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My 5 year old says she doesn't like her step-dad any more :(

(47 Posts)
OhWhatAPalaver Tue 16-May-17 11:49:32

And I'm not sure I do either...
My DP always got on brilliantly with my daughter from the word go, she absolutely loved him to bits and he could do no wrong. Fast forward a few years and a baby sister later and she isn't so impressed. Today broke my heart because she said he makes her sad all the time sad
This came about because she can be a bit slow in the morning getting ready for school (show me a 5 years old who isn't!) and he was giving her a hard time about hurrying up. Recently he just seems to be on her case all the time, and mine to some extent, and it's getting us down.
I'm not sure what his problem is. We have been arguing more lately (when my eldest is out) so I know he has issues with me not being affectionate enough towards him at the moment and apparently that makes him feel unloved. I explained this because I've barely slept in ten months and have also been breastfeeding for the same length of time. He insisted it isn't sex, it's the day to day affection that he is missing. Problem is I just don't feel that way inclined at the moment. He's becoming fairly unpleasant to live with, as he's moody and stressed fairly often, and while I can deal with him being an annoying twat sometimes, my eldest shouldn't feel this way and I'm at a loss as to what to do about it.
He is besotted with our baby daughter, absolutely over the moon to be a dad and I'm wondering if he is perhaps neglecting my eldest because he is now a father or something. Either that or he's taking some frustration out on us. I really don't know what to do but I grew up with a step-dad I despised and I don't want my daughter to have to go through the same thing. She is a very sensitive girl and he used to be so patient with her but not any more it seems. I'm not saying I'm perfect, everyone loses their patience sometimes but it seems to be that she does something wrong every day at the moment.
I did speak to him about it a while ago and he really made an effort for a while but now it's gone back to him being annoyed all the time.
Any advice on how to proceed would be great. Thanks in advance.

HildaOg Tue 16-May-17 11:54:19

You need to tell him exactly what you explained in your post and make it very clear that if he continues to upset her you will put your children first and leave him. And if he does, do.

Daphnedown Tue 16-May-17 11:58:23

You need to impress on him how serious this is. I grew up with a step mother I despised ( and who didn't like me much either) and it has affected my whole life. It also made my childhood very sad. It's great that you are thinking about how this makes your dd feel.

I always said that I would never put a relationship above my children. This might just be a bump in the road, precipitated by the stress of small children, but he needs to know you won't have your dd feeling unloved in her own home.

Daphnedown Tue 16-May-17 12:00:30

By the way, we all get impatient with five year olds, even when they're our own. The important thing is the bedrock of love and the willingness to tackle that impatience if it's going too far.

HouseworkIsASin10 Tue 16-May-17 12:03:23

Your poor DD. Your kids have to be your priority.

I wouldn't spend a minute with a man who was making my child so sad.

pallasathena Tue 16-May-17 12:03:37

You can't stand by and see your child descend into sadness at the tender age of five. He's a twat. And a bully. "Not getting enough affection" indeed....
Don't walk on eggshells with this, tell him straight you're hugely disappointed in him and currently considering your options. Then, see it through.
If he doesn't shape up, its time for him to ship out.
You have all the power you need as your child's mother.
Use it.

Daphnedown Tue 16-May-17 12:07:01

Obviously it's very easy for internet strangers to tell you to leave him, but not so easy to do in real life. But make sure you put your dcs at the centre of the decision, and not your own convenience. Many parents struggle with this.

ElspethFlashman Tue 16-May-17 12:07:45

It sounds like she was like his baby for a while.
Then he had a REAL baby. Now she's become his girlfriend's annoying kid.

But don't be surprised cos she finds him as hard going as you do. Of course she does.

OhWhatAPalaver Tue 16-May-17 12:12:29

We had a row a while ago whereupon he said if we ever split up he would fight for joint custody of our ten month old. So three and a half days each a week with her. I don't think I could deal with not seeing her half the week and having my eldest off at her dads at weekends. The prospect makes me feel like a failure as I've yet again picked out an unsuitable father for my children. He used to be so good... I don't know what happened sad

OhWhatAPalaver Tue 16-May-17 12:15:23

He insists he loves her as his own, he said if we did ever split up he would be absolutely devastated as he'd have no legal right to see her.

