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Conflict between step dad and 11 yo DD

17 replies

phenobarbidoll · 03/11/2018 17:18

I really need help managing a very difficult situation. My husband is not my daughter's dad. He has been in her life since she was 4 and she is now 11. She has no siblings.
He is quite critical and expects too much from her and she is jealous of him taking my attention away from her. I am stuck in the middle. As she is getting older their conflicts are escalating and I am getting stuck for how to deal with it. Sometimes he is genuinely being unfair to her and telling her off for something that doesn't really matter and sometimes she is just being rude and stroppy at him for no reason. Today she told him that I married the wrong man and he stormed off and refused to come out for the afternoon with us as he was not able to spend any time with "that kid". I can see both points of view but don't know how to sort this out. He is now sulking in our bedroom and she is sulking in hers. I feel sick and tearful and don't know what to do.

OP posts:
SnuggyBuggy · 03/11/2018 17:19

She's an adolescent, what's his excuse?

phenobarbidoll · 03/11/2018 18:01

I know. He is being childish and unrealistic. I've told him that she's probably going to get more stroppy as she gets older too. This to me is normal. It's not fun to have such attitude in the house but that is usual I think. I get it too sometimes, though nowhere near as much as he does.
I just think she channels her anger at him on purpose and this is hard for him to take relentlessly.
She's told me before now that she hates him and it often looks that way too. I don't know what to do.

OP posts:
Andro · 03/11/2018 22:17

An adult sulking is a really unattractive trait, he should be setting a much better example.

The other thing that strikes me is the really unhealthy dynamic there seems to be; your DD is so insecure that she's jealous of your husband, your H stropping because you won't take his side over your DD's every time. How many children did you say you had? Because it sounds more like 2 to me.

Your DD needs some clear boundaries and a consistent approach to parenting. Your H needs to either grow up and start being a role model, or take a hike.

siakcaci · 03/11/2018 22:29

He is quite critical and expects too much from her

Well he sounds delightful

I am stuck in the middle.

No you are not. You are her mother, it is your responsibility to protect her.

Aventurine · 04/11/2018 07:01

You could try family therapy but also consider leaving him as it's not fair for you to make her live with someone who sounds like they don't like her let alone love her. I agree it's your responsibility to protect her.

Ethel80 · 04/11/2018 07:39

The difficulty with step-parenting is that while you have chosen your partner and love them, there's no obligation or guarantee that your kids will.

She possibly is pushing it more with him because he's not her dad or is he reacting more because she's not his child? I know that my step-father was far less tolerant of my 'bad behaviour' than he was of his own perfect daughters (who were awful).
I found it very upsetting that my mum always took his side and never chose me or prioritised me over her relationship. I guess for that reason, I automatically wanted to side with your daughter because I was that 11 year old. Not exactly rational though, sorry!

I don't think your daughter should be allowed to treat him poorly but he needs to accept that a lot of this is just normal pre-teen behaviour and boundary testing and he needs to grow up.

Him acting like a child isn't going to help the situation. He needs to work with you in setting boundaries and clear expectations on behaviour not stomp off and sit in his bedroom!

phenobarbidoll · 04/11/2018 10:29

Thank you very much for all your replies. I agree totally that it's my job to protect her - I think I've just lost perspective on who was most upset. H has always struggled to understand any child he has ever met and I have been trying to give him the time to adjust to life with a child. Trouble is, children can be very hard work and when you don't have the bond of biology I guess it's even tougher. But he is an adult and needs to act like one.

OP posts:
headhurtstoomuch · 04/11/2018 10:31

Does she see her own dad or have any relationship with him?

phenobarbidoll · 04/11/2018 13:19

Yes she sees him every fortnight. He's a good and loving dad but obviously doesn't ever have to tell her off as they don't live together or spend much time together. I think the comparison between dad (fun activities, no downside) and step dad (has to manage day to day stuff, like controlling screen time, temper etc) puts an unfair onus on step dad being 'mean'. She doesn't understand that if she lived with dad, he'd have to have all the same conversations with her.

