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BF focus on DD instead of us. Is it just me?

(26 Posts)
bellbottom Mon 08-Aug-11 21:30:22

Been holding these feelings in for way too long and going nuts. Need help, opinions, advise.
Been on and off with BF for 1.5 years. We broke up a lot due to repeated problems. Its a rollercoaster. Will save all reasons till later, but would like to talk about one of them.
Basically, a lot of times when we are together with DD, I feel like he becomes a puppy dog and so much focus goes on her and my voice is not being heard. Its as though he is more pleased to be united in her company than mine. We had problems over it as I have spoken up about it. Tonight we had a fight. It ended really badly. Because I am putting so much energy into setting boundaries with her when he is talking to me, trying my hardest to teach her to wait and to show her I respect him and will not let her manipulate my attention away from him. (She has a very bad problem with this in general, more than average kids, hates sharing my focus with anyone, so it is very tiring for me as it is to coach her with this) But when its me trying to speak to him, he is all over the shop, cannot get enough of her and I am a lost voice, becoming invisible.
Our lifestyles are such that we spend time together, the 3 of us. We hardly ever get together, he and I on our own. But thats mostly because I can't afford to split energy into 2 lives, and also babysitting would cost me too much. But I expect him to put most of the focus on he and I, growing together. And to show her that we are building something and that she is there to share it, but not that its the other way around, that I am there to fit into their world!
DD is 3.5 and has now been witness to some bad fights lately and I feel her bahaviour towards me really going bad this past few weeks, like she lost all respect for me and testing me to maximum, refusing to cooperate with boundaries and putting a power struggle in my path at every turn. She has always been a strong character, but this is different. It's ongoing all day, threatens me that she will not do as I ask and always tries to have it her way. I am worried its a backlash of whats going on.
He is 42 and never had kids, loves kids, is great with them and I know he wishes he had them. I am 40, just had a miscarriage by him, it was for the best I feel as we have not been strong together. But I can't help feeling as though his priority in this relationship is DD and not us.
Am I alone with this? Has anyone else had this trouble? I know I should feel grateful for meeting a man that wants to be with my DD and she loves him too. But I do feel that my relationship with a man comes first and DD fitting into that is healthy, but the relationship between me and that man is what is keeping us together, fundamentally, not the triangle that we are with DD.
Am I asking too much?

monoid Mon 08-Aug-11 22:26:22

Prepare for brutal honesty here. I think you're a bit jealous of the relationship your bf has with your dd. I understand this. Everyone always greets me with "hi, how is dd" and the whole world revolves around dd. And everything I do is for dd. And I don't get to have a life without dd. You want something for yourself and you've found a lovely man... and now he spends his time pandering to dd. And not only are you brushed away when he is spending time with you both, he won't even back you up when you are trying to deal with her interrupting because you believe (rightly) that it is rude. He's not backing you up and now your dd's behaviour seems to be going down hill.
I get it. I really do.
I think you have to accept that it will be difficult to have a conversation while dd is there. My dd is now 8 years old and I still struggle to have a conversation when with friends because she wants to be centre of attention. She doesn't interrupt me anymore, but stands there vigilantly until I've finished speaking. There is no privacy in the conversation I am having. Unless your dd is willing to go and play on her own for a while, or you can take her to the park or something to distract her while you and bf have a conversation, I really think you'll have to make time for yourselves. I know you said you can't afford a babysitter, but what about just spending a couple of hours after dd is in bed having a meal and talking? Get a takeaway, if you can afford it, and then you don't have to make time for washing up smile
You have been with your bf a while now and you need to talk about discipline and parenting to see if this is going to work out. It was a deal breaker in my last relationship and, because I didn't talk about this stuff fast enough, dd was the one who got hurt in the end. She still misses him 4 years on. I doubt she'll ever see him again.
I worry about you arguing around your dd. My dd can still remember the one argument that me and ex-bf had in front of her to this day. I know you said there are other problems, so perhaps you should evaluate if this is really going anywhere, because you will regret bringing someone into your dd's life if it doesn't work out.
That's my honest-est opinion that I can give based on my own experiences. If you think I'm a raving lunatic then feel free to ignore me smile

PeopleCallMeTricky Mon 08-Aug-11 22:31:14

Shouldn't your relationship with your dd come first, not your relationship with your boyfriend?

