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Newly engaged and DSD unenthusiastic(36 Posts)
Firstly, first time poster so bear with me if I'm hopeless!
I recently got engaged to my DP of three years and we are both absolutely delighted. He has DD9 who I get on great with. She stays with us just slightly less than half the week and there are generally no issues at all. I've played a large part in her life for over 2 years now and I would say we're very close.
The engagement happened when we were on holiday and we video called her a few days later when she was at MIL's to tell her. I had suggested waiting till we were home, but DP wanted to call. At the time she couldn't have been less bothered and didn't really say anything - not sad or upset but not excited either. We put it down to her being more interested in playing about with the face filters on Facebook video calling than actually listening to us and having a conversation.
However we are now home and seen her for the first time yesterday and again she was totally dismissive of everything. She was happy to see both of us, but she wouldn't look at my ring and just kept changing the subject. I want to give myself a shake and deep down I think it's more just a matter of weddings being boring when you're 9 and she's just uninterested, but equally I'd hate to think she's hiding the fact she's upset. DP thinks I'm being ridiculous and worrying about nothing, but it's really getting me down. SIL got engaged at Christmas and DSD was so excited for them, so I can't help but compare her reactions.
I also want to ask her to be a junior bridesmaid, but worried that it will all be a bit too much for her. She's the most kind and loving little girl and I don't think she'd admit to being upset, so I don't want to put her in a position of feigning extra happiness at being asked to be bridesmaid.
Any advice on how to handle the situation and thoughts on the bridesmaid thing would be greatly appreciated!
If your dsd doesn’t want to talk about it, and she clearly doesn’t, I’d leave it alone for a while. She’s 9 so give her a chance to think about the news. And let her have time alone with her dad to ask questions.
Some dcs don’t like change & she’s already been through the break up of her parents. She may have thought her dm & df might have got back together, she may be worried about losing her dad to you or that you’ll have a baby that she’s not keen on.
I’d not go near the bridesmaid thing until her dad finds out what she is worried about. Get your DP to ask his mum if she knows what’s wrong.
I feel rather sorry for dsd. It’s a lot to take in.
I don't think there's any issue with being worried about me stealing her dad, or any thoughts that her parents might get back together - they've been separated for 5 years and her mum has a new partner who ya recently moved in with them and who she also gets on very well with.
There has literally never been any issue with her not getting along with me, we didn't push it but we naturally became very close, so her reaction has come as an upsetting surprise.
I think you're right on the bridesmaid thing and I will hang fire on that for now. I just wondered if making her feel included in it all would help drum up some excitement
Don't expect your DSD to be excited or even happy about you being the centre of attention for the day...
However long ago her parents split your marriage/wedding is a huge flag that things are going to change and in her opinion that may not be a good thing. What if you have children and they get to live with her Dad all the time - where will she "rank".
You say her Mum has a new partner just moved in - that's a lot of change in her life, her Dad has you, now her Mum has him where does she fit into this "coupling"
That's two big changes for her if her mum's partner has recently moved in.
Give her time. Let her dad have a day out with her to talk things through, and then when she's more used to the idea of the wedding let her dad bring up the bridesmaid bit. I don't think weddings are boring when you're 9.
I've already suggested to DP that he takes some time alone to speak to her about it and give her the opportunity to share any worries, but he just thinks I'm completely overthinking things and that there's nothing to worry about.
I hope I'm not coming across as complaining that DSD is not over the moon that we're getting married, or uncontrollably excited that I get to wear a pretty dress for a day, as it is quite the opposite. Rather just suggestions as to how to make the best of this situation and ensure that the close relationship that we have continues.
Thanks for all your thoughts, definitely think you are all right re leaving the bridesmaid thing for now
Even if they've been separated five years it's still a concrete example of her parents not being together and confirmation that it will never change. I think it's a bit like when you're grieving for something and then you're fine until something happens and you're not fine.
Bearing in mind she was very young when they split she might be grieving for the loss of that family unit now. My mum died when mine and my sister's children were small. My eldest niece suddenly started grieving years later and camhs advised that we often grieve for things at an older age as we were too young to process them at the time and this is normal.
I know my children sometimes still wish that me and their dad were still together and we split nine years ago.
I would just leave it for a while, not really bring it up unless in passing and wait for her to process it.
I don't think you are overthinking it. Your DP needs to imagine what it's like to be in her shoes. How would he have felt at 9 if his mum had a new partner move in and his father had announced a second marriage?
Her parents may have been apart but these are major life changes for her.
