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Step children lying... Modern Family difficulties

(140 Posts)
Harrisd Sun 30-Dec-12 13:53:40

My fiancée and I had a devastating row ruining what would otherwise was a great Xmas. We live together with her daughter (my stepdaughter) full time. She is 7. My daughter lives with her mother (8yrs old) and is with us most weekends and half of all holidays. My relationship with my stepdaughter is great. Very proud that she feels she can call me daddy. its not always easy of course but my fiancee and i have done our best to understand things as we have gone along and work together to ensure a happy loving home. We still have the odd disagreement over rolls and responsibilities etc. and mistakes have been made. neither of us sure sometimes of the best way to act.

Back to my Fiancée, she has worked very hard over the Xmas holidays to ensure that neither of our daughters feels outdone by the other (a common balancing act). In fact she is always conscious that the two feel equally loved. She often feels that this love is not reciprocated by my daughter in the someway I am loved by hers. My daughter was given a mobile phone as a gift. My fiancée was horrified to find a string of text messages on it to her maternal mother that were essentially lies indicating that she was having a terrible time for one reason and the next. It instantly broke my Fiancées heart. It's not the first time we have encountered this and my Fiancée feels gutted by this following all of the efforts made to ensure a special Xmas period. We both work very hard in our careers and work very hard at maintaining our "modern day" family. Heart breaking. I strongly told my daughter off ending by telling her I was extremely disappointed with her and that lies are never acceptable etc. I left her to sleep crying without even saying good night (this now breaks my heart as I think that this was a terrible way for me to react). Not knowing what to do or say about the situation to get under the skin of it all. I let my emotions rule my head. Now I'm completely distraught as I feel my whole family slipping away...

HollyBerryBush Sun 30-Dec-12 13:59:10

She's telling her mother what she thinks her mother wants to hear ie no other woman will replace her (mum) as a mum in her affections.

However, snooping, not giving someone privacy, you will find things you don't like. The old saying "eavesdroppers never hear good about themselves" is very true.

You are not the RP, she sees you however-often, there is another little girl living with her Daddy.

Cut her some slack she is 7 years old.

O/T, a mobile, for a 7yo? just why?

Mayisout Sun 30-Dec-12 13:59:38

I don't have your family complications but would just say you should speak to DD to get to the bottom of why she is writing the lies, possibly pressure from her DM or DD feels somehow obliged to not be happy at your home to appease her DM or something. Not in an angry way but in a kind understanding way which might take time. DD sounds a bit mixed up.

It's not unreasonable of you to get angry with DD, or for Fiancee to, but as adults you need to mend the bridges.

Booyhoo Sun 30-Dec-12 14:01:53

well it really depends if what she was saying was lies or if it was her feelings that she just wasn't enjoying herself? it's quite possible that she just wasn't having a good xmas for whatever reason. she was away from her 'main' home and as a person who is very much a home comforts type i can see how she may have just felt uncomfortable the whole time. some children just dont relax in other homes and are glad to be back home after it's all done. there's also the idea that she may have been trying to protect her mother's feelings by saying that she was having a bad time so her mother didn't feel hurt. not that she should have to be responsible for her mother's feelings in this case but some chidlren do feel they should be.

Mayisout Sun 30-Dec-12 14:03:17

Is your Fiancee on another thread?

dequoisagitil Sun 30-Dec-12 14:03:21

You should talk to your dd again. As you know, it was very wrong to leave her to cry herself to sleep. Tell her how sorry you are.

She's only 7 and she's pulled in two directions. Of course it's hurtful to have her pretending to her mother, but the step-parent just has to suck it up a bit. It's not about hurting you & your fiancee, she's just telling her mum what she thinks she wants to hear.

dequoisagitil Sun 30-Dec-12 14:04:07

The other thread was an old one, HarrisD was advised to start another to get more replies.

Harrisd Sun 30-Dec-12 14:07:54

Thanks all. Mayisout: hi, I don't believe that she is on another thread... Is there something very similar being discussed I could read?

