This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
help & advice please needed(22 Posts)
(Namechanged because other threads could make this outing)
I'll try to set out the facts so as to not drip feed but really need some help on what to do.
I've been with my partner for 5 years. His ex had a long term affair and he tried to work things out with her but after nearly a year they decided to divorce. I met him 6 months after that and everything was perfect from day 1. I have 2 DS, he has 2 DD & 1 DS.
His children refused to meet me for the first 2 years. I think that their perception was that I had been the reason for the divorce (they didn't know about the affair, or any other details). I only saw his children very occasionally over the next year, and then they found out (through gossip) about the affair, and realised I was not to blame, and have been pretty much fine with me and seeing me since then.
The younger one (now 15) is not.
My dp is trying to make an effort to blend things a little more now, especially now that my DSs are both away at uni and so we would like to potentially see each other on the EOW when he has his children - perhaps for me to pop in and join them for lunch, or to go out one eve with him.
The 15 year old DD has now said that she does not want me in her life in any way, and if he wants me there then she won't see him and will stop coming over to his house EOW.
Clearly there is no choice or decision to make. This is his DD, she must come first and he is a good father. Therefore, I now feel I only have a 'part time' dp.
I don't want to be unreasonable, and I am totally in favour of him putting her first.
But how can I reconcile with myself the idea of only being with him EOW, and not being 'allowed' to pop in or be there if she is.
I'm not a bad person, I often spend much time with him trying to do nice things for her (and his other children), and I'm not trying to take him away from her.
Can I accept this - he is quite adamant that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me and that we will work through this, yet I feel like I may end up a few more years down the line feeling very resentful that I don't have a full time partner.
Is anybody else in this situation or can offer any words of encouragement or advice please?
(meant 'and our other children' - his DD and my 2 DS - we spend much time talking about all of them as any couple do, and trying to do nice things / nurture them / grow them etc etc). (My boys are fine with him)
You need to break up. This relationship won’t really work if his kid doesn’t like you - these aren’t the tantrumns of a young child either. At 15 I doubt she’ll change her mind any time soon and you shouldn’t waste time waiting for it.
I am not in this situation but offering you sympathy, teenagers are the pits aren't they?! Has she given any reason for this? What are your current living arrangements etc? Is he planning on blending more so that you can all live together? Does he just have them EOW? Would he be with you the majority of the rest of the time? How often did you see his children up until now?
This may be an unpopular opinion on MN and I totally agree that kids needs have to come first but there is a difference between their actual needs and their whims. Unless there is a genuine reason why she does not want anything to do with you why does she get to dictate the situation, particularly if the other DC involved do not share her views?
I know you have said about having a part time DP for the next few years but at 15, I would imagine the EOW thing will be starting to drop off a bit soon? My dc and sdc are younger but from what I understand generally as the DC get older and get more involved in their own lives they don't want to come for whole weekends? I would give it some time, try not to make a big deal out of it and see how it goes for now.
I don't think I would give it time, yes she will start to live her own life in the next few years and might not be around so much. What happens when she has her own family, wedding, grandchildren.
If she sticks to these feelings where does that leave you in 10 years? If there is no signs that she might soften on these opinions how do you think this could affect your self esteem in the future. You are either going to be isolated or scapegoated.
I would break up. If she is allowed to dictate all the time you have no hope.
It will only get worse as she gets older.
Its not worth the hassle.
I agree with PinkCrayon. If she is allowed this sort of control with no real reason behind it then I would get out.
Parents divorce it's a fact and they will often move on and have another partner, equally for her DM too. It is rather immature of her to be honest to take such and aggressive stance. The fact she feels she should have the control would not bode well going forward.
There was a thread on here ahile back about a SM whom had been so for many years without major issues and discovered she had been totatally snubbed for one of the DSD wedding. Her DH didnt stick up for her and it left irrepairable damage as it was soo hurtful and out of the blue.
It gave alot of us step Mums food for thought about the furture, especially as in this case it was very much driven my the ex-wife dictating she can not be there. I am now prepared emotionally for the fact that could be a possibility. I hope not but that PP did not expect it either.
I guess what I am saying is you could be looking at a life time of rejection and being on the outside and is the man worth that?
As a pp has said - this is not a dc need, this is a dc whim & to be honest, at 15 she's too old to be given this power.