He grew up in a very similar situation, although he was slightly older when both parents met someone new and I think because he dealt with it 'fine' he assumes that DSD will be the same.
DSD is very mature for her age and very intelligent and I think he forgets on occasion that she's still a little girl who needs reassurance. I think I will ask him again to speak to her and if he doesn't I might see if mil or sil would be willing to have a chat with her
I think it's a good idea to ask her GM or aunt to talk to her as well as your DP. There's also the issue of how well she gets on with her mother's new partner. It's different when you actually live with someone.
Thanks, good to talk it through with someone other than DP with his head firmly buried in the sand!
All the signs that we're getting is that she gets on great with mums new partner, this is genuinely the first indication ever of her being even remotely unhappy about anything connected to her now extended family on both sides. I guess it's just hard to know what exactly has being going through her head.
She gets dropped off in the morning and we have her through to Wednesday. I think I'll avoid any wedding chat and give her some time alone with her dad and take it from there
I know it’s not helpful but my parents split when was 7 and mother had a new partner when I was 8. Still together over 20 years now. I would say it’s only in the last 5 or so years I would have mentally accepted a marriage. I have no idea why, as I don’t particular like my father and they’re better off separate. I also like my ‘stepdad’ very much. The thought of them marrying though was very hard to bare. I know this is no help whatsoever but just to say I think her reaction is very normal and not a reflection on you at all
My advice would be for her dad to bring it up with her one on one and explain she’s allowed to feel upset and feelings she can’t explain then he can help his best to alleviate any. He definitely needs to listen to you regarding this
Her mum's partner has just moved in and you've got engaged - they are big things for her to process.
I agree with PP about her having some one on one time with her dad until she gets her head around it all.
It's really lovely to read a thread where everyone is working together for the good of DSD .
If she kept trying to change the subject you should have taken it as a hint she didn't want to talk about it.
She's only 9. There's a whole lot of change happening in her life at the moment. Give her a break.
It's very sweet that you're so considerate of her feelings.
I notice that she stays half a week with you. Is that still working for her now that she's getting older? I would hate t be 'staying' at two different places, rather than having one home. Especially as each place gets new permanent family members who can stay there all the time, while I'm just the visitor.
You say you got engaged during a holiday. Did she know about the holiday? Could she be upset that you went on holiday - especially if somewhere very nice) and didn't take her and then called her to announce your engagement which she could ha e perceived at rubbing it in. Did you go when she normally would have been staying with you?
That or she is annoyed you are making a big deal of it for what she considers irrelevant to her. DH asked me to marry him during a weekend away. My kids were 12 and 9. It wouldn't have rossed my mind to call them to tell them because it was such a scoop to them. They were happy for me when we did tell them, but they were much more excited at the news of a party of their football team winning!
@Theansweris to be clear, I wasn't harping on about it continuously. We told her during the call while away and then brought it up again when we were back. As mentioned, she seemed uninterested and we shut up. That's been the end of it
@Waytooearly it's maybe something to look at but no obvious problems at the moment. I think she enjoys it this way as she has time to get fully settled for a few days at each home, rather than the upheaval of coming for a day or overnight and back again. She has everything she needs here and regularly has friends over etc. I think/hope she considers this to be home as much as her mums place. Definitely something to consider as she gets older though!
@swingofthings possibly could be, although she didn't seem bothered at all about us going away aslong as she gets a present back! We've gone away without her a few times and she's generally fine. The last 2 years (since I've really got to know her) we've took her away in the summer and she seems perfectly content with that. It also allowed her to spend time with her gran and aunt who she doesn't see as much as she did previously as we moved away and she loved that.
I did suggest waiting until we got home to tell her; partly for the reason you mentioned and partly because I knew it was big news for her and thought it might be best, but DP was worried about her overhearing others and learning the news from someone other than us. The reaction your kids had was kinda what I expected - pleased enough but probably more concerned about what's for dinner or something!
I was 10 when my mum and stepdad decided to get married. I love my stepdad and have liked him ever since he was just a family friend, but was upset about them getting married because I was afraid that they would split up and it would be harder to recover from if they had made the big commitment of marriage. My mum's response was that she hoped they wouldn't, but if they did, we would deal with it. 25-odd years later, they're still very happy. It could be something like that with your DSD - it maybe not at all.
She might accept you going away without her, but that doesn't mean she doesn't wish she was there too. It could make her feel a bit rejected but able to cope with, but the added excitement of the engagement might have been the trigger for really feeling rejected and the call would have interpreted as rubbing it in her face, ie. 'Oh we are so excited and having a great time, we wanted you to know, hope your happy for us even though you would love to be here too'. I think your oh acted in a very self-centered way assuming she would be happy for you two. It's putting emotions of an adult on a still very young child.
