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Help! 11 Yr old SD problems(27 Posts)
Hi I'm new to this so hope this message in the right place.
Can anyone in a similar situation with an 11/12 year old daughter offer advice please?
My partner and I think biological mum is bad mouthing "stepmums".
We are now getting married (June 2019) and SD is acting up. Calling her dad by his name not dad. Physically placing herself between us at every opportunity, on a walk, stood in the kitchen etc. Ignores any conversation about wedding. I've had the "your not my mum" quite randomly with no context. My mum this and that. I so far have said very little and made no upset or angry comments but am becoming frustrated. We are trying to be extremely patient with her and understand that she sees the wedding as "a loss" to her life psychologically. I think if her mum could say "it's OK to like SM" SD wouldn't feel disloyal. I just want her to be happy and us all to get on when she visits. Not to be another mum.
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Is she being involved with the wedding? Is she going to be a bridesmaid for example?
If you’re not already (And providing she wants to) then why not let her feel like she’s part of the wedding too by helping choose flowers or the cake etc?
This will be difficult for her and it’s great that you’re being understanding. Does your DP get on well enough with his XDP to be able to talk to her about this?
Been there, done that.
Her Mum may very well be bad mouthing you. You can't do anything about it, ignore it. Don't rise to the bait or retaliate by bad mouthing her. However you are tempted, NEVER badmouth her Mother to her. It achieves nothing except more conflict.
In our early days I got lots of "Mum says you're going to leave Dad" "Mum says your're a snob" "Mum says *insert random insult*" Each and every time I replied with "That's interesting" or "Is that so?" or "That's really sad that your Mum feels so unhappy to be saying things like that". It stopped pretty quickly. I also had "I want Mum and Dad to get back together. I don't want you here". The fact that her parents had split long before I came on the scene was irrelevant. I was unknown and and therefore a threat to the status quo.
We'd buy a picture to hang on the wall, the topic of how Mum was a great artist would be raised. I'd wash dishes, it would be mentioned how Mum preferred to do it this way or that. I'd do a roast dinner. Mum was apparently an expert in the kitchen and her food was "to die for". Again, I just responded with "That's interesting" or "It's good we all have our own way of doing things" or "I admire people who are able to take raw ingredients and make an amazing meal" etc.
From my experience I'd hazzard a guess that she's scared of how you will impact on her life. She's worried that if her Dad loves you, that means there is less love for her. She's scared she's going to loose him. Dad's girlfriend is one thing. Dad's new wife is a whole different ball of wax. As she sees it, her whole world is turning upside down and she has no control over any of it, and that's very frightening.
Your partner needs to reassure her, lots. Over and over. Tell her that he loves her, that marrying you will not change that, nothing can change that. He needs to tell her that the love he has for you is very different from the love he has for her. My DH used the analogy of cars and ice cream. He said he loves cars, they are his favorite vehicle in the whole world. He also loves chocolate ice cream. Its his favourite dessert in the whole world. He can love cars and he can still love ice cream, because they are different. He needs to tell her that she is his number 1 girl, his daughter, and always will be. You are his number 1 woman, his partner, and that's ok because it doesn't stop her being his no.1 girl. You're different and the love he has for you both is different. He has a big heart, there is room for you both etc.
It's possible her Mother will say that it's ok for her daughter to like you. Unlikely, but possible. Personally I wouldn't hold your breath. Sadly it seems to be the norm for a lot of ex Wives to enjoy the fact that they can cause tension in the new blended family and not care about the damage this does to the kids. Again, this is something your partner needs to tackle. You can't. He needs to tell his daughter that he understands how confused she is and that it's ok for her to like you, and still love her Mum.
He also needs to tell her that you're not her Mum, and it's not your intention to replace her Mum. She has a perfectly good Mum, she doesn't need another one (that may not be true - her Mum may be the worst Mother in the world, but her daughter does not need to hear that). He also need to say that even though you're not her Mum, but you are one of the adults in your house and that alone demands respect and good manners. You don't have to like one another, but you do have to live together from time to time.
