again. She is becoming increasingly good at that. It just gives her father false hope that after a seemingly present weekend, maybe next week it will be just as nice, but then again, maybe it won't. Even a silly thing like her toothbrush, still wet from use, placed in its holder in the bathroom offends me. For me it is an evident reminder that my stepdaughter has been here, hasn't been very nice, and will be back next week to it all over again.

It immediately seems so unfair that the one-sided and volatile relationship I came from and finding my perfect partner has been replaced with a relationship full of emotional twaddle from my stepdaughter and her mother. I am great with children and I think I'm okay as a person. I don't have any issues with myself apart from my inability to cope with emotional situations especially those I don't deserve. What I find so hard to accept is appears to be my problem but how can this be? What have I done to deserve this and a husband who expects me to deal with and solve? I have never asked for any of it. I know my stepdaughter will be unable to maintain her pleasant charade since she has a mother who will not allow her too, and this is my fault?

Having to take responsibility for my fantasy not transpiring is easier said than done. I certainly did not expect interference from an ex wife who seemingly cannot cope with her own insecurities and I never intended and still do not intend to replace her as a mother.
My responsibilities lie with my husband and I try to care for his daughter in that way only. He is her parent and she already has a mother. I am not trying to be anything other than a caring person and a friend.

I have never experienced problems with children and my daughter’s friends think I'm great. My mum is the proprietor of her own nursery school for toddlers aged three to school age so volunteering my services has never brought to my attention any problems regarding children. Working with an Autistic child who regularly swore at me and repeatedly kicked me in the shins actually resulted in acquiring a huge soft spot for him. I was employed to look after him in the playground making sure he didn't get into any trouble with the other children as they didn't understand his condition so to them he was a boy who lashed out when he was made fun of or ridiculed. Their playground entertainment was to antagonise this child and provoke a reaction from him so I was there to keep him from harms way. We grew quite a bond when he eventually accepted I was on his side.

So where does this leave me? I have given up so much, my son, friends and family to enter a new relationship and having nothing in return but grief, upset and constant aggravation. Why am I expected to endure this cause of stress from an ex wife who truly is insignificant? I am sure my husband wonders why on earth I continue to waste precious brain cells on a woman whom he certainly doesn't care to pass the time of day with. She is the mother of his daughter and that is it. He will play his bogus role and be civil to her for the sake of his daughter when in fact, if she disappeared from the face of the earth, it wouldn't be a day too soon. But she won’t go away so why even wish it!

I'm sure my husbands ex wife will never admit she is herself, grieving the loss of her marriage. My husband has confronted her over this very issue simply to be told, ' don't flatter yourself', but there seems to be an obvious problem otherwise why does she behave the way she does? Couples who divorce, both the person to end the relationship as I was and the person who has been left, actually go through the same stage of grief after someone has died when they mourn the death of their relationship.

1. Denial- Denying a divorce is imminent or denying the emotionl pain involved.

2.Anger- Whether this is confusion or apparent self incompetence because one didn't really want to end the relationship. Betrayal or accepting the 'ever after' has ended or even wondering how one will cope with the responsability of the children or insecurity over their financial future.

3.Depression- The overwhelming sadness that the relationship has ended and discovering the ex partner has moved on.

4.Acceptance- Comming to terms with the divorce and being able to move forward.
Personally I have never grieved over the loss of my previous marriage. I have grieved the loss of my son, and my unrealistic fantasy of a perfect happy life, but that's all. I do feel however, my husbands ex wife has not reached her acceptance stage quite yet. My husband has been able to reach his and move on with his life much quicker than his ex wife, eventhough she ended the marriage it is perfectly normal to catapult from one stage to another with each emotion she has to experience. But unless she can admit and accept what has happened, it seems my life will continue on it's unstable quest for peace and happiness, so I suppose suggesting therapy would go down like a lead balloon.

Not my child.

With ideas and suggestions completely exhausted regarding the behaviour of my stepdaughter, I have, as a last resolution resorted to a process called Disengaging. This modus operandi is where I no longer take responsibility for her. Anything she wants or needs while she is with us, means having to ask her daddy. My husband and I have talked in length whether this course of action will actually work but it seems it is the only solution we have come up with as there is no explanation for her behaviour. If there is some way to uncover the cause which explains why his daughter has taken this attitude towards me, then we would know how to deal with it, but there isn't so we can't. It is simply a case of we'll try anything.