OP posts:
MrsTerryPratcett · 04/11/2018 13:23

She is being a child and will eventually improve. How is he planning to improve? Sulking and silly expectations are really counterproductive. He needs to do better or you need to plan to do this without him.

Really worrying that he doesn't get on with any children. That implies it's very much him.

MumUnderTheMoon · 08/11/2018 23:00

When I was little my mums husband had no time for me, me and my brothers came between him and our mum and he made it clear we were in the way. It was horrible. What makes it worse is that he was our dad. Biology means nothing you said that this man isn't good with children at all so I do wonder at why you allowed him into your daughters life in the first place, while you have been giving him time to adjust she has been feeling the effects. She sounds resentful but wouldn't you be if you felt like you were constantly having to defend yourself in your own home. You clearly love your daughter so you have to stand up for her. Tell this man he has to grow up and if he is being hard on her then tell him so right then and there don't wait she has to know that you are on her side.

TigerQuoll · 03/12/2018 09:34

Here is an idea

Call a family meeting and say that you need this family to get along but you understand there has been some friction. To facilitate this you are going to do the following.

You will have a meeting with each person individually and ask what they want the other person to agree to do, and what they will do in return (eg your daughter probably knows she shouldn't say things like I wish my mum never married you, or you can't tell me what to do since you're not my dad etc). After this you will have another family meeting and arbitrate a discussion between the two of them where they compromise on what they agree to do to improve the relationship and what they want the other person to agree to do. And maybe even have some requests of you.

Once you have it all agreed, you will all work out what they will each do if they breach the agreement - they'll be things that involve them being nice to each other. For example if your husband breaches the agreement he'll take your daughter out for ice-cream,or do one of the chores she normally does. If your daughter breaches the agreement she will go with him to a sports game or something else that she might otherwise have rolled her eyes at, or do a chore that he normally does. The list of possible things will be agreed on so she doesn't think she can use it to do something you wouldn't normally let her do for safety reasons eg go to a party where the parents aren't home or go to a concert late at night etc.

You'll print all this out in a way that looks like a proper legal document (so your daughter might take it more seriously and it might amuse your husband so he doesn't feel so aggrieved by the whole thing etc), have them sign it, you sign as witness and you make a couple of copies so she has one, he has one, you have one and you stick one on the fridge or pinboard (lots of copies so she isn't tempted to rewrite it with different wording and pretend it was always that way).

That should remove the day to day conflict, and when there is some, they should quickly make up over the activities and hopefully might even grow a better, more natural relationship

Shepherdspieisminging · 03/12/2018 09:39

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Randomusername01 · 03/12/2018 09:47

You have my sympathies op. I was in just about the exact same position and it was a hellish few years. Ds is now 18 and him and dh get on great now and did so from when ds was 4 till 11 , but from about 11 to 16 it was probably the hardest time of my life. Just take one day at a time. I don't think you can just accept your dd's behaviour and excuse it because she is a child. She still needs to learn what is acceptable and what's not. When I turned to mn for advice the amount of posters telling me to ltb was unreal, I wasn't putting ds first but I knew that wasn't the right thing to do. Ds was the stereotypical teen boy who wanted to do his own thing without thought for anyone else. He was a bloody nightmare and an awful teen but he has now came through the worst of it and slowly returning to being a lovely human being 😂

Seniorschoolmum · 03/12/2018 09:53

He’s an adult and he’s had SEVEN years to adjust. And he’s still sulking Hmm. At what point is he going to grow up and stop acting like a teenager.
Which incidentally, is what he expects your dd to do, but before she has even turned 13.

Your poor daughter

ElfID · 03/12/2018 10:04

Your daughter has to spend her one childhood living with a man who detests her, just because her mother fell in love with someone and prioritises that relationship.

My mother did that.

We have no contact now and she doesn't see my children.

Think carefully about the big picture.

MummEE2 · 03/01/2019 20:30

In very similar situation here, although the arguments happen rarely. DH is the second child as he's not behaving like an adult or a parent! After every argument I have a separate chat with DD and DH. Doing it together is not productive, as I've found. It really is like having two teenagers!

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