I get younger kids not wanting sps around (they don't have the maturity or empathy to see things from their parents pov & their parents are still the focus of their worlds.
However, 15 year olds should be more focused on their peer groups & should also be realizing that their parents are people with lives - not just parents/slaves lol.
To this end she is very much trying to manipulate your dp & if she's let do so she'll keep doing so, & yes, he'll end up with an entitled little madam of a daughter who will in turn be a very manipulative adult.
Unless (again as a pp said) she has a very specific & justified reason to want her df to herself your dp has two choices: he either gives in to her, & if he does this you may as well end it as you'll be saving yourself a lifetime of playing second fiddle to a womanchild,
Or, he puts his foot down; explains how he wants his life to progress; tells her that this is how things are going to be from now on but that he will of course ensure dad & daughter only time with her. If she then/still refuses to visit he can 'compromise' by meeting her away from the house, doing something one on one with her & then dropping her back to her dm.
Many adult stepkids post on here about how guilty they feel retrospectively, about their behaviour to their sps & many of them say their parent NOT giving into them was the best thing that ever happened.
Teens will push & push & will always want to be top dog unless they're shown/taught empathy.
Thank you for all you comments.
I find it especially hard to understand as I have 2 boys, and they are very typical boys. What you see is what you get, and none of the emotional situations that my friends with girls seem to have.
I think it is a lot about the control as pp said.
But, how can dp keep everybody happy. If his DD threatens to not see him or go to his house if I'm around, then he will potentially 'lose' her, and he won't do that, therefore she has the control?
How does he keep control without losing her?
It’s not about ‘keeping everybody happy’ though, it’s about meeting everyone’s needs. Those are different things. I would say takes a DP with confidence in his parenting abilities/confidence she will learn from this rather than reject him for life. These DP’s seem rarer than hen’s teeth though.
You don’t have much power in this situation unfortunately. He either has gumption or not. I imagine this is a horrible situation to be in. It must hurt. Good luck
@rainydaysmum - what @LatentPhase says. He needs to show some backbone. Like I suggested in my pp what's to stop him saying to her "rainy is my partner & now you are all older, at uni/have your friends we would like to spend more time together. We would also like to spend that time with you. It makes me sad that you don't want rainy around & maybe someday when you're older you'll understand why I want to be with rainy. Furthermore if you ever have a boyfriend I feel I don't like I would never be rude to him & I would make an effort to get to know him as he'd be YOUR choice & you're my daughter & I respect you. However, I'm not going to force you to do something you clearly don't want to do (spend time with rainy), so for the moment I'll meet you alone, away from the house, for days out & then drop you back to your dm".
That way he's explaining his stance, not giving in to her, letting her know he still wants to spend time with her & is also telling her he'll metaphorically meet her half way.
She will have her reasons even if you or your dp understand them. Maybe she knows things that you don't. Ultimately she is 15 and if her father and you by proxy opt to consider her reasons unworthy of consideration and expect her to be in your company when she doesn't want to, she will most likely stop seeing her father. Even if she continues to be their, it is highly unlikely she will do so with a bog smile on her face and welcoming harms. What will you get to be there when all there is in the house is tension and stress from your partner cough in between.
What should happen is your dp to try to understand why she feels so much animosity and build there relationship daughter-father so she can start to trust him that he is in a relationship with a great partner.
It's been 5 years though so why has it taken so long to deal with the situation? And why would she still believe that you had something to do with the breakup after knowing her mum had an affair?
Can your dp sit down with her to find out why she feels that way?
Maybe he could say that you make him happy and he would like to share his life with all his important people. Maybe he could suggest that she takes time to get to know you and if that still doesn't work that he and her have time alone away from the home.
I don't think either of you should have control of the situation but there should be balance and strive for a degree of compromise between you both.
I don't think walking away will help as she will feel she has 'won' and in the long run that won't be healthy for her.
Keep trying op
Sorry Op but if he has his DD EOW he should not be making arrangements to see you. I am not surprised his DD is angry and upset, this is their time together.
