to send dd to after school club she hates in order to make my point?

(81 Posts)
PuffyPigeon Tue 18-Mar-14 11:40:39

My dd is in her first year at Junior school and just turned 8. She went to after school club briefly last year when my hours changed and hated it. I have been with my dh since dd was a baby, her dad left when I discovered I was pregnant. We've since had two more children age 4 and 2 and dh also has two children from his previous marriage, age 8 and 9. Dd sees her dad once per month only - his choice though he's only twenty minutes away.

ExH hates that dh acts as a father to dd. Dd naturally started calling dh daddy because she heard his children calling him it. She was corrected but now she's older we figure it's her choice what she calls people. ExH has always reiterated to dd that dh loves his own children and not her, that he's not her father in anyway, that only blood family matters and so on.

Combining this with dds age, she's started taking on board what her dad has said and 'testing' dh. Particularly after she's seen her dad or before she is due to she's horrible to dh, ignores him, calls him by his name and encourages the other children to do so too, won't show him any affection or anything. She keeps saying she doesn't have his name, he didn't help make her, he's not her parent and has no rights over her. I know this all comes from her dad (he openly says it to/in front of me) but it's extremely hurtful.

Usually dd adores dh. She asks to visit him at work to take him cakes and pictures or letters at work at weekends, she asks him to attend school and extra-curricular events but doesn't even think to ask her dad as he's never attended, she plays with and is affectionate to him, asks when she can have another sibling and so on.

Talking to her has made no difference. Her dad's nastiness towards dh penetrates all goodness. Aibu if I respond to dd by, when she says: 'dh is nothing to do with me/not a parent/has no rights etc' by saying that fine, he'll act accordingly. Therefore, when I'm working he won't collect her from school like he usually does and take her to the park/tea rooms/soft play, she'll go to the after school club she dislikes. When she's been rude or hurtful, she can expect no help from dh when she then asks and so on.

I'm at the end of my tether because its getting worse as time goes on and I want it nipped in the bud so it doesn't make the teen years even harder.

BarbarianMum Tue 18-Mar-14 11:46:32

YABU I think.

I can absolutely see why you want to nip this in the bud but I don't think pushing her further away from your dh is the way to do this.

What about an immediate sanction when she says hurtful things to dh, ignoring what you can and some 1:1 time with him, plus lots of reassurance that you both love her?

She sounds unhappy and pressured and your ex sounds like a prick.

TheSmallClanger Tue 18-Mar-14 11:48:34

What a very, very difficult situation for you.

However, I think that punishing her and having her stepdad send her to Coventry is not going to help at that age. It must be extremely hurtful for him, but she is a child with conflicting loyalties who is being manipulated. There is a danger that his reactions will reinforce what her bio dad is telling her.

This not a situation you can "nip in the bud". Your DD is not in control of it.

jojane Tue 18-Mar-14 11:49:45

I would. Maybe say for the next week dh will not treat you like a daughter so she will have to go to after school club, and include things like not making her breakfast, reading stories etc etc then tell her at the end of the week it's her choice wether dh carries on as a non parent or wether she wants it back to normal and dh is her step father again.

Driveway Tue 18-Mar-14 11:50:05

It would be completely the wrong thing to do. You'd be showing her that your ex is right.

Also you'd be punishing her for having what are obviously already disturbing feelings and emotions, which would be cruel.

badtime Tue 18-Mar-14 11:52:02

Why would you want to drive a wedge between them?

Don't be manipulated to do what your ex actually wants!

weirdthing Tue 18-Mar-14 11:52:22

It would be emotional abuse. I would send your partner and your DD out for some time by themselves eg cinema etc to reinforce the bond.

PuffyPigeon Tue 18-Mar-14 11:52:54

Barbarian I don't really want to punish her for speaking her mind (though it's actually her dad's mind), but do do so for speaking in a hurtful way. I thought emphasising how much dh does do for/with her, by him not doing it if she insists he's nothing to do with her, might be effective in making her more appreciative.

Thetallesttower Tue 18-Mar-14 11:52:59

I also don't think this is a good idea- what strikes me from your post is that she is desperately seeking the approval of both men in her life- baking cakes, seeking your DH out is just as extreme as her hating him- what you are really after is her feeling relaxed and secure in his company which she clearly isn't at the moment.

I would deal with any rudeness the same way you deal with any rudeness and not get caught up with the message (it's not her fault her dad's a prick and puts words in her mouth)- she's getting to the age she would be testing the boundaries on this anyway, if not over this (my 8 year old is cheeky too).

So- do what you usually do to cheekiness, or upsetting another person.

But don't retaliate by sending her to after-school club unless it is what you would have done anyway, because she desperately doesn't need to be rejected by a second man, especially as you are having lots of children together and her place must be very threatened.

I have been going on about the 'How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk' and this may really help you. If you jump in every time she says something negative about your DH, it may make it worse. If you listen to her, even saying hard to hear things, this may be over very quickly. If she's being downright cheeky or rude to him in front of others, nip that in the bud, but if she's alone with you and says negative things- who else can she say them to? You might find getting her to talk more, not less is the answer.

