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Engagement went down like a lead balloon(26 Posts)
Hi everyone. Quick history. Partner and I have been together for 6 years. Both separated when we met. Kept our relationship away from kids for 2.5 years then slowly introduced. We have been living together for the last two years. I have a 9 year old son. He has a 15 and 23 year old girls. Both girls lived with us FT. Older one moved out last year. Their mum has had MH issues, lovely lady, no real issues between us all but has randomly rejected the younger one. It's like she has got used to not having to parent and now sees it as a burden and a stopper on her social life That is obviously confusing and difficult for the younger SD The mum literally lives at the end of our road, no real excuses and she is now in a good place, just basically tapped out of parenting and always has plans when she is supposed to have her daughter. Older SD lives with her.
When I moved in with my partner they were both horrible and made life very difficult. However, patience and a seriously bitten tongue things improved. I do all the mum admin for the younger one and have become a listening ear. Both girls have some form of MH issues and I have been there when the older SD was trying to commit suicide repeatedly last year, very hideous and upsetting. It was also quite grim, clearing up all the attempts so my partner didn't see and get upset. Both have repeatedly stolen from me too.
Their mum has never been able to hold down a relationship as the pair of them have been very disrespectful and put off any potential partners, the latest one was before Christmas. They ramped up their efforts when she wanted to move in with the partner and eventually they split up. My partner spoke to them about their behaviour and told them they need to change their ways etc.
Everything has been fine and quite nice since last year. We thought we'd cracked it and all was good. My partner is brilliant with my son who is autistic and goes to a special school. He can have his moments! So two weeks ago we got engaged. I was so happy. My partner didn't want to tell his kids. When we did, last weekend, the older one stormed out and sent him a string of abusive texts. The younger one just followed the older ones lead.
It honestly felt like such a slap on the face. We've always been there for the girls. Provided a stable home life, sorted out issues, basically parented them to the best of our abilities and then some. We had some dark and difficult times, especially with the older one. I personally think they are both incredibly spoilt and they totally know how to play their dad. Even my partner's mum is disgusted with their behaviour most of the time.
I haven't spoken to the young SD since last Friday. My partner is treating her like nothing happened but I just can't let it drop. I need to do something. I thought about saying I was disappointed in her reaction as I thought we got on and she genuinely liked me. I didn't expect them to roll out the red carpet, but a simple congrats or even 'that's nice' would have been fine.
What would you do in this situation? I really don't feel we have rushed this. We always put everybody else first.
My partner is so protective of the young one he won't hear a bad word said about her. I don't really want to bring him into this I think I should settle it directly with her. If so do it without him present I fear she will twist my words. She'll often lie about strange things like she hasn't eaten when she ate dinner with us. She can be v strange....
Sounds like they have suffered and are still suffering with what is the horrific rejection from their mother.
I imagine they feel insecure about their relationship with their dad too and are acting out in challenging ways as a result.
I don’t think you can ever win this one other than smiling, calmly talking and being sensitive to their needs.
Are you planning on getting married any time soon?
If not, I honestly wouldn't mention it.
They've took it badly. Act like normal. Let them get over the initial shock and then maybe in a few months start discussing you as a family.
Honestly the girls will be feeling like their dads replacing their family with a new one. I know it sounds daft as you've been in their lives a while but it's still going to be tough.
If you're planning on getting married soon, will you want them to be your bridesmaids?
We are old!!! I can't leave it too long. It won't be a big thing. We just want to be married. I hate being centre of attention. I probably won't have bridesmaids. I'll just have my two best friends as matrons of honour if anything. I just think they want as little to do with this as possible.
As always I am been super sensitive and I know that most kids would maybe react oddly and maybe might take a while to warm to the idea but this was a really nasty reaction. Like I say just a bit of a slap in the face after really being there for them and trying walk that difficult rope of not being their mum but being there for them as they really don't ha e a mother figure. When my partner travels for work the younger SD stays with me by choice not her mum, and her mum doesn't even offer to help.
Finding it hard to just be normal with the younger SD right now. I know I should. I am the adult...but I am still human!!!
Ah bless you! I assumed he'd had his eldest daughter quite young. I don't know why!
Maybe just knock on the youngest ones door, pop your head round and say "hey, you've been quiet for a couple of days. I just wanted to check you're ok?" She might really open up to you.
I know it's really tough on you and on the girls and it sounds like you're a wonderful lady.
Oh I never said congratulations, by the way!
You are still human and you’re hurting, totally understandable. And my congratulations to you on your engagement, I’m happy for you!