Thank you. Some really good advice here, and lots for me to consider and think about. Last night DP & I talked about it a lot. I had been feeling so guilty that I am causing a problem between them and he was very emphatic that it isn't me, it is his 'DP', so if it isn't me, it would be someone else. When I mentioned that if she feels like this permanently then we can't really be together, because I don't want to cause that upset, or to only be able to see him on her terms, he looked stunned and devastated and said it wouldn't even ever enter his mind that we would finish over this. He was very clear that he wants to help her through this and wants to explain and demonstrate to her that as his daughter, he loves her more than the world, but that he does have a partner now too, and it doesn't change his feelings for her etc, and that I will be around sometimes. She is having counselling for her general upset/struggling since their divorce so he has suggested he goes with her to a session which she was happy with.
I remember the thread about the wedding - that had been playing on my mind a bit.
@LatentPhase - thank you - that is a really interesting way of seeing it as meeting our needs rather than keeping us happy - makes a lot of sense. Can we find gumption at the supermarket?
Thank you to those mentioning whims vs needs. Really helpful too.
@Magda72 - thank you - am copying and pasting that really useful advice
@swingofthings - overall he has a great relationship with her. I don't have daughters so don't fully understand, but sometimes I think it is like other relationships I read about on here - she sends him so many hearts on their messages, and tells him all the time how much she loves him and misses him if she doesn't see him for a couple of days. (perhaps herein lies the issue - am I 'taking' him from her?)
I think like many children in this situation she just wishes her parents would get back together.
@Herondaleducks - that's what I keep coming back to - will walking away help. last night DP was quite emphatic that that idea is ridiculous and it is his problem with his DD to sort out and isn't my fault.
Really useful and helpful comments, thank you everybody who has taken the time to respond so far
@swingofthings what you say about the dsd having reasons is correct. However I would also argue that children's & teen's reasons - which may feel very real to them - are often very misdirected.
A common occurrence is mum & dad split. Kid is of course unhappy. Mum &/or dad meets a new partner, kids fantasy of mum & dad getting back together is shattered, kid is even more unhappy & also feels like they've lost any control over their lives. However, kid doesn't want to get angry with mum or dad & most especially whoever is the nrp & so kid directs all anger and blame to the easiest target - the new partner. Parent then feels guilty for being happy while their kid is sad & so either ends the relationship, or enables the kid's bad behaviour by allowing the kid to dictate the relationship, which is exactly what the kid wants; to regain their perceived loss of importance & control. Thereby also setting their child up for a lifetime of trying to dominate relationships as opposed to negotiating relationships. New partner is floored & doesn't now how to react or if they are allowed have any opinion!
My dd is now 13 & when her dm was introduced 7 years ago things were ok. Then dd hit pre teen & all of a sudden her dm was the worst in the world & had ruined dd's life & had taken her dad from her. It took a lot of age appropriate discussions with dd to get her to a point where she could see that it was her dad & his behaviour she was angry with & not her sm who is actually a very nice lady. Yes dd was missing out on time with her dad but this wasn't because he was with sm but because he's not great with teens, loves going to the pub & likes a hot date with the sofa & a soccer match! And yes when they did do stuff together he wanted his dp there - but HE was pushing this most of the time but not his dp. It was also explained to her that dad moving on was not a loss of love for her but a very different relationship & that it's not a competition.
Now if dd is unhappy with her dad she either speaks to him or chooses to let it go.
Yes her sm annoys her sometimes but dd can now recognise that people can annoy you sometimes but that's ok & that sm's behaviour might be annoying but her intentions are good.
I honestly can't understand why in divorce situations parents don't explain this stuff to kids.
A sp who is deliberately mean/rude to dscs is entirely different to a sp who is trying their best but who is being made a scapegoat by kids & parents who don't fully deal with/discuss the familial aftermath of divorce. Most sps are doing their best & they are vilified & blamed time & again when it's really the parents who need to get their house in order so to speak.
@rainydaysmum - fwiw your dp is obviously in your camp while being a good and caring dad so good luck with it all.
A common occurrence is mum & dad split. Kid is of course unhappy. Mum &/or dad meets a new partner, kids fantasy of mum & dad getting back together is shattered, kid is even more unhappy & also feels like they've lost any control over their lives. However, kid doesn't want to get angry with mum or dad & most especially whoever is the nrp & so kid directs all anger and blame to the easiest target - the new partner
Sorry Magda but I think this is the common interpretation of SMs because it suits their perspective.
Being a child of divorce myself and been around many children of divorce, I've rarely come across the scenario of kids wishing their parents were still together, not pass teenagehood.
There are various reasons that lead kids wanting no contact. In another thread, the reason appear to be the child's step sibling.
