guilty dad syndrome issues!

(19 Posts)
timelord92 Wed 09-May-18 11:22:11

Sorry in advance for the long post but I need to vent.

I need some help with this as I’m at my wits end and its starting to affect our relationship. My boyfriend has what I’d call ‘guilty dad syndrome’ with regards to his 14 year old daughter and its causing me a lot of stress. I can understand the reasoning behind it as he’s scared that if he disciplines her or tells her something that she won’t like then she may not come back (which is valid as it has happened before on 3 occasions for varying lengths of time since we’ve been together – (within 3 and a half years).

It didn’t seem to grate on me so much in the past I’d just let it wash over me but since having our own baby the resentment is building up. In the past, even way before I came on the scene, contact was always EOW, with alternate Mondays, and every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Since the baby has been born though it changed from that to every sat to Tuesday morning as my step daughter wanted to stay more. The ball has been firmly left in her court. I actually thought at the time this was an excellent idea as I didn’t want her to feel pushed out. I offered to give her the bigger room out of the two children’s rooms too for the same reason but now I’m wondering if that was a mistake as she leaves all her belongings in her mums (apart from the bits of clothing, toiletries, etc I’ve bought her for our house), which means that our daughter who lives here full time has got the tiny room trying to fit all her belongings in.

Whenever she is here, he treats her like a princess who doesn’t have to do anything or think for herself. I keep getting told how controlling her mother is who won’t let her do anything without her say so. This may be a contributing factor but I think my boyfriend should still enforce some rules for this house regardless of what her mum does. Fortunately, he has told her to clean her room when she’s leaving for her mums, which means that at least that is left in a clean state which I’m told is quite good for a teenager. However, that still consists of just straightening her bed covers, turning the switches off and bringing whatever glasses she’s used downstairs, which takes all of 5 minutes. The problem is that this still leaves the bigger chores to deal with such as hoovering the floor, dusting round, changing the bed covers, washing the clothes, etc. She doesn’t even empty her bin, which when I last looked was overflowing. And guess who does all this stuff – ME!. If I didn’t it just wouldn’t get done.
This is all fine at the minute me doing it while I’m still on maternity but what’s going to happen once I’m back in work when there is no time? To be fair, he does hoover up too but I do end up doing the main share of the chores and organise all of the outings that we go on.

When I’ve brought it up to my boyfriend he’s said that we can’t get her to do too much because she’d be like a slave then and what she does was good enough for him. Am I wrong for thinking that as she is here for the same length of time as in her mums then she could at least do the chores related to her own bedroom? It’s not as though I’m saying I want her to change our bed covers or something. When I was growing up it was my responsibility to clean up my own room. What chores do you think are reasonable to expect?

The only time we had a big argument over it he turned it around to me and brought my mum into it saying that I don’t expect the same from my mum what I expect from his daughter. Such as putting her dishes straight in the dishwasher, etc. The way I see it though is that my mum is here as a guest helping us out with the baby, while my step daughter is living here part of the week so needs rules to develop into a decent independent human being. Am I wrong here?

It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just the chores but there are a multitude of things which are just off. For instance, she always goes and sits in the front of the car as she doesn’t want to have to deal with the baby crying if her dummy comes out. She constantly pulls him up on things all the time too like if we mentioned that he ate a whole ice cream thing while she wasn’t here she’d say how she’s not allowed to do that. If we are sitting on the table outside she will sit with her feet up on one of the chairs so someone doesn’t have a seat. When we go out for the day, we will all be carrying stuff like we are hiking to a festival, while my boyfriend allows her just to follow behind with just her phone in her hand. She has to be constantly reminded to being things from her mums – tablets, books for school, homework, etc. There’s been too many occasions where she has come to ours and my boyfriend has had to drive back to hers to get something she’s forgotten. He does tell her he’s not doing it again but then he does.

The other day I made a roast dinner which took me three hours, for my grandad’s birthday, she was allowed to sit there playing on her phone at the table the whole time (whoch grated on me because she then pulled her dad up about doing the same thing when me and him were eating at the table), her dad let her eat a full bowl of rusks 2 hours before dinner was served which then obviously meant that when it was time to eat she looked at the plate and told her dad she was only eating the roasties. To me that’s disrespectful! She then went on to have ice cream and sweets straight after it though!

I’ve never known a child so tired and sleeping all the time either. Every time she comes down from her room she’s moping about the place like she’s been out on the tiles for days on end. I have wondered whether there’s some depression or something there but my boyfriend just strugs it off as ‘oh its just a teenager thing it’s what they are all like’. The problem is she has no friends either. She comes every weekend and she never visits friends. Anything she wants to do like see a film it always seems to be her dad’s responsibility to do that with her. I’m all for them spending time together (I don’t know how many times I’ve suggested it) but to me this seems very unhealthy.

