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Old June 17th, 2015, 08:09 PM
slr0031 slr0031 is offline
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How to explain family to daughter

Hello everybody. Wanted some opinions. I am a mother of 2 young children, 5 and 7. My parents are divorced and I have had many problems with both of them. My dad and his wife had a child who is grown up and in college, my half sister. I am not close with her. She knows that I have had problems with her mother and do not have a good relationship with her and that has affected us. It goes deeper than that because I think we could grow out of that possibly. There are personalty traits that she has I find manipulative and I don't trust her. She makes very little effort with me and then goes to my dad telling him she misses me. I have tried to reconcile with her a few times and think it will get better and it goes right back to the same. We have not talked in almost 2 years. I have accepted as much as I can it is what it is and it is finally beginning to be less painful for me to look at it for what it really is.

Tonight out the blue my 7 year old daughter began asking me questions about my sister, her aunt, and asking me why we never see her. I didn't know what to say. It is hard to explain and I didn't want to come out and just say because we aren't close even though that is the reason because I don't want her to repeat it. I told her she is my half sister and that we have never seen her on a regular basis. My daughter began to tear up. I asked her if it made her sad and she said yes. I feel bad because it is sad. I am sorry that my kids really don't have an aunt, not one that will be part of their life. I guess my question is how should i explain something like this. I also have 4 step siblings on my mom's side, who I am also not close with but get long with alright. They are all close and visit my mom's house, their dad's house. This is a lot of info here but my dad's wife's ex married my mom and their kids are also close to my half sister. I am wondering if this is all going to be confusing to my daughter. I wonder if she will feel left out because we are not really part of their family but because it is grandma's house we are around them. I feel left out all the time and it hurts and I don't want her to feel that way. I just wonder how it will be as they get older. I feel bad because my kids really don't have much of an extended family with lots of aunts and uncles. Their grandparents love them but are not real involved in their lives. They do have one uncle on my husband's side who we do make an effort to visit and they have cousins also from him. Any advice about how to answer her question? Sorry this is so long.
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Old June 17th, 2015, 08:41 PM
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KayKay KayKay is offline
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Re: How to explain family to daughter

Hi slr0031!

I think that the best way to answer her questions are honestly. Maybe not with all of the details, but I don't see anything wrong with saying "Well, we don't see her because she and I aren't really close. We're very different people." She may ask more questions (like "why aren't you close" or "what is so different about you") but those it is okay to answer with "I don't know that there's really a reason. It's just the way it is." If she says "But aunt says she misses you" you can use it as a life lesson of "Well, honey, people say things all of the time that they don't really mean."

Does she know the circumstances of your parents' divorce and the fact that you can't stand your father's wife?
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Old June 18th, 2015, 07:34 AM
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LucyVanPelt LucyVanPelt is offline
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Re: How to explain family to daughter

I agree-- be honest and only give age-appropriate details that you are comfortable with.

From my own experience: My family's relationships are a wreck. I tell DD1O the truth, but I don't swamp her with the details. As she gets older, she'll get more information if she really wants it. I have found that her questions are more about curiosity and comparing herself to her friends' families.

As long as I keep my own feelings in check, she'll be fine. I don't worry about it now because this is her normal. She doesn't know what it's like to be raised with a huge extended family so she isn't missing anything.
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Old June 18th, 2015, 03:10 PM
Catwoman Catwoman is offline
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Re: How to explain family to daughter

I can relate to this as I have long battled with my parents who were drug and alcohol addicted all their lives. My father hated me most of my life. My mother lived with us for 5yrs, when my boys were young. I did it to try to help her and repair our relationship at the time. My oldest was about 2 and I was preggers with my youngest then. It was a very complex relationship with my mother constantly resenting me, and being jealous. Im certainly not a wealthy person,no have I ever been, but she always had a secret hatred for my success of my second marriage etc, both my parents did. I was the only child they had, lucky they didn't have any more. This lead to me having to explain to my kids why they didn't have grandparents.