PeopleCallMeTricky Mon 08-Aug-11 22:33:39

Maybe she feels a bit insecure if you and your bf keep breaking up?

monoid Mon 08-Aug-11 22:47:05

PeopleCallMeTricky - I took it to mean that her relationship with bf was more important than bf's relationship with dd. I think it's fair enough that OP wants something in her life for herself. And healthy to have a life outside dd. Doesn't everyone want to be the centre of somebody's world? But she can't bring someone into a family situation and expect said person not to develop a relationship with "the family" and not just her.
It's difficult to start a relationship when you don't have the means to date and keep it separate from family life. I gave up a while ago...

Finallygotaroundtoit Mon 08-Aug-11 22:49:07

Your DD comes first.

Alot of your post is about you controlling her and teaching her that she comes second sad

Could it be that your BF is just treating your DD in a way that kids should be treated? Perhaps you have some issues that make you jealous of that? Perhaps counselling would help.

PeopleCallMeTricky Mon 08-Aug-11 22:51:44

monoid, you're right, I misunderstood one sentence in the op. Sorry op.

colditz Mon 08-Aug-11 22:51:46

WOuld you rather he ignored her? Told her to butt out, shoo, go and play?

He sounds like a nice bloke, and when there is only one child in a situation and two adults it is normal and healthy for an adult to spend time chatting to the child and making her feel welcome and part of a family.

I'm baffled, not by your boyfriend's behavior, but by yours. You don't seem to want your boyfriend to like your daughter. You seem to be jealous of the attention he gives her .... but you are not a little girl. YOu are a grown woman. It's up to YOU to meet your needs. And, by the way, it's up to you to meet your daughter's needs too. Maybe he's focussing on your daughter because he feels somebody should be, and nobody else is?

PeopleCallMeTricky Mon 08-Aug-11 22:53:01

I still think it can't be good for her to be exposed to an unstable relationship though. And her trying to be the boss, that's just normal 3 year old stuff.

bellbottom Mon 08-Aug-11 22:57:29

Monoid - thanks so much for your honesty. I don't think you are a lunatic at all. All of your points have already turned over in my mind many times.
Firstly - to the jealousy thing. I know it may seem that way, but the last thing I could ever feel is jealousy towards dd. By nature I'm not a jealous person, i just never have been. But especially with her, being her mum is the proudest I've ever felt and I never feel for one minute she is stealing my limelight. I lap up the attention she gets. But my relationship with my partner should be balanced and we should be at the heart of it, not dd. She is at the heart of my world and she is very mature for her age, able to fit into a solid partnership if she knows her boundaries. The thing is, he is very keen to back me up with the interrupting when she is trying to break up the attention between him and I. He is also keen to insist that I need to be harder on her for it, when everyone else tells me I set my boundaries well. So I feel I am doing a lot of work on it, but then he won't back it up when he is in full flow with her, just because he is getting carried away in her company. It sends conflicting messages. I am devastated about the arguments and the impact on her. I feel sick to my stomach and really upset. I spared DD contact with her father after she was born because I knew that regular time in his company would have bad effects on her and that he proved my fear that he would let us down on visits. I gave him fair chance to prove us wrong, but in the end it was for the best to break all ties. I did that to protect her from unrest, conflicts, arguments, dissapointments. She has always had a smooth ride. It has shown in her character. She's solid and strong and doing so well. She has been spared a lot pain. Now it feels its falling apart. Every time my BF and I broke up I have been so scared of what it would do to her. He has been her only father figure and just in the last 6 months his presence in her life has become dependable, she asks for him and wants to be with him. He always says if we break up that contact on a friendly level is not an option. I always say that its not fair on her. That she has built up a special friendship with him and to sharply remove that from her is very damaging. I am so scared of what it would do to her. I just dont know how to avoid all the pain.
A few months ago I did have a chat with him and I told him that I felt we spend way too much time the 3 of us and that he and I need to put focus back on ourselves as a couple, which, in fact, we never did. I feel we've been building it up as a family unit since the start instead of ensuring we become a strong couple first. That went against my initial instincts and decision - I told him in the beginnning that I wanted to keep it mostly seperate, but he was so insistent. He's moroccan and does not adhere to discussions we have, or to my wishes. To be honest, I've allowed him to override those things, simply because it has been hard to turn him down on his constant offers of getting together the 3 of us. 2 years of going it all alone and then sharing the load with someone is hard to pass up, when youre knackered and just want some head space and also you want to share your childs company with someone, which is a whole new ball game and so much more rewarding I find. But he takes it too far.
I spoke to a friend of mine and she said I have the right to want to feel loved and special. I should be loved and cherished as a woman and he should see that is number one between us. He says he loves me but he doesn't show me that. He critisises me in front of dd too. He never says good things. I feel he is spoiling the relationship that she and I built up and coming between us. It is really nothing to do with jealousy whatsoever.
to Tricky: my relationship with her does come first, always. I have put everything else on hold this past 3.5 years. I don't even agree to sleepovers to protect her safety, I never go out at night. I spend almost all my time with her. She is number 1. I just have a desire to share her life with someone and also a need to be loved and to enjoy being loved. I also want her to see that. Its important for her to see mummy being loved and respected.
I just don't know where else to go from here. I have tried to discuss discipline and want to be together on these issues, but it feels its one rule for him and another for me.
Most of all I'm terrified of the damage that may have been done, especially when you say your dd misses your ex 4 years on. I can well believe it. Can i ask how old she was when you split up?
it really helps to talk openly and honestly. Please, if you have anything else to say, please let me know. I need to hear it.
Thankyou. Feel so down and worried :-(

