I've been reading a lot of threads lately where jealousy has been discussed, and I made a remark which didn't go down too well....so I would like to expand!
My DH and I got together when all our DC were grown, a conscious decision on my part to never go near men with young DC. However I have noticed that a lot of SM's, here and in RL, mention the fact that they are always in competition with their SC....mostly girls! I don't believe (most) women are talking here, about trying to grab all of their DP's attention away from his DC, I think it's more a result of long experience of trying to do the right thing, trying to allow the DSC quality time with their DF, battling against a DisneyDad attitude, and the complete exhaustion of trying to avoid any situation where the DSC may feel pushed out/second best, or even....heaven forbid, not daddy's number one/excluding all others priority! If you treat a child like they are the pivotal point of the household, whose needs come before everyone else's...its your fault that they expect it!
Anyway, my point was, I probably used the wrong phrase in a previous post...'always in competition with my DSD' I think mostly in this scenario it's the DSD who is 'always in competition with the DSM'....and this, even when handled sensitively and with care, can become an insidious and wearing norm in a household, which by the time the child grows out of it, has wreaked havoc on the wellbeing of everyone else! There you go, end of rant and my input on the subject!
Don't worry - I get what you're trying say. The dynamics can be really badly skewed in step families ..... it's just not normal!
I agree. Balancing the dynamics is really hard. It's true that DSC need lots of attention and reassurance, particularly if their time with that parent is significantly reduced following a separation/divorce. But there also has to be balance.
This gets so much more complicated when the family courts are involved. We have a happy blended family - a rare thing, it seems! And yet DH is constantly told that he has to put DSC first. How can he put DSC first when we also have a child together? How can we raise our DD to be secure and feel valued if every other weekend she has to take a back seat? How can we teach any of the children what a happy marriage looks like if we prioritise the children every minute they are awake? How do we, as a family, justify DH spending all of our disposable income on treating his DC and leave my DC feeling left out?
I suspect it's different strokes for different folks but this is what works for us. We treat each child equally - not the same, but equally, so each child gets what they need at that time, everybody gets some treats, nobody is spoilt and we know that our marriage is the cornerstone of the family and that we must also prioritise couple time sometimes too.
I think mostly in this scenario it's the DSD who is 'always in competition with the DSM
Do you really think so?
We've been really lucky in this regard - both DP and I agree completely on our style of parenting - he obviously adores his son, but he is by no stretch the be all and end all of the household - he has that at his mothers and DP has seen just how destructive it can be. DP and I treat DSS very much like an equal, and expect the same back - we try to run a very cooperative household whereby nobody is more important than the other and everybody deserves attention and love in equal measures.
I was very lucky that my DP was not a DisneyDad - in his previous relationship he was very undermined in his role and told repeatedly that what he was doing (or not doing) wasn't good enough. When we got together, he had an enormous amount of guilt believing he had been a poor father. However, through lots of talking and some very rough patches, he realised he was never a bad Dad, just him and his ex were VERY different when it came to parenting his son. Initially DP was very incline to over compensate for the break up - toys, bending over backwards for ex (well, for son, but ex if you see what I mean) and generally putting all other needs on the backburner - all that caused was immense amount of stress and unhappiness for him. It was at a tipping point when he was travelling constantly at the weekend to get a few hours with his son just because ex was saying "You left, you come to me if you want to see him" (it was a mutual split, but he was the one who had to leave the family home).
