For being appalled and confused at DSD's attitude(65 Posts)
My stepdaughter (17) randomly texted my DH this weekend asking for a car for Christmas. She does like to wind him up sometimes, so my DH replied saying he'd love to with a little sad face emoticon (we are currently in the process of buying our own home and the majority of our savings is going towards the ridiculous amount of money it costs to buy a house!). She then sent a text saying "Why can't I when phoenixrose is getting to do X, that's expensive too!" To which he replied (truthfully) that I paid for most of this experience day myself with the money I received for my big birthday this year and that as my Christmas present he topped up the rest so that I could afford to go.
We were still sort of believing that she was just joking around, but she then sends about a hundred texts saying how unfair it was that DH spends all his time, money and effort into me, DSS (12) and DS (2) and that she never gets anything and all she wants to do is spend time with us and she feels like he doesn't love her etc. etc.
And me and DH are because this has come from nowhere!!
DH phoned her and talked to her for a long time. I left him to it, and after he hung up he told me that she'd said she felt that DH spends all his time with the two boys and not with her - there is some truth to this as DSS plays a lot of sports and a lot of DH's weekend is taken up taking him to and from games and training etc, and of course DS is a toddler always clamouring for attention wherever he can get it... although I try my best to keep him occupied on the weekends we have the stepchildren so that DH can spend time with his older two. DH also finds it difficult to find ways to connect with her as she is a teenage girl, and when he has tried in the past (playing the guitar with her, trying to show her YouTube videos she might like) she often just grunts at him and acts bored.
What I can't get my head around is where do we go from here? She still seems mad at him (she seems to be having a lot of anger towards a lot of people lately) and the issue here (according to her) is apparently one of not feeling loved, but I don't see how that means we are supposed to scratch around for hundreds of pounds to get her a car?? We are not poor but due to house buying we're scaling things right back this year, still spending about £150 on the older two though (luckily DS is young so we can just get away with a few cheap wooden secondhand toys and some books), she was also moaning because her mum and stepdad (who usually spend closer to £500 on them each every year) are in a similar financial situation and not giving her much money.
Is she really upset about spending time with her Dad, or has she become confused between presents and presence? Does she think material things show how much someone loves them? Argh I'm so confused, we usually have such a good relationship, me and DSD spend a lot of time together even when DH isn't around and I just don't know how to respond to this. I want to be supportive but it's difficult when she's acting so spoiled/selfish - I mean who DEMANDS a car for Christmas?? I have told DH that I will take DS to my mum's this weekend so that he can spend time with just DSS and DSD, but I have no idea if this is what she really wants - I'm just trying to help.
Please give me some advice, am I being unreasonable for being so appalled? And if she is really hurting, what can I do to help her feel better and to realise that material things can't plaster over those feelings?
Yes I do think you're unreasonable for being appalled. It's hard and confusing being a teenager. There's no simple answer for how your dh can mend his relationship with his dd, but it's something he needs to invest time and effort in- it's not going to be fixed by one conversation (or present). The idea that he can't engage with her because she's a teenage girl is ridiculous.
It sounds to me like others are getting a car so she thought she'd try, then realising she wasn't getting one and had annoyed her dad, turned it into an argument. Even if you could afford the car, where will the money for insurance, petrol etc come from? I honestly think she took a chance that didn't pay off. My own DD (now 19) could be quite manipulative when she wanted to be. I'm a bit more wise to her now.
She sounds really unhappy and I don't think it's about a car at all. I agree that the idea that her father can't really engage with her as a teenage girl is very sad.
Time for her to get a job I think, DSD obviously doesn't know the value of money yet!
Sorry for the long post just didn't want to drip feed.
Don't panic, she's clearly tried to tap her Mum and Step-dad for a car and got nowhere so she's trying her luck with you guys.
Don't fall for the guilt tripping, she's trying to get a car, of course she will lay it on thick. However good idea to take the toddler away for the weekend. Let DH shower the big ones with attention so she doesn't have a leg to stand on
But do actually agree with the attention/time points pp have made. That's the issue - not the cash for the car. That's just a 17 year old chancer.
Oh and the opinion that he can't engage with her because she's a teenage girl came from him, not me.
Just to say, in the last year alone he has taken her to gigs, to a football match, to a theme park, and met up with her for coffee when he gets home early from work countless times...... He's not a bad dad at all, he feels very lost with her right now.
I agree with ilovesooty. The car is symbolic and something tangible - we all struggle to express love as so much of it becomes meaningless if we have to ask for it.
I don't think a car means the same as a Christmas present. It's her next stage into getting a job, her independence etc etc. I can see why she is making the conection between your love and supporting her going into the world.
