Really trying and need some advice...(9 Posts)
I am a 24 year old woman that's currently in a relationship with a man that is 28 years old and has a 5 year old daughter. We've been together for almost two years and I met his daughter when she was 3 years old. For most of the part, things are fine between us all. She lives with her mother for the majority of the time and he has her every other weekend and on the holidays. They live a few hours apart. I met my boyfriend online and falling for each other was just coincidental and not something we had planned on. We live 200 miles apart and I frequently travel to his to visit for days/weeks at a time. Sometimes when his daughter is there and sometimes when she is not. The end game plan is for me to move to him as he obviously can't, and ideally move closer to his daughter.
Sorry to ramble but just to give you some background information, I have never been the type to like children. I was always the independent type that was too focused on my studies/career to think about that and certainly never believed I would get with someone that had a child... then I met my boyfriend, and it didn't matter. I loved him to pieces and it was just something I accepted as part of him. I talked to him about my worries before we took it seriously and before I met his little girl, about how I wasn't confident around children and didn't want her to hate me etc. His advice at that time was that I was dating him and not his daughter and that I should just be kind to her for now.
That was some time ago and obviously we are further along into this relationship, where being kind to her is now caring for her and I'm feeling some serious guilt. I do like his daughter, I'm not the evil stepmother, but I LOVE her father. I can't seem to LOVE her in the way that some other step-parents can, like my own step-parents loved me. My step-mother started dating my father when I was 7 years old and took on his children with no issue like we were her own, she seemed to honestly love us like biological children every weekend that we were there.
Whilst I am always respectful, kind and caring for his daughter and look out for her well being and teaching her new things, I can't seem to find the love that he has for her, and I think he senses that and doesn't quite understand that. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing, he's her father, of course he is going to love her more. I also get irritated more easily when she misbehaves and lies for attention, as he is blind to the things she does where with anyone/anything else he isn't. An example would be recently when me and her were playing in his room. She jumped backwards and fell off the bed, banging her head. I immediately picked her up and consoled her, rubbing her back and asking if she was ok, to be more careful etc. She was absolutely fine and we continued our game on the laptop. Then her father entered the room a few minutes later and as soon as she saw him she began bawling telling him that she'd fallen off the bed. I was taken aback by this as I was sitting with a game controller in my hand on the game we'd just been playing together and it must have made me look completely insensitive and irresponsible, as if she had been crying the whole time! This happens a lot and I think that deep down she feels she doesn't get enough attention from her father so she acts out like this for it. She does not do it with me and he doesn't seem to notice that she is doing it.
What makes me feel even worse is that his daughter seems to adore me. Whenever she comes over if I am there I am always the first person she wants to play with and she will literally be attached to my hip the whole time. I worry about him seeing me as a horrible person for not being able to reciprocate the feeling as deeply but I just don't have that maternal instinct for her, it's more of a feeling of wanting to care for and protect her because she in an extension of my boyfriend. As I have also been a step-child on both sides, with my mother and father remarrying I am also extra conscientious about how I treat her and how she may perceive my actions. When she is over I try to stay out of their way a bit to give them father/daughter time alone, I don't want her to feel left out or feel like I am replacing anything, although that doesn't seem to concern her and in her innocence she often does/says things that make me very uncomfortable. Recently she was on the phone to her mother and walked over to me and handed it over telling me to talk to her and ran off. Luckily my partner was in the room to rescue me!
My partner and his ex are on civil terms for their daughter, although I feel her mother makes excessive contact with him, ringing and emailing almost every other day... I have always tried to think logically about things and try to be rational but I'm a woman who loves her boyfriend very much and adapting to a life where the ex is always going to be involved on a very frequent basis has been very hard to me. I know he would find it incredibly hard if the positions were reversed so I wish he understood more and sympathised with the difficult feelings I have to deal with sometimes. I haven't talked about how I feel regarding this as his depression makes him very unpredictable at times. I don't want to hear his ex, I don't want to hear about what her pregnancy was like or anything like that. I'm not ashamed to admit that. I have to swallow my jealously and concerns about how often she wants to talk to him, the worry being greater as he was the one who ended the relationship and I've heard him saying to her a lot recently "we are not together anymore!" as she still tries to control his life. It's been three years...
As I have spent more time with my partner and his daughter I've begun thinking about our future as a family and considering the idea (for the first time!) that maybe I will want my own child one day. This makes me happy and sad. I would be happy if my partner and I had our own child together, and a younger sibling for his daughter, but at the same time I get upset as I don't know if that's something he would want. He has talked many times in the past about how hard it is and how he wasn't ready and would wait before having others "if he ever did." Although when we first started dating and had those conversations he did mention he always wanted a son. I feel like I won't have that chance now because he has a child and that's that... but I don't and as a woman I can't wait forever, I want to share that together. How can I approach this conversation with him? In the past I have said I don't think I will ever want kids, but as I have matured my viewpoint is changing and I don't want to freak him out; I'm not talking about having a baby tomorrow. I just want to let him know that it's something I feel I'm open to in the future.
