Wanted: warm familial interactions

“Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time.”

 -Betty Smith-

Next week, my step-daughter and her kids will be visiting.  I need a new perspective to make this work out better than the last time.  K. appears to not like me; she did not right from the first time we met as near as I can recall.  Her eyes rolled, brow knitted into a frown before she quickly turned away to speak primarily to her father.  I took this with a grain of salt…I don’t think she has ever gotten past the breakup of her parents, although it has been about 15 years and he has been through a second 10-year marriage during that interim.  She has had several failed relationships of her own which may also have left her bitter.  I don’t know.  I kind of thought that with time she’d warm up to me; but no.

Last year when she visited she managed to get through the entire time without speaking directly to me or making eye contact even.  When I entered the conversation she clammed up and got all chatty with her little kids instead.  I found that disconcerting but let it go.  This time around I do not want it to go the same route; it was uncomfortable for me and it looked darned uncomfortable for her too.  At first I came away from the experience thinking she was a deeply depressed individual that never smiled.  But I could hear her being quite conversational and almost cheery when I was out of the room.  Weird, huh.

I don’t have to be liked by everyone.  However, when I am in my own home I think that I must feel comfortable.  I cannot change her but I can change how I approach the situation.  Hence the new perspective that is required.  I am opting for a clean slate.  I will wipe my mind clear of how things were at any point in past interactions.  I will not be drubbed out of the house by her sullen attitudes as has happened in the past.  I will claim my living space and go about my days with enthusiasm, celebration and creativity like I usually do.  It will hopefully serve as an invitation for her to join in the activities and conversations of the day with enthusiasm.  Walking on eggshells around the situation clearly does not work.

I am thrilled that Mike accepts my children as his own, they treat him with warmth, caring and good humour.  During their visits when I see those warm familial interactions I feel a sense of loss that I am not welcomed into his daughter’s life in a similar way.  Am I being needy, petty or unrealistically sensitive?

Today’s “stone” is Day 231  clean slate, new perspective, just be me

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13 thoughts

  1. Are you kidding? Needy, petty, and unrealistically sensitive are the way my family chooses to interact! Seriously, your plan sounds good. One suggestion: If she starts in with the old behavior, take her aside and tell her how you feel. That’s won’t be as threatening as trying to get her to change, although I don’t believe you’d ever do that anyway. That may be her fear. Best of luck, and warm hugs from your bloggy family!

  2. I agree with the comment above. Sound advice. I don’t think that she has to like you especially and visa versa, although it’s the ideal. Respect is all that’s required, I think. Like and who knows, even love may develop down the road.

  3. don’t worry too much about your motives, remember your goal to be cheery and enjoy the visit, even if she does not include you in her conversation … no doubt you will be talking to her in a friendly and inclusive way, so it will look very strange if she continues to freeze you out like a hurt child … what does her father think of the situation? …what does he do to help break the ice? she probably just needs his reassurance that she still matters to him …and eldy how are the children with you? think of all the fun things you can do with them and that will help divert the tension! …and i agree that telling her how you feel when she ignores you might help .. non-violent communication style 🙂

  4. My youngest step-son speaks very little me. We don’t see each other often but the whole break up of his parents’ marriage and all the bits & bobs that have happened since, make it a strange situation for him and me I think. Sometimes, I feel we are so far apart in the ‘story’ that there is no point in me being step mum and him being step son. We are all spending the day together on Friday, messing about at the lake which I just see as another step to getting on alittle bit better. I think (for what it’s worth) it’s about carving out your own relationship somehow…

  5. I had the same feeling from my step-son, its like with me in the way his parents could never get back together even though they would never get back together / ever… it is my fault. Your the fall guy, the one easiest to blame, gived them a reason to not like you even though you;ve never given them another reason and I am sure they look with a magnifying glass for reasons. I always just stated it was up to me to set an example of putting it below or behind me to dwell on this, set the tone and presidence of good and they either except it or look the fool for going against the obvious nice person you are. Be strong, firm and fair and most of all, be yourself, never change because of some one else. People respect those who never waver, always the same. good luck.

  6. That’s an awkward one to navigate. Somehow I don’t mind being ignored when visiting family but if they’re my guests, I expect different. Trying new gambits the last couple years and see what shakes loose.

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