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Would you walk away if....

(19 Posts)
Stampingmyfeet Wed 28-Aug-13 10:49:23 couldn't ever see yourself bonding with your partner's child?

It's only 6 months in, but I don't think I'll ever be able to bond with her. BF is a widower and whilst intellectually I'm aware of the horrendous time she's been through losing her Mum at 5 (she's 9 now) and I want to be understanding - on a day to day basis I find myself unable to warm to her. I hope that I'm affectionate and attentive towards her and I try to include her in conversations and activities, but I'm finding it really hard.

I have a DD 9 and a DS 7 and I also don't think it's fair on them to spend their family time with me (they go to their Dad's EOW) having to deal with her spoilt, needy, moody, dominating behaviour. I know a lot of her behaviour stems from fear and jealousy about losing her Dad's complete love and attention and I have tried to make allowances for this, but my children haven't chosen this and I can't help thinking I'm doing them a disservice.

Now I write all this down, it looks a bit mad - she's only 9! However, she's as tall as and bigger than me already (partly genetic, but partly overfeeding by her Dad and other family members) and she behaves very much a know-all tweenager who dominates every conversation and sulks if she can't.

I love BF more than I thought it possible to love anyone, but should I just walk away now? The longer I'm in his DD's life the harder it's going to be for her too. I can't ever see us all living together. Even if I could 'make it work', I don't think it would be fair on my children.


Emptychairs Wed 28-Aug-13 11:48:32

Is it possible for you just to date dp and not have the dc mix at all.
It's what I'd have done, in hindsight of course!

brdgrl Wed 28-Aug-13 11:53:51

I think it sounds like you have already decided that it is best to leave?

May I ask what things you have already tried? Have you done any counselling or looked at any of the step-parenting books? Are you sure that your expectations (of yourself too, I mean) are clear?

It is a major decision, of course, and you will live with it more easily if you feel that you have looked at it from every direction. You only have to do a little reading on these boards to see how much tougher it can get.

I married a widower with a difficult DD. I can relate to a lot of what you are saying (and maybe not saying). It is still hard being a stepmum, five years later, but my relationship with DSD, DH's with DSD, and DSD herself, have changed quite a bit for the better, too.

Stampingmyfeet Wed 28-Aug-13 12:00:56

emptychairs I would LOVE that, but it's not practical as he has his DD almost all the time. Plus it would only be avoiding the issue, which for me is: could this be a long term relationship?

Emptychairs Wed 28-Aug-13 12:07:52

It could be long term if dp gets a grip on parenting and dsd learns to become a caring and considerate individual (age approriate of course).
And as soon as that happens you can move in together.
Until then take it v slowly, date once a week and have dp engage a babysitter. Either your needs and the needs of your dc are me, or they are not. Dp needs to do the work here, don't feel pressured to do it for him.

Kaluki Wed 28-Aug-13 12:14:14

I struggled to bond with DSD when I met DP as she was a lot like your DSD and was his 'mini wife'. Between us we have managed to turn things around so that now she is a lot better behaved and less spoilt and demanding. But it was a lot of hard work and we both worked at it together.
Is your DP willing to make the effort to change things and incorporate her into your family or does he not see a problem? If he isn't then I would walk away now before you or the DC get hurt. ? It shouldn't be you and your dc making all the allowances and sacrifices for his DD, it needs to be a joint effort or it will never work.

Stampingmyfeet Wed 28-Aug-13 12:20:59


Thank you. I haven't read any step parenting books yet. I have read some of the threads on here and been scared witless! wink

I am trying to be fair by getting out now without causing too much collateral damage. I love BF so much though and I feel sick at the thought of being without him. But he and his DD come as a package. I've always known this.

I don't feel it's my place to comment on his parenting (he doesn't comment on mine) nor do I feel I should be disciplining her (although he does lightly discipline mine). I feel powerless to change anything, but at the same time I'm not looking forward to us all spending time together. BF is a good parent, but his boundaries are placed very differently to mine.

There are times where she can be sweet, kind and generous - and above all childlike - she and my DC often play well together and have fun.

I know a lot of this is down to me: I'm intolerant of what I perceive as rudeness even if I understand the reason behind it. I also struggle with the weight thing - it really grates on me that she's constantly asking for food - again this is my issue. I don't think BF even realises that she's overfed.

Stampingmyfeet Wed 28-Aug-13 12:30:33


That's exactly it - mini-wife!

I'm sure BF would be willing to work together on this - he does pull his DD up on her behaviour and he is aware of how difficult she can be. I know he loves me, he's good with my DC and I know he wants it to work.

I suppose really though I want to be sure that it's something I can commit to before I start asking him (and her) to make changes/sacrifices.

This is really helping - talking about it. Thank you.

Kaluki Wed 28-Aug-13 12:32:27

Well there's your problem. If you and your BF are intending to stay together then it IS your place to comment on his parenting. You will need to find a common ground and parent all 3 dc the same way. This means you may both have to compromise.
Same goes for discipline - this should be agreed between you and applied to all the dc.
My DSC used to stuff themselves with sweets all day long when I met DP. I hated it, not only because it caused conflict when I wouldn't let mine do the same, but for health reasons (both DSC are a bit overweight and have awful teeth). We made a rule that they asked us before they had sweets and they only get them at certain times. I let mine have a few more sweets than I used to and DP lets his have less so we have met in the middle.

