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To not want to look after my step daughter overnight?

(322 Posts)
LookingForwardToMarch Thu 28-Mar-13 15:58:27

Ok don't flame me please...(sorry long)

My DP's daughter is ten and coming to stay for the easter holiday. It will be nice as 5 weeks ago our DD was born and hasnt spent much time with her yet.

But my problem is this. DP works overnight sometimes and before sd would stay with Mil at those times and with us when he wasnt at work.

Anyway Mil just said to me that it would be 'nice' if I looked after sd now when dp is at work! And got very snotty with when i said i wasnt comfy with that.

My reasons were
1. Sd likes me ( i think) but we dont have what id call a close relationship

2. Breastfeeding a hungry reflux baby is taking it out of me a bit, and im not sure how I will cope with a sometimes very hyper sd, baby and a puppy!

3. Im at college full time and have 2 massive projects to do. Was hoping to complete these when dh was at work and sd at mil's

AIBU or is Mil right and Im a horrible person?

Rulesgirl Sat 30-Mar-13 19:49:36

Hi OP..... Having your FIRST child is a life changing experience and one we are usually not equipped to deal with at all. We learn as we go along and it can be terrifying at times, scary and sometimes you seriously doubt yourself. You need to look after yourself and rest as much as you can in the first couple of months and just try and concentrate on you and your new baby. Establishing breastfeeding is difficult enough and this should be your main focus, that and finding time for yourself. You also have college work to do. I do not think you are being unreasonable at not having your stepdaughter to stay overnight when your husband is not there. You have not had her to stay overnight on your own before so not is not the time to start. That is just too much stress. I don't know why your mother in law is suggesting this at this time because if wont be good for either you or your step daughter. As long as you involve her with the baby when she is with you and your husband she will feel loved. In about six months time when you are feeling more confident then you could review the situation . I don't think anyone should blame you for wanting to take time to bond with your baby without the added stress of looking after your step daughter without any help. She wont suffer, because you sound like a sensitive person who is concerned enough about her step daughter to have posted this in the first place.

If too much is put upon you in the early months you could end up becoming depressed and unable to cope especially as your baby has reflux. Please look after yourself now as these are important times for you and your baby and you cant get them back.

sweetmelissa Fri 29-Mar-13 19:19:35

Not all 10 year old children would want to help out (my step children at that time certainly wouldn't have wanted to). In this situation it could lead to more resentment and fuel for the child's mother if twisted in a certain way.

You are quite correct, of course. I was just offering the suggestion that as in my case the help my 10 year old FC is giving me came naturally - and yes, probably if I had asked him beforehand he wouldn't have wanted to!!

puffinnuffin Fri 29-Mar-13 19:07:00

I'm a step mum of 20 years and also have my own children (also a teacher). In my experience when a big change happens in a child's life they need to stick to their normal routine in order to feel some sense of stability. In this case the normal routine is that SD stays with MIL. She wants to stay with MIL who would be in a position to give SD lots more attention and understanding. MIL has changed the goal posts. It is unfair to both SD and OP to suddenly force them both into a situation where neither feel comfortable. Adding a crying baby in the middle of the night and no support for OP could be a recipe for a disaster.

Not all 10 year old children would want to help out (my step children at that time certainly wouldn't have wanted to). In this situation it could lead to more resentment and fuel for the child's mother if twisted in a certain way.

Building a relationship between a step parent and step child takes many years. It is always one step forward and two steps back, no matter how hard you try to love and care for them.

OP get yourself on the road to recovery, get DH to sort things out for now and then revisit this when you feel strong enough. I also recommend joining the British Second Wives Club who are very supportive and can offer excellent advice.

sweetmelissa Fri 29-Mar-13 18:22:54

Coming back to this thread again, two things occured to me. I apologise if these have been addressed beforehand and reasons given why this can not be the case:

1. Couldn't your SD be a help to you if she comes? It occured to me because my usual terror of a foster son has been a huge help to me this weekend with the little ones, including a new baby. I am having an operation next week therefore not feeling well, so he has been fetching and carrying galore for me and although he is helping me, in many ways he is helping himself by helping the bonding process between us. I would not have believed he could be so gentle and caring after his horrific past and usual behaviour...but he's turned into a angel!!

