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Alienated adults

Started by mistoffolees, Mar 21, 2007, 08:04:57 PM

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mistoffolees

I'm looking for some advice on a problem I have.

My stbx had two daughters from her first marriage. They were around 5 and 6 when we married and I've raised them essentially as my own (but their bf was also in the picture and saw them a few times a year - I never pretended to be their 'real father' as they put it). About 8 years ago, we had a daughter. I've tried not to play favorites, but to be honest, it's sometimes a lot easier to be nice to an infant than a snotty teenager.

Over the years, we've had good relationships over all and there were no real problems. They thought I was too strict, and maybe I was. But I took care of them and provided for them (although their father was making over $200 K per year, we got $300 per month for each of them and I paid the rest - including private school, college, trips to Europe, their first car, etc).

Fast forward to this year. The oldest is a senior in college and the middle is a junior. When I filed for divorce, my stbx started the alienation big time. She told them that I was starving her and taking away their college money so that they couldn't afford to go to college any more (both completely wrong - she's going to walk away with tons of money in the mid 6 figures range as well as alimony. For the past 5 months, she's received 63% of our joint dispoable income and I've received 37%).

I sent the two stepdaughters money for Christmas - and never heard a word. I sent them money for Valentine's Day - and never heard a word. I invited them to go to Disney World with the youngest and me - and never heard a word.

I know that they're victims, too. Their mother has verbally abused them, accused their father of child abuse when they were young, and so on. And they're believing her when she tells them lots of evil things about me.

The oldest is graduating in a few months. Do I send a present and continue to send presents for birthdays, etc, just walk away, or talk to them about it?

Jade

>I'm looking for some advice on a problem I have.
>
>My stbx had two daughters from her first marriage. They were
>around 5 and 6 when we married and I've raised them
>essentially as my own (but their bf was also in the picture
>and saw them a few times a year - I never pretended to be
>their 'real father' as they put it). About 8 years ago, we had
>a daughter. I've tried not to play favorites, but to be
>honest, it's sometimes a lot easier to be nice to an infant
>than a snotty teenager.
>
>Over the years, we've had good relationships over all and
>there were no real problems. They thought I was too strict,
>and maybe I was. But I took care of them and provided for them
>(although their father was making over $200 K per year, we got
>$300 per month for each of them and I paid the rest -
>including private school, college, trips to Europe, their
>first car, etc).
>
>Fast forward to this year. The oldest is a senior in college
>and the middle is a junior. When I filed for divorce, my stbx
>started the alienation big time. She told them that I was
>starving her and taking away their college money so that they
>couldn't afford to go to college any more (both completely
>wrong - she's going to walk away with tons of money in the mid
>6 figures range as well as alimony. For the past 5 months,
>she's received 63% of our joint dispoable income and I've
>received 37%).
>
>I sent the two stepdaughters money for Christmas - and never
>heard a word. I sent them money for Valentine's Day - and
>never heard a word. I invited them to go to Disney World with
>the youngest and me - and never heard a word.
>
>I know that they're victims, too. Their mother has verbally
>abused them, accused their father of child abuse when they
>were young, and so on. And they're believing her when she
>tells them lots of evil things about me.
>
>The oldest is graduating in a few months. Do I send a present
>and continue to send presents for birthdays, etc, just walk
>away, or talk to them about it?

I would talk to them and tell them that you love them and that while you are divorcing their mother (don't go into the reasons), that you are still a part of their lives and that they can come to you if they want to talk about anything.

Don't go into the details of how much money your stbx is getting.  They will figure out on their own that their mother is not starving.  

And the fact that you didn't badmouth their mother will speak volumes.  

mistoffolees

I did try that once - shortly after I filed for divorce, I sent them an email telling them that I'd still like for them to go on the Disneyworld trip (they communicate 95% by email and 5% by phone) and wanted to stay in touch.

I guess I'll try it again. But the fact that they never acknowledged either of the cash gifts makes me think it won't go anywhere.

HelpingHands

It's possible they view it as their love and affection being bought. Or they may just be too caught up in their own worlds to worry about thanking you.

You have to decide how much hurt you are willing to go through to try to salvage the relationships. Leave the door open and offer a simple explanation. I wouldn't get too personal in the explanation, though.

Sorry you are having to deal with this.

MixedBag

Face to face regardless of how they like to communicate will be better and I say that since there is two of them and I'd sit down with them both at the same time if you could swing it.

It will take some time for them to step back and realize all that you've done for them and that some of it was normal teenage stuff regardless of the fact that you were/are step-dad.

Coming from a step-parent who has had stepchildren say "I miss you!" after our break-up.

dipper

I am with the others, I would talk to them.  Perhaps you could tell them that in your heart, they are still your family and see where it goes from there.  If they still dont interact, I would send them a card for graduation, etc, but not much else.  

I would think this is hard on them and its easier to ignore it.  Remember, they are still at a very much self-absorbed age.  And I think its harder on children as they get older to deal with divorcing parents...and you have been their dad for all these years.

Do not  badmouth their mom, defend yourself as lightly as possible if needed....