A step parent's perspective on a new sibling

(61 Posts)
WeebleOfWombledon Wed 30-Apr-14 10:54:53

I'm not sure if this is the right section to post in but it would be interesting to hear other step parent perspectives on this.

I'm a step mum to 2 DC, have DC with my DH and have a DD from a previous relationship. DD's dad and wife welcomed their first child a month ago. The baby is ex's DW's first.

When baby was born I received a text from ex asking me to let DD know. He later phoned her to tell her personally. Our arrangement with regards to DD has always been EOW Fri - Mon. We've always been quite flexible with access if things crop up and worked round it.

When baby was born ex asked if DD wouldn't mind missing the weekend as his wife was BF and getting to grips with being a parent. Fair enough, I know how hard it is with sleep deprivation and getting to latch and so on. The thing is, this "excuse" (sorry if it sounds harsh and I don't exactly mean it as if it's not a reason) is still riding. DD still hasn't seen her dad or her new sibling. We spent some time going out to buy the baby a silver money box for DD to give. She loves being a big sister so really wanted to get something for her new sibling. Her dad keeps saying that his wife is really struggling to come to grips so really just wants time with baby and would find it difficult to be dealing with two when it's so hard with one.

Now as I said, I understand how hard being a new mum is. But surely ex could take DD out for the day on the weekend and bring her home if he doesn't want her overnight but at least spend the 2 days of the weekend with her? She's desperate to meet her sibling too. It's ex's responsibility to be parenting DD anyway not his wife's.

Am I being unreasonable about being pissed off about how she seems to be cast aside in favour of what his wife needs? When DH and I had children together - within 2 days the DSC were introduced and when it came to the BF issue I used to take myself off and do it in a quiet room where they knew not to disturb. With needing the sleep - DH would take them out for the day and I'd catch up on sleep. They've always been welcome here no matter what's been going on. The last thing we've ever wanted was for the DSC to feel excluded - which unfortunately at the minute is exactly how my DD feels.

croquet Wed 30-Apr-14 11:02:55

Hi,

I was in the same situation as your Exh's DW. We had the Dscs over a few days after baby was born. I was still in hospital so it was easy enough for him to look after them at home and bring them in to visit. Also re. bf I just went for it when they were there at the hospital, and then subsequently if I needed to. They were fine with it.

It's possible she's depressed. Why not message him and say it'd be fine for them to just visit for a day, he takes them out to cinema and then pop to see new baby? I would explain to your kids that the DW is taking a while to recover and make it sound normal.

How old are your DCs?

croquet Wed 30-Apr-14 11:03:06

Sorry, your DD.

WeebleOfWombledon Wed 30-Apr-14 11:11:08

She's 11. I'm totally understandable that she may have PND and the whole feeling swamped. I think it's not so much to do with her tbh. I'm at more of 'I understand you have a new baby' but please let DD feel included.'

He's been distant with her since he's become a new dad tbh. They've had regular phone contact despite not direct but it's only been lasting a couple of mins and he's going 'Got to go, DW needs something for baby or DW needs a break. I've even suggested Facetime so she can at least meet her sibling that way but no go sad

croquet Wed 30-Apr-14 11:14:16

Oh dear - that does sound quite bad. Has he been a good dad up to now? Or is this in character?
Could it be that there's something wrong with baby and they're trying to cope with it?

croquet Wed 30-Apr-14 11:15:44

Also do you have any contact with her grandparents, your Ex's parents? You could always see if she could tag on to one of their visits therefore removing the need for her dad to organise it all?

It sounds like his DW isn't coping at all. Which happens sometimes.

Draughts Wed 30-Apr-14 11:17:09

That sounds really tough on her & is not on. If he's normally a loving father with time for her could you ask him if anything is wrong?

Your poor DD is getting a rough deal here.

croquet Wed 30-Apr-14 11:19:02

Also 11 is worst age to feel pushed out - eek! Could you suggest you drive her over for short 2-hr visit and then pick her up again?

How long has it been since the baby was born?

UC Wed 30-Apr-14 11:20:39

Oh dear. The baby is a month old, and DD hasn't seen her dad since, or met her new sibling? DD is 11 - not 2 or 3 - she could actually be helpful! I'm not surprised she's feeling left out and neglected. There is a danger that she will really resent the new baby for this, and her dad and SM.

I am a mum and step mum, and my DCs have a younger sibling at their dad's, like your DD. When their sibling was born, I took my DCs to their dad's so that they could meet the baby, they were there a couple of hours, and I picked them up again. Baby was maybe 3 days old at that point. They missed one weekend when the baby was actually born, but other than that, they didn't miss any time with their dad (and they go more than EOW). They have a fantastic relationship with their little sibling now (he's 4 now).

You sound very measured, not angry or vindictive, and worried for your daughter. I would feel the same in your shoes. Your ex is doing himself, his new baby and his DW no favours. Even if his DW is finding it hard, or is suffering from PND, he needs to remember that he does have another child.

How far away do they live? Are you able to facilitate taking DD over there yourself? Can you communicate with your ex? Could you speak to him/write an email explaining how your DD feels? Could DD write to him herself, saying how much she wants to meet her new sibling?

