Advice on DH spending time with his DD with her Mother at DD Request

(44 Posts)
PoisonedApple Sun 18-Nov-12 22:06:08

Hello All,

I would be really grateful for some advice on this. I'll try and keep it short but I have been with DH for 5 years and met him when SD was 8 months old so I have been in her life pretty much forever.

We have what I think is a pretty good 'blended family' situation. SD is with us 2 nights a week, including one full weekend day. DH's partner won't come into our house (they did it up together and she really loved it) but is happy for me to come in and have tea at hers and I helped organise SD's birthday party this year with her. We also often have her to help out her Mum if she is working or away etc. We also do the odd thing altogether, like going to the circus etc. DH, Me, DD, SD and SD's Mum and even once with SD's Mum's Mum so I think things are pretty good.

SD is not an easy kid, she is 6 but still has massive tantrums and can be really disruptive and she is used to getting her own way so when she is here she takes over a bit and so honestly, because I work 4 days a week, I want the odd holiday just on our own so I can spend some proper time with my own DD. I know that sounds mean but there it is. DH and I promptly had a massive row and he kept saying that this was her family and we should have her as much as we can no matter what and he said I should love SD and want to be with her as much as my own daughter. I said that she has a Mum and I doesn't need a replacement for her and that I love her and I think we are doing pretty well but he wants more.

Recently SD has been upset at nights and this evening she finally told DH that she wants him to spend time with her and her Mummy doing things with just them. I completely freaked out - surely this is totally the wrong thing to do? He thinks it will make her happier - I think it is going to send completely the wrong signals and make things worse in the long run. It's not as if she remembers them being together so this would be an entirely new thing and I fundementally think it is totally the wrong thing to do. I could entirely understand him maybe picking her up from school an extra day a week and doing something special with her but to do something with her and her Mum is just wrong isn't it? Am I being unreasonable? Perhaps I should have posted it there instead!

Can any of you help?? Also is there a good book on how to do step parenting? It is VERY HARD.

frantic51 Fri 23-Nov-12 12:18:30

Purple might just be that your DC are better emotionally balanced than the little girl in question, might be to do with their age or that children, in my limited experience, don't tend to see a baby as another, "person like them" until they become mobile and talkative! LOL I think 6 is a very difficult age and then on up to about 8-10 depending on the emotional maturity of the individual child. Old enough to begin to see and feel other kids being treated, "differently" not quite old enough to be reasoned with using, "adult" logic. All families have their own dynamic depending upon the individuals concerned and that is an ever shifting dynamic as things change over years. I think, as a general rule, that most blended families face more complex challenges than most nuclear families simply by virtue of the fact that there are more adults involved. It's much easier to come to an agreement between two people than between three or four! I just don't think, in this instance that a child of this age, exhibiting, "challenging" behaviour, should be more or less ignored and in being so, sent the message that her wants/needs are not as important as other people's. I question the point of view that she is just, angling to get her own way or has some sort of, agenda, as though she were a scheming adult with a long term plan. confused

purpleroses Fri 23-Nov-12 11:56:29

Frantic - yes, we have my two DCs and DP's 4 DCs, but none together. My ex has new baby with DW though. Interesting point as to whether there's more potential for a DC to feel left out when they don't have a full sibling who shares their routines and holidays. Maybe you're right that it's easier when there's 2+ together.

Not sure a baby needs to be bf though in order to need to spend all its holidays with both parents (if they live together). My ex's new baby isn't bf, but I would obviously expect them to take him with them if they go away without my DCs, as what else would they do with him? My DCs spend much of their time with me, so natural enough that they don't go on all the holidays their dad might take with his DW and baby. They get holidays with me instead.

frantic51 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:35:13

Purple, if that was addressed to me, I don't have a, "notion that no-one can take holidays without all their children". I have said that what works for one family might not work for another. From what you've written, please forgive me if I'm wrong, it seems that you are in a blended family with, "your children" and, "his children"? Do you have any children together?