I also agree with getting her involved in the wedding where possible. Coax her into it gently. She's going to be part of the blended family, so getting her involved in the "fun" stuff and having a special role in that is really important.
Hang in there, you're doing great.
If she liked you much her mum badmouthing you would probably have the exact opposite effect and she would be defending you.
How long have you been with her dad and when have you moved in with him? Most likely she is struggling to adjust to the changes you coming into her fathers life is impacting on her and blaming you for it.
She is trying to tell her dad in every way she can but saying it verbally that she is unsettled by it all. He needs to listen to her, encourage her to talk about her feelings, hear her and do something about it rather than pretending all is well and expecting her to be happy about the situation just it makes him happy.
Everything that blendingrock says.
What a brilliant, helpful post.
Wow. Thanks for the replies. All very helpful.
I had a chat with her dad last night and he / we are going to action these ideas.
Currently any talk of the wedding is met with silence so yes we will ask her about her feelings and reassure her repeatedly.
She & I usually manage about half hour of getting on really well, playing on the wii games etc before a switch seems to go off in her head and the back chat, attitude starts. It's like she's remembered she "shouldn't" like me.
Any response from a mums side who has gone through this would be welcome too.
I can find little on the Internet from that angle.
It's priority to me that my step daughter is as ok as she possibly can be with all the changes happening.
Hi @RRach3, I'm a mum and a sm.
My kids' dad introduced his new partner very soon after our split (she was ow but kids don't know this & I only mention it as it highlights how quickly she came into the kids lives iyswim). This was 7.5 years ago. At the time my kids were 14, 9 & 6.
3 years ago exh & his dp had a baby & 2 years ago had a second baby.
What I found throughout all this upheaval is that my kids needed me to give them permission to like & get on with both their sm & their new siblings. Their default setting was to 'side' with me. However once they saw that I was civil, friendly & supportive of their sm's role in their lives they went on to develop a great relationship with her. Same goes for their new siblings.
On the other hand my dscs' dm hates me & won't countenance even my name being mentioned & she has done & said some truly awful things over the last 3-4 years which have definitely affected the dscs' relationship with me.
If your suspicions are right you have a long road ahead of you & in truth your dsd may never accept or warm to her dad's new life.
If the dm is reasonable I would suggest speaking to her as a pp said, but if not all you can do is take @Blendingrock's excellent advice & hope that your positivity will dilute her dm's negativity. Also a role in the wedding would really help your dsd. Even if she doesn't appear enthusiastic & may have to downplay it for her dm, she'll be delighted to feel so included.
Great to have your perspective.
Our relationship is really very new (this year) so we appreciate its huge for SD. SD was about 3yrs old when parents split.
I started researching because of this.
"Dad" will defo be on board to speak to mum whatever the outcome.
I hadn't quite thought that the silences regarding wedding conversation were also a loyalty thing but makes sense now.
I asked her as soon as we announced engagement/weddibg to be a bridesmaid so she would feel included and she was fairly happy. It's when she comes back the following week we receive a totally different response to things.
Thanks so much.
It's quite soon into the relationship and also a long time in advance to be planning a wedding when you've been together less than a year and the wedding is nearly the same time away.
Especially through the eyes of an year old, I would say?
Has she just recently started Y7 as well - that's a huge change for her.
It sounds like you're doing all the right things, but it takes time for everyone to adjust at their own pace.
yes, everything blendingrocks says. Don't rely on her mum "allowing" her to like you, it might never happen.
trumpet - how do you know they've been together less than a year? have I missed that?
Yes we got together this year and it's been a whirlwind. We just knew it was right.
I am in my 40's with a 20 Yr old of my own who is living with her own partner. my partner is a little older. We took into account the new school start and although still not ideal let her start school before mentioning the wedding. She has fortunately moved schools with a lot of existing friends and already made new ones.