I honestly think that by trying to address her horrible behaviour you’ll only give her a chance to have another go and stoke the drama. It’s not your fault and wanting to tell her how much she’s upset you is fair enough but I don’t think it’s worth it. If he won’t deal with it himself, he’s not going to back you up.
If you’re absolutely 100% sure you want to marry him and can stomach him letting his children be mean to you - wouldn’t be for me - then crack on with your wedding plans and don’t tell them anything more about it. Much nearer the time, tell them when it is and that they’re welcome to attend but don’t give them anything to do that might compromise your day, and hopefully it’ll go smoothly and beautifully.
Given the younger one’s unpleasantness, you’re not obliged to have her on your own when your fiancé is away working. Yes she might feel rejected but she’s 15, not 5, and she’s made her feelings about you clear wrt marrying her dad. She can’t have it both ways and you’d be a fool to put yourself out there for someone who’s being horrible about you.
@AnneLovesGilbert have you ever been the child abandoned by their mother? 15 is a much harder age to deal with it all than 5 is.
Pps have it spot on. Rejected by their own mother so they are lashing out at you hence you get the younger one actively wanting to stay with you whilst also being rude. I'd actually suggest that some sort of counselling is needed. Must be very hard for you to deal with.
Oh, OP, how hard. It’s completely understandable that you feel as you do.
I second pp who advise this is not worth confronting. Aged 15 all you’ll get is more drama. Particularly if dd is in the storm of MH problems she will not be thinking of others. At all. 15 is a pretty awful age for all this.
Pop your head round the door of dd and say ‘hey you’ve been quiet, all ok?’.
Get on and plan a beautiful, quiet wedding with the dd’s as guests and no more (hence minimum potential for drama).
You deserve so much more than the reaction you’ve received. So I’ll say huge congratulations I hope your OH appreciates you because you sound like a Saint.
I’m so sorry OP.I think the sad reality of engagement/ marriages when there are children from another relationship is that they can evoke reactions from children/ exes. And it’s hard to predict how anyone will react when news of an engagement is broken.
The reality of it is, some children will be happy and celebrate the stability (that however requires the children to be intensely secure in their position as children). Other children however will not be happy. As deep down they have a fear based reaction; I.e what will happen to me? My daddy loves her more than he loves me? Will my daddy not want me anymore? Their reaction is very rarely rational / or about who you are as a person.
My DP recently proposed and I accepted with two caveats. First that it is a long engagement and two that for a period of time, we tell no one and simply enjoy this special time for us as a couple. Because when it comes down to it, this is about me and my DP committing to one another and it is (brutally speaking) not the immediate business of children/ family/ exes. He agreed and as such, we’re currently basking in the warm glow of our news, celebrating it privately and once we’ve done this for us, we will then break it to the children etc.
I expect none of the children to perform cartwheels truth be told. My children will be happy enough, but also sad. Because they love their dad and it will be certainty that I am never reconciling with him. I expect my DP’s DC to potentially invoke rejecting behaviours/ hostility (because they aren’t secure) which with time and patience they will need supporting through.
That’s all these children need now. Patience, reassurance, love and time to get used to the news. In your shoes, leave this to your DP to deal with. And focus on planning your wedding and enjoying the moment. Don’t let this be made into a drama that is about the children.
I’m sorry...a 23 year old woman stormed out when you told her you were getting engaged. Ffs, wonders never cease...
Congrats, @Sassbott (thread derailment alert) Have you decided whether you’ll ultimately stick or twist regarding moving in together?
Thank you (last of thread hijack). Sorry OP.
Not moving in together. Not yet. It’s not what my DP’s DC need. They need 121 time with my DP and quite frankly my home life with my children is peaceful and a priority. I can’t be done with children coming into my house and rejecting me / my kids. So we continue to follow the needs of the DC and for now certainly, blending full time is not on the table.
I’m sorry...a 23 year old woman stormed out when you told her you were getting engaged. Ffs, wonders never cease...
A woman who has severe mental health issues. But yes, she's clearly just a spoilt brat
OP, have his kids ever had any counselling about this? You say your husband won't have a bad word said about the youngest but you need to address the behaviour. It's not ok to be disrespectful towards you, yes they are allowed to be upset and have their own feelings (which is why therapy of some kind would benefit them), but you both need to be on the same page with this otherwise this will always be a sticking point, whatever their ages.