Once left the relationship, he could see just how important his parenting style was and just how much justified he was in causing conflict within the household - DSS can be, sadly, incredibly spoilt, rude and entitled with very little gratitude. However, he is a wonderfully smart, intuitive little boy who despite his attitude sometimes, DOES realise that what DP is fair, even if it takes us a while to get there. Thankfully, DP's ex now is far more accommodating to us and after a lot of hard work, she rarely pulls the victim card out on DP - before, it was constant, and the boundaries were so fucking messed up it ended up with me being dragged into it and spat out. It's taken a good 18 months, and we know there are hard roads ahead (I'm 9 weeks pregnant, plus DP and ex still have a mortgage on the house she's living in and kind of refuses to sell) but I think we're better prepared. His ex has dropped the passive aggressive bullshit to an extent, and has grown up a bit rather than using access and DP's parenting of his son as an excuse for a stab in the back. DP struggles sometimes, mainly as he wishes DSS could be here all the time, and also he struggled with the disappointment he felt towards his ex, but all of these incredibly difficult situations were made so much easier by the fact DP and I parent so similarly, therefore DP was able to approach being a Dad to his son in a supportive, cooperative environment. We've rarely come to blows about whether or not we're putting DSS first, because we try to put all of us first - and DP is definitely not one of those "oooh how could you" type people - he is now very relaxed about parenthood despite the immense amount of challenges he faced early on.
Have I ever felt in competition with my DSS? Nope - again, very lucky so far, me and DSS have a very good relationship - if this was different I could see why people feel an element of competition for attention, but I've always treated my DSS like a friend. I don't coo over him or try to mother him and I step back - I give him medicine and soothe him when he's poorly, and he knows he can always come to me, but I have never insisted he cuddles me, kisses me or tells me he loves me despite being in his life for a long time. Any occasion we've been out and somebody has referred to me as his Mum, I'll always say "Stepmum" (but only since he's started referring to me as this) or "his Daddy's girlfriend" or sometimes "friend" - I've always been very keen to ensure he knows I'm not trying to take anything from his Mum, even if she and DP (and I) disagree. I may disagree with the way she's treated DP and I (that's another long story) but she is my DSS Mother and I respect her for that.
Believe me though, it's taken SUCH a long time to feel this sense of ease and it's definitely not over yet - I'm thinking the calm before the storm right now, but least I know DP and I are better prepared to deal with the shit storm
Oh, and DP had a lot of growing up to do - wasn't just his ex, they both played the victim card - difference being he wouldn't play it to her, and was very respectful (but couldn't say to her face how bad she made him feel) whilst she would shove it in his face and dangle it around. DP just seethed over it and never resolved it, ex just jabbed it angrily without resolving it or accepting responsibility.
It took them too long after the split before they quite literally screamed the house down at each other and told each other just what they thought, but since then, it's calmed down significantly - they've both had their say, they've both told each other exactly what they thought and both moved on (ish - ex sometimes tries to criticise DP but DP ignores rather than engages now). DP has accepted his responsibility in the breakup, DP's ex less so, but has apologised to me about her attitude (but not DP really).
They needed that blow out about a month after they split, but hindsight is wonderful
Goose, yes I do....but it is not meant as a criticism! Naturally a girl when meeting her DF's new romantic interest will feel some degree of insecurity and jealousy, I did myself when my DF married again..so I do know what it's like. Of course it has to be recognised and treated carefully, but not at the cost of turning the child into the family tyrant, and to the constant detriment of the rest of the household! It's not good for the family dynamic, and it's certainly not good for the child....she has to grow up in the real world, which will not be as accommodating!
Goose, yes I do....but it is not meant as a criticism! Naturally a girl when meeting her DF's new romantic interest will feel some degree of insecurity and jealousy
I just find this very confusing because it's not my experience at ALL. Why "naturally"?
Can I ask why you think it's a specifically female thing, too? You don't think boys experience the same re. their DSDads, for example?
I'm thinking back to loads of step families I've known, now.
I adore my husband and I couldn't be happier with him. I am managing to share my time and attention between him and my children successfully. However, the reality is that my children will always comes first when it comes to my time and attention until they are adults because I am a mum before I am a wife. This is not on the basis of my feelings but my responsibilities.
Thankfully, my OH totally understands that and would never expect anything different. I know that one of the thing that makes him love me is his belief that I am a good mum because I would do anything for my children.
This might be a very harsh and unfair generalisation, but I often feel that men as a whole are much more accepting of mum putting their kids first than women are with their partner doing the same and I think this is where the 'jealousy' and 'competition' comes from.
