Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

November 20, 2006

my stepson hates me!

Pearl is 36 and married Josh after a whirlwind romance of six months in which she was blinded by love and didn't see that his son, Jake, hated her.

"I had met his son, Jake, on a few occasions," says Pearl, "but it didn't dawn on me how difficult the boy was until I went to live with them. He hates me!"

"Jake's mother had run off with a young Latino just a year before I met Josh," explains Pearl, "and for all that time Josh was raising the boy alone."

"I desperately want a child of my own," says Pearl, "so it's really important that I get along with Jake but he seems to be hell bent upon making me miserable."

"Jake was reasonably civil to me before his father and I married," says Pearl, "but as soon as I moved into their place the kid started treating me badly. He sneers at me, makes disparaging comparisons between his mother and I and generally treats me like a slave."

"Josh really surprised me by taking his son's side against me," says Pearl, "and this has made matters worse."

"I believe that a husband and wife relationship takes precedence over a parent child relationship," explains Pearl. "Josh should support me in my efforts to befriend the boy but he doesn't. He says that I should understand the boy better and appreciate that I can never replace his mother."

"Sure I understand the boy," says Pearl. "He must feel awful that his mother ran off and left him, refusing to see him any more, but I am not trying to replace her. I am his stepmother, a totally different sort of relationship, and if nothing else I deserve respect."

"I suppose that my living in the same house that he grew up in with his mother, and my sleeping with his father in the bed his mother once shared with his father, is part of the problem," muses Pearl. "The boy is old enough to be aware of sex - and is going through puberty himself - so I do appreciate the delicacy of his situation."

"I've talked to Josh about selling the house and starting in a new environment," explains Pearl, "but he doesn't want the boy's schooling disrupted and, frankly, he doesn't want to budge himself. He loves the house and doesn't want to move."

"There are still a lot of his ex-wife's things in the house," says Pearl, "and this bothers me, too. A lot of her clothes are still hanging in the closet, her makeup is still in the bathroom cupboard and Josh still keeps a photograph of her in his study - almost like a shrine."

"While the situation between Jake and myself is so tense I don't think it's a good idea to have a clean-out," says Pearl, "but ultimately if I am to live in this house permanently I need to dispose of her things."

"It's something that Josh might have done before I moved in," sighs Pearl, "but I guess he never had time. Our romance was so fast and furious that it engulfed everything else. But what if he doesn't want his ex-wife's things to be discarded?"

"Frankly, judging by the way Josh and Jake talk about 'women's work' I am beginning to wonder about why he married me so fast - and why, in fact, his first wife left," confesses Pearl. "Did she feel as alienated as I feel by the close male relationship between Josh and Jake?"

"The house was a mess when I moved in," says Pearl, "and despite spending every weekend consumed by housework - cooking and cleaning and washing and ironing - the house is still a mess. The two of them do nothing to help me. They say it's 'women's' work."

"I go to work during the week and I really expect Josh to share the housework with me at weekends - and to suggest to Jake that he cleans his room and helps wash up," says Pearl, "but the two of them just sit and play computers or watch movies while I do everything!"

"It wouldn't be so bad if Jake were civil to me," sighs Pearl, "but when he snarls at me and orders me to fetch this and that I feel really bad - like a slave. And Josh doesn't say anything. He just sits there and allows Jake to treat me badly."

"I guess by the age of 13 a boy has developed the characteristics of the man he is to become," sighs Pearl, "so I don't expect him to change. I worry about what might happen if I have a baby and he torments the child like he does me."

"Sometimes I am really afraid of the boy," confesses Pearl. "He is almost as tall as his father and he's very big, too."

"I don't think boys of his age need a mother as much as they need a father," sighs Pearl, "so I'm really superfluous in his life."

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