Almostfifty Tue 18-Mar-14 11:53:15

Can you not sit her down and write a list of what your DH does with her, and a list of what her Dad does with her?

It might just be enough.

TheListingAttic Tue 18-Mar-14 11:53:35

Surely it will confuse her, to have him blow hot and cold like she's doing, and only reinforce what her arse of a dad is saying? It's a very difficult situation, but I think he would be better off being consistently loving, and both of you sitting her down and saying that, blood relative or not, he does care about her and she is important to him and her dad isn't correct to say otherwise.

fishfingereaters Tue 18-Mar-14 11:54:10

I would focus on talking her through this. It must be very confusing for her, realising he is a parent on a 'different level' to her brothers and sisters. He should just be a real parent to her, waiting till she calms down then reassuring her he loves her. Don't get involved in tit for tat behaviour.

sparechange Tue 18-Mar-14 11:54:28

It is a really tough one, but I think she is too young to understand the nuances of what you are trying to tell her.

Maybe a better message is that your DH carries on being a parent, because parents have unconditional love for their children, even when they say hurtful things. Where as her dad might share her blood, but he isn't a Daddy and doesn't do the things Daddy does.

Letting your DH step back just underlines what your ex is telling her...

Seeline Tue 18-Mar-14 11:54:47

I agree - not the right approach. You need to keep reminding your daughter of all the good things that your DH does for her, and what fun they have together etc.
You need to acknowledge that alot of the factual stuff is true, but point out that this hasn't stopped your DH from loving her, caring for her, providing for her in exactly the same way as he does the other DCs.
Is she too young to try and apprecaite that your ExH is trying to manipulate the situation, and is saying doing stuff to hurt you and your DH? Difficult with a 9yo I know, but it might be worth considering?

Thetallesttower Tue 18-Mar-14 11:55:49

Also- how powerful would she feel (and how awful would that be) if she says 'I hate you and you are not my dad' and then he refuses to have anything to do with her. As a parent, sometimes my children turn around and say 'I hate you mummy, I wish you weren't my mummy'- not very often, but when tired, stressed or in a moment of weakness. It is not my role to reject them further, but contain this negative emotion and continue to show them love and constancy in the face of this.

I don't think you should be a pushover, if she's rude, send her out of the room, but a week of rejecting a child with mixed and hurtful emotions? No.

PuffyPigeon Tue 18-Mar-14 11:55:56

Dd and dh do spend time alone, too, they have a shared hobby. Her continuing to behave like this is driving a wedge between dh and her plus dh and the other children.

TheListingAttic Tue 18-Mar-14 11:56:17

And what Almost suggested - don't show her by taking his affection and support away, help her write a list of everything he does for her.

littlebluedog12 Tue 18-Mar-14 11:56:25

I'm not a step parent but I do know about 8 year old girls. She is testing you, and him. She needs to feel secure- if you send her to the afterschool club this will prove, in her mind, that she was right all along and he doesn't love her.

I think all you can do is continue to reassure her- respond to comments of you're not my daddy with 'well I love you like a daddy' and just keep reiterating that he loves her, and demonstrating it with the usual cuddles, stories, activities etc. She will eventually come round.

Thetallesttower Tue 18-Mar-14 11:58:46

And- read the 'How to talk' book. I was always jumping in and telling my dd why things weren't so bad, why she should be grateful, why she was not right in what she was saying, she used to get so frustrated and upset.

Perhaps have a new rule- no rudeness or cheekiness about DH, BUT- perhaps it is normal for her to have misgivings about your new family set up, where can she express these? She must be allowed to speak, just not in a rude way and listening a couple of times might take the heat out of the situation and she will come back to seeing what a great dad your DH is in time.

WilsonFrickett Tue 18-Mar-14 12:00:04

Please don't do this. It's exactly what your XP wants, for one thing.

You can pull her up on the rudeness, and have your normal consequences for that, but they shouldn't be anything to do with DP withdrawing his time or affection.

I know other MNers have had success with lovebombing, is that something P and DD could try? How to talk will also help you manage this in an appropriate way, ie consequences for hurtful language, but not reacting to the goading. She is really, really pushing the boundaries because she wants them to stand firm. Poor kid.

<cold comfort warning> At least she's doing this at 8. If she was doing it at 15 there could be all sorts of risky behaviour going on - this is only cheek and button pushing. I know it's tough though.

littlebluedog12 Tue 18-Mar-14 12:00:16

Another thought, I think it's important to recognise and talk through with her that it is difficult having two daddies and reassure her that they both love her- she doesn't have to choose one.

She is obviously a seething mass of inner conflict, poor thing. No matter how rude she is being, she is only 8 years old and is being manipulated by her father. What a jerk.

I think DH has to continue to be the bigger man here. It must be very difficult but you/he really must try to deal with the rudeness as a discipline issue and ignore the rest as much as he can.