Hmm. She's 9. They can have some very peculiar ideas when they're nine.
My first thought was, "get married = have babies" to a nine year old. Remember, she doesn't know you're already having sex, she may only have a very ropy idea of the existence of sex, and maybe doesn't really know at all. To her, sex isn't what makes babies - marriage makes babies, and you've just told her you're marrying her dad.
Secondly, does she have any idea of how a marriage between you and her father will change her life? My stepkids were really worried when I moved house in case their dad moved in and didn't see them any more. I have no idea why they thought that, as I moved to the other side of my town and they already live 40 miles away, and came every other weekend to stay even though he didn't and doesn't live with me... but they were 7 and 9 and children don't have enough knowledge of how adult relationships work to understand anything at that age. perhaps, to your stepdaughter, marriage is a bad thing - when her mum and dad were married, they argued and then split up, right? maybe she doesn't want you and her dad to argue and split up.
Thirdly, her disengaging isn't the same as not being interested or not listening, it means she is trying to carve out processing time to handle the news. She needs to sleep on it. She will need to talk it through with people she considers sensible experts - other nine year old girls .
You sound very thoughtful, and like you have her best interests at heart, and no child will suffer from having an adult like you around.
OP. you were right and your DP was wrong in the timing.
Mum has new partner recently moved in - major upheaval. Bet she was just told that as well!
Dad goes off with you, gets engaged and tells her via facetime !
Third major decision in her life, where she has had no control and will impact her massively. Parents split, mum gets new DP, Dad gets new DP - where do I fit into the new happy family set up? No one wants me around.
Give her time, do not big it up - your DP needs a kick up the balls for insensitivity!
I'm in a similar position to you OP.
Youngest SC excited and Eldest not really interested at all. We've asked them about 6 months before the wedding what they feel comfortable doing and OH checks in with them when I'm out to check they aren't just being polite. Youngest is happy Daddy is happy. Their mum has someone else so this has helped I think. As it's getting closer the eldest is starting to ask more questions and it seems like she's looking forward to the party side of things so we've asked her to help with the disco playlist.
RE Bridesmaids we gave them a few options and they went for standing with Daddy at the end as I walk in and then they'll go and sit with their grandma. Youngest will have a nice dress, eldest just wants a smart top and jeans.
We are being careful with readings and speeches to avoid any "one true love" style things and not putting too much attention on them as they are both quite shy.
At that age it can also be difficult for a child to put their finger on and articulate what they're feeling – so many of the suggestions on this thread might be true, AND in a nine-year-old's brain it might be as simple as "I feel funny about this and I don't know why."
I'm with @Baby1onboard11 when (s)he says My advice would be for her dad to bring it up with her one on one and explain she’s allowed to feel upset and feelings she can’t explain then he can help his best to alleviate any
The two of you might also want to talk a lot around her about how much she's been a part of this decision: you're marrying her dad, and that's also a mark of how happy you are to have HER in your life...
Good luck with this, OP – I think you're thinking about all the right things and I have no doubt with this level of care and attention paid to DSD's heart and wellbeing, you'll all come out fine. And congratulations on your engagement!
Thanks everyone, it's reassuring to know I'm atleast thinking the right things!
I don't think it's anything to do with her being worried about future babies - she's desperate for a brother or sister and I've been managing her expectations for the last year that for us that's a very long way off. I also don't think it's anything to do with the uncertainty of how it will affect her - the affect will be non-existent, we've got a house together already and nothing will change except my name. Of course she's 9 and might not realise this, but I'm not sure that's the issue either way. My DP was ever married to her mum so I don't think there's any connection there.
I was brought up by my dad and he had a few partners when I was young. In particular, my sister mum who I hated and made my life a misery for many years. It's been so important to me for it to be different between DSD and I and I just really don't want to upset what is currently a great relationship between us! Thanks everyone for all your thoughts!
@PastaCake good luck with the wedding! It's good to know I'm not alone in this situation! I had already thought the same about readings and speeches etc and had thought about a slight special mention to DSD. That's something to think about nearer the time and once we have a better idea about how she is feeling about everything!
@ladybee28 thank you for your congratulations, this situation aside, I am absolutely over the moon! I have no doubts about how strong my relationship with her is, so I do think your right - she just feels weird about it and needs some time to process. Thanks for your thoughts!