Jealous SD(36 Posts)
Backstory: I've been with my OH for coming up to 8 years, known SDs since they were 18 mths and nearly 4. They know us as "daddy and icy" and in many ways it's been an easier ride as they don't have the Disney memories of parents together and the dream that if only the wicked stepmonster l would just fuck off their family would be a unit again. That's never been an issue, and I'm grateful.
We have a good relationship, in the main, older SD periods started here and she's very comfortable telling me when she started (I'd sorted pads etc out a few mths ago and we'd had a "practice"), she'll say when she's on etc.
I'm now pregnant (after a traumatic few years of trying and ivf/FET etc). The younger SD is very excited and keen. The older is much more taciturn about it, which is her way generally. I'm not trying to force any sort of "family" thing on them - beyond maybe making it a bit of a family-team effort - all of us vs the baby, and taking about future-stuff, so how when older SD is older it would be cool as she can drive her little sibling to parties etc, so that it's a 'concept' rather than an expectation.
Anyway, older SD hasn't always been VERY jealous. When they were little, she'd have anything her sister wanted, couldn't share, catchphrase was "MINE". She's displaying some jealousy re the baby already - by going back to her mum's and making comments - which are then fed back in such a way that I can only presume the intention to make OH feel guilty.
I don't know what to do now. I'm irritated enough that I'd love to list out all the stuff I do for her, pay for with my own money, arrange for her, am planning to do for her and say all that can bloody stop. That's clearly NOT a helpful option, so I'll keep my fantasy bollockings to myself! BUT should I address the jealousy/sharing concerns on the basis "you're nearly 12 now, so let's think about how the age gap will work and how you want to approach this as it's a change" or just leave her to do/think/--bitch to her mum-- talk to her mum and address it as and when?
How best not to fuck her up basically, whilst not putting her at the centre of histrionics (which may or may not be exacerbated by exW)?!
Thanks & sorry for long post.
Unless her mum has had a baby, her knowledge of babies will be from tv and movies. She may be fearing sharing a room, being kept up at night, not being able to do normal weekend stuff like go to the cinema, the baby wanting to go through her stuff, people cooing over the baby, being asked to babysit, seeing a poet nappy - who knows?
It is very common to feel insecure about a new sibling. Gaining a sibling is apparently on par with your spouse taking a second wife/husband. Until the baby comes and she sees that she is still an integral part of the family I think that you need to try and be understanding. Change is scary and you could say that her jealousy is a testament to the great atmosphere you had in the house over the years.
If the comments are via her mum, I would sit down and have a family meeting to iron out where the baby will sleep, what will be expected of everyone, how it will impact on the step kids, and make it clear she should come to you with any concerns so you can discuss them and find a way that works for everyone.
Give her space and let her figure it out in her head and stop trying to force the issue - she can not visualise driving a car let alone taking a baby that does not yet have a presence in that car.
You say she is taciturn normally, so let her be herself.
She is 12, hormones are kicking in and this is a major upheaval in her life. She would not be human if she did not go home and talk about it with her mother.
She probably does have memories of her parents together , be they good or bad. Their father obviously split up from their mother when DSD2 was a wee baby, if you have known them since she was 18months old, so she will not but 4 is old enough to have memories of the upheaval.
Everything is going to change and massively, they are used to your undivided attention and now they are going to be inconvenient ( you are already annoyed because she is not bouncing of the walls and being happy about it) - she is old enough to understand there will be changes and they will have to share. No kids, step or own like sharing with siblings.
I think she is being a normal teenager - if you are irritated now, then it is going to get worse.
This is an issue in "whole" families which is magnified in step families as daddy now has a childhood lives with him all the time.
Give her time, its early days, if stop discussing anything to do with the baby for a while
She's entering the years of teenagehood where life is about how everything is made personal and their feelings towards event is how it impacts on them fully. Some teenagers go through that stage with little symptoms, some with many! Sounds like your oldest SD might be affected more deeply, so be prepared for much worse!
and taking about future-stuff, so how when older SD is older it would be cool as she can drive her little sibling to parties etc, so that it's a 'concept' rather than an expectation.
Considering the above, I would say that this is not the way to go about it. Clearly, as it stands, she is not overjoyed at the arrival of a new siblings, so trying to sell it to her by linking it with something she should enjoy is only going to make her feel that you are 'selling' the concept to her and doing a bad job at it!
It is likely that the negativity is going to remain until the baby is born. When he/she is, she will either feel even more not interested, or she could 'fall in love' with the baby. Do give her chance then to bond and hope that the latter happens, but if doesn't, let her be. She doesn't not have to want a sibling and she does not have to be excited about it. The more she is expected to be, the more defensive she will turn against everything. What you need to make her feel is that this will be about her and the baby, not about her and her dad and you experiencing a change in your life that impacts on her.
I know it's hard not to see those you are close to excited at what is such a magic moment in your life, but that's how it is. The more you let her feel free to explore her own feelings towards the baby rather than the feelings she should have because they are yours, the more likely she will be to open her heart to this new person in her life.
"...taking about future-stuff, so how when older SD is older it would be cool as she can drive her little sibling to parties."