My dds see my dp in a father role, we are a family unit. He helps with homework, drops them off and picks them up, deals with tears, disciplines and we work really well 99% of the time.
However, when his dsd is here everything changes. I am not able to ask her to do anything, challenge her attitude or anything deemed parental. Because she goes running back to her mum saying "coffee picks on me, coffee has a go at me, coffee makes me do house stuff but doesn't ask her dds to" No, because my kids don't leave dirty knickers lying round the house, my kids don't put used sanitary towels in clothes drawers. My kids get told when they are being unreasonable but I'm meant to suck it up with her because she just refuses to come back. So we have four days of me in my room, my kids either in their rooms or out and dp Sat looking utterly miserable with his dd glued to her laptop.
She's been difficult from day 1. Four years now and I wasn't the ow. Her mum had a new partner before dp did. But I'm the one that's "stolen" her dad. Stolen her house (we now rent as the house has been sold so no more arguments over the bedrooms). She wants her mum at our wedding. She wants ideally for her parents to get back together. And I'm the one blocking this in her mind. Her mum left dp. I'm sick of it.
coffee - What is DSD Mothers feelings in all of this? As in, does she refute or support your DSD's pattern of thinking?
Whenever DSS says "Mummy does this, Mummy does that" my DP will often say "That is your mother's way of doing things" without disrespecting her parenting style but highlighting that people have different ways of doing things. Despite DP's differences with ex he won't hear DSS behave or speak negatively of either DP, DSS Mum or me.
wdigin I don't think you were using an off phrase at all.
It's just if you as SM are saying it, there can be strong reactions! And it sounds as if your DSD is asserting her right as her Dad's number one all the time, I'm surprised her siblings aren't more sick of it!
I have had DSDs 'compete with me' for DPs affections, although I'm sure they weren't aware of it at the time, and it's only looking back that I've realised that their noses were put out of joint. One eldest DSD on holiday constantly sat next to, walked with, talked with DP to the exclusion of me and everyone. It was awkward!
And I guess what you are referring to is your DSDs need to be 'number one'. All of us need love and affection from our parents as children, and priorities as dependents. Not for the rest of our lives though and not more than their partners hopefully!
Goose...really, were you ever a DSD?! Well I was, and I remember the initial feelings of jealousy and resentment, because I was my daddy's princess, and maybe that's why I think of it as a female thing although I realise that either gender can experience these feelings!
Well anyway, my lovely DSM always tried to help me over these feelings, as I have tried to do for my DSC...but not everyone is the same! Some children and adults can't seem to get passed the initial feelings of resentment, and don't grow passed that level, but carry it on through their lives generally, which is such a shame!
OMGoodness Coffee I really feel for you! I've read your previous posts, and I completely understand where you're coming from!
Bananas, her siblings are sick of the situation, as are their partners, but every time any of them bring the subject up, it's always made a well meaning joke of, which it most certainly isn't.....but it's always just brushed under the carpet, which suites DSD, but not the rest of the family....none of it makes any sense to me!
missy dps oldest dd used to live with his ex (until she threw her out) and she says ex has badmouthed both me and dp constantly for our entire relationship. The problems are threefold. First is dsd expects to be the most important child in every environment (her aunt, her mum's sister, runs a cadets group that she and my two attend. The starting age is 9. Dsd started at 8. Dsd gets to do things that only the older cadets do and its blatant favouritism) second is her mum reinforces this feeling in her and expects everyone to revolve round dsd and her needs and thirdly is dp who is terrified of losing all contact with dsd so is the ultimate Disney dad.
If we go out all together dsd pushes between me and dp and hangs off him and even just standing in a shop or at home, drapes all over him. Which is why I just don't bother anymore. If we go out to eat, all six of us, dsd will make such a fuss about not liking the food that dp will take her elsewhere so she can get something else. Even if it's a birthday and the birthday person has chosen where to go.