I just feel like the weekends when we should be relaxing I’m running round like a stress head and I’m looking after 3 baby’s in the house. I’m starting to worry that the baby is growing up in an environment which is strained because it’s all geared towards making sure that my step daughter is catered for and I’m panicking that she’s missing out. If I suggest going swimming for example, we can’t go unless my step daughter comes. If I suggest going on my own (so I can relax) with the baby but he is off work he says he doesn’t mind but his body language tells me differently. We are talking about going to Disney in a few years and he’s even talking about that being for my step daughter even tho she’ll be 18 then.

I just don’t know what to do. I’m trying not to be resentful but it’s hard work. Recently, I’ve started going out on my own some weekends but then it just comes back once I’m back in the house. I’m starting to lose respect for him and sex doesn’t even enter my head anymore. He did start helping me with stuff last time we had an argument but its back to me doing everything. I have read advice about just letting them get on with it but it’s hard to do that with a baby growing up in it.

Any advice I’d appreciate. Please help!

OP’s posts: |
SummeryNights Wed 09-May-18 11:28:18

Lots of the things that are annoying you sound pretty standard for a teenager.
But you shouldn't be cleaning up after her - her father should be either getting her to do it, or doing it himself.
In the old adage, you don't have a DSD problem, you have a DP problem. I think you know that. Would he consider couples counselling with you?

Aprilmightbemynewname Wed 09-May-18 11:30:00

I would make plans for you and your baby at the week ends and leave them to it. If he complains just tell him you are having quality time with the baby while he does the same with dd. Back away from anything she does wrong and leave him to it. Shut her bedroom door and leave it for him to deal with. I agree the baby should have the bigger room full time also.
Oh and my exh was Disney Dad, my ds's are nc with him after realising they needed parenting and he couldn't /wouldn't do it.
He is in for a rough ride but when he won't listen to you then it's for him to sort. Don't get into discussions about her for a while and see how he copes.

SandyY2K Wed 09-May-18 13:21:25

Teenagers are always on their phones. Don't be getting bothered by that.

Regarding her room in a must learn to turn a blind eye and she can return to the mess the next time.

Just keep her door shut so you don't see it.

Is there a reason she can't wash up the dishes/ glasses she's used? Have you ever asked her?

Regardless of body language from your BF...keep going out with your DD when you want. Do not put your life on hold or pander around their needs.

NorthernSpirit Wed 09-May-18 13:37:28

Kids are inherently lazy and step kids play homes off each other. Add to that Disney dads and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Had this with my DSD (now 13). Told us she didn’t do anything at mums and judging that she couldn’t strip a bed, make a bed, use the kettle or a toaster (let alone cook a meal) i’d say that was about right....

If you don’t teach her these basic skills and independence you’re in trouble. You have a OH problem. You need to decide what you want her to do and stick to it. You aren’t her slave. If she doesn’t do it, your OH should. If she doesn’t do it, he’s creating an entitled princess.

Handsfull13 Wed 09-May-18 15:51:24

You definitely have a dp problem that is causing a DSD problem.
I would continue doing everything for you and your baby but leave him and his daughters things to him.
If he says she can't do it then he must do it himself and make that very clear to him.
We have my SS 15 every other week and I expect at the end of the week his bedroom is tidy, any clothes put away, all glasses brought down and two piles of washing - light and dark.
I do the washing because I have baby stuff that goes on a lot so it's handy to have everyone else's washing to top up the loads.

You need a frank discussion about what you expect in your relationship and how your home runs. I'd even tell your dp that his Disney Dad attitude is making him unattractive.
Ask him why you can only do things DSD wants to do and when your baby if big enough to ask for things is he going to continue putting her needs first.
He needs to understand that his way isn't a long term plan and slowly changing things will be better for everyone then a sharp change when it gets too much.

swingofthings Wed 09-May-18 16:39:39

You kind of described my kids at the same age. I was as exasperated as you by their behaviour (DS still in the mist of it). Is your SD that different to a large number of teenagers her age? No. Does this mean you shouldn't be annoyed by the behaviour? No. However, if you are going to raise it, you'll also need to find things to be positive about as otherwise, she'll see you as the big nag and will just end up hating you.

Also, maybe you can try to talk about it with your boyfriend without making it that her behaviour is so bad, she isn't a lovable person, as that's often how it comes across, so he will automatically go on the defensive, even if he agrees with you.

You're absolutely right that he can't compare your mum visiting with his daughter living there. It's really about finding the right middle. It doesn't sound like you or your boyfriend will manage to get her to become the perfect teenager you'd wish she was. At the same time, your boyfriend does need to appreciate that there are some things he can expect from her that is reasonable.

