Mom on daughter: "She throws the presents from my husband in the garbage; they cost a lot"

Amy Christie

*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission

Adjusting to a stepparent role right after you get married isn't easy to do, and sometimes, all the love and patience still won't have the results you're hoping for.

What do you do when your stepkids simply don't treat your efforts as meaningful, and the expenses you go through to be able to buy them nice things go unnoticed or, even worse, the gifts end up in the trash as soon as they are received?

My friend Nick has been married to his wife Stella for six years. They have one daughter together, and Stella also has a daughter from another relationship.

This is her first marriage, and her previous partner isn't involved in their daughter's life, even if he sends her money from time to time.

"That relationship was only for a few months, and we didn't even consider getting married. When I learned I was pregnant, I knew I'd probably be raising the baby myself. My parents helped me a lot in the first two years; I couldn't have done it without them," Stella said.

After two years had passed since she had her little girl, Anna, Stella began thinking about a new relationship. She waited a few months to date but wasn't planning to be a single mom permanently. And she wanted Anna to have a dad.

"I didn't think it was fair for her to grow up without having a whole family close. And if her dad wasn't going to be there for her, another partner for me was the solution. I also couldn't handle being a single mom for too long; it gets stressful, and I want to feel loved and happy, not just work all the time to cover the bills alone," Stella said.

Once she started dating, her friends introduced her to Nick, who had just ended a relationship after his girlfriend decided to be with someone else.

"It was a difficult time for him, and I also needed time to get used to dating again. So, we started out as friends, and we gradually got closer. After a few weeks, we were ready to really go out, and we began thinking about being together. He liked the same things I did, he wanted a family, and he got along great with Anna. He also didn't mind being a stepdad or filling in a father figure role for her sake and mine," Stella said.

The mom was happy to see how Nick and her daughter played and had fun together when they went on walks. His parents also liked Anna very much and treated her like their granddaughter.

"That was a surprise to me. We went to visit them right after we got engaged, and they didn't mind that I already had Anna. Instead, they were pleased she was there and asked me to bring her to Sunday dinners and their birthdays," Stella said.

Nick and Stella got engaged one year after they met, and the wedding took place one month after that.

"It was a bit in a hurry, but also at the right time. There was no reason to wait any longer. We knew enough about each other, and both our families liked each other," the mom said.

After they tied the knot, Nick moved in with Stella and her daughter. Anna called Nick "dad," and she was happy to have him around and go everywhere together as a family.

Things went on the same for two years, and then Stella found out she was pregnant again. The couple got excited to have a baby, but Anna, who was in kindergarten by then, wasn't pleased with having a sibling.

After Nick and her mom told her about it, the little girl avoided talking to them for two days. And then, her behavior toward Nick changed completely. Not only did she stop calling him dad, but she didn't want anything to do with him anymore.

"When I asked her to go on a walk, she asked if he was coming and then said she'd stay home. And the toys were a whole new issue. Presents became one of the most difficult things," Stella said.

Her stepdad thought maybe some extra gifts would make Anna realize they weren't ignoring her and that having a sister would be a great thing, but it went the other way. All the presents generally ended up in the trash or out the window.

After the baby was born, things didn't improve either. With Stella feeling tired and Nick trying to do more around the house, Anna barely greeted him in the morning.

And the gift issue is still going on, even now, one year after her sister, Emy, was born.

"She throws the presents from my husband in the garbage; they cost a lot. And it's not just that. Nick takes the time to choose them, thinking about what could make her feel better. And she just doesn't care. She hasn't shown any interest in Emy either. I don't know what I should do," Stella said.

The couple is considering letting Anna stay with his parents for a while because they get along well until she's ready to accept she has a sister and misses her mom and stepdad.

How do you think this should be handled? Is it ok for Anna to keep throwing away the gifts she receives, or should she get nothing until she appreciates them more? Should Anna go and live with her grandparents, or would that makes her feel her sister is responsible for driving her away from her home?

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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