Tiptop32 Tue 18-Mar-14 12:02:24

I would take a guess that ur dd is feeling extremely insecure. Your dp is like a father to her and she feels safe and happy around him - then ur ex starts telling her that she means nothing to him.... And then the backlash begins. She is as horrid as she can be to ur dp to see if ur ex is right. Give her all the love u can and security in knowing dp isn't going to hate her. After school club that she hates will only reinforce the message from ur ex

PuffyPigeon Tue 18-Mar-14 12:05:56

It's really difficult to discuss it with her without being drawn into badmouthing her dad, though. For example, this morning we had:

Dd: he's only the other childrens dad, not mine. I have (surname) blood in my veins
Me: thats true, but the blood in your veins or your surname doesn't tell you how to behave towards people. He treats you the same as the other children and loves you
Dd: is he picking me up from school today?
Me: yes
Dd: why? I hate him collecting me, he's not my parent he shouldn't be collecting me from school

At which point I want to say: perhaps if your other 'blood parent' ever chose to pick you up from school, dh wouldn't need to.

Then by next week the conversation will go:

Dd: is daddy (dh) picking me up today?
Me: yes
Dd: ooh yay! Will you send him a message asking if we can go to the park please? Send him a picture of me blowing him a kiss! Etc.

candycoatedwaterdrops Tue 18-Mar-14 12:10:16

Please do not do this. It would be cruel. She is being manipulated by her father and by doing that, you would be punishing her for his faults.

PuffyPigeon Tue 18-Mar-14 12:10:52

Dh continues to be loving to her - he makes a great deal of effort.

The ironic thing is exH tells dd she has two mums and celebrated mothers day with dd and his gf of a year last year angry but that having two dads is impossible. I've pointed this out to dd and she realizes it's hypocritical but all it does is confuse her more.

candycoatedwaterdrops Tue 18-Mar-14 12:11:12

She sounds confused, don't push her away.

Seeline Tue 18-Mar-14 12:13:33

Is having a different surname a real issue for her?
Would having the same surname help her feel part of the family?

Thetallesttower Tue 18-Mar-14 12:14:30

Puffy -both responses seem a little bit over-dramatic to me, but that's 8 year old girls! She sounds insecure in both- either rejecting him or sending him messages with kisses- again, trying to please him and reassure/ingratiate herself.

All you need to do is stand firm- in the first example, just ignore and don't get into the discussion about parents and blood in the morning, just say 'yes, daddy will be picking you up' and get on with your business, she will soon get the message that this can't wind either you or your DH up (at the moment, you are immediately reacting defensively to it).

Then, at another time when you are happy/relaxed, chat to her about this daddy thing- perhaps she does feel worried she doesn't have the same blood as DH, perhaps she needs to get these negative emotions out. If she can do that in a safe way and see you all love her anyway, then she is likely to stop the constant challenge over it.

To give an example, my dd was sad about something, and every time she said this, I would leap in with 100 reasons why she couldn't be too sad, that she should be grateful for what she had. After reading the 'how to talk' book, I just said nothing the next time she said 'I'm sad' and let her speak for a bit. I did this a few times. Now she doesn't say it all the time any more and I don't react to it- she spoke and was heard. Give it a try, you may be surprised.

littlebluedog12 Tue 18-Mar-14 12:14:51

I would say 'I'm sorry you feel that way. Ge has brought you up since you were a baby and loves you very much'. And get on with your day. In much the same way that when my own DD says 'I hate you you're not my mummy' I say 'I'm sorry you feel that way, I am your mummy and I love you very much'. Don't rise to it!

firstchoice Tue 18-Mar-14 12:16:30

I agree with both Thetallesttower and littlebluedog12 -

don't let your ex's poison (being parroted via dd) cause any more harm.

Deal with rudeness in your ordinary way and spits of 'I don't love you, your not my real dad' type stuff with 'well, I love you and I love being just like a dad to you'.
Keep letting her know she has a reliable dad person in her life - your H - as that is what she so desperately needs. She will eventually see your Ex's poison for what it is.
Don't send her to an afterschool club that she hates as she has 'rejected' your H - she hasn't, she is just scared and confused sad

PuffyPigeon Tue 18-Mar-14 12:17:24

Seeline - her dad calls her by her surname to emphasise that she's 'his' angry I changed my name to her middle name rather than taking dhs name when we married so she wasn't the odd one out. Changing her surname is impossible without exhs consent which will never happen

CaptainHindsight Tue 18-Mar-14 12:19:40

What a horrid person your ex is.

My DS has had similar from his lazy,absent,when he can be arsed father but DS is safe in the knowledge that Love is verb.

If someone shows you they love you then believe them. Words are just words without actions.

Can you counter her fathers bollocks by reinforcing that message? Has your DD seen Peabody and Sherman? Meet the Robinsons? They both have excellent positive messages about love/blended families/adoption.

You would be U. Look, you've said it yourself -- your DH is effectively her dad. He loves her unconditionally (or at least that's what I've taken from your post). The thing that's going to get her through this poison being dripped from her father, and through the difficult teen years, is for her to really and truly believe that and internalise it. Having him act as though he doesn't, even for a week, will be counter-productive.