As for her bedroom, leave it. It's her room, if she wants to sleep in dirty sheets, that's her problem. If her dad thinks that it is a concern and he doesn't want to pick her up on it, he can do the washing himself. Don't convince yourself that you need to make it your problem, it really isn't.


colditz Wed 09-May-18 16:44:16

To him, your baby and that fourteen year old interloper to your baby paradise are one and the same. They are his daughters. They are both his daughters and he loves them both the same.

Try to remember that. And do bear in mind that if you complain too much, it may be YOUR daughter visiting him with a woman who doesn't like her very much.

The fourteen year old's behaviour is perfectly normal. She's messy, sometimes disrespectful, and she sleeps a lot. NORMAL.

colditz Wed 09-May-18 16:46:57

For instance, she always goes and sits in the front of the car as she doesn’t want to have to deal with the baby crying if her dummy comes out


NorthernSpirit Wed 09-May-18 16:55:21

@Colditz - why the anger? Are you a stepmum yourself?

The poster is asking for advise. Lots of statements. What’s the advise?

NorthernSpirit Wed 09-May-18 16:57:41

OP - children do not sit in the front of the car. That’s we’re adults sit. You need to redefine the pecking order. She sits in the back.

Children are lazy. Agree with your OH what her chores are (your house isn’t a hotel for her to visit).

swingofthings Wed 09-May-18 17:12:49

I agree, she shouldn't be demanding to sit at the front. If the baby starts crying and she doesn't know what to do, or doesn't want to deal with it, you stop the car and do so yourself, as you would do if she wasn't there.

colditz Wed 09-May-18 18:45:29

I’m not angry. yes, I am a stepmother to teenagers myself. I’m also a MOTHER to teenagers myself. Sometimes I have four teenagers in my house.

The advice I have to give is the advice I have already given

A) this is normal behaviour
B) if the op whines about it too much he might decide to leave and not bother dealing with it, get a new girlfriend, and leave op in the position of sending her own daughter to a woman who doesn’t like her.

Seriously who is shocked that abfoyrteen year old girl doesn’t want to deal with a crying baby in a car? You’re lucky she still comes - ds1 point blank refuses to go to his dads because their baby cries a lot, it’s loud, and he doesn’t want to hear it.

NorthernSpirit Wed 09-May-18 19:22:09

@Colditz - no it’s not normal behaviour for older children to be lazy and entitled. It’s only ‘normal’ when parents breed entitled children who can’t do anything for themselves. Our job as parents is to teach children life skills and to be independent.

Children shouldn’t have a choice to see parents - that’s an adult an adult decision. Your child might not see their dad - but you obviously weren’t that supportive about maintaining children contact.

As for a if the OP wines too much he might leave..... for gods sake - is that really a reason for splitting up divorce?

OP tell your partner how you are feeling and decide a plan.

Aprilmightbemynewname Wed 09-May-18 19:22:19

Has she accepted she has a sibling at all??

Plasebeafleabite Wed 09-May-18 21:02:19

Another one saying normal teenager and you have to foster the behaviour you want to see

It seems sad she does not see friends. My teen can be really hard work when he has to be entertained but I don’t know I have him when he is spending time with his friends. Why is she not seeing friends at weekends?

swingofthings Thu 10-May-18 07:06:19

no it’s not normal behaviour for older children to be lazy and entitled. It’s only ‘normal’ when parents breed entitled children who can’t do anything for themselves. Our job as parents is to teach children life skills and to be independent.
This is so patronizing. I have two children, both raised in exactly the same environment. I spent all my energy and efforts to bring them up to be independent, selfless, ambition and self motivated children.

One has turned out to be the perfect child, ticking every single boxes of what makes any adult think she is an amazing person. The other one is very much like OP's SD.

I too used to think that my kids will inevitably turn out exactly as I set them to become when they were little. I have since learned that although you will never stop influencing your children, you cannot control fully who they will become. I have also accepted that kids grow differently. Perfect children can turn into disturbed adults. Difficult and lazy teenagers can turn up into very successful adults.

I agree that you shouldn't give up and expect to do everything for teenagers just because they go through a lazy stage, however, harbouring the idea that if we are constantly on their back, punishing them for every single time they don't do exactly what you want to them to do, is only going to lead to them hating you and wanting nothing to do with you. That's why most parents of such teenagers try to find a middle way, focus on what is important and agree to close an eye to some other things.

Children shouldn’t have a choice to see parents - that’s an adult an adult decision
Yes of course, when they are still children. Are you applying this to teenagers to though? If so, I'd love to know how you force a 6'1'' 14yo teenager to see a parent they want nothing to do with? Punishing them? My DS's biggest punishment would be to be forced to go to his dad again. He would give up his phone, xbox, friends before he would get in the car to go. That would make a very depressed and angry teenager.

SandyY2K Thu 10-May-18 08:15:37

I have teenagers and they can be lazy at times. I'm often telling them to bring plates/glasses down and wash them. They have turns to wash the dishes and I still have to remind them.

