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Sad at DSD's thoughtlessness - what to do?

(11 Posts)
matana Mon 20-Jun-11 11:44:24

Basically i get on very well with both my DSDs - 11 and 14 years old. I've been with their dad for 9 years, we're now married and have an 8 month old DS together. My DSDs adore him, which is really lovely. Generally i have no real complaints and essentially they're both really good girls.

However, DSD1 is, and always has been, very self centred - certainly as far as her dad is concerned. She's getting older now so we accept we'll see less of her as she spends time with her friends. So yesterday we didn't see her because she was at a show with her friends. She's never been particularly tactile or affectionate with anyone, and has always been somewhat 'removed' or 'aloof' so it's all my DH can do just to get a hug from her. But yesterday i found out from DSD2 that DSD1 bought her stepdad a big box of muffins for father's day. Other than a card between them, nothing for my poor DH from them so i took DSD2 to the shop to buy him something. I didn't tell DH about the present for their stepdad as i think he'd be very hurt by it (not that DSD1 bought her stepdad something but that she DIDN'T get anything for her real dad). It already hurts him that they both call their stepfather 'dad' - even though my DH has always wanted to play as big a part in their upbringing as possible and has always taken responsibility for them and seen them every weekend (he would see them more if he could) so he has never been 'absent' from their lives.

I had to remind her to actually call my DH yesterday, rather than just text message him. He doesn't know this either. She just has absolutely no concept of how her actions, or lack of them, can hurt people's feelings sometimes. We've sat her down and talked to her over the years to try to encourage some kind of personal responsibility for her actions. It works for a while and then she goes back to her old ways. I can't even say it's because she's a teenager - she's always been like it. She's also very materialistic and is only ever happy when she has a lot of money spent on taking her out to exciting places, or lavished with presents - which DH and i can neither afford nor agree with anyway.

How can i get through to her? Should i just accept that it's her personality and love her regardless (i do love both of them, warts and all) or do we need to take more drastic action to get through to her? DSD2 is a completely different story - loving, affectionate, thoughtful, worries herself to death about hurting people's feelings etc.

bamboostalks Mon 20-Jun-11 11:46:37

Just leave it. Not your responsibility and you will not be thanked by anyone for the interference.

allnewtaketwo Mon 20-Jun-11 12:06:15

I agree just leave it. I think that as a SM, although it is frustrating to stand by and watch other peoples' children being so thoughtless (including in your own home), it is rarely possible to influence this.

For years I've done the whole buying cards/presents on their behalf routine, brought them out with me to do so, encouraged them to think about being kind to others. But at the end of the day then spend up to 90% of their time with their mother, who does not consider these values to be important.

Result is that my DSSs are exactly as you describe your DSD. Actually DH didn't so much as get a text yesterday (eldest DSS is 15)

electra Mon 20-Jun-11 12:10:18

I wouldn't say anything to her. There must be a reason why she feels that way and the bottom line is that a child's relationship with their parent is never the child's responsibility, it is the parent's. So if something is not right with your dh and his oldest daughter it is for him to sort out and resolve and should not be for you to worry about imo...

LaurieFairyCake Mon 20-Jun-11 12:17:22

Ok, but you don't know why she bought that box of muffins - it could be because she was in a shop and it was easy and she was reminded/hassled at the time or it could be because she sees her stepfather as more of a father than her real dad.

You cannot (and shouldn't try to) change her feelings if it's the second one. You can feel sorry for your dh and you can think he's a great father to your ds and his girls smile but his daughters may relate to him differently and you need to allow that.

Controlling others feelings is not possible - DH got a 'thanks for looking after me card' from foster dd yesterday and she sent her alcoholic-in-jail-father-who-she-hasn't-seen for 7 years a "To the best father in the world card" - and there's a lot of sadness in that for her.

Just let them get on with - and you appreciate him as the much-loved father of your ds smile

allnewtaketwo Mon 20-Jun-11 12:20:33

"Ok, but you don't know why she bought that box of muffins - it could be because she was in a shop and it was easy and she was reminded/hassled at the time or it could be because she sees her stepfather as more of a father than her real dad"

I'd add in another possibility - it could be that her mother encourages her to see that household as her "real" family. DSSs' mother is strongly of the view that this is the case, and that anything to do with DH or his extended family is peripheral to this

theredhen Mon 20-Jun-11 12:59:06

I agree. Whilst I think it's important to encourage thoughtfulness, kindness, empathy when the children are young whilst they are in your care (although this should be done as a back up to your DP's parenting).

Once they get into their teens, you have to leave them to it. I suspect your DSD mother doesn't encourage her to think of her Dad as her "real" family and therefore, DSD takes for granted that her Dad is there for her, but doesn't feel she has to give anything back.

A common problem, but one I think you have to step back from.

questionable Mon 20-Jun-11 13:01:38

Their relationship isn't technically your business. Any attempts to get involved with it will not be welcomed, and will piss her off and make it worse.

matana Mon 20-Jun-11 14:59:17

I suppose the issue is that we have always tried to encourage good values in her and her sister and i believe that thinking of and caring about other people's feelings is an essential value in life. It's a bit disappointing really. She's not a bad kid at all and we all get along fine when we're together - no arguments or anything - perhaps our standards are a bit too high. I don't think there is a problem with her relationship with my DH and yes, he is a good dad, i think the problem is as others have said - her mum has never encouraged her to think of us as a 'real' family. She was the one who got them to call their stepfather 'dad' in the first place for example. And that was after only a few weeks of him moving in and them becoming a family.

On the other hand, DSD2 feels very much that she has two families and has been a breath of fresh air since DS was born.

allnewtaketwo Mon 20-Jun-11 21:03:45

"Their relationship isn't technically your business." - I disagree. The OP has made a commitment to her DH and his DSD and is trying to do her best. Any relationship that takes place within the 4 walls of your house is most definitely your business.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that SMs were being vilified on here for not going to extreme lengths to try to change the behavious of their SC, even to the extent that I and others were accused of abuse for not doing so because I said DSS lacks initiative and is apathetic confused. Just shows that SMs really can't win.

Slambang Mon 20-Jun-11 21:21:34

I have dcs (not step dcs) of similar ages. I still have to ensure they've remembered fathers day, engineer their visit to the shops and more often than not contribute to the cost of 'their' present to dh.

I think you may be expecting a bit too much of dsd1. Have you thought of planning a secret 'girls- only' shopping trip to 'help' them - I bet that's what their dm does to ensure their sd gets his Father's Day goodies.

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