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Worried about my DSD(27 Posts)
So, a bit of background. DSD is 3, I’ve been in her life for about 18 months. We have about 45% custody. I love her to bits and she’s very accepting of me as her third parent, she doesn’t really remember a time when I wasn’t around and accepts me and my OH together as she’s too young to really remember a time when we weren’t together. My OH and I parent as a couple, I’m very hands on and we both like it that way. We have a good family relationship atm, obviously there are all the trials and tribulations of parenting a toddler together but we take it as it comes!
However... we are both quite worried about DSD’s life with her mum. Her mum is difficult, has been high conflict in the past, emotionally abusive to my OH. She has a chronic illness that we try to be understanding of but we worry about how it impacts DSD’s life.
She doesn’t really take our DSD out the house, the only place she goes is to nursery 2x a week. Other than that it seems like all her mum does with her is sit at home and watches TV. DSD talks about tv a lot and there’s not much she hasn’t seen (including things like The Simpsons which we see as quite age inappropriate for her) and it seems like between that and the tablet she has loads of screen time with her mum which is something we try and limit. Our DSD also started to talk about fast food and it turns out her mum had been feeding her McDonalds a lot and our DSD is consequently very reluctant to eat any fruit and veg despite the fact OH and I are veggie and make lots of healthy and fresh food. DSD is very big for her age and that concerns me quite a lot as it seems due to a poor diet with her mum and lack of exercise. When DSD comes to us she’s often dirty and wearing clothes that smell musty and it seems like she hasn’t had a bath for a while and it seems like her fingernails and toenails don’t get trimmed until she’s with us. The house is also always a total tip when my OH picks her up.
My OH and I are just worried about DSD really and have tried to raise these issues with her but she just gets defensive and plays the poor single mum card so it’s quite hard. Any advice or should I just try and let it go?
You'll get people piling in soon saying to let it go, but it sounds like you care deeply for her and you have her best interests at heart.
The first step should be for your DP to sit down with the mum, just them two, ideally at a mutual location and talk to her in a non judgemental way, ideally in a kind of 'I'm worried for you, is everything okay and can I help with anything?' that way she doesn't have an excuse to fly off the handle. She probably knows all too well that she's not mum of the year if what you're saying is true.
Thank you for your kind and thoughtful reply yeah I really do lover her a lot and I just want the best for her. We would be happy to have her with us more but know it’s a very delicate balance.
Thank you so much for that advice. I think you’re right, I know it can’t come from me or make it feel like we’re “ganging up on her” so I think it needs to come from OH and for him to tread carefully.
No problem at all, it is so hard sometimes isnt it.
Quite a few things there...
- you can't control what she eats or does or watches at her mum's house.
- if she is able to get out to MacDonalds (unless she lives very close) then she is able to manage generally. She is making parenting choices that her father wouldn't but there is nothing you can do about that.
- if she is with you 45% of the time and is bathing and changing clothes with you, it seems highly unlikely she smells or is dirty generally.
- her father is able to trim her finger nails and her toe nails. Why judge her mother on whether she does it? If the nails need cutting, leaving her to go home to see if the other parent will do it is equally neglectful and makes her care into some kind of game.
- it is OK to live in a tip. Plenty of well-adjusted, perfectly nice people do it.
It is shit being a single parent and having to watch your ex girlfriend parent your child. You have far better support for each other, more money and will just be generally more relaxed. Why comments like 'pulls the poor single mother card'? It is hard. Very hard.
I’m aware I can’t control it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not worried about her. I don’t know, it’s a hard situation. I love my DSD and just want the best for her. I’m not suggesting her mother doesn’t but at the same time, me and my OH worry that these are signs she can’t really cope.
Mmm, I disagree with that. Because of the childcare schedule, sometimes we don’t see her for 6 days at a time (we both have her in blocks, if that makes sense). I don’t think it’s appropriate to not give her a bath or trim her nails in that time. We would never NOT cut her nails or give her a bath, just because of the schedule on some weeks it’s something we notice.
I suppose personally I would never make the decision to have a child unless I was ready to do it on my own at some point. Shit happens unfortunately- partners split up, spouses die, life can be terrible. We have our DSD 13/14 nights a month so I think it’s a bit rich she carries on acting like she has it so hard and gets so defensive when we bring up our DSD’s well-being.