It doesn't mean that it's not bloody annoying for you, though.

firstchoice Tue 18-Mar-14 12:22:35

Sorry, OP, x post

So your ex is telling her she has '2 mums' but 'cant have 2 dads'?

What a sorry waste of space that man is! angry

It is HIS poison you need to fight - and you can do this best by just keeping on being steady, calm, and reassuring your dd that she has her MUM and her' DAD-PERSON' (badly put but I mean your H who sounds a star, btw) there for her, ALWAYS. She will need a lot of reassurance having lost 'dad' (who is a poisonous fool imo), and gained lots of other siblings as well as a 'new dad'. It will take time but you will get there if you stay steady.

Ohbyethen Tue 18-Mar-14 12:26:33

So when your younger two start chafing because eldest gets to do things they don't are you going to stop parenting them and send them with your ex? Or want your dps ex to be their mummy because of something their siblings said, you just stop being their mother until they are suitably grateful? No because it's nonsensical.

Your dd is a little girl, 8 years old, who is being manipulated by her dad, is unsure, unhappy and desperately seeking reinforcement from her step father. Is your response to this really to say she has to shut up or she forfeits her father figure and her mum who dreamt it up? Poor little thing.
How can she possibly be expected to be able to process the feelings she comes home with? How does it fall to her to be the adult and shrug it off so a grown ups feelings don't get hurt?
Does she mean that little to both of you that you would willingly hurt her as punishment for being an upset 8 year old?
I would guess the answers are no and you love her a great deal. So parent her - be the adult.
Give her a debrief session where she can talk honestly, don't run down her dad (who she implies above as part of her) and rub in his deficits but help her understand why he says those things and how loved and secure she is with you all as a family. You say she can't hear it - it's really not ok to shrug and threaten to punish her because an adult has filled her with poison with the intention of making her so unhappy, it really is your job to help her get rid of it and her conflicting loyalty and fillher back up with security.
Her self esteem will be through the floor if you do this. Children are hurtful, stinging sometimes, but it's usually a reflection of how bad they feel. I imagine she's feeling pretty awful and she needs to know she doesn't need to hedge her bets, she's pushing your DH to try and get approval from her dad and she's sounding very insecure in that relationship, she's trying to balance both of them and she needs to know her step dad loves her unconditionally, it's fine to love her dad and step dad and she has as much security as her siblings. She needs you more, not less.

manechanger Tue 18-Mar-14 12:26:48

i would have responded to the first conversation with 'yes so you've said' which is how I respond to my children who are just as rude to my dh (their blood father). It sounds to me like she is working all this stuff through as well as parroting her dad, she wants to test if your dh really will treat her like 'his' child. I would ignore this behaviour and treat her exactly like she is his blood child.

If she continues to ask questions I would get factual about nature and nurture, explain that there are different types of families, ie adopted, fostered and that it is not true that blood is all. I expect you've already done all this but I would attempt to continue to remain factual and attempt not to react emotionally to any of this. I like the way you dealt with the name issue and I think you are (both) parenting her really well. I expect things will be sticky for a while but I think she will come to realise which of her three parents are the adults.

Gen35 Tue 18-Mar-14 12:30:20

I've family experience of this sort of situation and I think you need family counselling to deal with the rubbish ex his saying with you, your p and dd. her behaviour shows her loyalties are conflicted and she doesn't know how to handle her feelings. You and dh need to do the right thing at all times and she'll realise her dad is a knob but a counsellor could help her gain insight.

Goldmandra Tue 18-Mar-14 12:31:19

She is getting conflicting messages from two important and prominent people in her life and she's confused by it. She needs to test your DH to prove to herself that what her bio dad is saying isn't true. She is also probably feeling that, by having a good relationship with your DH, she is betraying her bio dad.

What she needs is help to understand what is really going on and what her responsibilities are.

You do need to let her know when her behaviour towards your DH is unacceptable but, at the same time, explain to her that he does love her very much and acknowledge that it must be very hard for her to remember this when someone keeps telling her that he doesn't.

Let her know that it is OK to love your DH and enjoy spending time with him and it doesn't mean that she loves her bio dad any less. Let her know that she isn't responsible for her bio dad's feelings about your DH and she doesn't have to pretend not to love someone important to her to make him happy. Remind her that your love grows to fit in every new person, it doesn't have to be spread more thinly just because someone else becomes special to you.

After you've had those conversations you can acknowledge the behaviour ramping up as contact approaches and help her to understand it by saying things like "Oh, I can see that you're worrying about letting yourself love [DH] again because [ExH] feels a bit uncomfortable about us all being happy together. Remember how we said that loving [DH] doesn't mean you love [ExH] less?"

The most important thing your DH can do is prove to her that what your ex is saying isn't true. He needs to be careful not to inadvertently give her evidence that his own children are more important. If she expresses this view he needs to say he's sorry he gave her that impression and remind her in a very gentle way of the things they do together that the others may not. He also needs to spontaneously express his appreciation of her now and then so she knows he isn't just saying he loves her and cares about her when she questions it

Give her a worries box or book that she can write things down and and allow her to choose who to share them with when she's ready to talk about them.