2. Maybe it could help to consider what you would do if you were to have a second child. Obviously you would then have an older child and a baby, and I am sure would not want to exclude the elder one at such a time - and again to do so would not allow the relationship between siblings develop. As you will know it's also a difficult time for elder siblings, which maybe brings me back to my first point - couldn't the little girl help (or have her thinking she is helping you) in some way while your partner is away?

Just a few thoughts and again I apologise if this cannot be so, but I admit I missed a few pages on my read through.

Good luck whatever you decide.

Smudging Fri 29-Mar-13 18:05:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lcdaff Fri 29-Mar-13 17:22:39

Feel very sorry for your poor step daughter and you!
What an awful time for your mother in law to suddenly decide to move the goal posts.

From your step daughter's point of view everything must have changed soo much already without her grandmother suddenly not wanting to have her. With her mother having such a track record for saying awful things about you taking away her daddy this visit was probably already a big deal for her. If I was her I'd be at least a little worried about how the new baby would change things for me with my dad, not sure if things would be the same or if the baby in some way was replacing me and dad would love me any less. I think it sounds like up until now going to stay with her grandmother has not been an issue on the odd night her dad has to work and it doesn't sound like she feels like she is not wanted or pushed out.
So feeling nervous about being around dad and the new baby and then out of no where suddenly my grandmother doesn't want me to stay with her anymore. So now having to worry about her loving me less and being expected to say with my step mother who my own mother is telling me horrible things about and the new baby I feel a little threatened by before I've experienced everything still being normal.
At 10 I don't think I'd be emotionally mature enough to be able to discuss my feelings on the subject with anyone and it doesn't sound like her mother would be supportive of her or reassuring if she did.
It sounds like you all needed consistency this visit to get used to the changes that have already happened. Your step daughter needed to have been able to follow her normal routine spending time with her dad and her new sister; you, her dad and her new sister; and she quality time with just her dad. All the nights she is with you and the days she is there is plenty of time for her to bond with her sister and help to do things if she wants to. Staying with her grandmother and seeing her cousins might even be a nice break from the baby.
I'd hope your mother in law would respect her granddaughters choice and let her stay because she is actually the one rejecting her not you. I'm hoping whoever asked your step daughter what she wanted hasn't let on that her grandmother doesn't want her to stay and made it seem like they are just checking what she wants so no damage has been done to that relationship.

Then putting myself in your place I can't say you're being unreasonable for wanting and needing this long standing arrangement to continue for at least this visit. This is the first time you've experienced being a mum with all the responsibility of a new little life you've created for the first time before you even begin to factor in the stress of both you and baby being ill.
You've been home for two weeks and I get the feeling your other half hasn't worked many if any night shifts before now so being left alone with your baby all night might very well be a very daughting prospect all by itself, being left in the day time is very different than overnight. To cope with that you probably were already considering all the things you already had to do by yourself at home and trying to reassure yourself by thinking of what you'll be able to manage without him under your feet. Then mother in law suddenly expects you to be soul responsible for your step daughter over night too, that would add no end of pressure.
No mater how good and self servicing she may or may not be it's another repository on your part when you're still adapting yourself.
When you're stressed and hormonal everything gets blown out of proportion and you can very easily make mountains out of mole hills. I'm positive you don't actually value your step daughter less than a dog and course work but when you are in your position I'm sure they really are on your mind and are massive things for you at the moment.
By the sound of it you should have had 5 weeks to work on your college work and could actually still have been very heavily pregnant. I doubt you expected your baby to be early and that you would spend three weeks in hospital. You must have expected to be in a highly different position with your work and with all that has gone on I'm sure there must be some fexlablity with deadlines when you're more ready to look into it.
I would imagine they thought of looking after baby, yourself and the dog is a dating enough prospect at the moment and I'd always be imagining the worst case senorio.
If you were asking about having any other type of house guest on your own people would tell you to think about you and your baby.

Your mother in law is being really unfair to both you and your step daughter. To me it feels like it used to suit her to have her granddaughter but now you have a baby yourself you should just get on with it and cope.
If she really doesn't want to have your step daughter any more she owes it to her to help create a smooth transition!