Whatever the reason, which as you say, is very real to them, as a parent, your role is to listen, empathise and try to come up with a compromise.
At 15, telling them that their feelings are misdirected and that they need to change their attitude, it isn't going to get them to say 'you're right dad, I'm acting precious, your happiness is more important than anything so I'm going to come and act very pleasantly to your partner even though I am deep inside boiling with anger and resentment'
@swingofthings - I wasn't inferring that parents' happiness trumps everything, but parents have a right to be happy without being guilted by their kids.
In this case it's a step issue, but imo this is a massive problem in all parenting nowadays. There seems to be this attitude that kids & teens wants are infinitely more important that adults needs & such is the extent of this that many parents are overstretched financially, physically & emotionally. I hear so many stories of parents broke at Christmas; of parents "not being allowed" to take holidays without their kids; of parents having to house & pay for grown adult children who won't move out & who expect not to contribute; of parents spending retirement money on weddings for daughters who throw massive strops because they don't want to pay themselves.
Of course kids need to be loved & nurtured & listened to, but they also need to be taught empathy, compromise & sharing.
And also - I am a dm before I am a sm & the scenario I outlined upthread & which you highlighted is how my kids experienced things with their dad & how my nephews experienced things with their dad - in both cases the sms were on the road to being scapegoated. We stopped it at my end but it was never stopped at my sister's end & to this day her grown children refuse to meet their sm (they have not met her once in 16 years) even though they have forgiven their father for his truly awful behaviour. I love my sister dearly but she indulged those kids demands throughout their teens instead of helping them cope with the changes.
I don't agree Magda. I think teenagers are treated like kids in this country both in terms of over protecting them when it comes to doing things for themselves but also often not given credit for them having rational feelings and rarely given the chance to be listened and their feelings acknowledged.
I think this goes to explain why there such a recrudescence of MH issues with teenagers, especially those with separated parents.
It's not about being dictated by their wants, it's about acknowledging that your happiness as an adult doesn't have to equate to their happiness.
The best way to teach a kid empathy, compromise and sharing is to act accordingly yourself. Telling them one way or another that they have no valid reason to feel upset, angry, frustrated, unloved etc...and should do as please the adult is showing none of these qualities.
I think you are both right but I think there is balance there; you can empathise with a teenager and give them all the support you can emotionally and psychologically but it shouldn't come at the sacrifice of your own happiness. You should validate a child's feelings to the point that they can validate yours and a compromise can be made.
Its about balance but also that until children are adults there are some things that they don't have a say in and parenting should be about explaining that in a way that doesn't discredit their feelings but show them ways to manage it.
I'm not suggesting anyone tells a child their feelings aren't valid! What I'm saying is that they have to be taught reasonable approaches to dealing with the causes & effects their feelings while also learning to also see the other side of a situation.
A child/teen having a very specific reason for not wanting to spend time with a stepparent is totally different than that child/teen being allowed to direct their anger at other factors such as their parents behaviour, at that stepparent.
If in this case OP's dp talks to his dd and she has a valid reason for not wanting op around that's one thing. But if it's just some random need for control & wanting to be in charge of things then that's entirely different & imo shouldn't be indulged.
In my experience my dd not wanting to go to her dad's because her gymnastics on the good sofa have been requested to stop by her sm (did happen), is vastly different to her telling me she doesn't want to visit because her sm yelled at her (didn't happen). I never let dd do gymnastics on my sofa but she fully expected to be able to go her her dad's house & rule the roost because she was trying to exert her importance in that house - understandable, but not behaviour that should be tolerated & this was explained to her.
I hope that I have taught all my kids to own their feelings & to know if what they're feeling is their stuff or if it's someone else's. If it's their own stuff I would hope they would talk about it with someone they trust but if it's someone else's, park it & put boundaries in place.
In this case it's "dad I'm feeling a bit crap about lots of things & I'd like a bit of alone time with you & I hope rainy doesn't think it's personal" versus "rainy said something to me that I really didn't like (not saying you did rainy) & it upset me a lot & I don't think I want to be around her right now & I hope you can understand that.
Two very different scenarios imo.
Furthermore, MH issues aren't reduced by indulging feelings, they're reduced by acknowledging feelings & there is a big difference between indulgence & acknowledgement.
That's my tuppenceworth but as usual we'll have to agree to differ .