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17 yr old Dsd who ?won't grow up

(14 Posts)
cakeisnotaproperbreakfast Mon 02-Nov-15 18:35:53

Anyone else experienced this? I'm just wondering how this might turn out in the long run.

Quick background: DP has a DD aged 17. He left when she was 8 but has seen her regularly since then for contact. His spilt with his ex was very acrimonious & involved cafcass, psychology reports on his DD, supervised contact when the ex accused him of being an abduction risk (later thrown out of court) etc but he's never missed contact & supports his DD fully, financially & emotionally whenever he can.

We've been together 2 years. He sees his DD every 2-3 weeks (but she's never stayed overnight) & they talk every other day on the phone. Now here's the thing that I find odd...she has a special voice that she uses just for him. Like a tiny 'little girl lost' voice. It's like she's back to being an 8 yr old. I find it odd to say the least, and infuriatingly irritating & manipulative at worst.
She also told me (it was coming up to her 16th b'day & we were talking about the future, life goals & stuff) that she never wants to get any older. Never wants to move out of her mums house & wants things to stay as they are. She wants to go to uni but only if she can stay at home. I said to DP that the every other day phone calls (which always end with a huge amount of "love you, bye, love you, bye, love you bye, love you, bye..." (you get the picture) surely won't carry on once she has her own life as an adult, but he talked to her & she said that of course they'll still talk every other day. hmm

I also have children but my approach is very different, I encourage them to behave like the growing up young adults they are from their teenage years onwards & to be gradually more independent but to always know they can rely on my support & advice if & when they need me. My oldest DD is away at uni, we talk or text about once a week but it will be more or less depending on need. My DD loves being at home too & gets upset when she initially goes back to uni but once she's back she has a great time. I think that's fairly normal.

I finally said to DP about DSD having a special voice & mannerisms just for him (I wasn't sure if he was aware) & he said he knew & that he knows it's not right. I told him he has to enable her to grow up. The conversation ended after this because it was clear he didn't want to talk about it. He perpetuates it by placing her on a pedestal & pandering to her little girl whims. Probably compensating for the fact he left her mum & caused DSDs need for psychological assessments. She's never had any further input as far as I know (other than a diagnosis that she was a "damaged child" as a result of the divorce).

There are other things too. She imitates my clothes & perfume (buys exactly the same) & asked her dad for a bracelet, after passing her exams, that has a symbol on it which is the same as a tiny tattoo my DD & I both have. He thinks that's lovely, I think it's odd. I share that special symbolism with my DD for very personal reasons. He knows this. She also fishes for information from me about me, my past, my ex (DP has deliberately not told her much about my life because he thinks his ex could get weird (as she has in the past) if she knows too much about who I am). I'm quite open about who I am as I have nothing to hide (no dodgy skeletons) but I do get the feeling she's fishing for a reason.

I've never been part of a blended family before & im finding it all a bit odd. I suppose I just have to leave DP & DSD to work it out for themselves but I wondered if anyone has any experience of this.

Learningtoletgo Tue 03-Nov-15 00:23:55

We went through exactly the same with DHs eldest when she was 17. The little girl voices, strange home made cards that looked like they'd been drawn by a 5 year old confused for every occasion and so on. She was regressing so fast I thought she'd end up back in the womb!

I can tell you it is just a phase. His eldest is now maturing, albeit slower than her peers but she's getting there. I think it's a combination of insecurity and fear. Insecurity in the relationship with her father and fear of growing up and the pressure that comes with it.

She's probably copying you because she thinks she'll get more attention from her dad. Does she get one to one time with him? I found that when it got worse best thing was to back off and let them get on with it. It worked because she would change her behaviour when it was just the two of them.

The phone thing does drives you potty! I would have been mortified to talk to my dad like that when he'd call up to see how I was. No way! I honestly think that it's guilt from his side because he's not there and insecurity from her side. Just leave the room, go for a walk or turn up the telly. It's just a phase honestly!