I know most of this is down to her mum's attitude and generally acting like she's the only child in the world and her dad's inability to actually parent her but the lies, manipulation and general bad attitude are hers and I dread her being here.
coffee That sounds beyond fustrating. When families split up and remarry there just seem to be so many cracks and more opportunities to manipulate and play people off each other. I wonder what your DSD would be like if her parents hadn't split up? I kind of feel sorry for the kids as they are being allowed to develop in a way that isn't great for other social relationships.
Coffee, what you've described is child abuse! By that I mean, the child's parents are bringing her up to expect the world to treat her as if she has every right to be put first in every situation! How on earth will she deal with the harsh realities of adult life, how will she cope in a work environment, how will she find a man to love if she cannot consider any one else's feelings or needs? It's like The Emporers Clothes, everyone ignores the fact that she is behaving selfishly....but it will only take one person/situation to rock her world and cause her untold misery!
I have experience of being a step daughter and a step mum and the jealousy is a real issue.
My StepMum was jealous of me because I was the only other significant female in my dad's life. I look a lot like my Mum and I think she couldn't stand that he loved someone who resembled her 'rival' (she was a twisted and bitter woman)
However I don't remember feeling particularly jealous of her - she was the OW so I felt protective of my Mum's feelings but I knew that my Dad loved me and never felt like I was competing. I could have played on her insecurities I suppose to make mischief but didn't think to.
When I met DP my DSD was 6 and he had allowed her to become the alpha female in their set up. She mimicked the mother role when it was just her, DP and DSS and she is quite bossy by nature so she would make decisions, tell DSS and DP what to do and they did it. So when I came along we clashed. I wasn't going to be dictated to by a 6 year old. DP supported me and after a bumpy ride it all came out good.
Nobody in a family should compete for love. There is enough for everyone.
Glad that it came good for you heavens. It sounds like both you and DP put your foot down and didn't allow her to be alpha female but accept you.
I wonder if that is advice for us other SMs - we with DPs have to actively say that competitive jealousy is not on?! Actively work on it. I worry that the usual 'permissive Dad' plus 'disengaged SM' does not work.
Fortunately I have never experienced this.
However, I struggle with some of the incidents of jealousy quoted. My 2DCS, get an ON at their DFs once in a blue moon.
We often snuggle on the sofa and watch the TV on a weekend. They want to sit next to their Dad on the few occasions they do enter his house. I know because she has complained on facebook about how needy my DCs are and how she makes them move so she can make them realise she has the right to sit near their Dad not them.
To put it in to context 2 kids under 8 ( last time they visited) wanted to snuggle with their Dad - they had 4 ONs last year!
Whilst I accept there are extremes, but some is sheer pettiness.
( I do not use facebook - however mutual friends do let me know when she has been derogatory about the children)
i fogot the mention - they get to sit on the floor, her DCs sit on the sofa!!!
It is so odd how some themes seem to come back over and over, and this sitting on the sofa next to the man of the house is such a common one. Why?
I had the exact same experience as a child when I was growing up. I always looked forward to sitting to my dad when I visited him but I know my SM hated it too and used to make slide comments about it. I remember thinking at the time that I really couldn't understand why it bothered her so much when she had 12 days out of 14 when she could sit next to him without me in the picture.
The silly thing about it is that now we are all older, she couldn't care less to be sitting next to my dad, if anything, she'll make sure the grand kids are there whilst she gets the nice chair for herself, so why did it bother her so much at the time, I still don't really know.
The sitting next to the sofa thing? Personally I'd happily let any of my DSCs sit next to DP but it's like who sits in the car. It's a primitive thing probably! The hierarchy of a house. Unless you've been pushed out of that, you won't sense it. If it didn't matter swing, you wouldn't have felt aggrieved. It's a clear sign of who cares about who.
I'm one for giving more leeway to kids because they are kids. But if there is a jealousy or battle for alpha female from DSDs that just isn't going away, and is physically jostling with an SM then perhaps heavens example is the right one, not to ignore it but tackle it, no one is going to end up happy otherwise?
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