So after living us for 5 years,in the end my mother caused a physical fight with me one day, all because a room in her friends home had become avail that weekend she wanted to just leave. Instead of just talking to me and giving me notice, she staged a big drama. She used to mind my 2 year old (my youngest) at the time in the day time, as I was offered a part time job back at my old work place, so I took it. She wasn't working and was on a disability benefit for a minor back injury. She spent many years on benefits with not much wrong with her, so didn't understand the concept of working. She couldn't even afford accommodation on her own at the time.She was only 55 then so young enough to mind a child. I said we really needed for me to work and pay off some debts, and to get ahead.She did it for about a year, but signs started to show she wasn't interested, by becoming mean to the kids, very grumpy to them, not even letting them play with their toys as it was messing up the place, and trying to control the house with what developed as severe OCD. She would go away for the weekend and come back half pickled, but I couldn't smell it. I knew she was drinking vodka. We had words about coming home like that, and her starting to do it again, which she denied. But I know she was. I put my foot down and forbid her to return home half sloshed, and we never kept any booze in the house. She told me I thought I was above everyone, and that she would drink if she wanted to.

Then one afternoon just before my hubby arrived home, she caused an argument with me about nothing, threatening to leave. She had been grumpy all afternoon, trying to start a fight, accusing us of being controlling, because I wouldn't allow booze in the house..She pushed me while holding my little boy, and I said maybe you should go?. I told her she was crazy, doing this on purpose so she could leave without notice. She rang a friend (who I know) and told her we had kicked her out and she needed that room. Hubby had just said he had had enough, and it was better that she just go, but she turned that around and Made us out like we were nasty to her. She left me on Tues afternoon(also owing us money) and hubby and I had to talk to our employers the next day, asking if he could go to nightshift and luckily there was a person wanting to swap. She said she hoped I would lose my job, and that we were selfish etc. I said I needed to work as we couldnt live on hubby's salary alone. She agreed to move in there to this new rented property and left just 6 months in, the agreement was a reduced rate of board, it was very cheap for her, even having money to save!, which she was happy to do. We also bought her nice gifts of clothing and jewellery.She had previously got into trouble with unpaid rent on another property before coming to live with us.I told her that if she went under these circumstances, in such a nasty way, that would be it for me, that she should have just told me nicely she was going. She left and I haven't spoken to her in 9 years.

When she left my oldest boy's teacher told me at a parent interview at the time when he was 6, that he told a story at school that his Nana had just left one day, and he wished that he had been a better boy, that he thought he was naughty and that's why shes gone. That upset me a lot. I just explained in a nice way that Nana just wanted to go, as she didn't want to live with us any more, and that it was in no way the children's fault. In recent years my boys are now 11 and 15,I have explained she had a problem with alcohol and drugs and it was her choice to leave us. They are accepting of that, as they know in our home that kind of behavier isn't normal.

I concluded that it wasn't ever worth going back and having anything to do with this woman, who I even wrote a note to keep out of jail after she was caught drink driving for the 3rd time in a year. She ran away when my first son was born, turning up in tears when he was 2 months old and asking me to help her as she was scared to go to jail. So we got her into a recovery prog that only lasted 3 months and she was back to it. To this day she is a drunk, and has no friends, I have had calls over the years from her friends as she needed money, but I just told them Im done sorry, no more help.

I would just tell your daughter, that sometimes people don't get along or are not friends even in family, just like you break friends at school sometimes, and she will understand more.

Some things are just not repairable, or fixable....we just have to tell our kids in the ways they understand, not too many details and they are quite accepting. Go with your gut instinct, if it doesn't feel right to even talk to your sister, I wouldn't bother.

Last edited by Catwoman; June 18th, 2015 at 04:10 PM.
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Old June 18th, 2015, 07:23 PM
slr0031 slr0031 is offline
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Wow such good advice from all of you! Thank you all for listening to me. I appreciate it so much.

KayKay and Lucy, I agree I think it is best to be honest. I just don't want to bad mouth my sister to my daughter and i haven't. I agree it is all right to say we aren't close. For some reason I think I feel guilty about saying that but it is the truth.

I am also sad she doesn't have a bigger happier family and am afraid she will one day blame me for it and be angry thinking there was more I could have done. Maybe I am reading too much into it.

Kay Kay my daughter doesn't know the circumstances of my parents divorce or that I can't stand step mom. I don't tell her about that. I like how you said I don't have to tell her why we aren't close, that we just aren't and the response you suggested about telling her that people act/say things they don't always mean. Again I am afraid she will hear only that I did not want a closer relationship with them and that is not true.