Gettingthinnerslowly Tue 03-Nov-15 12:08:32

I too have been through this but not so sure it's a phase. Mine is nearly 26, about to marry and still doing all of the above and more! I think the above poster is right as to the cause; insecurity and fear of growing up. It's very difficult to deal with as dads tend to get very defensive, but my advice also would be to let them get on with it, unless you sense that you are being pushed out. It sounds like she is ok with you, so at least that is a start!!

cakeisnotaproperbreakfast Wed 04-Nov-15 15:54:30

Thanks for your replies & for sharing your experiences. Apologies for not replying sooner, I've been on a run of night shifts.

It's just so hard to stomach the saccharin sweetness but I'll continue with the current MO which is to walk away & leave them to it. I just cannot bear to listen to it. It's cringey.

Yes learning, she mostly sees her dad on a one to one basis. Sometimes we'll all get together but generally they spend time just with each other.

The way I would deal with this is very different to the way her dad wants to deal with it (ignore it & actually encourage the behaviour by saying how lovely it is that she is still so innocent to the ways of the world). I haven't really approached this in any depth with him because I think he'll get defensive & I don't want it to cause any arguments or bad feelings between us.

It's very hard for me to not say anything, but as she's not my child I guess it's not my job to change things. I secretly hope that now he knows I (and no doubt, other people too) am aware of this, that he'll reflect on what this means & maybe encourage her to be more mature. Or maybe he'll continue to enjoy a parent/child relationship with his nearly adult DD as it suits both of their psychological needs!

I'm liking your positivity thinner!
So far she's ok with me...but I'm not counting on that to always be the case!

ElicitCap Thu 05-Nov-15 21:55:21

Oh dear... I'm worried..
My husband's daughter is 16 and she is living with us permanently but sees her mum every other weekend. We have a good relationship and sometimes she surprises me with showing signs of maturity. Other times though I feel like she's very immature and now we have a new baby (6 months old) I feel that she is regressing like you said. Other girls her age date and go out with their friends but she stays at home with her phone or laptop ALL day.. She buys teddy bears more than clothes and uses a "cutsy" voice very often. The thing that is really getting on my nerves though is the bedtime... She still wants her dad to turn the lights off and close her door( till last year he was still tucking her in so it is a progress)... Told my husband that she's old enough to tuck herself in and he didn't seem to like it and so I'm not saying anything ever again...
I'm new to this parenting world but I think that I definitely will not be tucking in my son when he is 15, 16 or even younger!
Your post scared me a little because I was hoping she'd mature in about a year but I fear it might get worse...

PrettyBrightFireflies Thu 05-Nov-15 22:31:59

breakfast can I be so bold as to make a suggestion?

You say that your DP is aware of his DDs innocence and immaturity and seems to take pride in that.
I have no doubt that his little princess is a lot less innocent than she presents to him - teens are expert at hiding things they don't want their parents to know.

Rather than illicit a defensive reaction in your DP by critiquing his DD, why not praise her to him by highlighting the aspects of her behaviour that are age appropriate/mature?
You might have to be creative with the kind of things you praise, as it sounds like there's limited scope - but the idea is that he begins to see for himself that she's not a "little girl" anymore, by you drawing his attention to her adult qualities in a positive way.

Marilynsbigsister Fri 06-Nov-15 21:32:58

I have been a sm for over a decade. All of my lovely dsc's have tried the 'baby' act. Dh wouldn't see it, refused to. ! So I had no other choice but to call them on it. Point out that I see them on social media. That I know they get on buses, trains, see friends away from home etc.... Took a while (and a lot of rows with DP) but he eventually saw the light.