GrendelsMum Sun 30-Dec-12 14:08:35

A lot of children are very melodramatic when they try to express themselves - saying things like 'you're not my real parents', fantasise about really being the child of famous parents, and so on. Very upsetting for the parents, but it doesn't necessarily mean an awful lot.

Do you think that your daughter is just doing this kind of play acting in her texts?

skratta Sun 30-Dec-12 14:11:12

Sorry, I have no real advice, but there's a specific Step-parenting topic, which might be more useful because other step-parents must at some point experience something similar. They will probably be able to advise you.

From my limited knowledge, I'd say 8 is young, and an age when they are easily pressured. They can also still believe that their mum and dad will get together again- she probably wants that. If you've already told her you're getting married soon/are engaged (congratulations) then this might be her trying to stop it going ahead in an attempt to get her non-step parents (you and her mother) back together. Alternatively, she feels she can't say she's happy or enjoying herself to her mother because it feels like she's betraying her mother by acknowledging that you both can make her happy and that she loves you, because it feels like she's being a traitor to her maternal mother. I'm guessing that will be more likely if it's a particularly heated and venomous divorce.

Well done for you and your fiancee for trying to be fair to your daughter as well as your step-daughter, and I can see how hard it must be, for your fiancee and for you.

Try and show that you 'forgive' her, but talk to her alone (in her bedroom or somewhere private) about how your fiancee is heartbroken about it and thought she was happy. Don't go on about how your fiancee treats her like a daughter and loves her (I'm sure she does, but this will sound more like a lecture than a conversation, and will make her defensive).

Ask her what she doesn't like about the Christmas you had, what changes she wanted to make, why she didn't like it, other things she doesn't like etc; Even though they might be groundless/reasonless/not really possible, try and show you are listening to her.

Ask your fiancee if she can come in and talk to her at that point after you've discussed it (I think the first part should be private as its discussing problems and your daughter will feel better about it) but don't get your daughter to apologise as such. Make sure you make no mention of being cross with her or punishing her or anything- this will make her dislike your fiancee more (she'll probably feel embarrassed about it, which might come across as defensiveness, agression or anger as well, and see your fiancee witnessing it and dislike her for it), but make sure to talk to your daughter.

Sorry for being a bit useless!

Cabrinha Sun 30-Dec-12 14:11:21

I know your post is a snapshot, but "maternal mother"? REALLY? Not maternal mother at all - her MOTHER!!!
And your partner feeling that her stepdaughter doesn't love her as Much as her daughter (your stepdaughter) lived you?
Well - tough shit.
She sounds like she's tried hard, that's lovely - but she DOESN'T equal the girls own mother. End of. It sounds suffocating. As an adult, I feel really uncomfortable at the "maternal mother" phrase -wonder how your poor daughter feels?

Your daughter sent those texts for a reason - either to placate her mother, or because she was unhappy at your house. Or both. You need to TALK to her about it.

And your partner who is not her mother needs to grow up and can her own feelings whilst you do.

Harrisd Sun 30-Dec-12 14:14:39

It's sounding like she doesn't want her maternal mother to know she has a good time when with us. I know her mother struggles financially, doesn't drive and perhaps my daughter is protecting her mothers feelings? I have heard in the past though from her mother that she doesn't always want to come here?

crypes Sun 30-Dec-12 14:15:06

Turn the phone off. This is exactly the kind of thing that puts adult pressure on little children . Why has she got a phone at seven being used in your time with her round your house ? The child can't relax .

skratta Sun 30-Dec-12 14:16:10

Also I put 'forgive' like that, because it's important not to make it seem wrong. It depends on the nature of the texts, was it a more-

'I hate this Xmas and I hate my step-mother.' or

'My step-mother was shouting at me the whole of Xmas and I hated it. They ignored everything I said and they gave a lot more presents to my step-sister.'

Lies or emotions?

Either way, make it seem like you are listening- as you should be. Tell her that what she feels is how she feels, and although you love her, you understand she won't always like things or places and that she sees things differently. Tell her that your fiancee didn't think she was doing anything (of the things which were mentioned in the text if anything was mentioned which didn't happen) but you and her are both sorry you think it went like that. Don't say that she's wrong, or in the wrong, or lying.

yohohoho Sun 30-Dec-12 14:19:22

Firstly why have you and your dp had a devastating argument. She told you the situation you handled it. So why did you end up falling out?

