Boyfriend’s Kids Disrespect Me

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been in a committed relationship for 1.5 years to a man that truly loves me. He has 3 daughters 22,18,16. I have a 19 year old daughter who lives with me. We moved in together then 3 months later his 18 year old moved out of her mom’s house and moved in with us. His 22 and 16 lives with their Mom in another state. His daughters are disrespectful, rude, pretend I don’t exit and truly unappreciative. The 16 year old visits as much as she wants, and for as long as she wants. Things got worse and eventually my boyfriend and his 18 year old daughter moved into their own apartment.

All I have been to these girls is kind, nice and generous. I have treated them no different than my own daughter. A couple of things that bother me that I don’t know how to deal and I need help. When I am around them, they completely ignore me like I don’t exist. My boyfriend still talks to me,and he says don’t pay attention to them but I think their actions are extremely rude.

The next thing that really bothers me is that they talk about my daughter and I on social media. Especially the youngest(16). She doesn’t say my name, but everyone knows who she is talking about. She says that she honestly cannot believe he is still with me and that I believe that I should come first before his own kids and this is not TRUE!

They have caused so much stress to our relationship and my sanity I have decided to disengage from these girls.I will be cordial, say hello, but will no longer seek their approval. What advice can you give me to help me with what I am experiencing? This is the most horrible situation I have ever experienced.

I love this man and luckily he is on the same page as I am and I have his support. He has confronted them about how they treat me and remind them that I only have treated them with respect and love. Please help me because when I go and visit their apartment all I feel is anxiety and stress. We plan on getting married in the next 6 months but I do not know how to deal with his awful disrespectful daughters. Thank you!

A: I’m so, so sorry for the stress and distress this is causing you. It must be wonderful to find someone to love again. It must be awful to be targeted on Facebook and to be so badly treated by girls you were prepared to love.

As difficult as it is, please don’t take their behavior personally. It’s probably not about you. You are the symbol that their parents are never going to get back together. They are loyal to their mom. They want life to go back to the way it was. As soon as you moved in with their dad, they knew that the breakup of the family was indeed permanent and they hate it.

You don’t have to be a “mom” to these girls. As you know, they have a mom and they don’t need another one. Hopefully, they will eventually let you be an adult friend. Meanwhile, all you can do is be yourself and stay cordial. You don’t need their approval.

What you do need is for their dad to step up and give you more active support. He may have “confronted” them with words but from the sounds of it, he’s a bit of a doormat with their behavior. There don’t seem to be any meaningful consequences for their disrespectful behavior.

How is it that the 16-year-old gets to come and go as she likes, regardless of her behavior? How is it that she’s allowed to keep a cellphone if she uses it to hurt you? It seems to me that he should be telling her that if she wants to visit, she needs to be at least polite. She doesn’t have to love you but she does need to treat you as she would any guest of his who is important to him. Ditto for the 18-year-old. How is it she just moved in? He can let her know in no uncertain terms that staying at his place means treating you well.

I hope you will insist, for your own sake and the sake of your daughter, that your boyfriend take charge of this situation before you marry him. There needs to be a significant change now or you will never feel welcome and at peace in your own home if they are around.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 May 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Boyfriend’s Kids Disrespect Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/05/01/boyfriends-kids-disrespect-me/