Kaluki Wed 28-Aug-13 12:36:06

You are wise not to commit until you are certain. Take it slow and tell him about your reservations.
Above all put your own dc first and don't let DSD's needs override theirs. She is ultimately your BFs responsibility.
And read the thread on here asking us stepmums if we would do it all again if we knew what we were in for!!!

Stampingmyfeet Wed 28-Aug-13 12:38:48


I know you're right. This is already sort of happening. Although so far I think it's just my DC getting more sweets and cake!

I think I may have to take a deep breath and talk about (what I perceive to be) the over-indulgence - both with food and money.

Kaluki Wed 28-Aug-13 12:57:57

Its tough and I was seen as the baddie for a while (by my kids too at times!) but I'm glad we stuck at it.
It would never have worked if we weren't a united front though. The balance had to change to adults vs kids, not him and SDC against me and my DC.

Stampingmyfeet Wed 28-Aug-13 14:09:44

Yes, I can see that's key.

A couple of times BF has been slightly sharp with DS (mainly 'listen to your Mummy' type stuff) and DS has been really upset. To be fair he hates being told off by anyone and I am a bit soft with him. This has made me feel so guilty that I've 'exposed' him to an evil Stepfather that I've been in tears - although its not like that at all!

I think I still feel very guilty that me and their Dad split and I want to protect them from everything. I'm sure this is how BF feels about his DD (although there was nothing he could have done to prevent his wife dying) so I can kind of understand how she's ended up so indulged.

gingermop Thu 05-Sep-13 18:53:40

I felt just like u did about my dsd and dss, there 10 and 7, iv been with thrre dad 2 years, living together 8 months.
I was almost at a point of giving up when while on holiday this summer my dsd having realized iv been keeping her at arms lenth (alot of stuff gone on) she broke down one nite, sobbed her heart out and asked y I didnt like her cause she loved me, its not that iv never liked them, I care very deeply but because of all the crap id pushed away.
I held her in my arms as I would my own dc's and reslized shes just a child wanting to b loved and I felt a huge rush of love for her.
weve made a pact to get time together and im hopefull all will be good.

your dsd had lost her mum so shes clinging on with both hands to her dad, hes her world.
try spend time with here, show her her dad will always love her and u want to aswell.
no matter how tall/big she is, shes just a little girl x

Yonihadtoask Thu 05-Sep-13 19:06:17

You are right to be cautious at this stage OP

You have only been dating for 6 months? My advice would be to keep it as just dating for at least a year or more. The DC don't have to be a part of these dates at all.

Me and my DS moved in with (now) DH after just over a year of dating. We had spent the occasional afternoon doing 'family' things - with all the DC - my DS and his two DSs.

However, with hindsight I would have kept my house longer and not moved us in so soon.

We have had difficult times, all down to management of the DC. mostly me finding his parenting and his DC difficult.

But a few years in, and they are all growing up and will hopefully be leaving home for uni/work in the next few years.

What I am saying is, take it slow. there is no rush to become a family unit. Blending families is difficult.

daisychain01 Sun 08-Sep-13 10:56:44

Ginger your post made me really emotional, what a lovely story, so glad things worked out well after your DSD opened up to you. The advice you gave stamping is what I would have said. There are a lot of mixed up emotions that children cannot fathom out and struggle to articulate. They are still children and some bad behaviour is a cry for help and a wish to be territorial with a parent they are afraid of "losing" as they see it.

RandomMess Sun 08-Sep-13 11:02:07

If you decide to stick with it then I would really really recommend family therapy/counselling.

It is a huge shift for you dsd - gone from being almost partner to back to being a child in a family and it sounds as though the wider family have over indulged her?

daisychain01 Sun 08-Sep-13 11:04:45

stamping I agree with what has been said about taking things slowly, no need to take a snap decision to leave your DBF, especially as you have said you love him. Step parenting is indeed a long term commitment and there is no harm in taking it a little at a time. It is too early in your relationship to have to be forced into any particular decision, unless you really feel in your heart of hearts it isnt working. SP'ing a child doesnt automatically pre-suppose an instant bond between child and SP, it tends to happen through the passage of time and as trust builds.

Children do grow quickly, the years go by and before you know it, they have flown the nest. So if you can get through the difficult early years and get the foundations right, you and DBF can make it work!

Stampingmyfeet Sun 08-Sep-13 22:38:56

Thank you everyone.

I think I'd got myself into a bit of a panic!

Ginger, thank you for your story - I know she's just a little girl, I think I'd lost sight of that slightly.

I spent some time with her today, just the two of us feeding ducks at the park and chatting. She's a sweetie really - I realised today that she sees her role as that of a companion rather than a child - she was saying things like 'So, how are things with you? Did you sleep ok?' sad

I know I don't need to make any snap decisions - I want it to work for all of us.


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