What I am told to remember is my husband is not a mother and never has been. He has little knowledge of what it takes to be a mother as his interests are more focused towards football, accomplishments and bringing home the bacon. He is a man and his components for life differ greatly to mine. I am more interested in keeping the house clean, thoughtfulness and appreciation so I suppose in short, social skills and motherly duties.

I automatically assumed I could extended my motherly duties to include my stepdaughter but my problem is I do not have the maternal bond with her thus preventing my having the moral authority to parent her, only my husband can give me this authority, it has nothing to do with my stepdaughters mother. Having support from my husband is not simply the emotional crutch he provides but his permission to allow me to parent his child. My husband is happy for me to take on the motherly role for his daughter as he clearly is unable to offer the parenting skills that I already own.

I find it frustrating that my husband can be watching the television and does not notice our daughter removing her nappy and emptying the contents out onto the carpet right in front of him. He doesn't see it because he has never had too. There has always been a woman in his life who takes care of these sorts of things. So my husband continues to be the parent he always has been believing his daughter is perfectly fine. My stepdaughter behaves the way she does towards me because her father allows her too so by not stopping it, he is giving her the authority to continue and the more authority he gives the greater she remains in control. Therefore by handing the parental authority back to my husband, his daughter looses her control. In order to successfully disengage, I have to accept some realities.

1. My stepdaughter is not my child.
2.I am not responsible for the way she was raised.
3.I am not responsible for the kind of person she is.
4.I am not responsible for the kind of person she becomes.
5.I am not obliged to become an abused member of my family just because I married her daddy.
6.The responsibility for raising my stepdaughter is not mine it belongs to my husband.
7.My husband is not a mother and he is not going to raise his daughter the same way I raise my children.

So in short, I should immediately end trying to parent my stepdaughter and allow my husband to make whatever mistakes he makes. I know this is going to be difficult as my husband helps me raise my children, but we have little problems from them.
I have contacted my Health visitor and on her advise, have spoken to the Headmistress of my stepdaughters school. I need to know if she is introverted at school and does she mix well. Does the headmistress have any indications signalling my stepdaughter's unhappiness? The response was, to my dismay, no, she is a happy child who joins in with classroom discussions which make her a valuable member of the group. I wasn't disappointed my stepdaughter wasn't happy; I was disappointed she was a normal happy child which meant the problem still resided with me. If the headmistress had disclosed that yes, my stepdaughter was quiet, often alone in the playground, then sad as it would be, the problems I was experiencing were not solely directed at me, so there would be a valid reason. I hoped for a small shred of evidence indicating her behaviour is not exclusive to me. But I'm afraid to say it is.

I get so irritated when my stepdaughter blatantly ignores me, I do with my own children, but when she wants to be fed, or wants to know where her daddy is she will ask me. So I tell her as she chooses to ignore me most of the time, and only talks to me when she needs something, in future, she must go and ask her Daddy. I will no longer perform menial tasks including, making her bed or unpacking and packing her suitcase when she arrives. When I prepare a family meal however, I will include her as there are some things I will not expect my husband to separate from the rest of the family, I know how that feels.

Our objective is to make her, alongside my own children who can also forget how much mum does for them, realise that I actually do an awful lot for her, so by withdrawing my services and disengaging, she will see how much she is missing, fantastic. Wrong! I have offered my stepdaughter the open invitation not to talk to me at all and above all of this I have given her the permission to do it. Putting this new agenda into practice is harder than it seems as I am finding virtually impossible to uphold as I naturally do lots for the children so to segregate one family member is very awkward. I feel uncomfortable handing the responsibility of his child over to my husband, because it’s my job as a wife and mother to take care of the children and running of the home. It is having the ability to accept she is not my child so I am not responsible for her. I have had little to do with her previous upbringing so I am not responsible for her future upbringing. Clearly, although I continually support my husband when his daughter is in our home, there are rules and guidelines the children are expected to adhere to so I can not help what she has become and I can not help how she turns out.