You could also get her to write down all the things that show her that her bio dad loves her and follow it up with a similar list about your DH so she has a more concrete piece of evidence that she can love and be loved by both of them. If that's too focussed on your DH and will make her feel under pressure you could make it about the whole family so it's less specific.

What would happen if the conversation went:

Dd: is he picking me up from school today?
Me: yes
Dd: why? I hate him collecting me, he's not my parent he shouldn't be collecting me from school
Puffy: Would you prefer to go to afterschool club until mummy can get you then?

Flicktheswitch Tue 18-Mar-14 12:35:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Flicktheswitch Tue 18-Mar-14 12:37:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ohbyethen Tue 18-Mar-14 12:37:52

Sorry cross posted, your replies hadn't come up when I started.

Yes, your ex is a dick and when you deal with him you can go and unload to your DH, you have support and can vent. It's not fair your dd doesn't have the same. She is 8 years old.
You need to get some stock phrases in the bank to deal with those on the hop questions. It's hard not to badmouth a massive arsehole but it's badmouthing someone she's fitting in as an intrinsic part of her identity, she's trying to work it all out.
She isn't ready to see what a cock end her dad is yet so won't be able to deal with logical conclusions to lists 'comparing dads'.
It's shit for you to have to deal with but it's worse for her.

Lovebombing is a great technique for bonding but explaining different types of family and that she doesn't have to pick one is the message that needs to be repeated.

RelocatorRelocator Tue 18-Mar-14 12:40:59

Your poor dd, she sounds so confused and insecure. I also think a bit of boundary testing is normal at this age anyway but it really sounds here like she is trying to test whether your dh really loves her unconditionally. I think you need to give her a strong message that he does love her, come what may.

Our youngest went through a stage of saying he didn't love me, only daddy! Tbh I tried to ignore it as much as possible, especially as he was much younger and I think doing it deliberately to wind me up. So not the same as your situation but just goes to show it can happen in any family (apparently he loves me again now so it's all good grin )

Active listening is a great way to get children talking (I think this is what that How to talk book is based on). The idea is to really listen to what they are saying, acknowledge their feelings and ask lots of open questions. It works really well on my 7 and 9yo. eg 7yo tells me he's rubbish at Maths (he's not) - in the past I might have said "don't be silly of course you're not" but now I might say something like "Oh really that surprises me. What makes you think that?" etc - really encourages them to open up. Next time she's rude about dh maybe just give it a try?

Flicktheswitch Tue 18-Mar-14 12:43:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lottieandmia Tue 18-Mar-14 12:47:48

No, no - she's just a child in all this and sounds confused. The person to blame here is your ex, her bio father. This kind of thing happens a lot - my friend had the same situation with her dd. except she was a lot older and ended up in a lot of trouble. It turned out to be because of her dad poisoning her mind.

Punishing your dd is not the answer - if anything it will prove the point her bio father has been trying unsuccessfully to make so far.

There is no easy answer but this is not it.

Goldmandra Tue 18-Mar-14 12:48:37

Dd: why? I hate him collecting me, he's not my parent he shouldn't be collecting me from school

At which point I want to say: perhaps if your other 'blood parent' ever chose to pick you up from school, dh wouldn't need to.

What you need to say is

"That's a shame. He loves you and likes spending time with you. Shall I ask him not to collect you then if you'd rather go to after school club?"

MammaTJ Tue 18-Mar-14 12:54:00

As a step mum, who had the child living with me and (now Ex) H at least half the time and then all the time, I think you would be wrong to do this.

DStD had her mum saying all the negative stuff to her, including 'The baby will only be your half sibling when it's born' (Talked about as 'neither of you is half a person and this is the only sibling you will ever have') to 'She can't tell you what to do, she isn't your mum' (dealt with by telling her I loved her loads and 'my house, my rules, whoever the child in it is')

You would be playing right in to your Exes hands if you did this, by giving her a negative thing to link to your DH to. Much better to stick to the positives and reassurance. Then he hasn't got a leg to stand on.

TryingToBePractical Tue 18-Mar-14 12:59:52

Yes, I think generally what you propose is not a good thing to do but in the conversation you summarise where she specifically says that she does not want himn to collect her, in that scenario i do think it is ok to say fine, you can go to after school club if you prefer.

YuccanLiederHorticulture Tue 18-Mar-14 13:10:05

YABU and punishing her for being confused about this is not the way to go. She is 8.

She is testing this relationship because she doesn't know whether it is reliable. She already has one example of a dad who bogs off when the going gets tough and she wants to know if this is a general rule. So, she is being horrible to find out whether that causes the love to stop. The reaction should not be less love, but more.

I think you need to take a step back and let your DH and DD talk about this and work out a solution without you being a go-between.