It is a huge thing for her to deal with and we want to help as much as possible, give her all the time she needs, and not just sit back and say get on with it, hence all this research.
I'm encouraged even more by the great fun we do have, as I said previously, before she seemingly remembers shes being disloyal.
A long road ahead but I'm not detered. Her well being is paramount.
How big a wedding are you planning?
Tbh, considering it's 8/9 months away, I probably wouldn't mention it unless she brings it up until much nearer the time.
Instead, as blendingrock says, focus on her, her new school, her relationship with her father etc. Even though you're obviously involving her in the wedding planning, there's no denying that it's you and her dad centre stage, not her and her dad or her mum and her dad, and that's bound to bring up a lot of confusing emotions for an 11 year old.
Blendedrock gives some great advice and I think using that advice would help to improve the situation.
Another three cheers for blendingrock here. Also be long sighted. She won't be a child for ever but she will remember any injudicious loss of temper on your part at this stage. Take it all on the chin and before you know it she'll be an adult and able to see things with an adult's eyes. Don't burn your bridges now.
Yes I agree @blendedrock definitely has a lot of fab ideas and insight.
The wedding is the least of my worries so to speak and as a very small low key one will take very little time to plan.
So going to concentrate on SD and iron out her worries as best we can first.
I'll keep you posted with results.
Thanks to all. Very much appreciated.
Also she's 11. Calling her dad by his first name to try and get a rise out him - age appropriate and normal. One of my sister's went through that phase with my mum recently. Drove her crazy (which is why the sister did it). Eventually sister got bored and it trailed off.
Backchat and attitude - again normal.
Decide with your partner how to handle it - ignore the low level stuff and clear consequences (known in advance by her) for anything more. With him leading with her.
Plus love bomb - mainly from him. Lots of attention and love and reassurance.
@blendingrock has very good advice.
Take no notice of any poster inferring that a child would never take against a SM they liked even if their Mum didn’t. Nonsense. Loyalty is incredibly powerful, and you could be the most fantastic person on Earth, and in a ‘loyalty bind’ your DSD will take against you.
I also did what blending rock did, spookily familiar, said ‘That’s interesting’ to repeated ‘my mum cooks it this way... my says you are a hypocrite... ‘ etc. Never once bad mouthed their mother. I think her. Influence was clearest when I bumped into her and my youngest DSD out shopping. It was several years in. I’d looked after said DSD for 4 years every weekend. I said Hello and was met with an aggressive glare from her mother, and DSD completely blanked me. I was devastated.
It hit me then that sometimes it won’t change. However I hope that you are luckier and this is not set on stone. Certainly worth trying, DSD May feel less anxious or conflicted later on.
Loyalty sure is a crazy powerful thing. I did some extra reading on the subject and it sure seems to affect just about everything.
My partner is going to have a chat with "mum". He's very good with words and obviously knows mum well.
I've since learned that in his other 2 shortish relationships, since mum, that mum never once asked about the new partner or to meet her.
It's beyond my comprehension that a mum would not want to know the new influence!
I'm sorry some of you had such a rough time. Let's hope it improves, you all deserve it and obviously care greatly about your stepchildren.
It strikes me children are used as pawns frequently in these situations.
What happened to people considering the consequences of their own actions.
I'd just like just happy, healthy children.
Thanks everyone for your lovely comments - you made me blush x
Bananas that's awful - and similar situation happened to me too (our experiences are weirdly similar!)
Their Mum doesn't drive so every Friday afternoon for about 4 years I took them to their Mum's and went with DH on Sunday to pick them up, often if DH was working I'd do the pick up on my own. It's an hour each way, so not a small thing to do for them. Not once did their Mum speak to me or acknowledge me at all. Not once did the kids say thank you or speak to me whilst at their Mum's Eventually I called out their behaviour and discovered that it was because of divided loyalty. They didn't want their Mum to know that they actually quite liked me because they knew it would upset her. I was not their Mum so it didn't matter that it upset me. At that point I informed them that their Mum was an adult and quite capable of dealing with her own issues, and whilst I understood their need to protect her, it was not ok to do so at my expense or to be rude. Either they could choose to use their manners, or I would choose to stop taking them. They did improve a little, but I also stepped back (especially as she then moved FURTHER away!) and let DH do most of the running around after that.
