A bit of perspective please - long sorry!(11 Posts)
I'm after a bit of perspective as I'm at a loss of what to do. I'm not even sure if this is the right place to post but it's part a step issue so I'll go with here.
I am a step parent to my DP's DD but this isn't about anything there. It's actually to do with my own DD.
I have 3 DC. Two with an ex and one with DP. DP has been in the older DC lives for 10 years. Older DC are 15 and 11.
Their father is pretty much crap. He's very inconsistent with seeing them and when he agrees to lets them down as he has other things planned. For example: they last saw him at Christmas. He phones occasionally but only to cause problems or to upset them.
Another example: He phoned to let the kids know he married his now wife a few weeks back but didn't invite the kids because he thought they wouldn't be interested and because they call ex's daughter their half sister. (Before anyone says anything there - I know it's wrong and I do correct them but it makes no difference in their minds because they don't have a regular relationship with her.)
DP, his wife and their daughter are all off to Disneyland Paris. DD (15) wasn't invited because they thought she'd be too old to go. DS (11) was, but only if DP and I paid half because ex says he's half my responsibility.
Now here's my problem. DD says she wants nothing more to do with dad because he treats her like something under her shoe. She's gone so depressed and hardly eating because of how he treats her. She said she wished that she was youngest DS because at least he has a father who cares. She's wants to take DP's surname.
She's started calling dad by his name.
I'm really stuck at what to do. Do I go along with her wishes? I mean ex would drive it through the courts I'm guessing but he's really affecting her.
I'm well aware this may be the wrong place but I'm after advice from step parents. Have any of you gone through anything similar with a child wanting to ignore their biological parent in favour of the step parent? I have no idea how to deal with this.
DP has said he'd be happy to adopt DD as his own as he classes her as his own anyway.
I don't think going through the courts would do much to be honest. At 15, they would listen to her wishes. How do you get on with your ex? Could you agree with her that you will sit down her and ex and discuss everything, so she can at least air her upset over everything, and see if it can be resolved, and then, if that doesn't work, she is free to make her own choices? At 18 I imagine she would be able to change her name anyway, if she wanted.
I would happily sit with ex but he's not capable of that. He's like a spoilt petulant child. It's always his way or no way. He acts like he has a claim on the children despite not bothering.
It's to the point that if he rings to speak to the kids (when he decides) if DP answers he will just hang up and then text myself to say get the kids to answer the phone.
I would try not to let her burn any bridges but would let her do whatever she is comfortable with
If her sd has been around since she was five she has had plenty of time to decide how she feels about things and I think trying to change her mind would do more harm than good. I think she needs to feel listened to
I probably wouldn't bother with adoption but I think she is allowed to change her name at sixteen anyway so it should be her decision what to call herself
Thanks May, that's what I've been thinking. I'm quite happy to support her if it's what she really wants but as you mentioned - I don't want her to burn her bridges completely. If she really wants to go along with a name change then that's fine but I know dad would get his back right up also.
When speaking to her dad sometimes she will mention SD. He's quick on the wagon to correct her that he's not and he's just X. Despite DP financially supporting his daughter and paying for her school trips, dance lessons and the rest.
I really don't think at this age your DD is old enough to understand the impact of not having her biological dad involved in her life could have - even if he is a prat.
If he sees them very little and has some phone contact I would try to encourage that she maintains the phone contact at least. Even email or skype is better than not communicating at all.
I know it is really tough but as much as she may want step dad to be her real dad he just isn't and nothing is going to change that. That does not mean that I am tied to what people call people - to me it is just a name. But he does sound like he gives her the comfort love and support she needs. There is no reason though that she can not have both.
She could be hurt even more long term when she reflects back on how good her real Dads relationship is with half sister (and whilst I am certainly no authority on this) I would have thought this would then lead to further feelings of self doubt and insecurity.
I do not know a lot about therapy or counselling but a lot of people find it very useful - maybe it is something to look into.
Do you think he just has no idea how to relate and find common ground with the children because he has been so inconsistent in his contact.
Does DD have own hone - maybe her dad should be conacting her on this rather than the home phone?
When speaking to her dad sometimes she will mention SD. He's quick on the wagon to correct her that he's not and he's just X.
I know this contradicts some of what my OP says but sometimes I like "Step" should be replaced with "like a" - that way nobody can argue with it!
Thanks for replying sanity. She does have a phone and he also has the number but he phones the house to speak to ds1 too. Plus half the time she wont answer to him.
The door has always been open for them to see dad. When his dd was born I offered to take the children to his to meet their sibling - only to be told not to right now as they wanted time as a family. TBH he's a can't be arsed type. He doesn't even know the schools they are in or anything. He's never really paid an interest in them but likes to stake his claim IYKWIM.
At 15 I'd be encouraging her to keep in tiuch, but maybe by a less instant method, email maybe? I use Facebook quite often to chat to dsd who is at uni.
Otherwise, you can't force her to see him, the name, again, soon she'll be old enough to make that decision herself, and its probably better if she feels supported. Big compliment for your partner though.
Thanks Ready, I will mention the email. That way she doesn't have to see him if she doesn't want to or speak but can still keep in touch indirectly. The question remains though weather he'll agree to that or even respond back if she does email.
I think my best course of action would be to ask her to wait a while until she is old enough to do it herself but fully support her if she decides to. The added bonus doing it that way would also be that ex wouldn't be able to drag it out through the court if that is what she decides.
Is it possible to arrange some form of counselling for your DD? The reason I ask is that for something as significant as changing a surname, the reasons for wanting to do this need to be really clear in your DD's mind. She's not far from being able to legally do it herself anyway, and if the issues surrounding this can be dealt with now, then her thoughts on the whole matter might well be clearer when it gets to the point of neither you nor her DF being able to do anything about it. I think you really need to get to the bottom of why she wants to do this, and what she hopes to gain from it i.e. is it a reaction to her DF's treatment of her and her hoping that this will suddenly jolt him into being more kind and considerate towards her and her feelings? Is she non plussed about her DF but feels very strongly that her SD is such a pivotal person in her life that paying this kind of 'tribute' to him is worth the fall out it will cause with her DF? Is she convinced her relationship is beyond repair and feels this will make no difference?
Basically, I think she needs some help working through her feelings and views on this, to make sure she has more understanding of her own reactions to her DF's treatment etc. I must say I can kind of understand her 15 yr old mind's view on this i.e. very reactionary, almost wanting to either 'goad' her dad, or at least make him sit up an realise how his behaviour is affecting her. The problem is, from your description of him, I doubt this action would give the the reaction she really wants i.e. a dad who does care, and shows her this too.
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