If she chooses to accommodate me on how I raise my children and follow suit then great, but I cannot force my views on her. Raising her is not my responsibility as she is not my child. She already has two parents that are doing that. I can be involved and support my husband when my stepdaughter is here, but she has made it perfectly clear that she doesn’t have to do what I say. I am not her mother but it is unfair that she treats me with such contempt, just because I married her daddy. I have had fortnightly visits from my Health Visitor who has been a massive help, offering much needed support, encouragement and guiding me towards professional people who will be happy to help. My husband has eventually put forward his views and opinions to her regarding his daughter and has expressed his concern to how unhealthy this whole episode has become. He is in the middle of a no-win situation.

My Health visitor has collected piles of information for myself, my husband and my stepdaughter to try and find a solution to this problem, but why does it appear that I seem to be the only one who is trying to find help and solutions? My stepdaughter is not my child.

Diary entry:

September 15th 2004

Health visitor came to drop off the information she collected. There is a good booklet for your daughter to draw her family and who she feels are important in her life. The Health visitor made herself available for you to see her before you went to work. I told you about this, but you seemed to not worry about it. Other things on your mind. Work no doubt. It seems to me that after this weekend went ok, this problem is not an issue any longer. All I can say is if I have a bad weekend this week, then I shall have to tell you to talk to the health visitor and your daughter or I'm leaving. I bet you wont even go through the parents booklet with your daughter. You will have forgotten all about it. You weren't even interested in the information she brought for us. That says alot!


Each day brings with it new challenges. The sharing debate isn't quite so much of an issue now as it was to begin with. My daughter, because this is her home, has a beautiful bedroom full of wonderful things. She has a portable television, play station, CD player amongst a multitude of books. There are cans of body sprays offering every conceivable fragrance and posters on her wall of the latest pre-teen hunk that happens to be flavour of the month. Her things are out on display; it is her room, her own space so if she chooses to be in her room alone then it's her choice.

If she is away from home, visiting friends of her daddy when my step daughter visits, then her room becomes a no go zone. This causes many disagreements between myself and my husband at times as he quite rightly argues that as his daughter doesn’t have a television or play station in her room so she should be able to wander freely into my daughters room and use anything she pleases. I have explained to my husband this is my daughter’s home, her room, and the four year age gap between the two girls means some things are not suitable for my stepdaughter to play with. My daughter is quite particular about some things. There are many precious trinkets on display both friends and family have given to my daughter and I would be devastated for her if anything was broken. In the past I have never allowed my own children to invade each other’s space even if it caused World War three, so I'm not
showing favouritism over my stepdaughter towards my own daughter. It may seem unfair but my stepdaughter has her own bedroom at her own home with her mummy, after all she is only here one night a week.

Nevertheless, they do play with their dolls in her room and my daughter will share absolutely anything when they are playing together. I believe at the age of ten she needs to share the understanding that some things are personal to her and she should be well within her rights to have a say and allow my stepdaughter to use her things or not. This arrangement is not exclusive to my own daughter . If my stepdaughter wishes to be alone, her requests are considered and respected too. When she has returned to her mummy, if my own daughter wishes to play with an item that belongs to my stepdaughter, the same rule applies.

I feel its polite to ask and each child learns to respect and care for something that doesn't belong to them. Until she is able to ask my stepdaughter if she can play with something, her room is a no go zone to my daughter also. We don't allow them absolute control as not allowing the use of a pen just because they don't feel like sharing it is not acceptable and I will intervene.

We have many items that are kept in a neutral area and shared by both of our children so there are no arguments over this. Needless to say, after spending an absolute fortune on posters for my stepdaughters wall, pens, paper, books and stickers for her to use in her own room, she never spends any time in there playing. Even when my daughter is not here, my stepdaughter will sit alongside her daddy and watch the television. But perhaps she is spending quality time with him and simply being near him is enough for her whatever he is watching. She has little initiative to play alone when she is without my daughter to entertain her. Perhaps all that time in Nursery and after school clubs, having activities set out, things to play with, and being told what to do, its not surprising that she has no imagination or incentive to play on her own. We have never had the luxury of receiving my stepdaughter's first school report from my husbands ex wife which may give us some insight to how she plays at school or interacts with other children.