I notice your ex and his DW have a "new baby" and they have been away, I don't know how old your other DCs are but, certainly there is more than one of them and so no-one is being, "left out" on their own. Also, is the baby bf? I went on a long weekend to Rome with my ex when we were still married, not long after my youngest was born and we took the baby with us. The older two were not very happy about it but I explained that their little sister was being bf and that she couldn't do without me for three days as she would have nothing to eat, that they had had mummy's milk when they were babies and so it was only fair that she had the same and that she was far too little to be getting any benefit from the trip. They had a long weekend with grandma who organised outings and treats and generally spoiled them rotten. I don't think it would have been so easily glossed over if it had happened with my middle child and the eldest had been left alone though! grin I think there's a real difference between being, "left out alone" and being, "left out together" when kids are really little and the root of "jealousy" at this kind of age is some kind of insecurity. <shrug>

purpleroses Fri 23-Nov-12 10:09:28

I really don't understand this notion that noone can take holidays without all their children. In the past year, I've had a weekend away with just me and DP, taken all the kids on holiday together (mine and DP's), had a weekend visiting his sister abroad with two of his DCs (and not mine), a long weekend visiting my family with DP, my DCs (and not his). My DCs have had a week with their dad, and he's also been away with his DW and new baby for a long weekend without them. And the DSC have had two weeks away with their mum and stepdad.

That's just the reality of living in complex blended families. To some extent it works well as you can choose the things you do when to suit who is going (eg we avoided marching my youngest round museums which she'd have hated, but made our summer holiday very child-focussed doing what they liked). Our kids are fine about it - we get the odd moan, but usually just answer "well you had that week away with dad when I was working...", etc - which they accept. Or we point out that the trip they're missing is not one they'd particularly enjoy anyway. They are aware that their parents have lives that go on at the times they're not with them.

frantic51 Fri 23-Nov-12 10:00:37

Sorry, SD not DS!

frantic51 Fri 23-Nov-12 09:58:16

Disney I think it depends upon how old the children concerned are and how they are adjusting. My children are all grown now and make up their own minds to a great extent about what they want and don't want to do. My Ex had arranged a long weekend break to Barcelona with all three of them but the eldest got an invitation to do something else with friends which she preferred to do, so she didn't go.

I think it's very difficult when children are very small, as in this case, and when the, "treat" is involving the non-resident parent. From the information we have, and we can only ever assess on the information we have, it would seem that the DS in question is certainly having some problems atm with the fact that her parents don't spend time on their own with her while her half sister's parents live with her 24/7. Her behaviour and the, seemingly to many adults, strange request hmm seems to point to her having some real security issues and I, personally, have problems with the attitude that it's ok for an adult, in this case the OP, to put their wants ahead of the emotional needs of a small child. I also have a huge problem with step parents interfering with what a partner wants to do for their biological child. I'm not an expert but it seems that something has to be done to help this little girl, whether that involves play therapy and some kind of professional intervention or not, I don't know. But I don't like the attitude that seems to be coming across from the OP that her DH being in any way involved with anything that she isn't happy with is a, "no, no" hmm And that she is having her holiday and, "sticking to her guns" over what she wants no matter what strikes me as very odd and not the attitude of someone who genuinely cares.

I have, unfortunately witnessed first hand the anguish of children, left out, while parents get on with their new lives and families and put demands of their new partner ahead of the needs of their own children. Can't go into details as it didn't concern my own children but the children of a relative so... but it was all very sad. sad

All I can say is, my first reading of the OP I got hold of the wrong end of the stick and thought that the DS wanted a holiday with both parents. Since realising my mistake I have re-read and re-read the OP and subsequent posts from her and, with each reading, my sympathy for the OP diminishes. <shrug>

NotaDisneyMum Fri 23-Nov-12 07:19:31

I'm really struggling with the opinions that suggest that a family should be put on hold when one child is with their other parent - are there families for whom this works successfully?

My family is complicated - we have days with no children, days when we have one living with us, sometimes two and other days, all three!
We plan our lives around this - but we do not avoid treats, days out, activities or even holidays in order to ensure that all three children are always included. DP and I go away on our own, we have taken each of the DCs on holiday individually, two of them have been on holiday together with us, and we regularly plan things when one or more are not here.