My parents said stuff like this to me when my little brother was in the offing. Can't say it made me feel very enthusiastic. I didn't really see why my life should suddenly revolve around driving him to parties, or babysitting, or any of that jazz. I was quite happy as I was, thank you very much. I wonder if that might be contributing to your SD feeling a bit meh about the whole thing.
I agree with some of the others here. I don't think talking about the future with the new baby/sibling in it is a good idea at all. The change is what she isn't happy about, so stop bringing up more examples of how her life will be different from what she's imagined. In fact, I really think you should try to stop talking about the baby for a while altogether. Let her come to terms with it in her own time. If you stop talking about it, she may become curious about things in her own time and start to raise the subject. But do it at her speed.
Once the baby is born she may well fall in love with it. But everyone talking about and fawning over the newcomer is bound to cause some jealousy initially. When things settle down and new life becomes the norm that may subside.
Please don't tell her she can drive her sibling to parties.
That won't be a good way to go about it
from family/team effort to driving the new sibling about it may sound to her like you like you have already planned out her babysitting duties
Its not surprising that she doesn't sound to enthusiastic about it.
If you've had a good relationship previously then I'm sure this will be ok. Maybe talk to her about how this doesn't change how you feel about her and focus on the nice things which will be the same and empathise with her.
This isn't going to be something for her to celebrate. Her dad will have another child who he sees every day and who has both of his/her parents at home. Of course she feels a bit pushed out by that.
And, yes, the prospect of endless babysitting isn't going to win her over
The baby is your choice. It is not, and never should be, a family team effort kind of thing.
That's totally wrong. And makes me really angry that you're putting that on to a child.
I'm not surprised she is not taking it well
Even if she was your own DD I think she might be experiencing emotions such as this - and its perfectly normal - she's probably worried that your real DD might take away the security she has in her relationship with you.
I'd completely ignore anything that comes back via exW - on the basis that behaviour that's ignored eventually extinguishes.
And also everything that swing said.
Give yourself a good pat on the back too for being such a considerate DSM. It's bloody hard work.
"She's displaying some jealousy re the baby already - by going back to her mum's and making comments - which are then fed back in such a way that I can only presume the intention to make OH feel guilty."
If you think about it another way, I'm not sure what she's doing is histrionics though - she has feelings, and we're all entitled to that. I think many many dc would feel jealous in this situation, and that is quite natural. It's good, surely, that she talks about her feelings to her dm? What her dm then does is not sd's fault - but I do think sd should be able to talk about her feelings freely to her dm.
Anyway, on to the problem. I think there is no easy answer or magic solution here - it's likely she will be jealous, and being 11/12 is a very difficult age for them anyway - new schools, changing friendships etc - which probably doesn't help. Lots and lots of reassurance and attention from oh, lots of focus on her (and dsis of course!), doing nice things together?
Ha Rizlett, at first I thought you meant ignore everything that Swing said! In fact I see it's quite the opposite. yes, I agree - particularly Swing's bit about not expecting dsd to have the feelings she should have because they are op's.
I suppose to put it bluntly it is very common for elder dc not to be thrilled about a new baby - and that can sometimes be putting it mildly. That is not surprising really. If anything I would be encouraging her to talk about those feelings rather than keep quite about them - although I can see that it can be very upsetting for the adults to hear.
What does your dsd like doing with you op? You obviously get along very well with her which is great - so could you do some nice one to one things with her? (While not neglecting younger dsd of course! - it is hard...)
I wouldn't tell her that she can drive it to parties when the baby arrives-that makes it sound like she's going to be really inconvenienced!
I'd stop mentioning it. When is the baby due?
Who wants to drive a 5 year old to parties? When she gets a car, she'll want to drive it somewhere cool like the nearest city for shopping, the beach, school
or a friend's house not be your skivvy.
Is she aware that you had fertility treatment? If not, your pregnancy is a reminder that you and her dad have had sex and that will be making her shudder.
goodness l17 - thank you for making that clear.
though i often find ignoring what everyone says works a treat...
Thanks for responses.
The car thing came up in a wider conversation about the neighbour's girl doing so for her much younger siblings and tbf SD seemed to think it was a cool suggestion at the time (younger SD said "I can too" and straight away SD1 was taking ownership and saying nope, it'll be ME driving not you etc). I don't have any expectation of babysitting or enforced bonding or any of that. I completely agree with posters who've said it's our choice not hers to have a baby, she didn't ask for it. If she bonds with the baby that's ideal but we can force it. Trying to make it out as a "team" of the four of us vs the baby was our way of keeping the girls front and centre, rather than sidelining them...
Baby is due in 3 weeks now, so I think that might be a trigger for her - seeing such a big bump, "shits getting real" type thing?
Shall keep reminding myself that's she's a teenager, not an adult, and there's a disconnect between her physical and emotional maturity.
