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SC Manners

(59 Posts)
user1476993639 Thu 20-Oct-16 21:26:07

Hi,

I (25f) )have been with my DP (33m) for over a year now and first met his 7 year old DD 6 months ago.

At first, everything was smooth...the child was polite and seemed happy to see me when visiting etc.

DP and I moved in together a couple of months ago now (btw, unsure of relevance but this was into the house he used to live with his ex and daughter). Obviously, we are all spending a lot more time together.

As of late, I have been avoiding this time on purpose, especially around meal times, because his DD's table manners are absolutely horrendous! She doesn't even cut her food, much preferring to chew off large parts sometimes holding it in her hands. She speaks with her mouth full, chews with her mouth open, doesn't sit still in her chair, sometimes gets up and goes for a wander around, often spilling food all over....and often she doesn't even finish the plate. Yet DP still lets her have dessert/pudding!!! The chomping and lip smacking alone has lead me to stop eating out in public with her.

Growing up, manners and table etiquette were instilled within all my siblings and I from a very early age. I can not believe she has got to the age of 7 and is able to behave in such a way.

The last thing I sometimes want to do when I get home from work is cook a dinner - compared to say a year ago when I would eat out most nights or order in. But I'm consciously wanting to ensure DP's daughter gets all the goodness from a meal that she needs and deserves. So after sometimes spending an hour in the kitchen I feel totally disrespected when she can't even sit nicely to eat it, leaving it even, with me asking the question "why do I even bother?!" Then I also don't get the support from my DP as he rewards such behaviour with a treat!

AIBU?!?!

I have raised this - tactfully - with DP already, and his response was that he wants his DD to enjoy being a child for now, and not to have such rules unnecessarily enforced on her as she can learn this as she gets older.

My concern is that when will that time come?! Surely building on skills such as cutting up food properly, using a knife and fork, using a napkin, are all behaviours which would stand her in good stead for later life if taught and reinforced now at an early age?!

I don't know what to do?! I'm in no position to offer any form of parenting or discipline - she's not my child. But I really don't know how much longer I can go keeping silent before I end up seriously blowing up in my DP's face about it.

I feel that this could begin to drive a wedge between me and my DP, to the point where I can't eat with him when we have his DD with us as well.

Any advice would be hugely appreciated.

Lunar1 Thu 20-Oct-16 22:15:24

This is the way he parents, and he's happy with it. Why isn't he making these meals?

He is telling you who he is, if you want children with him, this is the way he will parent them. Probably not the advice you want but you should keep it in mind when thinking of your future.

Lala1980 Thu 20-Oct-16 23:04:38

I'm with you OP. My DSCs have no table manners they disgust me and DP is a disease dad. No advice but I feel your pain. wine

Lala1980 Thu 20-Oct-16 23:05:41

Disney lol

JenLindleyShitMom Thu 20-Oct-16 23:13:53

You need to let this go. You need to decide either you can accept this is how she is and this is how he parents or you can't accept it and need to move back out of their house. You have a very different expectation of parenting than he does, this is no small thing. It's quite massive when you are living in the home that he does his parenting in. It's probably the one thing you absolutely need To be on the same page in order for your relationship to have any future.

EvilStepmotherInTheMaking Fri 21-Oct-16 06:42:50

You're right - he's a total Disney Dad. The reason I take charge of meals is otherwise he would have her chose whatever she wanted for dinner every night...no doubt McDonald's or Subway 😒

I don't want children with him. Very early on we tackled the 'More Kids?' topic and he was clear he didn't want to have any, in fact his DD was entirely unplanned...and I'm just too selfish for that. Plus you're right Lunar and Jen - seeing how he parents has really brought it home that we could never actually parent a child we have together.

I know I need to let it go but it's hard...is avoidance of the situation going to be a long-term solution?! I know it isn't.

I'm leaning towards raising it with him one more time and dependent on the outcome of that conversation, I may need to reconsider my place within their family.

I know I'm such a selfish bitch to think this would all be so much easier if his DD wasn't in the picture...he really is great and the most amazing guy in every other regard, just his Disney Dad parenting will no doubt get very tiring very quickly.

Thanks all.

Lunar1 Fri 21-Oct-16 07:39:43

It's not just step parenting where children completely change everything. Before dh an I had our children I thought I'd be really soft and dh would be too strict. It was the opposite way round in reality! Nobody would have predicted that.

Dh works such long hours he wants the time he spends with them to be fun whereas I have to get them to do everything so need rules etc.

The difference for us was we are equal parents and the only way to make things work was to compromise, which we have managed in a way where everyone is happy.

I would hate the manners you are describing, what does he see his dd's potential being as she grows up, because he is certainly limiting it by her meal time behaviour.

Don't feel guilty for the way you feel, just make sure the way it's dealt with is with your dp and your feelings aren't blamed on his dd.

swingofthings Fri 21-Oct-16 09:03:28

Here we go again!
Growing up, manners and table etiquette were instilled within all my siblings and I from a very early age.
So you were raised wonderfully and therefore expect that your SD should be too. Maybe your OH didn't get the same strict upbringing and therefore doesn't the same expectations, and since she's his daughter, than surely it's up to him?