colditz Mon 08-Aug-11 23:02:45

Ok I've got you - you feel he's being a good father, but not a good partner, right?

bellbottom Mon 08-Aug-11 23:09:34

colditz. Firstly, thanks for your input. But I think its a bit harsh. I do hope from what I said in my last post that it will dispel the idea of jealousy being the issue. Its easy to sum everything up as that, it seems to be something people can relate closely to, but it;s just not it in my case.
To clarify more on another point: I am THRILLED that dd has him in her life and I take immense pleasure from watching them together. She profits greatly from being with him, he is great fun, has a different energy that I can't give her, teaches her so much and makes her so happy. As parents, I'm sure you can relate to it when I say that a happy child makes a happy parent.
My complaint is not about that. I did bypass making those points because i see it as going without saying. I was only focusing on my relationship difficulty as i've found it hard to build that up in its own right, without the parenting thing clashing with it. MOst people build that up first and then have a child. I feel this has been missed from the equation and he doesn't do anything to make me feel secure in the way he feels about me, why he loves me etc. He does critisise and focus on whats wrong with me, rather than whats right. Above all else, I do need him to put out positive messages to dd about me. That is crucial.

bellbottom Mon 08-Aug-11 23:15:17

colditz - yes. Thanks for clarifying, Yes!! That's it. A great father (apart from the negative image he gives me and the way he will label my behaviour to dd when I get upset, almost trying to form an opinion of me in her mind)
Partner - not going well. Also sex life has been awful, not helping. He has problems in that department. I love him and have tried to put sex low on the list of priorities for the first time in my life, but I do also feel it stops us from resolving a lot of things, as this can also be done in the bedroom instead of verbally sometimes. We don't have that chance mostly.
But on the whole - yes, fab father. So much so, that I often wonder if that is my driving point to stay with him. Have no idea anymore how I would feel if dd had never been in the equation. Being a great father does build a lot of tender emotions in me. Like I said, I love to see DD being fulfilled. But I do need to ask, what about me?

monoid Mon 08-Aug-11 23:15:24

It sounds like you've tried to do all the right things but it's all got a bit out of your control. I think that the situation your bf is in is difficult (this is in hindsight grin at the time I didn't see this!) He perhaps doesn't know how much input you want from him, if he should discipline her or not. You are the one that knows your dd. You are the one who needs to tell him what is ok to do. You need to be comfortable with the way he disciplines her. I would worry if someone said I wasn't hard enough on dd wrt discipline because I feel I do what is right for her IYSWIM. Is he taking on a parenting role? Does he look after her without you there? Would you be comfortable with that? You need to decide what you want from him and what you need from him and lay it out in front of him. I think you definitely need more alone time with bf and to retake control in a way that you feel is right for you all.
My dd was 4 and a half when ex-bf and I split up. I thought he would be nothing more than a vague memory by now, but she still remembers some things vividly.