It sure is, thank you for being understanding
Can I just say your post didn’t come across as judging, argumentative or ‘mom bashing’ towards her DM, it came across as warm and concerned and the first piece of advice you were given sounds wonderful.
(But for future reference obviously I wouldn’t be concerned about your DSD as clearly it’s wrong and you come across as though you’re saying it’s not hard to be a single parent... yawn)
OP prepare yourself, your going to get some shitty responses very soon..
I completely agree with basil - or does your DP and DSDs mom have a mutual friend that could go to keep the conversation calm? I would say no matter how hands on you are, it would be best just for your DP to meet and talk to her.
I do kind of agree what happens at moms house isnt your concern unless there are safeguarding risks. But I understand why you would be concerned. Does mom have any help? Maybe a cleaner or support worker? If not, could your DP suggest it? Its possible your DSD may become a carer as she gets older, in which case Ss can become involved to help get support in place.
I think your going to get a lot shit for saying "poor, single mom card" - as someone with health issues and an SP it is hard, but I know what you mean some people seem to use it as an excuse for everything. However if she has health problems and is unable to work, she may be poor and could be struggling, which is why I think approaching it with, 'we're concerned about you, what can we do to help?' would be best.
You clearly love and care for her, hope the talk goes well.
You don't need to cut nails every few days??
@bullyingadvice2017 I would disagree with that. I need to cut dd2 (6) nails once a week. Exh never bothers so I know at half term they will come back long and dirty.
My dds come home dirty and they only go for 3 nights so I can well believe the op.
Yanbu. Looking after one 3 year old alone isn't that hard and a good diet and a bath are basic care needs.
Looking after one 3 year old alone isn't that hard
I wouldn’t judge until you’ve lived her life.
I need to cut dd2 (6) nails once a week
The OP suggests they go for no longer than 6 days without seeing the child so it’s just a non- issue, isn’t it?
Shit happens unfortunately- partners split up, spouses die, life can be terrible. We have our DSD 13/14 nights a month so I think it’s a bit rich she carries on acting like she has it so hard and gets so defensive when we bring up our DSD’s well-being
Except it’s not your life that went to shit, is it? You’re not having to stand by and watch your ex play happy families whilst you struggle. It’s a ‘bit rich’ a new partner considers herself the ‘third parent’, judges how often you cut your child’s nails and the food you give her (which, unless you’re living in her house, you really have no idea about) and insists on telling you how you’re doing it all wrong. All depends where you’re standing.
OP you were good until you came out with the utter judgemental bollocks about "when to have kids and knowing you could cope".
I finally had 2DCs after 12 yrs of marriage - I thought I could cope, I thought I had a partner - the twunt ran off with the OW and nothing prepared me for being a "single" mum - because that is what she is - you and your partner are a team - 2 people working together is so much easier than single Mum being judged by someone who does not actually do it aone.
Concern is fine but not the judgemental bollocks you later spouted.
I imagine that you met your SD as a cute toddler, you invested yourself in her and see her as your own. The problem (for you, but for sure not for SD) is that she has a mother who doesn't have the same views. That's hard for you, but if you put yourself in the mother's shoes, no parent likes to be told that their parenting is not good, especially not by the new woman!
We have SD EOW and I've seen things with which I don't agree, including not particularly healthy food, very late bedtime, no development activities, deodorants with strong perfume at 9 because the mother is worried that SD smells (at 9!?), not making sure SD is properly dressed for winter, which results in her being cold and not wanting to go outside, i.e. staying inside watching videos, etc. My DH has a good relationship with the ex and has no problem being firm when necessary, but he doesn't feel that he has the right to tell the mother what to do with the daughter on her time. The only thing he (and me) can hope for is that whatever we tell her (about getting enough sleep, dressing appropriately, doing exercices) will sink in somehow. I myself buy her books to compensate for only watching tv series and videos at her mom's and after some resistance, she recently read a thick book without pictures and liked it! When she has constipation (a common issue she has which doesn't seem to bother her parents), I explain to her the importance of eating probiotics in yogurts and she seemed interested in knowing that....