It has just never occurred to me that we should only consider ourselves a family when all three DCs are with us - I'm genuinely interested to hear the benefits?

Theydeserve Thu 22-Nov-12 23:17:26

Your DP has family his 2 DCs and you.

You asked him to choose one DC over the other -YABU.

The DC who gets to spend less time with him than the other one, is now expected to spend even less time with the Dad than the other DC. In child terms that would not seem fair.

Your family for better or worse is you, DP and 2 kids.

To take one holiday and not the other is cruel.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 21-Nov-12 12:35:13

OP - sorry for the hijack wink

With regard to play therapy, Unless your DH is prepared to agree, then you can't do anything - but given your DSD's behavioural problems, I'm sure the school or GP would be able to help if he does change his mind.

frantic51 Wed 21-Nov-12 12:22:55

Fair question, Disney. I suppose because these are the, "facts" which have led to her OP in the first place, without which there wouldn't be a discussion. I agree that we can't really take anything at face value on any discussion forum. <shrug>

NotaDisneyMum Wed 21-Nov-12 11:52:04

frantic What a peculiar argument to make!

Why are you selecting which bits of the OP to believe and which to question?

If we only have the OPs word for the fact that her DH won't consider counselling, then we only have her word for the fact that her DSD has asked for time with both her parents, don't we? What leads you to accept some of the OPs post without question, but treat other aspects of it with scepticism?

frantic51 Wed 21-Nov-12 11:44:52

How do we know that the OP's DH won't consider it? Because she has said he wouldn't? hmm We don't know anything really except that the little girl has asked for some time with her parents together and her dad has said, "ok" and the dad's wife has said, "no way". We don't even know if the girl's mother is ok with it!!!. We can glean from the OP that she is not particularly fond of this little girl, that she finds her disruptive and a nuisance and is quite happy to go on a family holiday without her! Again, when you marry someone who already has children you have to take that on board. You can go away for time alone with your OH but very difficult for a father to apparently favour one child over another by taking one on holiday and leaving the other behind! hmm

I disagree that anyone is, "best placed" to assess what criteria are behind another person's decisions about anything. Only the person making the decision can say for certain. Another person can question them and make them think and reflect but that's about it really! To presume otherwise is the road to folly.

I still maintain that the OP should trust her DH to do what he thinks is best and, if it is a mistake, it is his mistake and no-one else's. If there is such a lack of trust between them that she thinks it might lure him back to his ex then she has a problem far beyond the immediate one of her SD's behaviour/state of mind/demands or whatever. If she just, "doesn't like the idea" well tough, it's not her call. Sorry if I sound harsh, I don't mean to be I just hate it when people seem to expect small children to behave like adults! sad

NotaDisneyMum Wed 21-Nov-12 11:20:00

I agree - but the OP, just like all other Step-mums, is best placed to assess whether her DP is making his decisions based on what he thinks is best for his DD, or whether he is motivated by guilt, fear of losing her, or trying to keep the peace.

I believe all DCs who have experienced family breakup will benefit from play therapy and/or counselling. The fact that the OP states that her DP would refuse to even consider it immediately rings alarm bells - how does he know if its the best thing for his DD unless he considers it? That's not the behaviour of a parent who is putting his DD's needs first, and neither is complying to her every whim.

frantic51 Wed 21-Nov-12 11:07:47

I don't think anyone on here can presume to know why the OP's DH thinks it's a good idea! shock He hasn't posted on here, we are getting this information second hand. If the SD is disruptive and does have regular tantrums it's always a possibility that it could be stemming from a deep seated sense of insecurity which some time alone with both her parents might go some way to addressing? I don't know but neither do you or anyone else! Only the SD's two parents can make that decision and it is a decision they should make without input from anyone else. When you marry someone with children by another partner you have to be prepared for the co-parenting to carry on if possible for the sake of the child even though the relationship between the two parents has broken down. We are talking about a 6 year old little girl ffs! Some people on here are reacting as though she is a conniving, underhand adult with an agenda! shock The insecurities/jealousies/neediness of a disinterested adult should never be allowed to get in the way of two adults deciding what is best for their child.

