to send dd to after school club she hates in order to make my point?(81 Posts)
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.
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 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.
She sounds confused, don't push her away.
Is having a different surname a real issue for her?
Would having the same surname help her feel part of the family?
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.
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!
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
Seeline - her dad calls her by her surname to emphasise that she's 'his' 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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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 )
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?
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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.
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