The last thing I sometimes want to do when I get home from work is cook a dinner - compared to say a year ago when I would eat out most nights or order in. But I'm consciously wanting to ensure DP's daughter gets all the goodness from a meal that she needs and deserves.
Again, not your decision whether she should get a healthy meal. If you don't want to cook, then don't and let your OH do so. If he cooks something unhealthy, then that's his choice.

The issue is not with his DD but with the fact that you might be discovering that you have very different view on upbringing. If that is the case, then you might want to consider whether the relationship is right, especially if you want to have future children. Having a similar vision on educating children is in my view an essential aspect of the relationship. You shouldn't force your views on him or his on you, so if indeed they are radically different, you need to consider whether you can take a step back and not get involved with any disciplining, in which case, you also don't get involved in chores related to it, or you consider that maybe he isn't the right partner for you.

NickiFury Fri 21-Oct-16 09:06:48

this would all be so much easier if his DD wasn't in the picture...

And vice versa.

OllyBJolly Fri 21-Oct-16 09:19:59

What Swing said.

My DH and his family are like this. That's the way they are. I had to ask myself if it was a deal breaker and of course it wasn't. I love him, and his family come as part of that. Still hugely irritating but not for me to inflict my standards on anyone else.

But Nicki nails it. I think if it wasn't table manners you would find something else to resent in your boyfriend's DC.

Somerville Fri 21-Oct-16 09:20:02

all be so much easier if his DD wasn't in the picture

This is why you are so irritated by her table manners. You don't really want her in your lives so of course the ways in which she is imperfect will annoy you. (And frankly, of poor table manners is her biggest flaw then she's a pretty great kid.) As she gets older her table manners will improve but other issues will arise, because that's what happens but also because however hard you try not to reveal it, she'll pick on your resentment at your presence.

Feeling about her as you do, and given her father's attitude to having more, you need to seriously reconsider being in this relationship.

And if you stay with your DP, stop cooking for an hour for his DD. There are plenty of simple and quick nutritious meals and frankly her father should be stepping up and feeding her.

milkyface Fri 21-Oct-16 09:39:58

Again, not your decision whether she should get a healthy meal. If you don't want to cook, then don't and let your OH do so. If he cooks something unhealthy, then that's his choice.

But if op sits back and let's her DH feed sd crap, she'd be judged for that too.

Op I don't think there's much you can do, I've been there.

Ss manners aren't great sometimes he never eats what's on his plate, decides he doesn't like a different veg every time (even though he does!!) and do always keys him have chocolate (far too much!!!!) After not eating his tea.

Dp does it for an easy life, and ss is like that because that's how dp and ex brought him up. I hate it but I can't change it because it's too late.

Me and dp have a baby and I don't want him learning the same bad habits but I think by the time he understands ss will be an older teen and prob not interested in spending as much time with us.

milkyface Fri 21-Oct-16 09:41:34

Oh and there is nothing strict about being taught table manners, it's a basic life skill surely?

daftgeranium Fri 21-Oct-16 15:44:13

OP I think you've been given an unnecessarily hard time here. But I do think you need to think about potentially different approaches to parenting between you and your OH.
If this is your home, then everyone should respect everyone else in the house...... it's not fair for you to be expected to accept behaviour you think is unacceptable in your own home.
The difficulties are, (a) it was their home first, and (b) your DH is a disney dad. Further, the issue of parenting in your own home is a really thorny one and takes years of development and building of trust... if you have a good partner. If you don't, then there will be conflict.
Don't commit yourself completely to this relationship until you have found out whether he is willing to work with you as a partnership - not just to dictate everything to you that he thinks should be happening.

JenLindleyShitMom Fri 21-Oct-16 16:17:09

But if op sits back and let's her DH feed sd crap, she'd be judged for that too.

Is it about being judged on MN or is it about making her home life less stressful? TBH I wouldn't judge her either way. I hate cooking, I don't care if I get judged by strangers for not cooking from scratch every night for my DC. My life is easier not doing it. Why should OP stress herself out over doing it for someone elses child? It's his job.

needsahalo Fri 21-Oct-16 16:48:06

But if op sits back and let's her DH feed sd crap, she'd be judged for that too

Why?

OP, you use a napkin with every meal? Children are pretty ungrateful about food - if they don't like it or don't want it, I am not sure why they should be forced to eat it. Do you always eat a full plate? Do you not have pudding if you don't eat every last scrap? Do you never throw caution to the wind and just eat cake for tea? I personally take the view that if I am giving pudding then I am giving pudding. I believe you make the sweet stuff something to be coveted, out of reach, mysterious and wonderful, if it is only given if everything else is eaten. Everything in moderation as far as I'm concerned. What I never do is give extra or an alternative to refused food. Take it or leave it at my table.

swingofthings Fri 21-Oct-16 17:22:45

Same reaction when I read the above. Why would she be judged since she's not mum? One of my closest friends feeds her daughter crap food and as a result, at 8, she is significantly overweight. It does frustrate me because I don't think it's fair on the child, but it's not for me to tell my friend (who is well educated) what to do and I don't feel a responsibility towards her daughter.

it's not fair for you to be expected to accept behaviour you think is unacceptable in your own home.
Indeed, not fair, nor is being expected to adapt your behaviour to suit someone else just because they don't like it. Hence the sad reality that if you get with someone with children, and you don't like the way they are raising them, and don't think you can live with it turning a blind eye, seriously consider that the relationship is not for you, however much you love the person. Sometimes loves doesn't conquer all.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Fri 21-Oct-16 19:50:45

The more that I read of the step parenting boards, the more it seems to me that the happiest step families are the ones where the SM has been able to instill some of her rules with a DP backing her up, and a child who is to some degree willing and helped to accept some change.