Crawling Fri 29-Mar-13 14:38:37

Its only one night when her husband is working.

pigletmania Fri 29-Mar-13 14:10:21

Is it only one night, than I agree op should have her, I thought I was all holiday during the day and night. Even several nights fine

Crawling Fri 29-Mar-13 13:53:00

It shouldnt matter if op loves her sd as much as her dd. Bottom line is whether she loves her or not she should treat her fairly and imo that means not refusing her to stay for 1 yes just 1 night. Why cant op do her studies another night, I see no reason and if it really is too much to have a puppy a newborn and sd then puppy should go to MIL for the night not sd.

pigletmania Fri 29-Mar-13 13:50:35

It ident for one night though te impression I get is that dsd is staying all holiday with op,

pigletmania Fri 29-Mar-13 13:48:53

That's wonderful Melissa and its great you feel that way but not all people are the same emotionally, for many it comes with getting to kno the child and developing a bond in time, that des not mean you wont care for te child and not treat them equally.

That contact time of op sd is meant to be with her dad, not primarily with op, the dad should have ensured he was available during contact time or ade arrangements with his mum to help op out

BruthasTortoise Fri 29-Mar-13 13:24:54

No children are not the responsibility of any adult that just happens to be there, they are the responsibility of their parents.

And yes, I think if the OPs DH had invited friends to stay while she was unwell, she would be well within her rights to say she doesn't feel able to entertain them while he works and she takes care of their own newborn.

StillSeekingSpike Fri 29-Mar-13 13:14:49

'Step children are not your responsibility.'

Er- unfortunately they are- because of the fact that they are CHILDREN and you are the ADULT.
If your husband had a friend to stay for two weeks, but for one night had to work would you really say to that friend 'Sorry but tonight you will have to stay somewhere else'?
The child isn't requesting a spreadsheet quantification of how much she is loved in relation to her new half sib- just ask her if she wants to stay and if she would rather stay at Grandma's then at least you have done the decent polite thing.

sweetmelissa Fri 29-Mar-13 12:54:12

Adoptive children are your children so from your perspective I would equate step children with foster children, specifically children you have fostered who have loving parents who temporarily can't care for them. By saying that you love those children the same as your own children you run the risk of minimising the special relationship between you and your own children and also undermining the relationship between the child and his/her parents. I hope that makes sense, it does in my head

Thanks you responding, Bruthas. I understand totally where you are coming from now - thanks.

sweetmelissa Fri 29-Mar-13 12:50:46

Melissa, with adopted children I think it is very very different. Adoptive parents take on their children as their own, and bring their children up the way they choose. With step children you fall in love with the parent and if they have a child you have to take their children on too. If you adopt a child you make that choice to love them as their parent. I am sorry if I offended you.

You haven't offended me at all - but thanks for your sensitivity anyway! You make much sense!!!

sweetmelissa Fri 29-Mar-13 12:49:11

sweetmellisa do you honestly love your foster children as much as your own children and did the love begin the second they were placed with you? I agree I think it's important that all the children feel loved but at the end of the day the OPs SD is presumably very much loved by her own mother and father, the relationship between the OP and her SD will hopefully develop into love but it will take time and probably will never be the same love the little girl feels for her own mother or the OP feels for her own child.

A really interesting question, Bruthas, and you make very much sense when describing the love for a SD. I will try to repect you by answering honestly.

Of my adoptive children one I loved before they were even born (I knew they would be coming to us) and another older one I fell in love with within seconds of meeting him, I had not known love like that existed before and it hit me like a thunderbolt...the same passionate love I later had as I watched my grandchildren come into the world. Another two older adopted children I grew to love very quickly as I began to know them, another one, I admit it took a long while (though that was possibly due to autism and communication difficulties clouding the relationship). One foster child who has been with us some while I also loved within a few moments of meeting him, and that love is as strong as for my adopted children. Several other foster children I consider I love, even though they have now moved on - maybe that can be compared to the love of a niece or nephew. Other foster children, just like with one of my adopted children, I have more difficulty with and any affection takes some while to develop. That's for the interesting question.