I don't love my stepdaughter. It has nothing to do with how she treats me, even when I first entered her life, I thought she was an absolute sweetie and was extremely fond of her, but I didn't love her. I feel guilty purely because my husband says he loves my children. Perhaps it’s my motherly instinct preventing me from loving her, but why should I she's not mine, I never gave birth to her so the natural bond is not there. If i am expected to love her, should I be expected to love every child that doesn't belong to me, my friend’s children, my daughter’s friends from school? At this moment in time, I don't really know how I feel towards her except that I am very sad.

Monday 8th August

We had yet another “discussion” about the rights and wrongs of my daughter's things and her room and what affect it is having on your daughter. You threw at me, once again, about the setting up of the room for my son when he comes. I have said I am more than happy to get it ready for your daughter but you have said on more than one occasion, not to bother. So today I’ve set it for your daughter. Wiped all traces of my Son just so she has somewhere to go when she’s here. It means nothing to you that I don’t put his things out especially for my son, I do it for me. Its somewhere for me to go when he’s not here.

But hey, looks as though my feelings don’t matter. It seems that my son is expected to give up his bedroom even if he's been sleeping in there for a week as you have a problem with your daughter loosing her room when she is here for one night so I’ll just not have my son to stay or arrange his visit to not interfere when your daughter is here. We can’t expect your daughter to give up her room. She doesn’t understand! Yes she does understand as we have explained that her room is also used for my son when he visits and she even made a sign for the door for him. I need him to feel he has a room here too just like your daughter but it becomes so one sided. I'll just go visit him at least it will give me a break and you the quality time you so miss with your daughter. Will she play in her room? No I doubt it. What will she do alone with you? Watch motorsport no doubt.

Incidentally, your daughter understands that she must use the toilet next to her room and not the upstairs one so as not to wake the baby so why can she not understand at times my daughter doesn’t want her in her room?
From now on I’ll just ask you what to do or buy for your daughter. That way I’ll be getting it right and you cant blame me for anything.

When I became pregnant with our first child my husband and I share, we told our children, my son, my daughter and my husband’s daughter. Everything was fine and they were all excited once again with the prospect of having a new sister. My husbands ex wife however, asked why we had withheld our news from her. She had told my husband when she herself became pregnant three months earlier, his response, "so?" When she queried why he hadn't said anything to her, he politely told her it was absolutely none of her business.

The same inquisitive questioning came when my husband asked if he would be able to collect his daughter on Friday the next weekend as we were getting married. Apparently, my husband said, her face hit the floor. He said she genuinely looked upset and asked what time and where it would be taking place. I find this need to know our affairs quite annoying, along with wondering if she was going to arrive unannounced on our wedding day. I have no interest whatsoever in my ex husbands plans or life so naturally I never enquire, so I fail to comprehend my husband's ex's interest in ours. Emotionally detached? Perhaps not.

I went into labour with my 2nd daughter Good Friday, delivering her Saturday, discharged and allowed home Sunday. Naturally my husband put off his daughters visit but on my homecoming I couldn't cope with my stepdaughter being part of it. Horrible, how could I? I know, but she is being so cruel with her ability to isolate me from my family, there is absolutely no way she is going to spoil this for me. I can see how sad my husband is by all of this. She is his daughter and she will be missing out on her sibling’s homecoming, and not visiting her daddy on her usual Sunday.
He is trying to keep his emotions from me, but I know him. My daughter is here, obviously but I need to remember this special moment untainted and unspoilt, so having his daughter not visit this weekend is my only option. We can settle in quietly and share our special moment together, my husband, my daughter, myself and our beautiful baby girl. My husband will arrange an earlier visit for his daughter during the week. Once again his ex wife has questioned our decision. She has a knack of expecting to alter our weekends to suit herself when she has plans or arrangements, but when my husband changes the routine, all hell breaks loose.

