Managing a difficult stepchild(22 Posts)
I say stepchild in the absence of a suitable alternative - been dating DP for 8 months and all is going well (our kids met about 2 months ago) but I'm starting to think his eldest DD (who is 7) doesn't like me much.
I've always been careful to make sure DP gets time alone with his kids, I don't discipline them (that's his job) and generally try to stay in the background unless they want me. This seems to have worked well with his youngest (4) who seems pretty fond of me and my own DC who is the same age. But I've noticed his eldest doesn't react the same way and this behaviour seems to be deteriorating.
She can be quite rude, sometimes hitting me as she passes, arguing back even if I'm talking to someone else, deliberating doing something if I ask her not to, walking into me, walking between me and something I'm doing. Low level stuff that I think might be deliberate but at the same time could just be caused by something else (age? Jealousy?). Probably the bigger issue is that her Dad doesn't 'see' these things usually (he pulls her up on them if he does) so discussing it with him is difficult. He has a different relationship with his eldest than his youngest and dotes on elder one more.
As far as I know this isn't a reaction from anything her Mum might have said (I havnt met her yet but she sounds amicable enough) so I don't know what's causing it or what to do. I'm trying not to break the dynamic of what's working for us as a couple but equally I'm finding her behaviour a bit wearing when I see her (about once a fortnight).
Any advice please?
How long had dad been separated? Does sound like jealously. She appears to be testing you. I wouldnt accept any child hitting me and would verbally discipline in an appropriate manner.
If he won't tell them off for bad behaviour aimed at u then u need to. U can't be seen as a a walkover or it will get worse. For u. And in the long term all of u. Maybe have a planning meeting where u all get to discuss how things will be at your house. She needs rules at your house or it will be my mam doesn't do this and I can do this at my mams etc. She doesnt get to rule your house. U and dad do.
It sounds like jealousy if the mum is amicable. If she is close to her dad and then meets her dad's girlfriend, she could be testing you and testing boundaries.
I would try and bond with her, while also being firm that she shouldn't hit you. Perhaps dad could hopefully have a chat with her.
I think it should improve with time as well, once she realises you are there to stay her jealousy will hopefully get better.
They've been divorced nearly 2 years. If she hits me I do say 'that's not nice' or words to that effect but it doesn't seem to have a lasting effect on her. And it's not something my DC does.
Are you the first girlfriend she has met? Perhaps that could be it as well if she is just used to her dad. She is adjusting to it all as well.
It's not my house though missgraeme, we don't live together.
Sometimes she can be sweet Peggy - how do I try to bond with her? And since DP doesn't always see these things how do I go about telling him she's hitting me in a way that doesn't sound accusatory?
Yes I'm first GF since the split Peggy. We're all still finding our place which is why I don't want to spoil it by being too hard on her for no good reason.
Sounds difficult. I think you need to raise it with her dad the next time. He may well dote on her but if she's not stopping then he needs to step in. She's picked up on the fact you are taking a back step with discipline and is testing to see how far you are going to take that. When it gets to the stage she is hitting you as she walks past, you need to respond.
If she hits u it's a fact not an accusation! He needs to know what she is up to and nip it in the bud. You are an adult it's hardly telling tales!
how do I go about telling him she's hitting me in a way that doesn't sound accusatory? - you say that you're concerned that his DD is finding it hard to know how to deal with you being in his life, and can you discuss how the two of you can find ways to make things easier for her.
You will need to find ways of talking to your DP about his DD's behaviour at times if you're to have a future together. Making a real effort to look for positive things to mention to him as often as possible is a good way of making the bad things go down OK, and him not get too defensive. I think you're right in general to leave disciplining to your DP as much as possible, but if she's actually hitting you (you mean kind of poking you presumably, not thumping?) then you absolutely should tell her not to do that again. She may be testing your boundaries to a degree, so needs a nice clear rule that you do not tolerate that, and it's not OK, whether or not her father is watching.
Perhaps if she has a hobby try and join in? Or go to see a "girly" movie dad won't like? Whatever she likes. Perhaps then she will start seeing as someone who will be fun and enjoyable to be around than the enemy.
Dad does need to be firm with her though as well, while I am sympathetic for her to a point in that it can be a big thing to adjust to dad having a girlfriend, she also needs to quickly learn she should not be hitting or disrespecting you. That needs to nipped in the bud.
You need to clearer with your verbal discipline. "Thats not nice" isnt firm enough. I would saying in a firm voice. Stop (child name) Do not hit me again. If she barges past me. No (child name) this behaviour is not acceptable. If you are voicing the issues, dad will hear whats happening and hopefully step in.
How much of your DPs contact time are you present? Is it every weekend? Do you stay over at his?
My advice would be to NOT try to bond with her at all.
She's old enough to know that you need her to be amicable to make this work, and also old enough to have all kinds of jealousies, hormones, stropiness. At her age she is without the openness that a young child may be more able to have to 'accept' an outsider into their home.
I would be VERY firm. You will be disliked by her. You will had a DP who doesn't always understand. She will kick off. Describe back to her exactly what she is doing, raise your voice, and sound like you mean it. 'You have just hit me! You cannot do that! Why did you do that?'
If she denies it, you will need to discipline her, with or without her Dad, preferably with but don't hang around waiting if he does not respond.
Thanks for all the suggestions guys, appreciated since this is the first time I've had a BF with a previous family and I'm still finding my way. I agree navy that I need to find ways to talk about his DC if there's a future here.
Lello He has them every other weekend and a night in the week - we tend to spend one of the weekend nights together at his, unless one of us has other plans in which case we won't see them that weekend.
I think I'll have a chat with him first about my concerns that she isn't taking to me as well as I'd like and see what we can do about it. It's unlikely she'll want to do anything 1-1 with me as she's clingy to him but perhaps we can do something together. The hitting isn't poking by the way, it's actual thumping with closed fist.
How old is she? Sounds like jealous girls tend to be particularly close with their dads so she senses that your a threat especially if your the first GF since he split with her mother. I would suggest your DP just have a gentle chat tell her she's is very much apart of the family and that it's important we treat kindness and respect to others.
They can be little nightmares at that age I know as mine just turned 8. He went through a pretty naughty phrase. She's old enough to know better so I would say get your DH to have a chat
I'd separate this out a bit. I would tell her off and then tell her dad. But I would tell off any child in this way for hitting, wether they were mine, my best friends or a strangers. I'd then expect him to deal with it, if he didn't then he wouldn't be someone I'd take things further with.
At the same time I'd back off from your families spending this much time together. They don't have much contact with there dad, you being there two nights a month of that is quite a big chunk of time. Maybe drop it down to a couple of hours out of a weekend when he has them.
Tbh I think you sound like you're spending a lot of time together as a "family" for someone who just met them 2 months ago. Why are you there during his contact time? Why not keep your meeting with his kids to short sessions and not in their home.
I disagree that it is jealousy. I think it is more insecurity about her place now there is a new girl in daddy's life.
You do need to talk to him, discipline is primarily his job but she also needs to know that you will uphold boundaries of he isn't in the room or doesn't see the unwanted behaviour.
With hitting you need to be saying ouch quite loudly even if it doesn't hurt and firmly tell her "that isn't very nice XXX, we do not hit people" or she will treat you like a doormat (I have experience although past it now)
I would also try to spend some 121 time wth her. Doesn't need to be a huge deal, maybe ask her what baking/crafts she likes and suggest you do one together. She needs to realise you are a benefit to her life and not a threat.
Don't forget at her age "evil" step mums are in all the popular stories she will be into - especially if she likes Snow White/Cinderella etc so her image of a step parent/dads girlfriend is quite negative.
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