Christ just had a thought..... I think a lot of this is the exW stirring. I've just remembered that at the weekend SD1 was moaning about her mum's partners kids & having to "put up" with them on multiple holidays... We don't feed any of that sort of thing back to the ex as it's not helpful for exW relationship and trying to build her own new life. Plus what is said to us is in confidence, and we don't want her to feel that we're reporting back to her mum...? I don't know maybe OH should be feeding it back... but to what end. if the girls have problems with their step-siblings that's up to his ex & her partner to manage?
I really hope her baby comments are in the same vein... just sounding off a bit, but are being ramped up and fed back to us.
I'll ask OH not to say anything to SD1 about it. She might not like to feel her mum is reporting back on her. I'm having my mum & her husband over for our next kids weekend - they are v good at making a fuss over the girls & have a nice relationship...
Take it one step at a time. Tbf we've got to 8 mths pregnant before this being an issue so maybe I'll just focus on counting our blessings?!
I think at 12 she is old enough to start thinking of others feelings as well as her own. I'd call her up on her negative comments.
She is 12, not 5.
You need to take a firm but loving approach 'you will always be our first child and very special, we love you all equally, that will never change. We love spending time with you and can't wait to have this baby, we want to to share our happiness and excitement. You can talk to us about any concerns you have, but negative and dramatic comments will not be tolerated'
"You can talk to us about any concerns you have, but negative and dramatic comments will not be tolerated'
See I'd say that means she can't talk about her feelings freely nothotdog- which is not the relationship I'd want to have with my dc.
Op you do sound very understanding and caring about your dsds. I would say carry on with the attention attention attention to both your dsds (younger one may be feeling anxious as well). Elder one is not even a teenager yet in fact.
It can be very very difficult for dparents to hear negative feelings towards a new baby - it is one of the most 'maturity-testing' things. Joseph and that coat of his speaks a deep truth about sibling feelings sometimes I feel!
Firstly she's the oldest child and that is always difficult. She was an only and then she had to share, firstly with DD2 and now with dc3. She probably feels a bit put out.
Secondly she's nearly a teenager and teens are inherently selfish. They don't think beyond their own needs and wants (most of the time) and whenever they think about anything it will be in a 'how will that affect me' kind of way.
DD2 is used to sharing and will be happy to have another sibling. She has always had one so it's no different for her.
I'd talk on positives like how the new baby will love having two older sisters, how the baby will love them both, learn from them, will want loads of cuddles from them etc. It is hard having a new baby with an existing child, no matter their age, there will always be jealousy. Even my 8 year old regressed massively when DD2 was born and suddenly stopped being able to do basic tasks and needed me to baby her again for a while, it's just a reassurance thing that they aren't forgotten about I think.
So lots of love, lots of attention, lots of talking about her and her activities and interests, less baby talk and keep things as normal as possible for her.
I agree with OP - it could just be a last minute freak out. There's lots of mums on here who freak out temporarily after their baby is born."what have I done to dc1?""why did I do this?" Etc
Never ceases to amaze me that so many step parents and by extension parents expect older children to be happy about a baby who will be coming into their lives and being a full-time part of their family when they are not. Also that any negative comments are attributed to the ex - as if the child shouldn't be entitled to their own opinions on the situation which are anything other than positive.
My DS was twelve when my eXH's dp became pregnant, and to say that he was gutted is an understatement. He'd been an only child for twelve years by then, and suddenly his dad was having a baby who would be living with him full-time while he did not. And my eXH's reaction was to tell him that he had always wanted another child and that we had tried for years to have one and not been able to.... .
I spent much time telling him that his feelings might change once the baby was born because at the moment it was only a concept. They have changed tbh and he does like the baby. He doesn't really have much of a relationship with him though, and is emphatic when I talk about his brother that he's his half brother. His feelings are relevant to him and he's entitled to them.
In terms of driving the sibling to parties etc, chances are she'll have left home by then and really won't be interested. Even if this was a full sibling there's little chance that they would have that much of a close relationship as they won't be growing up together. This is the nature of big age gaps.
As for telling her that everyone will still be equally loved, she very likely knows that this isn't true as this will be your baby whereas she is not. So she knows that the baby is going to come into the house and become the most important part of your lives all of the time.
Agree with I17neednumbers and rizlett's posts and as always WannaBe.
I think the comment she made about her step-siblings at her mum, I think you've got there the root cause of her feelings. She saw younger children coming into her life and being disruptive and demanding attention. Most likely, she is this baby impacting the same way, and anticipating having less time with her dad -'we need to go now because baby needs his feed', 'I can pick you up tonight' because your SM will be out and baby will be asleep', 'Sorry darling, I can't take you away this summer because I can't afford it any longer with baby' ect... Add to this that she might be experiencing young children demanding her attention, pestering her to play, screaming in the morning when she is trying to get a lie in and frankly, you can see why the idea of a baby isn't appealing at all.
Some kids are naturally good with babies and get excited at becoming a sibling. My 12yo DD, but more surprisingly my 9Yo DS were excited when their step-mum announced she was pregnant, but many kids only see babies as pests. To be fair, I used to think that babies were adorable and loved any chance to hold and look after one. Nowadays, I avoid them as much as possible. All I can see in them is noisy, smelly, demanding machines! I do know though that if I ever become a grandmother, I will again think they are the best thing in the world!
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