monoid Mon 08-Aug-11 23:20:22

Also, ex-bf was a good father but it was not enough to keep us together. I couldn't stay with him for her sake because he drove me up the wall!
And ex-bf used to make a lot of comments about my weight (which has been pretty bad since I had dd) and since then dd has had weight issues, refuses to eat, worries about her appearance a lot. None of this is from me. I always try to instill in her that personality is more important. She cried one night (about a year ago) because she was worried that when she grows up she will be as fat as me hmm so I would be worried about what he is saying to her about you. It is not good for her.

bellbottom Mon 08-Aug-11 23:21:15

Monoid - yes I see what you mean. I allow BF a lot of freedom to discipline. I do have to step in sometimes though - he can sometimes raise his voice and grab her arm, things like that. I don;t want that. its his morccan intensity, to me its agression, to him its just passion. We had that discussion about he and I too. Its a culture clash.
I never allowed him to look after her. I find that very hard. Scared to be honest. No matter who the man is. Scared of trusting a man fully in that way. He knows that. I have loosened up on a couple of occasions. But only when there are other people coming and going, or outside of the house/holiday appartment.
Do you think your dd has been damaged emotionally by what happened? Does she speak about how if made her feel?

bellbottom Mon 08-Aug-11 23:26:03

p.s
he'd LOVE more of a parenting role. But I think this is just it. I have had the feeling so many times that this is the main attraction of this relationship for him. Like it fills a void in his life. But I need a partnership, first and foremost. I was never looking for a father for DD. Things went great with her and I since she was born it;s been just the 2 of us.

bellbottom Mon 08-Aug-11 23:31:22

Monoid - thats a shame that your ex put those ideas into your dd's head. I hope she gets over that in time. Keep going with the message you give her. Hopefully it will override the past messages he gave her. You do a great job.
I agree - they are so sensitive to that. There are things he says and I often tell him not to and he will just disagree and say I'm being stupid. But they are things that go against everything I have tried to teach her and things I feel will affect the way she sees herself, others, me. I feel so angry that he could shatter all of that. I worked so hard. It;s not easy to give that up for the sake of loving someone. I feel I need to protect it. But sometimes I feel I need to loosen up and believe that she will be mostly driven by my influence in the end.

monoid Mon 08-Aug-11 23:33:24

For me the discipline thing was a deal breaker. He just wouldn't be consistent with what I had always done. He thought it acceptable to smack her on more than one occasion despite me saying that I didn't want that, and shouted at her. He felt that he should have an equal say as to how dd was brought up, but how could I change what I'd been doing before. He didn't start doing this until we'd been together over 3 years. I think that if you want to bring bf into your family, you have to trust him. Trust him with discipline and trust him to look after your dd. There is a difference being scared because you have never left dd alone before, and being scared as to what he would do if you weren't there and I'm not sure which one is worrying you. A relationship with no trust isn't going to work.
I think dd is damaged emotionally. He's the only Dad she ever knew and she misses him. She asks about him and wants to go and find him. She knows that it wasn't her fault and I try and say nice things about him, but it's hard when he turned out to be a complete arsehole! I think she would've been damaged more if I'd stayed with him though.

monoid Mon 08-Aug-11 23:38:46

Well, this is the thing, bellbottom. It's the little things that niggle at you more than anything else. Things that you wouldn't know until you had kids anyway. dd came up to me one day and said that her friend had hit her. ex-bf said "hit them back" shock
He put sugar on her weetabix
He put salt on her chips
he knew I didn't want him to do these things, but he thought that he knew better than me (despite the fact that he had never had kids)
He gave her fizzy pop
I just wanted to bash his head against a wall half the time!

bellbottom Mon 08-Aug-11 23:40:18

Monoid - it does sound like it was for the best. So hard isn;t it? For us parents I mean. The last thing we want is for our child to miss someone like that and to feel abandoned by anyone. It hurts. I always wanted to avoid that at all costs, like I did with her dad. Maybe thats why I'm scared to let go of all this.
The trust thing is a major issue. Yes - it is because I'm scared of what he may do. To be honest, I can't trust any man on that 100% except my own dad and I can't leave anything to chance, even 1% chance as I could never forgive myself it it went wrong. I know its bad, many people have told me to let go a bit, but thats easy to say. It's my greatest fear for dd.

bellbottom Mon 08-Aug-11 23:43:34

God monoid - Sounds very similar. I have some of those issues with BF. He is not in line with me when it comes to nutrition for kids. Also not with behaviour. I know where you're coming from. And I feel I have let him do it his way way too much, just because I don't want to be a nag, or to spoil her fun with him. I think I may have compromised myself too much. Need to get back on track and tell him to be in line with the way Ive done things if we were to stay together. It's so good to talk to you about all this. You are a great comfort this evening. Thankyou.