BruthasTortoise Fri 29-Mar-13 12:44:17

Adoptive children are your children so from your perspective I would equate step children with foster children, specifically children you have fostered who have loving parents who temporarily can't care for them. By saying that you love those children the same as your own children you run the risk of minimising the special relationship between you and your own children and also undermining the relationship between the child and his/her parents. I hope that makes sense, it does in my head smile

sweetmelissa Fri 29-Mar-13 12:39:04

But I do know that whatever you feel inside you have to outwardly treat the children the same, and try to make them feel equally loved.NO NO NO NO NO NO this is so wrong. Don't pretend you love your SDCs the way you love your DCs or you will f them both up.*

Oh dear, I have f*** up a lot of children then....oops.
Obviously I am talking about birth/adopted/foster children here, but I have always worked on the belief that any child I am caring for in the short or long term needs to feel loved and important. Can you seriously explain why you think this is wrong? I hope this doesn't come across as sarcastic, it isn't meant to me, I am really concerned at the strength of your reply. I have been caring for children for over 20 years now and am now seriously questioning if I have been wrong.
Thanks!

SoWhatIfImWorkingClass Fri 29-Mar-13 12:36:17

Melissa, with adopted children I think it is very very different. Adoptive parents take on their children as their own, and bring their children up the way they choose. With step children you fall in love with the parent and if they have a child you have to take their children on too. If you adopt a child you make that choice to love them as their parent.

I am sorry if I offended you.

BruthasTortoise Fri 29-Mar-13 12:36:14

Bonsoir her SD does live with them some of the time, when her dad isn't working. The OP doesn't feel able to look after her alone ion the occasion as she is unwell, the little girl's mum doesn't want her to stay with the OP and granny had never previously gave any indication she had any problem with her granddaughter staying.

Bonsoir Fri 29-Mar-13 12:33:48

But I do know that whatever you feel inside you have to outwardly treat the children the same, and try to make them feel equally loved.

NO NO NO NO NO NO this is so wrong. Don't pretend you love your SDCs the way you love your DCs or you will f* them both up.

Bonsoir Fri 29-Mar-13 12:32:15

Hmm. I think that if you have a SD, you have to be prepared to let her live with you part of the time and that includes overnight. She is ten - not a baby.

If you need childcare because you have projects to complete and a small baby, you should purchase some, not palm your SD off on her granny (unless granny is chomping at the bit for it and SD too).

BruthasTortoise Fri 29-Mar-13 12:29:59

sweetmellisa do you honestly love your foster children as much as your own children and did the love begin the second they were placed with you? I agree I think it's important that all the children feel loved but at the end of the day the OPs SD is presumably very much loved by her own mother and father, the relationship between the OP and her SD will hopefully develop into love but it will take time and probably will never be the same love the little girl feels for her own mother or the OP feels for her own child.

sweetmelissa Fri 29-Mar-13 12:23:41

Hear hear. I think it's ridiculous to expect a step parent to love their step children the way they love their own children.There's nothing as strong and amazing as the love you have for your own children. It's something that is so natural and definitely not something you can force yourself to have for someone else's child. I would only be lying to myself and everyone else if I said I love my SD because I don't. That's not to say I don't care about her though.

As an adoptive parent and also a foster parent I have difficulties with this one. Maybe it is the case for many people, I don't know. But I do know that whatever you feel inside you have to outwardly treat the children the same, and try to make them feel equally loved.

I have to say, I can't see how you can automatically love a step child like your own when the situation is very different. A lot of step children already have 2 parents and don't need a 3rd. They need somebody who cares about them, treats them well and tries to be as fair as possible but to expect somebody to love the child just because they love the parent is odd. I don't get the reasoning behind that. The child is an individual not a copy of the parent. You can't care for a child who doesn't live with you most of the time, like a child who does either, not when you have to take into account the wishes of the other parent, who you possibly don't even get on with.

But I am not a step parent so what do I know? It is just that they seem to have a very difficult path to tread between being a part- time parent and being an outsider in the relationship between the biological parents and the child (very different from being an adoptive parent I might add so it isn't all about biology). In the Op's case, I think for just this one visit, she should be allowed to put all the issues aside and concentrate on getting well and dealing with her new baby, then when she is stronger in only a week or two, she can work on her relationship with DSD without the massive pressure this visit would place on her at a very difficult time.

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