I guess it's also because kids don't see adults as people with feelings - like when they bump into their teacher in the supermarket and are shocked. Yes, your teacher is a person who needs to eat.
RRach you sound lovely and I'm sure it will all work out.
OP I’m glad that this may be sorted out with the mother, if she can ease off there are benefits for her too long term. I guess it can increase the bond with mum and child, having a ‘common enemy’. However it’s short lived, as their bond with their father is bound to be damaged surely?
@blendingrock I feel huge sympathies for you. You obviously have been out of your way for your step children, with only rudeness back. Good for you for tackling it head on! It’s true as a child it can be difficult to have that maturity, I’ve said to my DSD that ‘I’m not made of stone’! However, they are obviously strongly aware of the feelings of their mother, and are careful to act accordingly. So the awareness is selective!
Bananas thanks. I'm lucky tho in that it's only the eldest that's been unreasonable on an ongoing basis. The others were challenging at times, but then that can be said of all kids. Awareness is certainly selective that's for sure (especially if they want something!) and absolutely, that need to tell Mum what she wants to hear can be strong (especially if Mum has serious issues of her own!).
Just found time for a quick update.
Things are going well even though Dad speaking to Mum was a major failure. It was met with hostility even though extremely careful wording was used. Mum launched into a rant about the past 7 years and that he should not have relationships! no mention of their daughter in it at all. Long story short Dad gave up when the torrent of ridiculous comments continued.
Dad sees SD twice a week including the weekend stop over and has had a few conversations reassuring, explaining different kinds of love etc and SD's response has been amazing. Between SD & I things are more consistently good.
We found advice from a professional through a friend (she gave much the same advice as @blendedrock and @magda72)
Said that a lot of the comments previously made are clearly "mums words" as the formation of sentences and context are way off for an 11 year old. That Mums own life problems are making her feel insecure too. I hope Mum soon sees I am not a threat.
SD was a little upset last night and Dad reassured her, after she sat with me totally unprompted, laughing ang joking.
Taking into account a family tragidy, her moving house, a school move, Dad's new relationship, over hearing her on phone updating mum of the conversations with dad (unknown who instigated) and just being an 11 year old I'd say things are going well. I feel so much happier for her and some of the conflicted feelings she was carrying appear to be dissapating. Still a ways to go but a good solid start has clearly been made.
Thank you so much for all your advice, it kept me going this last couple of weeks.
I hope others on all sides of this type of situation can use this to help their family's in some way. ♥
I don't get why years after the end of a relationship.... and neither party making attempts to reconcile...the Ex suddenly becomes difficult.
I can see that it looks like after marriage there's no chance...but 7 years down the line...she must see it's a done deal.
OP... you mentioned she never asks to meet his GFs? Many would say she's got no right to do so ..I don't see that as a falling on her part.
Maybe she thinks he's refuse and tell her to get lost as it's none of her business.
I don't understand it either. I was glad when I heard my ex is happy. I wouldn't like to guess her reasoning/ feelings, I do not know her at all.
I see your point about an ex not "having a right".
Personally, if it was me, I would like to meet the new person in my child's life mainly so the ice is broken should we ever need to make contact say in an emergency.
Maybe she would feel differently about whatever her problem is if we met and I was no longer a blank face. But that's only how I would feel and we are all different. There's no right & wrong.
In the past he has attempted to introduce his previous ex to me when picking up/ dropping off my SD and they were ignored and the door closed.
I can not make things "ok" for Mum sadly but SD is much happier which is the goal.