It's all about a control. Some of it (most) was ex w encouraging them to 'stay' young.. That way she could still exert control as in ' they are little - I know best- this is how you have to behave'. (Her idea of parenting not his).. Eventually got him to put his foot down and say ' ok - I'm not the parent they supposedly want, they are older enough now to make their own decisions if they want to see me or not' 'if they don't then no need to come over' - told to her AND dcs . Guess what.? They all come. In fact two live with us full time.... Sometimes you just have to be brave.

wallywobbles Mon 09-Nov-15 21:08:23

I'm afraid I'd call them out on it. Both of them together and individually. I have no patience at all with babying people. Not doing them any favors. My 6 yo dss tries this and older his step siblings and I have called him and DP out on it. The improvement has been massive and duly commented on favorably.

It's due to insecurity in part but it's also bloody manipulate.

Can you ask her why she talks like a baby to her father. With a list of possible reasons? Is it because you want X or Y? Or you want him to think X or Y? What do you think other people think when they hear you?

I'm a bit of a bull in a china shop so feel free to ignore my advice. This just gets my goat though. I'm the youngest of 6 and I'd have been teased mercilessly for this kind of bollocks.

Wdigin2this Wed 11-Nov-15 13:55:49

My DH baby's his (grown) DD in as much as, he will meet every payment that comes up in her life! She is a single mum and seems to think that her DF is still financially responsible for her and her child...I cannot tell you how much bad feeling it causes between DH and I, and the frustration and upset it causes me is beyond belief!

Peach1886 Wed 11-Nov-15 14:54:14

Hello Cake, we are in a similar situation, 17 year old DSD has recently moved in with us and initially wanted us to treat her like a baby - she wouldn't get on the school bus and expected us to take her in and pick her up, suggesting she did straightforward journeys by train instead of us driving her resulted in weeks of "panic attacks" crocodile tears and tantrums and we currently have a refusal to learn to drive because "dad can take me". Like Elicitcap we also had weeks spent at home playing on her phone or colouring (!) rather than going out, with protestations that she doesn't have any friends and this is what her life is like...

I am a sympathetic soul, up to a point, but this all drove me crazy - we also have a young baby and I didn't need another one! I put my foot down very firmly about the school bus, and then about the train - she tried to convince her dad she couldn't manage it, but he eventually saw it for the manipulation it clearly was. We're still stuck on the driving...and I can't see him making any changes to that; I think it's a combination of dad guilt (although it wasn't him that left, not that it matters either way), and him wanting to have time with the little girl he missed out on...and it's not doing either of them any favours.

Being a step-parent is far from easy and I agree with Marilynsbigsister that it's all about control. The only way I know to survive it is to divide issues into things you can let go and things you HAVE to get involved in, or you'll spend all your time getting cross/frustrated. Look after your own needs and let them get on with it, otherwise you risk ending up as the Big Bad Wolf. You have my sympathies wine.

Wdigin2this Wed 11-Nov-15 15:36:55

Oh yes Peach, I'm typecast as the Big Bad Wolf!

Peach1886 Wed 11-Nov-15 16:03:32

Then wine for you too Wdigin2this!

I have done a lot of reading on the art of wicked step-mothering, and spoken to a counsellor who specialises in child development (yes it got that bad a few years back), and the advice is always to put the relationship between you and OH/DH first, not allow the DSC to make the rules/be in control and to take a step back from the battle wherever you can. ie if it's not about your emotions, or your time, or your money, let them get on with it.

I have even recently been told - by a step-dad who also works with kids - that the only way he and his relationship survived was by him stopping caring/trying to parent; he would have got involved had the kid got into serious bother, but up until that point, he left well alone. So that's what I'm doing. It's not the kind of positive supportive parenting I had thought/hoped to offer, but at the moment it's the kind that works best...

Wdigin2this Wed 11-Nov-15 16:07:58

Don't blame you Peach!

HandsomeGroomGiveHerRoom Sat 14-Nov-15 13:30:44

Elicit I still tuck my 15 year old ds, who is a good six inches taller than me, in sometimes. Not literally tucking the covers in anymore, but I still turn his light off, say goodnight and close the door.

It's really not that weird.

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