You might not be able to afford it at the moment but I don't think it's an unreasonable request if she knows you are comfortably off. Can you run through some finances with her? Just so she can see how much it would all cost and how much she needs to bring to the party?
It's difficult but I think a massive positive is she can talk to her dad and you sound caring too.
She sounds like a seventeen year old chancer to me.
Sorry I didn't mean to suggest that the idea about difficulties with engagement came from you.
You mention activities he does with her - how much does he talk to her about how she's feeling?
I do understand why she wants a car, and why she needs one - her mum and stepdad do live semi-rural so she finds it difficult to get out and about. We are giving her the money for Christmas as well as a few little bits, so that she can put it towards a car (normally we refuse to give money as a present as we feel it defeats the purpose of the season!)... we are not THAT comfortable, we often talk about not being able to afford things we would like (holidays, new furniture etc) so I don't know where she got the idea we suddenly had loads of money rolling around!
I can see that she was using something else to express a feeling, I'm still not sure how to fix that though. Will cups of tea and hugs be enough for this?
I don't say that to be down on her. It's normal from what I remember.
I don't think you are doing anything wrong and neither is DH. Not sure what you do though. I think on balance she is just chancing it, but am not sure.
The other children from a past marriage etc. often feel left out. The father moves on and has another family, her mother is usually left far more cash strapped, his DS lives that and for her it hurts. You are in the throws of buying a new house, that probably hurts her too. If her parents were still together then this is what would happen in her life.
I think she's trying it on, and knows which buttons to press: I don't think it necessarily means that she's feeling left out- don't forget how manipulative all people can be, not just teenagers. You're not giving her want she wants, and now she's guilt-tripping you.
If I were you, I'd follow through on leaving her dad to spend some real quality time with her and your other DSS, taking the toddler away: but not cave in on the car - you can't afford it, and that's no shame whatsoever. I suspect they've all been talking at school, and someone's parents will have bought them a car, and someone else's parent will have finagled them a "company" car or something, and she wants one too. That's all it will be. Good on your DH for going to such lengths to engage her and spend time with her -teenagers can be hard work, in all honesty. (As, I know, can all people - but I think her dad's really going out of his way to show her how much he loves her.)
You and your dh both sound caring.
I think she is just trying it on. However, your idea to give them quality time is a good idea.
I don't have anything to suggest apart from be there for her.
I would get her to look at cost of a old car say £500. Then search how much the insurence would be £££££ then MOT tax repairs petrol. Work out how much per month that would be. It's not just a one off gift even if you could afford it.
I think you have to, in the first instance, take it at face value and believe her when she says she feels left out and unloved. That does not mean you get her the car though! As for the "acting bored"- most teenagers do that sometimes. I don't think it means she doesn't want to spend time with him or that she doesn't need to feel loved.
What I'd suggest is that you need to think about whether she has a point. You've said yourself that your DH does spend a lot of time with DSS at weekends- if this has been long-standing it may be a problem which was been bubbling along for a while and is only spilling out now. And if that is the case, maybe she is equating the car (and what it represents) with love- especially as she knows that you are going on an exciting (? dream) and expensive experience. She perhaps sees it as another example of other people getting her father's time and thoughts- even if that is not an accurate reflection of the truth it may be how she feels. Feelings are not always logical or accurate!
Of course, it is possible that she is trying it on and "crying wolf" but I would be very careful before dismissing it as that in the first instance- if you dismiss it as manipulative behaviour and get are wrong it could do untold damage to your DH's relationship with his DD , as well as yours with her. I suppose if she has form with this sort of behaviour then that may change how you approach this- although I'd still tread carefully.
Can your step-daughter and her father find some random new hobby they both have to learn and go to classes together?
My guess would be that she's seen her dad really tangibly 'move on' in the last couple of years - the birth of your son and now your new home. And she can be happy for her dad and a great person and all that bit it's still really difficult, particularly as a teen. If your dh struggles to engage with her, she'll feel that and might interpret it as a lack of love, particularly if he has easier relationships with his other two sons.
And then she's at a point in her life where she can't quite have the independence she wants - as a pp said better than me, a car is symbolic of that, and it's also something that only she can have as her brothers are still too young. So it makes her stand out, iyswim? It's crap to hear that your dad is ploughing all his money into his 'new' family life (the new home etc) even though of course that's not really how it is, and he's not doing anything wrong. It's just a bit like she's left behind. So there's this mix of hormones and uncertainty and envy of her little brothers and a bit of manipulation. She's winding you up with the demands (which are out of order), yeah, but it's still coming from something that she's feeling.
I don't think you and your dh are behaving badly at all! But i think she and him need to spend a bit of time together and have a chat about what happened so your idea is a good one. Cups of tea and hugs sound like a plan too it'll pass though. She just needs a bit of listening to and reminding of how much you love her.
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