It can become very frustrating to have our weekends changed for three consecutive weeks, causing my husband to not see his daughter, then be expected to collect her early Saturday dinnertime because my husband's ex's partner has an appointment somewhere! Convenient babysitter springs to mind, but my husband accepts because he simply wants to see his child. In the beginning, the arrangement between my husband and his ex wife was fairly flexible. If a day needed to be changed, then days would be swapped to accommodate. But she began to change this.

If my husband asked for a day to be swapped, for example, to collect his daughter Friday instead of Saturday, for the next six or seven weeks, she would ask for numerous day swaps in return. This began to interfere with any plans we had arranged and we either had to change or cancel them, all for swapping one day. So in the end we stopped asking which meant many plans that could potentially involve his daughter, family gatherings etc, unfortunately my stepdaughter would not be part of. This way we know where we are with days, arrangements and plans so we can try to keep my stepdaughter a fairly organised routine. I feel it is important for children to have some sort of routine as it gives them a sense of security and lets face it, they need to feel secure especially after the break up of their family. His ex wife continues to dominate our weekends though with party invites or trips to the local park their daughter, his ex says, simply doesn't want to miss. Why can’t she share the attitude that I have? As my stepdaughter is only here for one day, if it were my child, I would encourage her to spend the day with her father, or discreetly talk to my husband without letting on to their daughter about parties and park visits, and have him make the decision. But my stepdaughter is not my child and her mother seems to think it is perfectly acceptable to give a child so young the choice.

The disruptive weekend changing that injured my husband the most was his birthday weekend. His ex wife must have known when his birthday is but she accepted a party on his behalf yet again, which would mean a fifteen-mile trip there and back to drop his daughter. Our plans for going out to lunch as a family will have to be changed and his ex informs him that their daughter desperately wants to go to the party. My husband decides that as he has no intentions of spoiling our weekend, her mother can take her to the party leaving him to sacrifice another day as he will not be expected to change yet another weekends plans to suit his ex wife. The saddest thing is that his ex wife conveniently forgot to mention to my stepdaughter that it was her daddy's birthday or suggest he may be doing something special. The following weekend when I mentioned she had missed her daddy's birthday, she looked visibly upset and I really can't say that I didn't blame her.

Diary entry:

Wednesday 9th Nov 2005

Haven't had your daughter for three weeks. Her mother has repeatedly made plans for her and a she has yet another party this weekend. I think you pissed her off by telling her as it was your birthday weekend and you had plans that you weren't going to change because she had said yes to a birthday party, she could ferry her daughter there and back. She called you a big baby. That must be the only thing she can think of.

I do feel though that she says your daughter needs to see you when your ex wife decides she needs to see you. I'm fed up with being left in the air or having her dictate our weekends again. This woman is power hungry control freak.
Nevertheless, she needs to understand that she is NOT in control. I know you want to see your daughter, but by letting your ex wife decide when she comes, puts her continually in control of our lives. Other than that, tell her that if Saturday to Sunday is not convenient, then we are more than happy to swap to Friday night till Saturday on a permanent basis. Lets see how things pan out.

Having children has certainly dictated or caused havoc to any social life we once had. Gone are the days where a last minute decision to paint the town red become overshadowed with the realisation that babysitters are not always to hand for such last minute decisions, they may not be available. It is having to rely on a babysitter that reality sets in so we rarely enjoy an evening out just the two of us. The nearest we get to a romantic dinner for two at an intimate French restaurant becomes the not so romantic dinner for, "two adults, two children please," at the local pizza hut. Our wedding anniversary was no exception. Having our young baby daughter in tow, we arranged to go out for a meal at the local carvery. We decided to eat Sunday lunchtime so we would be able to include my stepdaughter. A few weeks prior to this, my husband received the now all to common excuse that his daughter didn’t want to come, so it was going to be nice for my husband to have his daughter involved in our special day.

When she arrived on Saturday evening, she was clearly suffering with a very nasty cough and cold, and by Sunday I was wondering whether we should cancel our long awaited plans as she still seemed quite poorly. She told her daddy she had been feeling really unwell all week but due to mummy having to work, there was no option but for her to attend school. We decided to go ahead with our lunch plans but it wasn't very enjoyable. My stepdaughter sat at the table wearing a thick padded coat throughout dinner and barely eating anything, so my husband decided we should forget pudding and make for home. End of our nice day, but both myself and my husband agreed that his daughter should really be at home.