NotaDisneyMum Wed 21-Nov-12 10:23:59

frantic I think it depends what the motive is.

In this case, the OPs DP thinks it is a good idea because it is what his DD wants. Neither parent proposed this or identified it as a good way of doing things - the DC has asked for it to happen, because she wants to spend time with them together - not because she wants them to improve their co-parenting relationship smile

This isn't about good parenting, it's about fulfilling a DCs desires.

If two parents decide it works for them, and engages the DC in the process, then that is good parenting. Going along with what a DC wants to keep them happy is a recipe for parenting disaster.

frantic51 Wed 21-Nov-12 09:43:43

Oh I'm always willing to agree to disagree smile However, I'll just say this, most of us I reckon wouldn't bat an eyelid at going for lunch with a business colleague or a mere acquaintance to discuss something or other if it made logistical sense so why should it be such a big deal to meet for lunch say, once a month, with your child and his/her other parent to talk to and about the child in relaxed surroundings. What sort of message does it give to the child if the two most important people in his/her life can't spend that amount of time together without it being a big deal?

The OP has said that her DH thinks it is a good idea and would help his DD. She is his child after all, surely his opinion matters more than the OP's, or anyone else on this thread, in this case?

calypso2008 Wed 21-Nov-12 08:43:27

Hi OP

Sounds to me like you are doing a brilliant job. You also sound thoughtful and very caring towards your DSD.

I totally take your point that DSD has never known the scenario of her two parents being together - why suddenly start now? Surely a bizarre message to send. You often interact as a blended family together, and, as I say, you sound really happy to do so and laid back about this in a very positive way (I don't know if I could be so 'generous')

I also totally get that you want to go on a holiday with your DH and your DD - I really don't see why not? It seems to me that because you have been so accomodating it is now working against you and causing problems. I think you need to put your foot down.

You sound like a lovely SM and are juggling everything much better than most people I know (or I) could do.

Good luck smile

NotaDisneyMum Wed 21-Nov-12 08:25:32

We will have to agree to disagree on what is best for the children, or perhaps all children are different and there is no one right or wrong way? wink

What you suggest would have been detrimental to my DD and from what the OP has said, it's quite possible that it would be for her DSD, too.

frantic51 Wed 21-Nov-12 08:04:28

Well we sometimes go for a pub lunch together with one or other of the DCs or for a walk or something simply because it is often easier to talk in neutral surroundings rather than at one or another's house. Added to which we live some 3 hours away from one another and sometimes it's just easier, time wise, to meet somewhere half way and it's better to be, "doing something pleasant together" as we chat, as it tends to ease tension and make it less stressful for the children. As I say, the children always come first.

NotaDisneyMum Tue 20-Nov-12 22:59:24

frantic. There is a difference between a DC sitting down with both parents to discuss school choices, express views about changes to contact arrangements and attending parents evenings compared to spending a day as a family at the zoo or aquarium; in other words, sharing leisure time.

My reading of the OP is that her DsD has requested the latter - just like my DD did; she wanted me and her Dad to take her for a pub lunch or to the park. That didn't feel right to me and I was advised not to do it. When necessary, DD does spend time talking to both of us together - but there is a specific purpose, not something we do because she wants us to.

purpleroses Tue 20-Nov-12 21:20:25

When I was explaining to mine at at around that age why I wasn't going to stay the night with them when they went to their dad, or produce more babies with him(!) I just said that we'd split up, and that we weren't a couple any more. This would have been a bit easier if we'd been married and then divorced I think, as the language is clearer for children to understand. But we weren't ever married so I just had to say we had been living together when they were born, and then we had been arguing a lot, so we had decided everyone would be happier if we lived separately. And when people split up, they don't sleep in the same bed, or have more children together, or go on holiday together any more. I really had to spell that out to them. I remember my DS nodding during one such conversation and looking a little sad. I think despite us having been split up for ages, he hadn't really processed what that meant. He knew we had separate houses, but he hadn't figured out that we were otherwise any different from other friends' parents who lived together.

