interocean's picture
interocean

My daughter is biased against her stepdaughter...how can I help?

My situation is somewhat different. My daughter and son in law got married 4 years ago after knowing each other since they were kids. They were each married to others and had their own kids, then got married and had 2 together. His daughter was 6 when they got married...her mother died. My daughter seemed to love the girl at first but now her hostility toward her is obvious. My son in law calls my daughter's 4 children from her first marriage his kids, not his stepkids. My daughter will not even allow anyone to mention their natural father (he disappeared after the divorce. At the same time, she labels his daughter as her stepdaughter, yet her kids as his...getting very angry if anyone suggests they are his stepkids. She doesn't show the girl (she is now 10)much affection or love, while being estremely affectionate and supportive of her own kids and the kids they have together. She gives her over the top punishments and chores, says she is stupid and always suspects her of the worst, accusing her of really outrageous things that we have never seen her do. She never compliments the child to anyone, even saying she finds her "ugly". I don't know if she says it to the child directly or not , as I have not seen that. But even her children have told us that their mom is mean to her. Its hard to ignore that. This child is not only well behaved and quiet, she constantly offers to do extra housework and give her things to the other kids in order to please my daughter. We love all of these children, including this girl; equally and unconditionally and consider all of them our grandchildren. My daughter insists she does not mistreat this girl but we see direct and indirect evidence of it on a regular basis. She is losing patience with me bringing it up about it. They were in counseling, but I think its been erratic. This is breaking our hearts...we know it has to be damaging this little girl's self esteem. What can we do to help without overstepping our bounds or being seen as interfering? Any help would be greatly appreciated.



mayamay's picture
mayamay

I wonder if your daughter is jealous. Because the first wife died, your son-in-law does not have the baggage of a divorce, instead probably still having loving feelings toward his first wife. Her jealousy might be very hard for your daughter to understand and so she is taking it out on that woman's child.

And if that is so, her confidence is probably being further undermined because her husband is giving her some sort of feedback about picking on his daughter.

If this were so, and it were my daughter, I'd take her out for an afternoon off. I'd plan it with things that SHE loves. I'd tell her "I've got a fun afternoon planned for us (give details), but I want to start with some serious discussion."

Then I would have a woman to woman chat, about how a woman keeps a man. I'd start with the "be his girlfriend" stuff, and move on to the "be his partner" stuff. She is risking another divorce.

Then I'd CLOSE the door on that discussion and start the fun times. She needs to feel valued and loved.

I'd also tell my son-in-law what I think is going on.

This may not be what is happening. It is just what occurred to me.

interocean's picture
interocean

Thank you for your reply. I agree that jealousy is likely the root cause, I think that's pretty clear. But I think perhaps you have misunderstood the situation. My daughter's relationship with her husband is fine and she initiated her prior divorce because her first husband refused to work. He did not want a divorce. She gave it 9 years before she refused to support him anymore and made him walk ..my son in law does not give her any feedback about it..he doesn't say a word about it, he accepts her treatment of his daughter. One of the things that bothers me is that he does nothing about it. I believe if he DID, it would stop. I have mentioned it to him and he said she was doing better...I told him he needed to stand up for his daughter. Unfortunately he immediately reported to my daughter that I had talked to him about it and she was pretty angry at my interference. Actually her and I have discussed it many times. She does not feel she is doing anything wrong and so will not listen. My question here was what could I do to help minimize the damage to this girl? I have tried for two years to convince her that she is unfairly hurting this child and she will not listen so that isn't even on the table anymore. I just want to do what I can to be supportive of the girl herself.