One more so than the other has a messy's a constant headache talking about it, so I don't tell her as much because I have enough other stuff to be doing.

Sometimes I do actually strip her bed and dump fresh bedding on it so she has to make the bed.

I can tell you that if every parent of a teenager started threads about those things...there'd be thousands...the difference is simply that step parents have less tolerance with step children, because that natural love for them isn't there and you didn't specifically choose to have them in your life.

Your SD also doesn't have the bond with your DD that she would with a sibling she lived with full time.

Being a step parent and being a step child can be both be challenging. I can't imagine having to shuttle between 2 homes on weekly/fortnightly basis.

timelord92 Thu 10-May-18 12:40:11


Yes it’s definitely a DP problem he is the parent and teenagers will always try to do push your buttons. We have all done it in the past.

Yes I think he would be up for counselling, maybe it would both do us good. I don’t think anyone with a step family situation gets off lightly, it’s a hard situation to deal with.


That’s a good point about him spending quality time at weekends with DD if I take the baby out somewhere. It’s not always easy taking a baby out on your own when they cant walk yet but I can still have a nice time even just a walk or picnic.

Yeah we should have gave the baby the bigger room but it’s too late now I wouldn’t want to take it away from her now. Hindsight is a wonderful thing lol

I think he’d cope quite well without me mentioning anything as that’s the way it was before I came along but not just with his children but with his ex too.

Yes she has accepted she has a sibling and she will get her out of her chair and hold her but I think she’s not sure what to do with her. She’ll hold her for a short amount of time then give her back. Although she could be nervous because she’s my daughter and not her mums. Maybe she feels if I think bad of her I won’t want her there (her mum does similar tricks I’m told).


True teenagers are always on their phones, but how do you react when she is then telling her dad off for doing the same thing?

So just don’t clean up after her full stop? How about changing her bed covers/hoovering? Would you tell her to do it when it needs doing or should I just tell my bf it’s his responsibility. The problem is that I can’t just switch off as he would have to be reminded in the end that her bed needs doing in the first place 

Oh she does put her dishes/glasses in the dishwasher. She is good with that aspect and doesn’t need reminding.

But yes I think me going out on my own where I want and when is a good shout.

Your right about step situations being hard and her bond with her sister wouldn’t be the same as it would be if they lived together full time.


My DS’s ex won’t allow her to cook anything for fear she’ll burn the house down. She works mornings and evenings when my DSD is going to school and coming home but she gets her up early to make her toast and makes her take a flask of soup to school which she can have when she gets home. We are trying to teach her how to use all our appliances so that if she comes over and we are out she can rustle something up herself. Needless to say she didn’t like the idea at first. If she’s in the house with just me and the baby she would rather wait till her dad gets in than have me cook something for her. I’m not too sure whether that’s cos she doesn’t want to put me out too much or she isn’t comfortable enough for that yet.

He will tell her to do some things but he doesn’t like to say too much because he think she gets a hard enough time at her mums without him being some kind or army general on top.

Regarding the sitting in the front thing, we discussed it last night. We thought maybe putting the baby in the front for now until she’s in a seat where she is facing the same way as everyone else. I usually have her in the front anyway when it’s just me and her.


I never say anything to my DSD about cleaning up I leave that to my DS. But yeah there is the possibility that he will feel im nagging all the time. Its just harder said than done to let things slide and pretend you cant see them. I think one of the problems is that I’m scared that our DD will turn round when she can talk and say why does she have to do something while her sister doesn’t. Will it make her feel less special and that we don’t love her as much.

I have since learned that although you will never stop influencing your children, you cannot control fully who they will become.

Very true actually you can’t control everything. True about turning a blind eye to things that aren’t important too. I did do that in the past but it’s harder for me to do these days. Most of the things aren’t important either. Plus you do tend to pick on things a lot quicker when children aren’t your own.


It may well be classic teenager behaviour but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be pulled up. How are they to learn if we don’t show them! The baby mostly sleeps in the car and cries occasionally when her dummy falls out.

Anyway, the issue isn’t with my DSD its with my DS. I’m the one who gets food in for her while she’s here, buys her clothes so she has some when she visits, buys nic nacs for her room, toiletries, etc. I tell my DS that he should be taking her out on her own as she prob doesn’t want me constantly around all the time. I set up a savings account for her. Even my own family treat her the same as our baby.

The baby will be pulled up too for disrespectful behaviour too.


I’m not too sure why she doesn’t see friends. She talks about her friends in school but we’ve never met any of them and she doesn’t bring them to her mums either. The person she talks the most about is a girl in her school who she is not friends with but she can’t stand her for some reason.

She sticks to her routine every week which is staying in her brothers, ours, having tea in her nans then in her mums the rest of the time. I don’t know whether she feels she can’t do something at the weekend because that’s her dads time.

OP’s posts: |

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