Step-daughter and new baby(40 Posts)
Ok I'm sure someone will shoot me down for being a wicked stepmother. But I'm just looking for a straw poll/general opinion here.
I've known my step-daughter since she was 3. She's 9 and a half now. Always got on well with her and although she was a little competitive with me for her dad's attention at the start I would say if anything she got on better with me than her dad. She stays with us every weekend but lots more during the holidays. I had a baby girl 10 weeks ago. During my pregnancy we made a huge effort to involve SD, gave her scan pics, took her to choose baby things and got her presents too. She met her sister in hospital and everything was great.
However, since I've been home, she's become really possessive over DD. She is obsessed with touching, stroking, messing with her, often when she is asleep (to which I cry let her sleep!!). I allow her supervised cuddles but I can't leave the room for a second and leave DD in her chair without SD picking her up, walking around with her, trying to feed her. Am I wrong for thinking she is WAY to young to carry a baby around?! DD screams, I come back, take her off SD and SD flashes me an angry look.
So now it's escalated. When out for a walk she tries to wrestle control of the pram off me, resulting in her nearly ploughing into traffic with DD (SD has very little road sense as it is), I'm rocking DD in her chair trying to soothe her and SD is trying to out-rock my rocking and wakes her up. Etc etc. I don't want to have to guard DD from SD. I would like her to be involved but I can't relax now. She asks to hold her when she is asleep so I say no it's not fair as DD is asleep, wait until she is awake. She wants to feed her and won't listen to instructions and DD is sick.
I'm not blaming SD for not being able to properly hold/feed/burp DD. because she is a child herself, it's not her job to hold/feed/burp etc her.
Anyhow, now she has complained to MIL that 'I've changed' (I probably have, I'm bloody knackered I've got a 10 week old baby, I had a C Section so I wasn't able to be fun like I used to be etc etc) and that I won't let her hold her, that I'm mean etc etc. MIL has complained to DH and now I'm stressed.
I've done everything I can to accommodate and keep SD happy (way more than DH!) planning days out, arranging daddy-daughter time, booking a family holiday for us all that would suit us all etc etc.
Am I being over protective? I'm an only child so never held a baby as a child. I just think 9 is WAY too young! Ultimately if SD drops or harms DD it's the adult in charge who is responsible. As DD's mum and the adult in charge I have to protect everyone and make sure everyone is safe, surely?
When I've asked her to only hold DD when sitting and shown her how etc SD nods and then does the opposite leading to me having to take DD back.
I feel like I can't win and it hurts cause I have tried so hard to make it work. But I feel ultimately I have to protect DD from unsafe situations.
Am I being too cautious?
You are a little too cautious. She is
only with you every other weekend so surely it's now big deal to let her push the pushchair and hold her etc. She is nearly 10
and I was hold my baby brother at that age, admitally I was a very sensible child. The waking up thing completely understand and no she should not be waking up baby.
However you don't want to criticise every time stepdaughter goes near her otherwise she just might become resentful of her sister if you get what I mean so it's tricky.
I would say pick your battles. Let some things go and with time she should learn how to deal with her sister better.
It's not the holding, it's the picking up and walking around with her I object to. When not supervised particularly. And the shoving a bottle in DD's mouth when she's not hungry/half asleep. And the fact I can't leave the room for a second without her picking her up. I should be able to safely leave a 9 year old and a baby in a room for a minute but I can't because I'm worried she will pick her up and drop her. DD is pretty feisty and is a strong wriggler.
And like I say, she tries to wrestle the pram off me at really bad times, as we cross roads etc. I'm not bothered if she pushed her around the park but not when we are crossing the road! And the wrestling with me over the pram made it even scarier!
When I try to give her chances to hold her she gets annoyed because it's just holding her she wants to walk around and swing her to sleep like we do but she isn't big enough. So it ends up as a stand-off.
Where is your H when all this is going on? I don't think that you should have to manage both of them on your own when your baby is so young, you are recovering from the birth and you are so concerned. He needs to step up and intervene when she is heavy handed with the baby. And he certainly needs to slap down any criticism of you that may be drifting around his family while you are coping with this big change in your life and need to be supported by everybody.
I think you just need to be firm with her. Let her know when she can and can't hold the baby. Ie you can hold her when she's awake and you're sat on the sofa, you can push the pram when we're away frm main roads etc. Explain that it's your job to keep BOTH of them safe and that if the baby was dropped etc SD would be devastated at hurting her sister, it's your job to prevent that
You state the rules:
No picking baby up when she is asleep.
You can hold her when awake but you must sit down
This baby isn't just yours. That is her sister and you truly do need them to have a good, strong bond.