Secondly why was your do going through your dds phone?

Thirdly cut the child some slack. Her daddy now lives full time with another woman and dd, who has started calling her dad 'daddy'. Your dd must be feeling lots emotions and is confused.

She doesn't want her mum to think she likes going to yours more, probably feels sorry for her mum when she is at yours, sad because you and her mum no longer live together, sad because she doesn't get to live with you, confused because she doesn't want to live with you and leave her mum but misses you, jealous because you have a 'new family'.

There is so much going on for your dd. Remember she is a child and these feelings may not be rational to you. But that doesn't make them any less real.

Leaving her to cry, as you know, is awful. And will only compound her feelings.

Your do is an adult and try to understand her add feelings better. I understand it was hurtful, but she needs to understand how hard it is for her dsd.

HollyBerryBush Sun 30-Dec-12 14:19:23

harrisd - stop with the 'maternal mother' thing - she is the childs mother. We can discern between the mother and a step parent.

You don't seem to be acknowledging anyones posts either.

fluffygal Sun 30-Dec-12 14:20:15

I don't think the OP has implied once that his fiancé is trying to be her mother, just that she doesn't have as great a relationship with her SD as the OP has with his SD. I think it's great you are both trying to include both daughters, and you obviously both care that neither feels left out.

cabrintha you sound like you have a chip on your shoulder, they are trying to make sure everyone in the family feels included, the daughter and the fiancé, what's wrong with that? It's not just about the fiance's feelings. Not everything has to be a war.

izzyizin Sun 30-Dec-12 14:22:15

How long have you known and lived with your 'Fiancee'? Did you at one time live with your daughter's 'maternal mother', and were you married to her?

dequoisagitil Sun 30-Dec-12 14:23:09

Maybe she doesn't always want to visit - it might be she feels bad about leaving her mum or that she finds the transition between homes difficult. What you need to do is talk to her and listen.

Booyhoo Sun 30-Dec-12 14:23:43

" I have heard in the past though from her mother that she doesn't always want to come here? "

why is that a question? none of us can tell you if this is true or not. you need to be talking to your DD and finding out what she needs you to do to make her feel more at home when she is with you.

yohohoho Sun 30-Dec-12 14:23:46

Sorry but I agree with cab. What does 'maternal mother mean'.
She is the only mother the girl has.

Booyhoo Sun 30-Dec-12 14:28:14

i agree that maternal mother is a rubbish term. it doesn't even mean what you are using it for. i think you mean biological. but even then i'd still wonder why you just don't say 'mother' because we would know who you mean, her having only one mother and all that!

HollyBerryBush Sun 30-Dec-12 14:29:08

In fact she is always conscious that the two feel equally loved. She often feels that this love is not reciprocated by my daughter in the someway I am loved by hers.

In summary - your current partner has a child that calls you daddy, this implying her natural father isn't around. Because of this are we to assume your current partner thinks that your daughter should be calling her mummy, all in the name of equality?

Isn't going to happen - your daughter has a mother, whereas your SD quite probably doesn't have a relationship with her natural father.

Harrisd Sun 30-Dec-12 14:29:23

Sorry HollyBerryBush... New to this. Am grateful for the feedback from all.

She was given a Blackberry as she specifically wanted it. Yes I'm regretting that move. The content of her texts were that she did not have much for Xmas, she couldn't wait to go home, and another saying her sister (my stepdaughter) had punched her in the heart and she was finding it hard to breath. All of this untrue, hurtful and potentially very provoking for her mother who thankfully explained to me that she "took the MSG with a pinch if salt."

yohohoho Sun 30-Dec-12 14:32:20

Hmmm why do you refer to your partners dd as your dds sister.

She isn't. I mention this because you seem to have thrown yourself into your new family (which is great) that you have forgotten your dd may need more time. She may be struggling to be as happy as you to have a new signing that gets more of her dads time than she does.

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