From your posts:
'Their mum has had MH issues'
'(Their mum) has randomly rejected the younger one'
'Both girls have some form of MH issues '
'the older SD was trying to commit suicide repeatedly last year'
'Both have repeatedly stolen from me'
You have every right to feel sad at their reactions, but it would be unreasonable to hold it against them. They are obviously not well and can't be judged like 'normal' step kids.
Thanks all for your lovely supportive messages. They have really helped me. Oldest daughter has been an in-patient at The Priory and is now recieving out-patient support. Luckily the private healthcare has sorted that. The younger SD has been in CAMHS and we've been paying for a private counsellor until recently.
@sassbott thanks for your post I didn't think they'd be doing cartwheels. We didn't go right out and tell them we've kept it back, bit then had to face the reaction.
@LatentPhase it is going to be a quiet affair. I've been one for being centre of attention. I just fear they will ruin it. Everything nice we plan, has some drama and gets ruined on someway. Holidays, birthdays, Christmas. It literally is never ending.
BTW my son's reaction was, he was happy as long as we keep the wedding snappy because weddings are long and boring!!!
I think adult kids can take it pretty bad even though they acted ok before the engagement. They will come around I hope
The eldest SD sounds like she has some severe MH issues if she's been repeatedly attempting suicide. I guess it's not too unexpected she'd react badly then. The younger SD has been randomly rejected by her own mother so probably wants to be close to her sibling, hence why she's parroting her reaction, because she doesn't want her sister to reject her too. She hopefully doesn't feel that bad about the engagement in her heart OP.
Sorry no I didn’t think you thought they would be cartwheeling. Sorry about how that came across.
You have my intense sympathies. I have had a similar conversation with my DP re unnecessary drama. And I’m in a quandary about what our wedding would look like. I read a lot of threads on here about this topic and the resounding sentiment that comes back is ‘your wedding is about your family and most importantly the children, so they just be involved and attend and if the day has drama, suck it up, be the adult and get over it.’
I don’t align to that POV. Not when the rest of our lives are constantly realigning to meet the needs of the children. I simply think that one day is about me and the person I’m marrying. No one else. And I have every right to want to ensure it’s a day I enjoy and that includes minimising drama. And if children attending means drama and them clamouring for their dads attention all day, and tears and tantrums then I simply come down on the side of doing what works for me.
I can easily see me getting married in a small, very private ceremony with just closest friends/ siblings/ parents etc. Followed by a lovely adults only meal. And a night in a lovely hotel being thoroughly spoilt. No children in attendance.
Then a week or so after a larger blessing ceremony/ party. With all the children and a bigger affair. Basically a party. And if the children then dominate the day Or cause drama, I’d have zero issue. Because I’d have had my special day with my DP and it would have been ours to enjoy.
I have a lot of respect for you for taking on such a challenging situation for the love of your partner. I just would not have the fortitude to do it.
Your SDs have severe mental health issues -- I ask you very gently, what kind of reaction were you expecting?
What are your expectations going forward? Will your SD ever be able
To live independently? How does your son feel about his SS and vice versa?
@Wereallsquare I wasn't expecting the ticket tape and party poppers. I honestly thought we'd built a nice relationship and the best I hoped for a subdued 'thats nice'.
My son loves them both. The eldest despite her MH issues is excellent with children and because of her own issues has some empathy with my son and his ADHD and autism. The you get SD is very patient with him!
Thanks it's not been an easy road!! But the best things are never easy so they say.
@sassbott I am in total agreement and love the idea of a small adult ceremony without kids. Can we have our own little private wedding planning forum, just the two of us
I spoke to my partner about how I felt this evening. In true man style he wanted a solution/ to explain my feelings. Just said it felt a bit meh and I didn't need a solution. He was very understanding. He just doesn't want all the progress I've made to be spoilt, which I get. I'll have to come out of my grouchy cave tomorrow I think!
I am really happy to read about the great relationships the children have with each other.
I wish you and your family all the very best.
@Louloubelle78 sounds like a plan!
Life as a step-parent (and as a parent) involves a lot of hard work and compromise and putting the children’s needs ahead of our own. I think we more than deserve that one day for us and to celebrate what we have managed to build with the person we love.
My DP would most likely go for it, but only on the proviso that the no children rule applied to both sides - mine and his. Which is a no brainer to me, when I mean no children, I mean no children.
The blessing is then such that the children (if they wish) can take proper roles so they don’t miss out on anything.
I mean give it time, the reaction may settle. But if not, simply split the ceremony and then the party. Ceremony one weekend, very small. Party, the following weekend, all children included with whatever roles they wish to have or not have.