Once we arrived home all my stepdaughter wanted to do was sleep so I suggested perhaps she would feel more comfortable and settled back at home with her mummy. I didn’t want her to fall to sleep here and then have to wake her so her daddy could take her home. Perhaps it was for the best he cut short his daughters visit and take her home. He telephoned his ex wife to inform her of his decision but she was not at home. Instead my husband spoke to her partner who informed him her partner she had been out for the day and wasn‘t due back anytime soon. With that my husband informed him that either way he would be bringing his daughter back because he genuinely believed the best place for her was with her mum. Once he arrived at his ex wife’s house, her partner answered the door with a paintbrush in his hand. “I don’t know what I’m expected to do with her until her mum gets home.”
“Make her feel more comfortable would be a start.”

What is suddenly becoming clear is my husband’s ex wife had plans of her own this particular Sunday, and by having to look after her daughter because she was poorly, meant having to cancel them, so instead, she relied on her ex husband, after all it is his designated weekend with his daughter isn’t it? Convenient babysitter springs to mind but it is not a term I like to use, after all, my husband has a child and he will always be a daddy before he is a babysitter. But due to the erratic weekend arrangements concerning my stepdaughter, I cannot help but feel my husband has been used. I know for some working parents, they are forced into an impossible decision between working or looking after sick children but surly a child’s health takes precedence over a job?

I am fortunate and thankful I don’t have these decisions to make. If my child is ill, I am immediately on hand to care for them. I am not forced into arduous choices. But then we are dealing with a woman who sends her daughter back to nursery, a week after she has been discharged from hospital with pneumonia. Perhaps my views are biased.

Our daughters first birthday falls on Mothering Sunday this weekend and once again, I don’t want my stepdaughter to visit. Mothering Sunday is a time when children pay respect to their mothers, a day for giving thanks for all the things our mothers do for us.
I am trying to convince myself that s I am not my stepdaughter’s mother, she should spend the day with her own mum, it’s only right. I cannot put my feelings to one side to accommodate my stepdaughter’s feelings and think how she will feel missing her siblings first birthday, but it is a very special event that I wish to remember fondly and not how my stepdaughter has ruined it because she chooses to ignore me once again. She knows it’s my daughters first birthday even though we haven’t mentioned any particular plans, my stepdaughter has asked what are we arranging. I’m sure her mother has passed comment as my daughter shares the same birth date of a very dear friend of my husband and his ex. In fact when our daughter was born, my husband telephoned his friend to inform him of our news and my husband distinctly heard his ex wife in the background. She and her daughter had dropped in and given him a card. Yes I feel incredibly guilty for not wanting her with us, but with the absence of my own son on mother’s day, it is hard enough for me to cope without him so once again I feel sad for my husband and his ability to put my feelings first. I am certainly living up to the part of the wicked stepmother!

I am tired of always thinking that I must do the best for my stepdaughter., but as an adult, it is my job, otherwise she will grow up with issues and problems! I know children are resilient and often come through bumps and scrapes (with the right guidance) and I always try to do the best for my children which automatically includes my stepdaughter. But having to accept the responsibility that if my children are constantly exposed to battling parents, then they will be affected and take their own emotional scars through to their adult life.

It seems so unfair that my husband ignores her behaviour deeming it acceptable for my stepdaughter to ignore, shout and abuse me because she is a child but what about consideration for my feelings as a human being, a person, her stepmother? What about my feelings? Why should I allow her to treat me the way she does and say or do nothing, just to make sure she has a stable upbringing? She is not my child and I am
not responsible for her, her mother has made that perfectly clear.

This is why I feel my behaviour towards my stepdaughter is not just an excuse and I know that this may seem unkind and unfair, but I need to concentrate on my husband, my children and myself. If my husbands daughter refuses to be part of this family because she is merely visiting daddy or is influenced by other people or perhaps she really is a rude child that has no respect for me, which deep down I refuse to believe, then I will not suffer. I am not responsible for her unhappiness. She and anyone that fills her head with rubbish brought on by their own insecurities are the responsible ones. I can live with that. (I hope!)