WeebleOfWombledon Wed 30-Apr-14 11:20:52

He's been an ok dad. We've had issues with when it's his weekend and he's got something on and wanting to change plans at last minute without much notice but he and DD have always been very close. She idolises him and is a proper daddy's girl so this is really starting to affect her.

WeebleOfWombledon Wed 30-Apr-14 11:27:33

UC I'll quite happily take her over to meet the baby (even for a few minutes) but I honestly don't know what's got in to him. They live a ten minute drive away so it's no problem with me even doing a drop of and pick up or waiting for her.

I'm starting to wonder how the dynamic is going to work when she eventually does get to meet the baby. She's always been a daddy's girl and has been so excited for another sibling. She's already a fantastic big sister. I've even suggested taking her to her GP's and he visit there with the baby. They'd be quite happy to have her on his weekend. Anything that's suggested seems to be vetoed - no matter how accommodating to his situation everyone seems to be. Every excuse seems to be about what's best for DW.

alita7 Wed 30-Apr-14 11:28:18

that is way too long, I'm pregnant and want my dsds over to see the baby ASAP even if I feel rough. One of them lives here so will have to be :p I want family photos etc

has she told her dad how she feels? its plain cruel to make her wait a month. Ask if she could go over just for a few hours to meet her sibling at first, and then build up to the weekend?

croquet Wed 30-Apr-14 11:29:26

I completely agree with this bit of your post, and think this is what you need to (tactfully) underline to him:

Now as I said, I understand how hard being a new mum is. But surely ex could take DD out for the day on the weekend and bring her home if he doesn't want her overnight but at least spend the 2 days of the weekend with her? She's desperate to meet her sibling too. It's ex's responsibility to be parenting DD anyway not his wife's.

The idea that she doesn't want to cope with two shouldn't even come into it. He should be taking his DD out/getting her to help make dinner etc while she visits in these circs. Just email him / phone (or whatever your normal mode of contact is) to say he's setting things up to be hard in the long run and you're running out of ways to distract / comfort your DD. Tell him she should come for a nice visit and will need an explanation of why the wait, asap.

Draughts Wed 30-Apr-14 11:31:59

I'm not sure what else you can do as you've suggested so much already. Have you spelt it out to him how upset she is becoming & how badly he is treating her?

croquet Wed 30-Apr-14 11:32:35

Also if they only live ten mins away that is crazy. My Dscs 1.5 hours away (3/4 hours round trip) and came maybe 5 days after baby was born, for an overnight visit (though as I said I was still in hosp! But still had to 'spare' my DH, as it were).

I'd say it sounds like the DW is putting her foot down, not out of nastiness but is in her own personal crisis somehow. You should tactfully underscore the need for your DD to see dad and new baby, maybe via the GPs who after all are GP to both kids?

Fairylea Wed 30-Apr-14 11:32:50

There is no reason at all why contact should be disrupted. The new baby is a part of the family - dd is still part of that family. I have an 11 yr old dd from a previous relationship and also a 22 months old ds with my dh. Obviously my dd lives with us - there is no way I'd ship her off somewhere or not see her just because I was getting to grips with a new baby (and with an 11 yr age gap having had severe pnd with dd it was like having a first all over again). And it should be no different in your exes situation. They are both being very selfish.

UC Wed 30-Apr-14 11:33:02

If they only live 10 mins away, then this is even stranger. Your DD could even go for a 5 minute visit!

In your shoes, I would pick up the phone to the ex/email the ex and ask all the questions you've asked here, and explain that DD feels left out, desperately wants to be a big sister, and doesn't understand why she can't come and meet the baby.

Has DD always got on ok with her SM?

croquet Wed 30-Apr-14 11:35:02

It's good that you're sticking up for your DD, OP, and wedging your foot in the door of their family (politely!) lest she get shut out at this crucial juncture. I'm sure it will work out with a little more nudging to the dad/GPs.

Fairylea Wed 30-Apr-14 11:37:03

Excuse my awful working - I meant obviously as dd lives with us the situation is a little different. I didn't mean "shipping her off" like that... she is shipped off to the USA to see her dad every half the holidays (he's remarried with twins) so I know how difficult it can all be!

Fairylea Wed 30-Apr-14 11:37:39

Wording!!! Ffs.

<gives up and rocks silently in corner>.

alita7 Wed 30-Apr-14 11:45:34

Is it a 10 min walk? Could dd just walk over herself and tell him she's upset and misses him and wants to meet the baby? Surely he wouldn't turn her away.

I don't know if that is awful advice and a terrible idea or not but it would cross my mind as a last resort.

WeebleOfWombledon Wed 30-Apr-14 11:49:55

Thanks for the replies all. I'm glad I'm not being seen as being unreasonable with how I'm feeling about DD being excluded. I've tried multiple avenues with ex with regards to DD so I think as suggested I'll speak to her GPs. Thankfully I still get on relatively well with them.

With regards to DD getting on with SM. As far as know she does. Nothing has ever been said otherwise. smile .

WeebleOfWombledon Wed 30-Apr-14 11:51:46

Alita No, it's more of a ten minute drive. My last resort would be for her to ring him and if he's home just drop her off lol. Unfortunately if I took that avenue I think it would go down like a lead balloon...

alita7 Wed 30-Apr-14 12:13:29

well at least you couldn't be accused of withholding contact!

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