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Step-parents, please help

(6 Posts)
SerendipitousHarlot Sun 09-Aug-09 10:54:30

I've been married to dh for 5 years. We have a ds (3) and a dd (11) who is mine from a previous relationship. Me and dh met when dd was 5.

The situation is becoming unbearable.

We've just had a massive row this morning because he was getting ready to tell her off about something, and I let rip at him - about how he treats her like an outsider in the house, he finds reasons to pick on her, always takes ds's side, yadda yadda.

All of the above is true.

He treats them differently, there is no getting away from it. He's decent to dd - but it's completely and utterly obvious to me that he doesn't feel about her, how I want him to feel. How he should feel.

Do I expect too much? Am I just 'lucky' that he tolerates her?

Ultimately, she has already been rejected by her bio father. So to see the hurt look on her face when he doesn't show enugh interest in her, or is always bollocking her for something, breaks my heart.

Please help. I've threatened to leave if the situation continues, and I don't know what to do from here.

poppy34 Sun 09-Aug-09 11:08:21

Massive sympathies as it sounds hard. Am both a step parent but also my dad is actually my step dad as married my mum at similar age and circumstances. It's a hard one but few things occur to me:

you can't make your dh love your dd as his own - much as you'd like to

are you being over sensitvie? I don't mean to be doubtful but I know I over obsess on little things with my step kids as I am acutely sensitive about balance of relationship so maybe you are fearful HeRe cos of Dd and her bio dad?

Dh is going to have moments where he will be short with dd - but need to ind a way to do it so doesn't hurt her. Also is there anything that your dh and dd could do together to bond- eg go to play or watch sport, films etc. I bonded with my dad over Thomas the tank engine and then sport.

horrible as this is is it so bad that the fall out for all of you incl ds is worth breaking up with dh for?

poppy34 Sun 09-Aug-09 11:12:09

the other thing is some blokes find daughters harder than sons- a little 3 year ds prob lot easier to deal with than older dsd who is more adult in way she behaves (I know she is still a child but think an year old may have lot more to react to etc than a three year old).

Have you talked to dh about all this and whatdod he feel?

pranma Sun 09-Aug-09 13:02:08

I am a stepmum and my dcs also have a stepdad[we put together 5 assorted teenagers between 13 and 18 when we married 21 years ago!]It was easier I think because my dd's bio dad was dead and she and dh bonded very quickly.One thing that helped was a shared interest in stories,some films etc.They also walked the dogs together and had long talks.When my dh and my dd met she said to him,'Its not fair that you are alive and my daddy is dead.'My dh just agreed and said,'Its not fair sweetheart,lots of things arent fair but we have to cope with them.'I've just asked my dh and he says that the important thing is that your dh has to work at the relationship and at making the little girl feel special.Fwiw I now have 9 assorted dsgc and dgc and I love them all so much as does my dh.

NanaNina Tue 11-Aug-09 00:30:42

Dear SH - You have been together for 6 years so how long has this been going on, or is it getting worse as your daughter gets older? I am a step mom to my partner's daugher and my partner is a step dad to my son. They are all grownup now but itwas often difficult. My step daughter didn't live with us but came often and always came on holiday with us. I am afraid I never really liked the child - I felt guilty about it but just couldn't help the way I felt but tried not to let it show.

Like you my P and I had a son of our own 6 years younger than my son. My partner started picking on my son for small things when he was about 11 and like you I always jumped to my son's defence and there were rows about it. I honestly can't remember now how long it lasted but I know it did get better and now my partner thinks the sun shines out of him.

It's SO difficult because I can see both sides and I tried hard to like my step daughter but it never changed and we now have very little to do with her.

Re your daughter - it depends how bad this is beause it is a form of emotional abuse and it could cause immense problems for her. Have you talked with her about it? It may help her to know that you are aware what's going on. One time my son asked me not to always take his part because it just caused more arguments. Can you and your H discuss it rationally. It may help him if you can try and understand how difficult it is for him and try to get him to acknowledge this, rather than blame him.

Years later my P told me that it wasn't my son he was against, he was fed up with the fact that I never let him "parent" him and always defended him, but I'm not sure about this.

I don't think you should settle for him just tolerating your daughter. It may of course get worse when she is adolescent and more rebellious. Your daughter must come first and I think you need to monitor the situation carefully. I sometimes feel very bad about the fact that I put my son in this position,but he has grown into a lovely man and a loving father to his children.

You can't make your h feel something that he doesn't - that isn't fair. Is he the sort of bloke who will discuss his feelings - I know so many of them aren't. Issuing him with an ultimatum is probably going to make things worse.

I think the bestway forward is for you to acknowledge tohim that he can't feel the same for your daughter as you do and you understand and accept that and know it must be difficult for him. See how he reacts - if he's feeling guilty deep down this may help him feel better. Then you could maybe look at how your h can behave better towrds your daughter.

if all else fails though, put your daughter first, she's only a child and he's an adult.
Also look after yourself and try not to let your daughter hear you arguing about her as this willmake her feel bad and that she is the cause of the problems.

Hope this of some help.

Unlikelyamazonian Tue 11-Aug-09 07:20:48

Brilliant post Nina. I was step-mum to my xh's two daughers. They were 3 and 5 when we met. The younger one was very against me to begin with and would push he and I apart physically a lot and ask why he couldn't live with her mummy anymore etc etc.

I was very patient and sympathetic as I felt for them deeply and wanted them to adjust to it all slowly. Ibegan to tickle the little one to sleep (gentle tickling on her arms, for quite a long time until she fell asleep) and she loved that. It helped her 'like' me and not see me as a threat. I also bathed them often and spent time washing and blow-drying their hair, talking and laughing all the time. I was very very INTERESTED in them.

They came to love me in the end and I loved them. Sadly, since H left, I never see them (their mother's decision)

I know the tickling won't apply to your dd as she is older...but she will have been 6 when you met DH. He needs to talk with her as much as possible, show genuine interest in her school-life, friends and hobbies - to help with her homework, praise her achievements.

What is the situation with her bio father? Does she still see him? Could your H be jealous of their relationship in some way? You don't mention her father at all.

It is important that she sees you two are happy together and a firm unit so I agree do not row about it within earshot of DD (or ds for that matter.) But really, he needs to find some way of making her feel special and wanted. Do you all do things together? We took the girls swimming together a lot, shopping, coffee and cake, and I always took their hands crossing the road or asked what they thought of things in shops.

Actually it makes me terribly sad writing it down and knowing I might never see them again. They are my ds's half-sisters but they haven't seen him since he was 6 months. He's nearly 2 now. sad

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