Daphnedown Tue 16-May-17 12:17:17

Anyone who uses custody of children is not a good man. You can learn from this - it can be hard to judge a person's character, particularly if you don't have good boundaries yourself.

Delphi2022 Tue 16-May-17 12:18:48

Hi OP,

Sorry to hear your are going through this but it brought back memories for me!

I am now in my forties but I remember being where your eldest daughter is as my mother married my stepfather who was initially great with me and i adored him but it changed the my younger sister was born (his biological child).

I was suddenly ignored but did not understand why! I felt like i no-longer belonged in the family and felt very alone. It has taken me years to overcome the legacy of being discarded in that way and do not have a good relationship to this day with my mother as I blame her for not putting me first.

I think it is admirable that you are thinking of your daughter and I now understand that it is a difficult juggling act as the men can be quite manipulative but in my case it was glaringly obvious as he did not hide it. In some ways I cannot blame him as he did not know when he first met me how he would feel when he held his own flesh and blood and he it was beyond him to be a caring loving man. Their marriage eventually broke down and I am not surprised why.

You are right to be concerned and I would make steps to leave this man as he has shown he does not have the ability to be caring which is now transferring to you as well.

Good luck

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 16-May-17 12:19:11

I am also glad that your DD has been able to talk to you about this at all.

Your child's house should be her sanctuary; it is not that currently primarily because of this man. He is a crap example of a stepfather to her and he has given you short shrift as well for really no good reason. He does sound very selfish actually and has made this all about him. You not being affectionate enough indeed, boo hoo.

He will see his child post any separation but 50-50 is really a starting point. Think about it, how much time will he be able to devote to his child?. I reckon it will not be 3.5 full days a week, probably nowhere near that because of work and other relationships.

ElspethFlashman Tue 16-May-17 12:21:00

Well "fight for" doesn't imply any success at all. I could fight for anything through the courts but that doesn't mean a judge will give me what I want.

It's hardly in a child's best interest to be uprooted every three days.

Don't take that as gospel by any means.

Also a lot of these threats are scare tactics. Many don't go through with it when they realise how much solo parenting they would have to be responsible for, and revert to every other weekend and mid weeks.

Mise1978 Tue 16-May-17 12:22:41

He'd not get 50/50. Especially not a baby. Especially not a breastfed baby. Don't worry. They all say this.

Do what is right for you and your children.

Perhaps find a therapist you two go to. To hash things out. All is not a lost cause, yet.

neonrainbow Tue 16-May-17 12:27:26

Until you've been there it's difficult to appreciate how hard it is to be a step parent. You're supposed to love the child as your own but at the same time you're not supposed to love the child as your own and you're not supposed to get too involved but you are supposed to get involved. It's a very fine balance and it sounds like he is struggling since your baby arrived . I'm not excusing him but this should be easily fixed. I think it's time for you to have another discussion with him he may not realise he's always on at her. Do they spend quality time together doing something they both enjoy? If not then that is definitely worth exploring so that they have fun time and it's not all just daily chores where he is having to nag her to get her shoes on etc.

He may not realise that that this is normal five year old behaviour if he has no experience of children. He doesn't have the instinctive love to fall back on when the child is being annoying which does make it far more difficult to take a step back. It takes a hell of a lot of restraint for me to stay out of it when my stepchild seems to be deliberately trying to slow things down or is being a cheeky. If he isn't comfortable dealing with her then you should do everything that relates to getting her ready etc while he can rebuild his relationship with her.

With a young baby in the house it's easy to see how frustrations can build and with some better communication this issue should be fairly easily resolved if he and you are willing to work together. It sounds like the entire house is a bit fraught at the moment and it's worth having a look at what the issues are as a whole and not just lay everything at his doorstep. (Ie if he disciplines your daughter do you back him up? What about if you think he's being too harsh do you pull him up on it in front of her? ) Nobody really knows here what your full situation is only you do.