Anything other than that will impact negatively on both children. Fact.
It's OK to be over protective, it is your baby and it is an instinctive and powerful emotion. My DSC used to treat our baby like a little doll and I said no picking up or holding unless they were sat down on the couch - just stick to your guns - you are the parent and she is the sibling. You have to be able to trust anyone who has your baby, your DH, SD, anyone - they should do as you ask no matter how cautious they think you are being. Ignore DH, MIL or anyone else who tries to tell you to relax - you'll do that in your own time when you feel more confident.
Having said that - maybe you can give SD something responsible and special - if bottle fed one of the feeds and then a special play time. And if you can - an hour or two of just you and her - you pushing the buggy and go to the shop to get SD a treat. Tell her it is nothing against her but that as a mum she has to go at your pace, and that having a big sister will be the best thing ever in that baby's life -she just has to be patient - in a couple of years she'll have the toddler hanging on her every word probably!
She's 9, she's not a monkey.
9 is perfectly fine to hold the baby without being hovered over.
If you aren't careful she will start to resent her sister.
New baby is exciting. Lots of adults get the whole "I want to hold the tiny baby" thing, children find it even more exciting.
She's just trying to be a proud older sister, relax a bit
He's normally in his 'man cave'. Which is a whole other issue because I think when she comes over she comes to see her dad. He is fun-time frankie on SD days and then wears himself out and needs 'cave time' to play on his guitar by about 6 pm leaving me to juggle them both. Like I say, whole other issue He thinks I should let SD do as she pleases and thinks I'm too cautious but is letting me make the decision. I've had a chat with him and we are both going to sit down with SD and explain what she can and can't do. Could really do without MIL sticking her oar in because she is quite manipulatative. Her response to SD is that I won't let DD spend time alone with her either so I'm 'being mean' to MIL as well. How adult. There are MASSIVE reasons as to why I won't let MIL have DD on her own but that is for another post. DH agrees with me on this.
My dsd then 9 picked up my then 4 month old ds2 and he vomited right in her face and she still didn't drop him
Possibly a bit of well directed vomit might resolve the issue and make SD less keen to pick up DD!
DH has just told me SD has complained about not being able to babysit her cousin's baby on her own (her mum leaves her home alone!! Which I don't think she should but I stay out of that. So she thought she was old enough to babysit) so maybe she is just fixated on babies.
I totally get how protective and concerned you're feeling but to be honest I do think you're being slightly out. Try to remember DSD needs to bond with the baby and that's really hard for her to do when she only sees her every other week. If she's 9 and a half then she is not too young to carry the baby around, and she might feel like being limited in this way is you attempting to keep her from being a proper big sister.
Believe me I do understand your position. I have a 15 week old DS and an 8 year old DSD who got incredibly jealous and possessive of him as soon as he was born. She constantly messed with him whenever we put him down to sleep and regularly told him she was his mummy and that he loved her more than anyone! It was so hard to swallow but it cMe from insecurity and I found that giving her as much time with him as she needed really helped her relax and stop being so needy about him IYSWIM. We now have a rule that DSD may pick up/play with DS as much as she likes when he is awake but only if one of us is in the room. She doesn't have to sit down with him (that's boring and frustrating for both of them), she can carry him around, read to him, play with toys with him, feed him, burp him etc. all those things if she wants to but only when a grown up is there. This is because she's got little arms and when she's carrying him she sometimes holds him in the wrong position to support him. That doesn't mean he needs to be taken off her (unless she's had enough), it means she needs to be shown where he needs support.
I think you could be a bit more relaxed about allowing DSD to carry DD around. She probably feels you're being too strict and that if she doesn't grab the chance to hold her when you're not in the room then she'll never get to play with the baby while she's still small enough to pick up.
It is hard, I do appreciate that, but try being a bit more positive about DSD doing stuff with DD. I've found giving DSD more opportunities to do things with/for DS has resulted in the excitement of it wearing off a bit. We are always affirming to her, him and everyone else that she is his big sis and very very important to him. She's much less possessive now than she was to start with.
Again whattodohatethis like I say, it's not holding, it's picking up and carrying and making DD cry when she hasn't asked and isn't supervised. I would be pissed off if anyone picked DD up when she didn't need/want it and made her cry by bothering her.
I'm happy for her to hold her, but not to pick her up when not watched/when DD asleep and not to walk around with her. She's already bopped her head off the door because she was wandering around with her.
