Wedding Woes

My mom is forcing my 'new' family on me.

Dear Prudence, 
I am in my late 20s and my mother has remarried, to a man with three grown children. I met them at the wedding and spent all of 15 minutes in their presence. They seemed pleasant. My mother has a bizarre fixation on the idea that we all are going to be the Brady Bunch. She says things like “Your new sister is traveling soon” and “Remember, your new brother’s birthday is coming up.” She refuses to see me one on one anymore—everything has to include her husband’s children. My father remarried years ago and adopted my stepmother’s sons. They and my half-sister are my siblings—we grew up together, went to school together, fought over a shared bathroom together. I don’t know why my mother is pushing this but when I try to distance myself, she gets angry and defensive. How do I get her chill out?
—Not My Siblings

Re: My mom is forcing my 'new' family on me.

  • Tell her straight out. Sounds like she may not really get subtleties.

    I'd start off by pushing a lunch date of just her and I. "Can I see you for lunch? Just us? I'd rather it intimate without everyone" maybe throw in "another time we can invite others" for her sake.

    At least lunch could be a non-confrontational way on talking.
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  • Mom is probably trying to navigate new territory and attempting to be as inclusive as possible. 

    There's room for compromise here.   Lunch can happen one on one.   Your mom's birthday celebration is probably going to be a larger event.   Your OWN birthday doesn't need to include people you don't want. 

    Give it a bit of time and rather than be defensive, consider listening to mom and talking to these new step-siblings.   You may not be as close to them as you are to your half siblings but you do have a connection and it could be worth it to try to have a relationship with these people. 
    charlotte989875short+sassysparklepants41OliveOilsMom
  • Agreed with the lunch idea and trying to be gentle. 

    Also this makes me want to ask LW how their mother has handled familial relationships in the past.  I have family members that are all about pressuring us to be together as one big 'happy' family on the holidays (when in reality, it never really was that way) and who see my parents as still being able to tell us what to do.  And my mom is like, "Um they're adults with their own families and schedules.  I can't make them do anything."  So it makes me wonder if their mom has pressured them with how they manage relationships in the past. OR if mom feels weird competition with LW's dad since he did provide LW a 'family' with his subsequent marriage. 

    While I don't think LW should feel pressured to acknowledge bdays or step-siblings day-to-day lives, LW should try to give some mom grace and show up to Sunday dinner or whatever family thing that mom does plan with her new H and his kids if it works for their schedule.  It's obviously important to LW's mom and it seems like they have a relationship that LW wants to maintain. 
    charlotte989875mollybarker11VarunaTT
  • I like the ideas of compromise that some of the PPs have mentioned.  It's totally normal and appropriate to run into the new siblings at dinner at Mom's or out at a restaurant.  But it's also understandable the LW wants some time with just her mom.  I think a point needs to be made to mom that, especially with everyone being adults, these are relationships that need to grow more naturally over time.

    I'm curious if the LW and the step-siblings all live near each other.  I'm kind of assuming all/some of them don't, if the wedding was the first time everyone met.

    In my situation, my mother remarried a man who is 10 years younger than herself.  She has two daughters and he has two sons.  But, when they first started dating, his two sons were children.  Whereas, my sister and I were young adults.

    It's an odd and foreign concept for me to think of having a close relationship with my stepbrothers, lol.  Nor have I ever been pressured to.  It's been 20 years, so now they're in their late 20's and early 30's.  We all have a pleasant relationship, but I really don't know them that well.  Part of that is I moved away shortly after her and my stepfather started dating.  But still.  My sister still lives in CA and I don't think she stays in contact with them either, outside if they happen to be at their dad's house when my sister is visiting mom.  They also don't make a special point to come visit, if I am vacationing out there (totally fine).  Though they did both come to my wedding, which was in CA.  I doubt they would have come if it had been in NOLA, but I would have invited them.

    The only time I contacted one of them is when my mom told me that he was going to rent a room inside of his house and asked if I wouldn't mind e-mailing him some advice.  I was happy to do that and she gave me his e-mail address.  I sent him an e-mail of congratulations and general advice.  He sent me one back thanking me and mentioning the parts he found especially helpful.

    Short story long, lol.  The relationship my sister and I have with our stepbrothers is perfectly lovely, albeit not a close relationship.  And that's fine with everyone.  I think the most important thing is that we all get along. 


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    charlotte989875OliveOilsMom
  • mrsconn23 said:
    Agreed with the lunch idea and trying to be gentle. 

    Also this makes me want to ask LW how their mother has handled familial relationships in the past.  I have family members that are all about pressuring us to be together as one big 'happy' family on the holidays (when in reality, it never really was that way) and who see my parents as still being able to tell us what to do.  And my mom is like, "Um they're adults with their own families and schedules.  I can't make them do anything."  So it makes me wonder if their mom has pressured them with how they manage relationships in the past. OR if mom feels weird competition with LW's dad since he did provide LW a 'family' with his subsequent marriage. 

    While I don't think LW should feel pressured to acknowledge bdays or step-siblings day-to-day lives, LW should try to give some mom grace and show up to Sunday dinner or whatever family thing that mom does plan with her new H and his kids if it works for their schedule.  It's obviously important to LW's mom and it seems like they have a relationship that LW wants to maintain. 

    I was definitely thinking this - LW hangs out with her other step-siblings, so the mother might be feeling that not hanging out with new step-siblings is an affront. But they are different scenarios, and I think LW should try to help her mom see that.
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  • levioosalevioosa Southern California
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
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    kerbohl said:
    mrsconn23 said:
    Agreed with the lunch idea and trying to be gentle. 

    Also this makes me want to ask LW how their mother has handled familial relationships in the past.  I have family members that are all about pressuring us to be together as one big 'happy' family on the holidays (when in reality, it never really was that way) and who see my parents as still being able to tell us what to do.  And my mom is like, "Um they're adults with their own families and schedules.  I can't make them do anything."  So it makes me wonder if their mom has pressured them with how they manage relationships in the past. OR if mom feels weird competition with LW's dad since he did provide LW a 'family' with his subsequent marriage. 

    While I don't think LW should feel pressured to acknowledge bdays or step-siblings day-to-day lives, LW should try to give some mom grace and show up to Sunday dinner or whatever family thing that mom does plan with her new H and his kids if it works for their schedule.  It's obviously important to LW's mom and it seems like they have a relationship that LW wants to maintain. 

    I was definitely thinking this - LW hangs out with her other step-siblings, so the mother might be feeling that not hanging out with new step-siblings is an affront. But they are different scenarios, and I think LW should try to help her mom see that.
    I was just coming in here to say this too. 


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    mrsconn23charlotte989875
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