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Can't bond with step daughter

(13 Posts)
Evie1234 Mon 05-Sep-16 09:36:49

I have been with my partner 5 years now when I first got with him his daughter was 11months old, her mum died when she was born. I now have 2 children with my partner who I love more than anything. But I still feel nothing for my step daughter, I found it hard at first I didn't want anyone thinking I was trying to be her mum. I thought in time I could love her but I wouldn't care if I never saw her again, I know that makes me sound so heartless, I've even thought about leaving my partner and taking my kids because of it, I don't know what to do

user1471518119 Mon 05-Sep-16 10:03:56

Hi OP, I've been a step mother for over four years to my DSD. I try my best with her, am as kind as possibly and always try and pay attention to her. She often tells me she loves me and I always say it back. However, at absolute best I would say I'm fond of her and I share your feeling that if I didn't see her ever again I would be just fine.
I think what you need to do is lower your expectations of yourself and what is possible with this relationship, try to 'fake it until you make it' but I would bear in mind that you might always feel this way. I don't think it's anything to be ashamed of - but the main thing is that she should never know. She didn't choose this situation after all and you are her mother figure.

My husband knows I don't feel the same way about his daughter as he does and understands why. Maybe you need to discuss this with your partner as it sounds like you could do with some support. Don't panic about your feelings - you are not alone flowers

Bananasinpyjamas1 Mon 05-Sep-16 10:32:13

Maybe you should try some counseling about this. It's hard to know from your post how much of this is your too high expectations. If this is the case, then being easier on yourself, as you will never feel 'quite' the same as your own kids, should really help.

However, some of your comments strike me as hard 'I wouldn't care if I never saw her again'. If she's been in your and your partners sole care since a baby, then some kind of bond should be developing, and if it is not, I would get professional help. You have a major parental role here so you are right to take your ambivalent feelings more seriously than if the girl still had her mum around.

It's hard to know also how much this might be to do with your own feelings of not really being her mum, of feeling guilty she hasn't got her real mum and you don't match up? Or underlying resentment, or just not allowing yourself to feel something. You are not going to feel the same about her as your own kids, that's OK, but not to care at all is a bit worrying. This could cause your step daughter some issues if you don't work through it in some way.

Have you talked to your partner? Have you talked to a trusted friend? Have you gone to a counselor or parent advisor? Even your GP. Do talk to someone. Don't expect to be perfect, but there could be some really practical ways to turn this around.

swingofthings Mon 05-Sep-16 11:25:43

The key question is why have you not bonded at all with her. After all is not much different to many women adopting a child who is rarely younger than a year old. So what is it about her that makes you feel nothing maternal towards her?

ImperialBlether Mon 05-Sep-16 11:28:43

How come you didn't bond with her when she was so young? Did you move in with him quickly? Babies that age are usually so lovely and there would usually be such pity for the girl for losing her mum at birth. What made you stay with your partner at that point if you didn't bond with his daughter?

CRazzyyAce Mon 05-Sep-16 13:31:34

I too would seek counselling especially as you've been in her life at such a young age, have you always felt this way or more so since you've had your own DC?

Evilstepmum01 Mon 05-Sep-16 23:24:47

I think this is quite normal. I'm fond of DSD and dont mind her, sometimes I miss her. I just dont love her as much as my DS. DH gets upset at this until I explain women are designed to tolerate/love their own and others not so much.
Its a shame OP wasnt able to bond with her DSD especially as she was just a baby at the time.
Have you a health visitor who can listen and maybe help? You're the only mother she has ever known, so if you're commited to staying with her dad, you may need help to sort your feelings out.

Fianceechickie Tue 06-Sep-16 09:26:41

There's some really lovely, sensible, supportive advise on here...was expecting to see the opposite considering the op. Feel bad now about my thread on step mums bring jumped on and castigated for their posts about dsc! I agree with what's been said btw. Relate do this sort of counselling I believe. It's important in your situation where the DSD is living with you and has no other mother figure. Good luck...

Rainbow00 Wed 07-Sep-16 15:09:54

Hi I've been a step-mum for just over 3 years now and still I'm struggling with my DSC. Im growing fonder of my DSD as the time has gone on and believe I will eventually build a relationship with her but my DSS I just can't seem to bond with him at all and like the OP if he didn't come again that would be fine. Yes that is harsh and yes I feel rubbish for saying that and I have also had counselling to help me cope with them coming but it's very hard when they are not your own. I feel for you it's hard, but talking about it and being honest is always a great way to try and help deal with it.

crusoe16 Thu 08-Sep-16 11:44:43


I've also been in my DSD's life since she was a baby and that was a long time ago now. Different to you in that her DM is still very much in her life but she's always done 50:50 or more with DH so I've been very hands on from nappy changing to buying tampax. I care very much about what happens to her while she's in my care and am fond of her but if DH and I ever parted ways I wouldn't expect to see her again and I'm fine with that. My DC wouldn't be though, she's as much part of their world as they are each others.

It's an odd one. I still don't know the reasons why. I used to spend lots of time around 2am dwelling on it and feeling guilty for it. I'm more accepting now. As long as I'm kind to her and treat her with equality I think it's OK.

Fortunately for me DSD has a DM and DF to love her but if you're the only Mum your DSD has I guess it may help both of you to get some counselling as others have suggested - that's a lot of pressure on you to 'parent' her. Or does she have maternal family that are very involved - like an Aunt or Grandmother? In that case, maybe it's OK for you to just be kind to her, take care of her and leave others to love her.....

Wdigin2this Fri 09-Sep-16 21:06:09

I don't believe any DSM can really love her partners DC in the same way she loves her own! I have DSC and DSGC, and I've been in their lives since long before the DSGC were born, but the way I feel about them bears no comparison to how I feel about my own!
I don't think men have as much of a problem with it as women do, just my opinion though!

bumbleclat Sat 10-Sep-16 07:02:36

I've been in counselling about these same feelings for years and all the therapy has taught me is that is COMPLETELY NORMAL to feel this way!

I am looking forward to DSD being an adult and then maybe I can have a type of friendship with her. We, as step parents just need to be kind and nice to our DSDs (except for when they're being naughty then we should tell them off just as their teachers or childminders would do) and not beat ourselves up for not feeling things that don't come naturally.

There's no other relationship in the world where we feel we have to force ourselves to love someone. It's a very violent expectation of ourselves to carry around and we need to stop!

cansu Mon 12-Sep-16 08:33:09

Does your dh know how you feel? I think you need to maybe have a conversation especially about future plans. What about if he died? Would you continue to raise her as your own? Treat her equally financially? I think you owe it to your husband and his daughter to discuss this with him. I am also wondering why you haven't bonded with her to the extent that you would not miss her at all.

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