If I was your DH I would want to take her out for a special treat day, just me and her, and have some fun together, and at some point explain to her that to me, blood kin is not about genetics, it's about love, and about loving someone so much you would fight for them, bleed for them, do anything to rescue them if they were in trouble, and always always be there for them. We are a blended family, some of the children have genes from just mum or just dad, and some have both, but we are all blood kin, we all belong and we all love one another through thick and thin and there is nothing that your genetic father can stay to stop you being the daughter of my heart and blood kin to me.

But then, I am given to melodramatic prose like this and that may not be your DHs style.

littledrummergirl Tue 18-Mar-14 13:18:37

In reply to " you're not my Dad" I would reply along the lines of "I know and I feel really sad about that, I am so lucky that I have been able to have you in my life, it means I get to to love you and I could have missed out on knowing you. How about you let me give you a big hug?"
Lots of reassurances. I think she is in a muddle of emotions
she loves her df and wants his approval.
She sees df and gets her head filled with rubbish.
She loves dh and wants his approval.
She leaves her df knowing dh cant love her, this makes her feel bad and causes her to hit out.
Dh shows her he loves her. She feels bad for playing up and overcompensates.
She then feels guilty for showing dh how much she loves him and feels disloyal to her df, so she plays up again.
She visits her df and the cycle starts again.
Lots of love and reassurance, she will work it out when she is older.

Driveway Tue 18-Mar-14 13:39:38

What about your DH and the younger siblings changing their surname to match hers?

Your ex is emphasising the only bit of being a "dad" that he can lay claim to i.e. biology.

Could you help your DD to understand that being a "dad" can take more than one route and that your DH is a dad to her because he does the things that dads do on a day to day basis (school pick ups / park etc).

Being a parent is so much more than biology.

rumbleinthrjungle Tue 18-Mar-14 14:44:15

Poor little girl, it's beyond unfair when adults involve innocent kids in their mind games like her father is doing. She sounds very confused, and probably she quite likes the 'powerful' things her father is feeding her and being able to say 'you're not my parent' and enjoys the feeling of that control at the same time having all the conflicting feelings. It's the same way many adopted kids go through a phase of 'I don't have to do that because you're not my mum!'. It works because it usually pushes the buttons of the adult involved and gets an interesting reaction. It's important to take the power out of those words and stop them having any interesting effects for her.

I'd be tempted to be very firm about interrupting/stopping those kind of statements as soon as they start as rude and unkindly meant, with you and dh showing a united front. The fact she's swinging between one day fine with dh and the next coming out with all this stuff says she doesn't really understand it or the effect it has, she's parroting. Her father might put the words in her head, but you can teach her that it doesn't mean it's ok for her to use them, and that stymies her father's ability to manipulate her and your family now before she gets older and it gets more complicated. These things are fine to talk about politely and you and dh are happy to if she wants to talk about it, but it's not ok to be rude or rejecting or hurtful to anyone she lives with.

The other thing I would do is sit down with her and get her to make a list of what a 'daddy' is and what he does, and what dh does for her and with her. And show her, on paper, that dh may not be her biological father but he IS her daddy and she has two dads in her life.

MiscellaneousAssortment Tue 18-Mar-14 19:01:20

Please don't show her how quickly you and your dh can withdraw love. It's am awful lesson for a little girl to learn. That for her, no love is unconditional. I know that's not what you want her to learn from this, but can you see how that's the message you're inadvertently giving out?

LizLemonOut Tue 18-Mar-14 19:10:12

What everyone else has said. This is a little girl who is hurting. You and your dh are adults, sometimes, as adults, we need to take on that hurt (put our big girl knickers on and prove we are strong enough to deal with these huge emotions that the child simply can't deal with). It would be unspeakably cruel to withdraw love in this way, all she would learn is that no-one loves her unconditionally, and that she's not good enough to love. I feel so very sad for your daughter. I hope you find a way to support her through this.

scooterland Tue 18-Mar-14 19:20:52

Don't do that. It'll prove to her that your ex is right and reinforce the negative attitude. She sounds like she is unhappy. Maybe you need to go and see someone so she can discuss her feelings. She is only 8, ok teenage years are not that far, but you must also get to the bottom of why she is testing so much at the moment. There might be sth makes her v unhappy and that she cannot really explain. A professional (psychologist, art therapist etc ) might be able to help. Do it now though. Don't delay.

Hogwash Tue 18-Mar-14 20:02:27

I think it is a cruel thing to do - she's only a child and can't process things like an adult yet. It must be really confusing to her to be getting all these conflicting messages.

Your ex, however, sounds like a bellend and if you need to 'punish' anyone, I think you should be punishing him. At least tell him that he will be majorly screwing your daughter up.

deakymom Tue 18-Mar-14 21:41:48

perhaps do it once explain to her that she has upset and hurt dp and he doesn't want to pick her up from school that day she is in a stage where she is not understanding other people's feelings she needs to be aware of this and how unacceptable this is

if she makes bold statements about blood relatives dismiss it my daughter did this i was just ew yuck blood really the wrong time to talk about that far too early

for attempting to turn his own children against him that requires immediate punishment

if she says she hates him and doesn't want him collecting her from school just say okay and send her to the after school club

i understand she is testing you but this is too much

PuffyPigeon Tue 18-Mar-14 21:53:09

He doesn't give a shiny shit unfortunately hogwash.