Lucy, that is true about not knowing what you are missing if you never had it. My daughter does remember when we visited with my dad more and saw my sister. I know she knows however that we don't see them on a regular basis. We have been talking to my dad more. We kind've had it out and to my surprise he is calling and being kind. One of you told me that maybe i have to expect a "sometimes" relationship with my dad. Sometimes he will be there and sometimes not and that is what I am trying to do. My daughter also compares herself to her friends families which many of them seem so big with many aunts and uncles and grandparents and so happy. And she may wonder why it is just me, my husband and her and her brother most the time.

Catwoman, my heart breaks reading your story. How hard that would be to grow up with parents who are addicts. How painful. It is so sad that your little son thought that his nana left because of him. I think my daughter wondered if she did something or at least wondered why we didn't see Grandpa for 2 years. it is confusing and painful for them. I am sorry you have not spoken to your mom in 9 years but completely understand why. Some relationships cannot be repaired as you said. When they are damaging and that person will not/cannot change. I liked your suggestion about comparing being friends in family to friends at school breaking up which she has also experienced. Somebody on here told me at holidays like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving etc they will light a candle to honor that person they love who is not a part of their life anymore. I have had many problems with my dad and I did that this year and it made me feel better. I still love my dad, just cannot always tolerate his behaviors.

Again thank you so much to all of you for listening and of your support.
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Old June 18th, 2015, 08:56 PM
Karina Karina is offline
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Re: How to explain family to daughter

I agree with everyone in that honesty is the best way to go. No need to disperse every detail though when children are so young. As they get older they begin to figure things out on their own too.
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Old June 18th, 2015, 10:03 PM
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Re: How to explain family to daughter

ITA with the be honest for her age level

DS once asked why I didn't spend time with ____ (relative) anymore. I explained that she had been mean and I and didn't want to be around mean people.
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Old June 25th, 2015, 09:20 AM
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Re: How to explain family to daughter

agreeing here with everyone else...however, like most said, give her, only what will safice....
I feel she needs to know, that her friends don't get to chose her, that she choses her friends...meaning, it isn't healthy to deal with toxic people...

Just recently I've been dealing with getting the toxic out of my life, it isn't easy, one is a family member...sometimes people just mix like oil and water, and there are no reasons why....

I've been dealing with a similar situation myself and its real tough....so, I commend you for what you've done with this up until now.

If it had been up to my son's father and his wife, I would have never known my son...ever...they would have cut me out of his life completely. Believe me, they tried. And I had to make decisions based on his welfare only, and not my own satisfaction. They made my son call her mom...his father had to be right, even when he knew his wife was lying...she literally beat my son up, both physically and mentally. I can never forgive her for that...and probably never will, while I keep praying for strength to do so. Yes, indeed, I do...it takes a lot less energy to forgive...

It can also cause a person great turmoil....I don't wish this woman any harm....just wish she'd learn to stop hating me so much. She has everything she could have ever wanted...and I don't begrudge her anything, believe me, what I hate is her evil manipulation and cannot understand her hate for me...and the sublimital comments she makes that no one else ever picks up on? She is evil and she even used my grand daughter to try and hurt me once.

She is the kind of person that would stop at nothing to hurt someone else...believe me...I'm not making it up...she is pure evil...she pushes buttons on purpose and cares more about results then the feelings of others.

Anyway, I do know what your talking about....

Sometimes it makes you wonder how in the world, mean people always end up coming out on top? I wish I could forgive her to give myself some peace...sometimes I can't help but wonder how my son can tolerate her, and deal with the cruelty of her. Actually I commend him for being able to do so, for his father's sake.

Please keep everything in perspective and in good faith, in concern for your children. Do what is best for them and not yourself, regardless if they are not popular decisions. This will be an unfortunate life experience for them to view...and help them realize the importance of choosing people in their lives who they deserve...and not accept an ounce less.

sending hugs
creme

Last edited by Cremebrulee; June 25th, 2015 at 09:25 AM.
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Old September 11th, 2015, 06:46 AM
lawre6b3 lawre6b3 is offline
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Re: How to explain family to daughter

The best way to answer this question is to just give them enough information to determine for themselves what the verdict is. These situations are always hard to adjust to, and can take years before the emotions subside to a point of acceptance. The unfortunate truth of the situation is the kids are forced to sign emotional checks against their will, and at times, will have resentment that they are unable to express.

Just love them and show them hat they are capable of anything that they put their minds to. DO fun things with them, introduce them to new cultures and never blame them for feeling a certain way. Like I said, kids do not understand their emotions and behave in ways that are consistent with those unknown things.

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Last edited by LucyVanPelt; September 11th, 2015 at 08:15 AM.
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