I'm not sure about family support services that could help you (there may well be - I've just never looked into it) but there are certainly books you can get that are aimed at children to help them understand the basics of adult relationships and separation.

frantic51 Tue 20-Nov-12 20:07:58

I have re-read your OP and have to say that I completely got hold of the wrong end of the stick! I was under the impression that your SD (I notice you don't refer to her as DSD hmm ) wanted a holiday with both of her parents! But she just wants time with her parents so no overnight stays anywhere, no time after she's gone to bed with your DH and his EX P alone. And you have a problem with that? shock As she gets older it can only be a good thing for her if she gets to spend time, occasionally, talking to both her parents together without anyone else around. Otherwise you get into the scenario of parents talking together about what she's said to one and what she's said to another and children, if they're intelligent and wanting to please, are quite capable of saying one thing to one parent and one thing to another, particularly if they are aware that the parents have conflicting opinions on a subject. It can lead to all sorts of unnecessary conflicts.

I really don't enjoy spending time with my ex but sometimes I just have to for the sake of my children. Fortunately, neither of us has a, "significant other" to get in the way of our parenting of our children. But if I ever had one and one of our children felt they needed some time with just his or her parents to discuss something they felt was important, he would be told that he would just have to put up with it and, for all his faults, I'm fairly sure that my Ex H would be the same. Our children come first, always.

As she gets older, are you going to insist on going to all her parents' evenings with them? Later on what about GCSE choice evenings, further education talks? What about sports fixtures, concerts, plays or whatever she may be in? If you can't go for whatever reason she is going to have to do without her daddy unless her mummy says she won't go? What if she were ever ill (heaven forbid) would her daddy not be allowed to be at her bedside with her mummy if you weren't there? What about if, when she gets married, she wants her mother and father on the top table together and you on another table?

I think you need to get a grip, OP. As has already been said, an ex is always an ex for a reason and you need to be less clingy and trust your DH.

PoisonedApple Tue 20-Nov-12 19:36:44

Don't think I explained myself well, sorry! Yes DD is DH and mine.

Thanks everyone, lots of helpful stuff here. Have to say I'm sticking to my guns with the holiday thing, we don't make a big deal out of it in front of her and she goes on holidays with her Mum. I would take DD off on my own but then DH sulks!

I have suggested to DH that he spend one night a week with her after school doing something that is just theirs but that it is a regular, reliable thing for her, like going to the library every week for a new book (assuming there are any libraries left). As for the doing things with 'Mummy and Daddy' I think I am going to construct a well worded argument for why this is a bad idea and I think we should explain as purpleroses said that her Mummy and Daddy aren't together any more so this is why - does anyone have any suggestions as to a suitable explanation that a 6 year old could process? There is no way DH would ever consider going to a family support service for counselling or play therapy but I think it would be great for her - does anyone know where to start asking for that sort of help? Assuming they haven't all been cut...

Thanks everyone

Lasvegas Tue 20-Nov-12 13:45:22

Although my DH divorced his ex wife 4 years before I met him, I would still feel uncomfortable with him spending 'quality' time with his ex and children from a previous relationship. Likewise I wouldn't be keen for him to spend time with a past girlfriend.

Your DH is bonkers to expect you to love a step child the same as your own child. There is no bond the same as having carried a child for 9 months and given birth to it.

frantic51 Tue 20-Nov-12 02:20:16

Actually the 2 holiday scenario as suggested very possibly doesn't look fair from DSD's point of view. Your DD gets two holidays with both her parents (always presuming your DD is your DH's also) and DSD gets one holiday with one of her parents and one holiday with her other parent.

Not saying it's right that she should get what she's asking for, just saying it's a perfectly reasonable request from her point of view. Agree with the other poster who says she is at the age when she craves to be with the two most important people in her life, her parents, without anyone else there to share the, "limelight".

How you deal with it, I'm not wise enough to advise. sad

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