On top of this shortly after I met him his father died of a terminal illness that was self-inflicted. This has hurt and messed with my boyfriend severely, and he has been deep in depression for some time now. He quit his job and changed a lot and our relationship has had some ups and downs throughout, but we have stuck together and I have tried to care for him as best as I can and not take his bouts of depression personally when he experienced mood swings and went from hot to cold with me in a matter of days over nothing. It's been hard but I feel we are stronger having come through it. This has also affected his daughter though, he hasn't been as involved and attentive as a father as he used to be. It's something we've argued about in the past when I was frustrated always being the one to get up and give her breakfast and take care of her whilst he slept. I know he would like to be and he is trying hard to improve that, but it is causing a lot of tension between him and his ex as she has gradually become more hostile towards him due to him being out of work and depressed. I know my boyfriend isn't perfect and his ex is right on some fronts, but the current situation they are in makes me think she would be very angry if we one day had our own child.
She has threatened to stop him seeing his little girl before and it devastated him, he wouldn't be able to cope not seeing her. She is not helping the situation. I'm scared that if we have a child the ex will stop him seeing his daughter on the basis of "how can you look after your daughter when you're busy with your new girlfriend/child" etc. I'm really sorry this is so long, I just needed to get a lot off my chest as I don't really have anyone to talk to about this and I do not want to add any further stress to my boyfriend at this time.
* How can I learn to love my BF's daughter properly?
* When is it ok to call her my step-daughter...? Should I?
* How do you think I should approach my BF about letting him know a child of our own is something I would like in future?
* How can I express my concern about the level of contact he has with his ex that doesn't directly involve their daughter? He claims to not like her as a person, just for their daughter. For example sometimes when she calls it's not about the daughter, it's just to lecture him and make him feel horrible. He has asked her to stop these phone calls.
This is like reading my own diary!
Firstly, continue to be kind and caring towards his little girl and I promise it will get easier. My DSS is 5 too, but we have him 50:50 so I've spent a lot of time with him. I love him, but it's not the same as the love his dad has for him. Like you, I am less tolerant of the attention seeking behaviour!
Secondly, with calling her your step-daughter, it will happen when it feels most natural. I refer to my DSS as my stepson only when I'm not around him and my other half - if my fiancé is there, I refer to him as "his son". I'm not sure the little one would even know why a stepchild was!
I do think you need to talk to your partner about you opening up to the idea of having your own one day, so it doesn't blindside him if and when you definitely do. It doesn't need to be a big deal, and having a DSC can make this easier - you clearly care a lot about her, and could easily bring up "you know what, I'm enjoying this a lot more than I thought I would, having kids doesn't seem so bad at all!".
Unfortunately there's not much you can do about the ex - that's his responsibility. He needs to be frank with her during these calls/texts/emails and say "if it's not directly to do with our child, I'm not interested in what you have to say!". We went through exactly the same with my partners ex and it's only been the past year that we've both started just letting it go over our heads!
Thanks both your experiences were really helpful.
Hi again. Just wanted to add that I spoke to my boyfriend today and just gently let him know that although in the past I have never wanted children in the past, that's something that I think I would like in the future. I stressed that I'm not suggesting we have a baby tomorrow, and didn't want to freak him out, it's just something I feel differently about now.
His response was "ok, well it's something to think about as your mind was bound to change anyway."
Not sure what to make of that at the moment but he didn't run away in shock so that's one thing.
Sounds like your boyfriend has not said 'No' to the subject of children, good sign!
Detaching, like other posters have said, is vital I would say to survive. And from friends and myself Ex 'issues' and over contact generally get less over time. Good luck OP! :-)
All I would like to add is be thankful she didn't come into your life as stroppy badly adjusted teenager who think you are someone taking their parent away or feel the need to compete somehow x
please dont stress you sound like you are doing fine ...
I genuinely love one of my DSDs but in the same way I love my godchildren and not like i love my own...i cannot say same for other dsd...and i felt bad for a while but now think well they are not my children, i will never have that maternal love thing for them and one is just a more loveable easier person, and the other isn't but i do my best to be kind, nice and treat everyone the same. Like you I love their father...they are part of the deal but doesn't mean I will fall in love with them too.
It's natural to worry but you do sound quite stressed. It has taken me years to learn to cope with my own insecurities so I hope the following suggestions help.
Prioritise your worries by-
1. What worries are actually fact and you want to resolve, do so.
2. What worries are are actually questions that you haven't communicated yet so until you receive an answer to the question they aren't worries as the answer could be positive.
3. You have the choice to mentally step back from something that gives you real stress. If you choose to deal with it do it only when you are ready to no-one has the right to push you into anything you don't like doing.
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