I meant in my op that I would have the conversation suggested by some posters - I.e. 'i don't want him to collect me' elicits 'ok, I'll arrange a space for you at after school club.' Not long-term withdrawal of love or affection.

I used a (quite crap sounding - but it worked!) analogy on her today. I told her that, lets call her Matilda, happens to be her class mate. I asked if that therefore makes her her friend? No, replied dd, she isn't kind to me and says mean things so she isn't my friend. So you have to earn the title of being a friend, I said. She agreed. I suggested that she might like to consider that while exH happens to be her father, that it is the way someone treats you that determines what title they deserve. I asked if she thought dh was considerate, kind, responsible etc and she gave examples of how he was those things. So he's earned the title of daddy, right? She ended with smile

Goldmandra Tue 18-Mar-14 22:19:51

That sounds really positive Puffy but I think there are some other things that still need saying, e.g. that you understand how hard it must be if her bio dad makes her feel guilty for loving your DH and that she isn't responsible for his feelings, he is.

I'd also let her know that, if calling your DH Daddy, gets her in strife at ExH's house, she is allowed to choose to call him something else, even if he's still a daddy in her head. It must be her choice.

missymarmite Tue 18-Mar-14 22:26:49

I think it's helpful to make it clear that DD should respect your DH because he is an adult in the household. It doesn't matter what 'title' he has; daddy, dh name, uncle, grandfather whatever. She is a child, he is a grown up. What he says goes. At least that is what we do, and as of yet neither myself nor my DP has had the 'you're not my mum/dad' card thrown at us from our respective kids. Neither of us would tolerate it from our own kids, to do that to our partner is a no no.

Goldmandra Tue 18-Mar-14 22:33:54

She is a child, he is a grown up. What he says goes.

She is also a child who has another grown up deliberately messing with her head and she's trying to work out who really loves her. The root of the problem isn't lack of respect, it's insecurity and confusion. Yes, she needs to know it isn't OK to be rude to him but she also needs them to acknowledge the horrible underlying reasons for her behaviour, the solution for which isn't someone demanding respect.

PuffyPigeon Tue 18-Mar-14 22:52:28

Gold she's already learned to change what she calls him because it gets her shouted at sad I also said about love being expansive and that you can include new people without replacing others and that seemed to reassure her. It's just frustrating that her bio father does nothing to warrant her love or loyalty and dh does everything yet exH can't even be man enough to let dd be happy, he has to try and spoil it. I don't get why bio parents can't just be happy if kids like step parents. It's by far preferable to having a rubbish disinterested one, surely?

Goldmandra Tue 18-Mar-14 22:58:12

I guess that's the reason he's your Ex.

It might help to think of it as a backhanded compliment. She's testing your DH, for sure, to see if your Ex is right but she is only able to do it because she feels relatively secure in their relationship in the first place. My guess is that she wouldn't feel confident enough in her relationship with her bio dad to test the boundaries in a similar manner.

Your DH is clearly doing a really good job and she will realise that of her own accord at some point. She'll also cotton on to what her bio dad has done too and it will colour her view of him as she gets older. More fool him.

PuffyPigeon Tue 18-Mar-14 23:04:54

You're right, she is terrified of upsetting her bio dad and excuses all shit behaviour on his part. He promises the world, never delivers and she comes up with an acceptable reason why yet if we ever broke even a tiny promise she'd have no problem letting us know we're inthe wrong!

Goldmandra Tue 18-Mar-14 23:18:45

She feels safer with you. She knows deep down that she's loved in your home.

She's not sure how much her bio dad loves her and doesn't want to take any risks that might cause him to reject her.

The poor child is probably worried that she'll risk losing her bio dad if she lets herself love your DH too much. What an awful position to be in sad

ukatlast Tue 18-Mar-14 23:25:46

YABU what Littlebluedog12 said...you need to reassure her to prove your exH wrong.

ukatlast Tue 18-Mar-14 23:33:53

PuffyPigeon 'Changing her surname is impossible without exhs consent which will never happen'

Are you sure his consent is needed?

missymayhemsmum Tue 18-Mar-14 23:36:00

It sounds as though your dd thinks she has to choose between her bio dad and her stepdad. Can you and your dh keep reinforcing that she has 3 parents and that this is a good thing? And that she doesn't have to choose between them, she has both of them in her life and they both love her? But yes, if she doesn't want to have her stepdad look after her after school, her other practical option is after school club, and she can choose that. So long as you both keep reiterating that you love her and it's ok for her to love both her dad and her stepdad she'll come through it. And maybe the answer to 'he's not my dad so I don't have to do as I'm told' is 'he's chosen to look after you and support you since you were a baby so you will treat him with respect'? (or even 'well I am definitely your mother so you do have to do as he says because I say so too?)
Maybe you even have to say 'Daddy's wrong to say those things about dh, but sometimes people say bad things when they're feeling jealous/angry. It doesn't make the bad things true'.
Poor little love, it sounds like he's really messing with her head. (and maybe a bit that she's pushing the boundaries like 8 year olds do and has worked out where to put the boot in for maximum effect?)