It is also when the SM finds something to love or like about her child. But this can only happen if there isn't stress in the first place.

However, there seems to be a lot of factors that can make or break this. And a Dad who doesn't see the point or hasn't instilled some consideration of others into his children, is a bad start.

Libby34 Fri 21-Oct-16 20:53:34

Welcome to MN, where you'll get eaten alive for being a step parent. Being a step parent myself, I understand your frustrations. Although, I, myself would have no qualms in telling my DSC to use their knife and fork or to sit at the table, just the same as I would my own children or nieces and nephews. I think too many step parents feel like they can't get involved in their DSC's upbringing... when actually, they're in your home, they're part of your family (whether you like it or not!) so they need to follow your rules, and using cutlery is a perfectly reasonable rule. If you don't feel confident enough outright saying "use your knife and fork" you could take the more fun approach - "at dinner time we're going to use great table manners -(explain said manners)- and if you can do this like a super star then we can (insert reward)". If you sit back, do nothing and let it stew it is going to boil over. Be proactive, get involved, help shape her into the wonderful young lady she will be one day, you're her step mum, you're a big part of her life and at the end of the day you're family - families guide each other. My DSC have rules here that don't exist at their mums, and while younger than your DSD they understand what's expected of them here, and we all get along just fine. Well, me and the children do, poor old boring dad often doesn't get a look in gringrin

JenLindleyShitMom Fri 21-Oct-16 20:58:11

when actually, they're in your home, they're part of your family (whether you like it or not!) so they need to follow your rules, and using cutlery is a perfectly reasonable rule.

Actually OP is in this child's home and the actual parent already has his own rules. Why on earth should OP expect to overrule him parenting his child in his house?

Libby34 Fri 21-Oct-16 21:09:46

Jen not quite what I meant! Obviously if they both agree then that's perfect, all I'm saying is I don't feel it's unreasonable for a step parent to remind their DSC to use cutlery or whatever.

When I was a child it was a bit different, because my step dad used to come and stay with us at the weekends so he didn't have the same sort of presence a "regular" step parent would but I still respected him and would listen to him if he asked me to do something. I'm not saying OP should boss her step daughter around, but to encourage her to develop good habits can't be a bad thing.

milkyface Fri 21-Oct-16 21:14:21

If op lives there it is also her home.

Table manners are basic. No excuses.

JenLindleyShitMom Fri 21-Oct-16 21:19:51

Yes it's her home now, but it is also the father and child's home and was before OP came along. OP doesn't just get to rock up and say "woman is here, i'll take over now thanks" her rules are her rules which are fine when it's her child. But this is An existing family in an existing home with existing rules that the father has decided on. His rules mightn't be what anyone here would agree with but that doesn't mean anyone else gets to dismiss his rules for his child in his home just because they don't agree with them.

(Btw not saying OP has any intention of doing that, I'm just responding to posters who are basically telling her to put her foot down)

Libby34 Fri 21-Oct-16 21:34:00

When you become a step parent, you take on a new role. For me, I want to be involved in DSC lives, and that includes me planning fun activities or taking them to the park, I kiss and cuddle them, I read them bedtime stories, I tuck them in and I also remind them to wash their hands after they've been to the loo.
I think the most important thing is finding a way to make it work - OP's current situation isn't working so something has to change. It's difficult, and I at first had to somewhat fake it til I made it. At first it was great, we were new to each other, they were sweet and polite, then after a while their behaviours really wore me down. Luckily my OH has similar views to me, and often takes my advice on how to deal with certain situations. It was hard work but I made charts, we came up with house rules, I forced myself to bond with them, and now I can't imagine life without them. OP it does sound like you're resenting the child a bit, (which is natural!!) but your options are getting involved and trying to bond (once this bond is there giving helpful little hints about manners is easy) or leaving I'm afraid. I suggest talking to your OH, he needs to appreciate what it means for you to become a step parent and he should be encouraging your relationship to blossom not hindering it.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Fri 21-Oct-16 21:41:45

I think the trouble with this situation is that there are no pre existing rules!

Obviously, adjustment needs time. Patience and consideration. But adjustment does need to happen, from children, parent and step parent. And both adults are in charge. Whether they like it or not.

The house is no longer only child and Dads. I think moving into a new home can help, psychologically to get that things are changing. But luckily SM here has already made the big adjustment of moving in, not child or Dad.

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