monoid Tue 09-Aug-11 00:01:28

It is hard. Which is why I stayed with ex-bf so long. I thought I could make it last until dd grew up, but it just got worse and worse. It is especially hard trying to develop a relationship within a family setting.
I think that if you can't trust your bf after a year and a half, I would be worried. You don't need to trust "any man" to look after your dd, but you do need to trust this one. Is it just men that you don't trust? Is there a reason for this? Perhaps that's something that you need to work on. You can never have a 100% chance that your child will be safe. You are going to have to trust school at some point and possibly other childcare providers. It's hard, but you can't be there for her all of the time. Everything that you do is a calculated risk. Crossing the road is a calculated risk. Unfortunately, things do go wrong sometimes, but often this is no one's fault. Things are unlikely to go wrong though and leaving a child with an adult that you say is a "good dad" shouldn't be a risk that you are not prepared to take.

I think the ultimate problem with me and ex-bf was that I felt that I should have the last say in discipline because 1) I was doing it before he turned up, 2) He was at work all week and usually only turned up one day on the weekend and maybe a couple of evenings during the week, 3) actually, yes, she is my dd. Not yours. Fuck off!
He felt like he should have an equal say, but wasn't there very much. He said that he felt that she was mine and not his.
But then at the same time, he didn't do the day to day crap much, just played with her.
I can see that I didn't let him be a "proper" parent, but then again, he never wanted to move in with me, he didn't look after her on his own. And I really could've done with a break now and then (but he said because I wasn't "working" - just sitting on my arse all day bringing up a child hmm I didn't need a break...) and I didn't agree with most of the shite that came out of his mouth. I couldn't make it work and I should have seen it earlier.
I'm not saying that you are in the same situation, you need to speak to your bf about all of this and see if you can make it work.

bellbottom Tue 09-Aug-11 14:57:17

Monoid. Similar situation. Although, BF wants to see DD as much as poss. We d clash on a lot of things though. And yes, uncannily enough, at the start of my relationship he was calling me names such as lazy too, had no flippin idea of the level of hard work involved, raising a child without a father, on top of living abroad with no family. I chose to stay off work until she starts school because of previous health issues I had, have wanted to remain as strong as poss for DD. He just seemed to think its a walk in the park every day!! Like hell!! I never seem to even sit down to breathe!
So it seems we have a lot to relate to between us.
No idea if this relationship will continue after the event of yesterday. I got into a rage. I admit. Much too much, more then ever in my life. But after 1.5 years of the same issues over and over, I have become too sensitive to them and have developed a short fuse.
All contact between us has stopped, so I think it must be over for good this time.
Did you ever meet another partner? Its so hard to believe that someone else will come along, someone who would welcome a child into the package. I have had offers this past 3 years, lovely men, good offers, just the connection wasn't there for me on an attraction level. I don't know weather to gamble or quit. Mixed emotions. In the end, have to think of DD number one, right?

MeMySonAndI Tue 09-Aug-11 21:31:11

Ok... I'm going to try to put to the side the fact that he is not his father, to concentrate in the fact that you are two adults that should be working together in sorting the situation rather than taking opposite sides on how that girl should behave.

If you were married and that guy was her father, I would be telling you that what he is doing undermines completely your authority. However, I may perhaps also be telling you that you are too hard on her.

So.. you both need to present a united front so your DD gets to know what are the rules and to respect them.

I would also say that you have every right to have time in your own with your partner, which perhaps you may only get by sending your child to bed at a reasonable time.

There are some people who ask if you would prefer for him to totally ignoring her... yes that's bad, but rising a child on your own is a bloody nightmare if the child is challenging and misbehaving all the time, and if your partner is contributing to make the problem worse, then I would consider getting out of that relationship, it is not helping you and certainly, no child will benefit of growing in an environment which poses such conflictive approaches to her parenting.

Have you consider the idea of talking to your partner, explain why routines, discipline and good behaviour is essential for you to survive as a single parent and define what is acceptable and what is not between the two of you?

He either adheres to the rules or leaves. The fact that your DD is a child of separated parents doesn't mean that she should be allowed to rule the household or your personal life.

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