So you can just show the exemple of what YOU consider a healthy lifestyle and hope that she might adopt at least part of it. The problem is that kids love junk food and even if she lived with you full time, she would have been exposed to it elsewhere. FWIW, I used to be a single mother and did many activities with my son, gave him veggies, but as soon as he discovered junk food, that's all he wants and he's not interested in any sport, despite me making him try plenty of them, he actually prefers staying inside watching TV and play video games, despite me only providing a console at 10 years old and always making him go outside, so in my experience, even the "good" example doesn't always pay off. At least not while they are still kids and don't care about health.
Really, really good advice. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to this!
Yeah this. Also I’ve noticed if we don’t cut them every 4/5 days or so she scratches herself in her sleep? She’s a really wriggly sleeper.
Thanks for the advice
Thank you. And yes I am an awful person for being concerned about my DSD of course ;)
I'm sure you care about the child, but to be honest, I can see why the mum might not engage with you. You sound overly involved at only 18 months. Referring to yourself as her parent? Even your username. It all sounds very intense and full on for having been in her life for a short period, aged 3 or not. And do you realise you refer to her throughout as "our DSD"? She is her fathers child. Your boyfriends child.
You seem to have acquired quite a lot of information regarding the parenting skills of the exw. Where did you find out all this info? Can’t be from the three year old. If a three year old is asked what they did at their dms the day before you can bet the story will not be accurate. I think you are far too invested over the life your dsd has whilst at her mums - must be difficult having someone who assumes ‘the perfect parent role’ stood there diarising your every move, and constantly judging everything you do.
No one is criticising you for caring - my criticism is the condescending crap about the child's mother and the fact that nothing prepares you for being on your own looking after your DCS and having your EX criticise your every move - what you feed them, activities, washing dressing, cutting nails etc.
As to not bathing - very few kids "smell" in 4-5 days of no bath. Mine has gone 6 days without a "bath" due to lines and dressings. Def did not smell, bit grubby round the fingers but def did not smell at 3 yrs old
@supermamabear - I am an dm & a sm and as both I can say that you are waaaay out of line here!
At only 18 months in & with a child that young she is NOT "our dsd" - she is your bf's child.
I appreciate that she is living with you a lot & that there may be concerns regarding her dm but those are your bf's concerns and not yours.
Other posters are right in that SHE is a single mum & parenting is tough enough without having to do it alone - it takes time to get yourself established.
I was in the same situation as @stuffedpeppers & the initial problems I had with my kids dsm were that in the early days when she was still "dad's girlfriend" she would constantly overstep the mark especially with my daughter who found her investment in her bewildering & annoying. There were 2 of them in it in that my exh constantly passed the parenting to her (inc. things like emergency visits to the doctors) & I had many an argument with him regarding who the children's other parent was - ie him!
In truth things only really changed when his dp became pregnant & became invested in her own kids. It's not that she started to neglect mine - far from it - but she relaxed & stopped behaving like their mum & now they (& I) have a far better relationship with her.
You need to relaxed, step back, support your bf if he has concerns & wants to tackle them. But please stop behaving like this little girl's mother. You will confuse her, annoy her dm & create a whole heap of expectation for & from yourself.
The screen time you need to let go entirely. You can't control what happens in her house if it isn't neglectful. As much as you love your DSD all parenting conversations should ALWAYS go through your DH. If you want the best outcome for DSD this is the path to success. As for the weight issue take her to the GP and express your concerns. If the GP agrees with you they might make a referral to a dietician. Then mum and dad can take her together to that appointment and hear it from a neutral third party. We had the opposite problem with DSS who was painfully underweight and his mum wasn't addressing it. But once it was professionals speaking to her directly it got much better.
Tbh OP you sound like your hoping that your boyfriends daughters mum fails; so that you can take over as the caring 'third parent' and everyone will tell you how wonderful you are.
You're not this childs step-parent. No where near it.
You are her dads girlfriend. Don't overstep the mark. It's been 18 months for goodness sake! She's still tiny. She has a mum and a dad, she doesn't need anyone else to fill those roles; she especially doesn't need a 'third parent' - talk about confusing the poor girl.
It's lovely that you care about her the way you do, but it's far too much, far too soon.
If there are really issues with her mum then it's for dad to sort out.
I would advise you to stay out of it no matter how long you'd been together; you can't get burned if you don't say or do anything. Just support your boyfriend.
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