ZeroFeedback Tue 16-May-17 12:32:34

Anyone, father or mother, who would exercise their 'power' as a parent to punish the other would be wrong imho.

While it is no excuse to be 'off' or otherwise unfair to your eldest, I do have some sympathy with your DP's feeling of lack of affection.

Not your fault, but men are human too and not all of us need just sex. We also need the occasional hug, peck on the cheek, smile or rub on the arm.

It does not take a lot both ways i.e a little moment of each other's time.

He should be able to say that he misses affection without being made to feel like an insensitive, selfish manchild. We all have insecurities at times.

He does need to be told how your DD feels and how that affects your perception of him.

He may well be caught up in being a father to DD2 and devastated to find out what it is doing to DD1.

MrsPringles Tue 16-May-17 12:34:03

It's so nice that you're considering your daughters feelings and not brushing her off.

Your children come first, he can't just cast your daughter away now he has a biological child of his own. It doesn't work like that.

Agree with PP that it's time for a serious chat about how he is making you both feel and then go from there.
Good luck, I hope he sorts it out flowers

SheRasBra Tue 16-May-17 12:36:24

It's easy to relate these problems to him being your DD's Stepdad but could it just be that having a 10 month old has raised his expectation of what your DD should be doing?

When you have one DC you are endlessly tolerant of helping them out. I think once you have a second baby you tend to expect more of the older DC e.g. come on sweetheart, you can get our shoes on while I get DS in the buggy.

I know my DH and I both found ourselves doing a little of this quite subconsciously and had a talk about it and how it wasn't really fair on the eldest, worrying about her resenting the baby etc.

You are also flat out with a baby and young child.

Only you know whether it's just tiredness coupled with the changing family dynamic or he is picking on your DD. I does sound like his relationship with your DD is just one symptom of a bigger problem.

Hope you can work it out OP, you were clearly all very happy not so long ago.

Kennethwasmyfriend Tue 16-May-17 12:44:49

Getting a five year old out of the house in the morning can be horrendous and lead to bad tempers all round. Is it just stuff like this (that you could come up with a plan to help sort out) or does the "sadness" run deeper.
I'm always asking dh for more everyday-type affection, he does it more for a while then seems to forget. It's a source of sadness for me so I do have some sympathy for your dp.

gillybeanz Tue 16-May-17 12:46:31

I can see where he is coming from tbh, although it doesn't excuse his behaviour.
He is missing the closeness you had and whilst i agree you shouldn't put a relationship above your childrens happiness, you are a family and one member is feeling unloved.
Talk to him and maybe look for a babysitter so you can spend time together occasionally.
It needn't cost a lot of money, me and dh used to go for a drive and sit and talk.

rightwhine Tue 16-May-17 13:03:04

It could be similar to how a full sibling feels with the addition of a new baby. They are going to feel pushed out especially if a parent is also tired/stressed with a new baby.

When you point out how she feels, how he deals with it is crucial. He should be doing his best to resolve it.

Jaxhog Tue 16-May-17 13:04:38

For what it's worth, I was like this when my little brother was born. I was 8, and my Dad's favourite child. Then he got a boy and everything changed overnight. (I was truly horrible apparently!) I think it's the 'the child I always wanted' syndrome. Fathers seem especially bad at this. They think they're being even handed, when they aren't. The good news, is that it did get sorted out, but it took a couple of years for the novelty of a boy to wear off.

You definitely need to talk and agree some ground rules about spending time with your daughter and together.

Kokusai Tue 16-May-17 13:15:04

Anyone who uses custody of children is not a good man

I'm not sure I agree - most mothers would say they wanted at least 50% so why shouldn't a man. He isn't saying he will take the baby away for ever.

Adora10 Tue 16-May-17 13:19:12

I'd be very worried, for a five year old to express sadness is extremely concerning.

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