I've tried everything to STOP her resenting DD but I don't want her faffing with her or carrying her around. I don't think she does resent DD she just wants me to disappear so she can wander around with her all the time. Just wish she would just sit down and hold her, that's all. But it's become like a battle of wills which is not what I wanted at all.
and then wears himself out and needs 'cave time' to play on his guitar by about 6 pm leaving me to juggle them both.
I know you said that's another issue but I think this is part of the problem. How bloody dare he!? You're post-CS with a tiny baby and you're having to wrangle HIS child, who is desperate for attention and to feel important. I don't think she can be blamed for this behaviour as she doesn't understand why it's not OK, but you can't be expected to put up with it.
I don't think you're overreacting at all. This isn't just about being precious and not wanting her to hold your baby, it's the about the baby's needs - to get her sleep, to have space without being constantly poked and prodded.
You need to lay down the law with this bloke. When his DD is here, and he's available (which he should be), HE looks after his own DD, does fun stuff with her, and protect your new baby time. He should be taking her out to do stuff she enjoys, giving her attention, and letting her help with the baby once in a while in a controlled way so they can build a good relationship. What's happening is causing stress all round, for everyone except him!
Man cave my arse. He is a dad to two DC. He can go in his man cave when they are asleep. I'm fuming for you OP.
What if YOU said "oh it's 6pm, I'm off to my woman cave, have fun with these two – see ya." He's be OK with that right?
I don't have a dsd, but I do have a granddaughter that my dd (8) is obsessed with. She's only 9 weeks, but my youngest dd desperately wants to treat her like a doll.
I find it odd because when I last had a baby (big age gap) the older ones were trained to help-but-not-disturb-a-sleeping-babe.
It may very well be a power struggle (as it could be with my youngest dd)..but maybe she just doesn't really know how to treat babies?
I'm giving my Dd3 MORE responsibility (supervised) and it seems to be working-she's becoming more aware of my dad needs now.
But I get that the dynamics may be hugely different.
YANBU and your husband sounds like a dick. Man cave?! How old is he, 5?!
How about he steps up and takes some responsibility for both his children ffs. Why is it your responsibility to watch his daughter while you're trying to manage the baby? Bullshit.
I also think you could actually do with a 'woman cave' - I did! Go off to another room/bedroom at 6pm to force your man to take over - give the baby an early bath/bedtime. Tell DSD that her Dad would love her to spend time with him.
I have to disagree with other posters - so what if it is boring with the baby being quieter sitting on the couch or feeding them milk? They can always play with the baby when they are awake by jiggling toys over them on the carpet and pulling faces - lots of ways that don't involve traipsing around with them in their arms - it won't kill them to have a little respect for a mother - and if the mother if cautious then tough! It's a good thing for them to learn that to be a good sibling they need to learn a little from the parent about how to be with them in a way that is respectful, kind, safe and loving.
I've actually tried that - I'm due to go for a few birthday drinks next month and my mother has ended up with babysitting duties for the little one because DH 'can't cope with both kids!'
The man cave issue has gone on for ages and I got a solemn promise that once baby arrived that cave would be demolished but thus far it remains standing and DH still retreats to it. Tempted to put a lock on the outside of the door and trap him in there sometimes!
Leaving me to make the rules without dad's back up. Leading to SD thinking they aren't proper rules because I'm not her parent.
I'm hoping the novelty will wear off soon and SD will relax. Once DD is a bit more sturdy I won't be so worried. It was such a battle getting her out and we were both quite poorly. We've had SD pretty much the whole of the summer 6 weeks holidays so I'm hoping once SD goes back to school she will be less fixated because she'll have more going on in her week. She isn't very good at entertaining herself and normally relies on an adult making suggestions to her as to how to fill her time. Normally when she is at our house that adult is me (more imaginative than DH) so with me being busy with DD I suppose all attention falls on the baby.
Hopefully a joint conversation with DH there will get her to stick to the rules. I would like her to do more things like read stories to DD (her reading needs work so it's mutually beneficial) etc but all she wants to do is wield DD around the house on outstretched arms like she's Simba on the Lion King.
I would love a woman cave. It's my dream......sigh!
Yes I think that's a great suggestion from Bananas. You will be off upstairs/wherever at a certain time for your special mum & baby time. While he and DSD, I don't know, cook the tea, do some reading or tidy up? She needs to learn that actually being helpful doesn't have to mean monopolising the baby. And she also needs to feel her dad is still a dad to her. He doesn't just need to be fun, he needs to be a responsible adult modelling actual caring and helpful behaviour.
The man cave needs to go. Body ridiculous that you're parenting his child while he faff around on the Internet or whatever.
Take the baby to bed at 5pm and have a nap yourself, DH needs to sort SD out
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