MiscellaneousAssortment Wed 19-Mar-14 01:20:14

What an unpleasant man this ex is. Bleugh (vomit noise!).

You've made a great start with your chat with her.

Maybe think about it as you and your dh balancing every tiny thing her bio father is trying to teach her, with a positive lesson. It's not fair and you shouldn't have to parent like that, but it's like hes trying to programme her with his own bad messages, and she's coming back home and testing the truths he's programmed her with. so then you have to disprove his 'truths' and reinforce healthy and happy family functions and behaviours... Poor kid, and poor you.

It is a fight for her future well being... What a wanker

HillyHolbrook Wed 19-Mar-14 01:50:59

Sounds like my dadhmm

V upsetting for my family and v confusing for little me.

What worked for us was DStepdad telling me 'Well that's a shame because I love you' whenever I told him I hated him or didn't love him, and when I would tell him he was nothing to me he would say 'But you're everything to me' and would always say 'These are my girls' when introducing DSis and I to anyone and invited me to play with them and be involved.

It took a long time and a lot of work. DM took dad to court for intentionally damaging me emotionally. The courts decided my dad was unfit to have contact and gave DM full custody. I'm not saying to do the same as it was difficult and upsetting, but what he is doing to your poor DD is emotionally abusing her and is intentionally making her home life upsetting and difficult.

It really helped and as I got older I saw through my dad anyway. I'm now NC with him by choice, and DSD is the one my kids will call grandad and who is walking me down the aislegrin

What worked for us was DStepdad telling me 'Well that's a shame because I love you' whenever I told him I hated him or didn't love him, and when I would tell him he was nothing to me he would say 'But you're everything to me'. I'm obviously allergic to something or have something in my eye. <sniff>

OP see the above for what a real Dad does. Poor DD is 8, confused, sad, loyal and torn. Boring consistency is what will work. Eventually. Her Dad is a twunt of the first order.

Morloth Wed 19-Mar-14 05:55:03

Poor baby girl.

Really don't let her BioDad 'win' this by allowing a wedge between her and your DH.

She doesn't understand what she is saying, she knows she can trust your DH no matter what, she doesn't have to 'earn' his love.

Her BioDad, well his love is conditional isn't it? Don't make her think your DH's love is as well.

Booboostoo Wed 19-Mar-14 06:30:51

Can you sit down with her and talk about the different kinds of parents one can have? Talk to her maybe about adoption, about how some people who cannot have biologically related children still love their children very much. And about different types of families where children have two mummies. And families where grandparents take on the role of parents.

Get her to tell you what makes for a good dad and see if she can tell you why you can't have more than one dad, since there is room to love a lot of people in your life.

Fusedog Wed 19-Mar-14 07:15:41

Personally op should be taking this up with you ex

I would talk to him once and inform him if this continues you will be getting the relevant people involved and contact may have to be moved to being supervised his choice

But as somone Whois married to a man is not my child's father but raised him I share you pain my ex tried all these tricks whilest being shit himself however my ds saw though it now 14 he knows who he can rely on and true to form ex let him down in a big way while ex remaind constant and sted fast.

bragmatic Wed 19-Mar-14 07:25:45

Sorry if I've missed it by skimming, but (as above) I think you should also take it up with your ex. I mean, he's obviously an idiot, but me might pull his head in if you explain that he is hurting and affecting his child, not your current partner.

Lazyjaney Wed 19-Mar-14 07:33:15

She needs to see that actions have consequences.

NoodleOodle Wed 19-Mar-14 07:35:17

Agree with the sentiments of - rather than take away what he does do with/for her, remind her of these things and how much they mean to her.

RedFocus Wed 19-Mar-14 07:38:10

My youngest is the same with my husband. It's very hurtful but he just sucks it up. My older 2 appreciate what he does for them. Like taking to guides or taking to the GAME store to get a game they can play together. My youngest has moments were is happy with my dh but as soon as daddy is due in town she hates is all. Would rather be with her Disney dad. It must be so conflicting for young children in this position but I understand that. My dh wouldn't dream of withdrawing from any of them. It's taken years to get here and there is no way he could because he loves them.
Ignore the bad behaviour and praise the good. Make sure there is 1:1 with your dd for both of you and all together. I think your ex needs to be told he is emotionally abusing his daughter by saying what he is saying. The one he is hurting is his own daughter as your dh surely knows she doesn't mean it when she says horrible things. Your ex is the problem here not your dd.

notthegirlnextdoor Wed 19-Mar-14 08:50:17

Hmmmmm. And what exactly would he know about family or being a father, Mr Once A Month contact? I despise emotionally manipulative parents and he is one of them.

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