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Mina
Mina, Clinical Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 188
Experience:  Working as a Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist in NHS. Experience in both children and adults
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step parent/couple issues

Resolved Question:

I am living with my partner, I have 4 daughters (aged 23, 20, 10 & 7 - the younger 3 at home full time) he has a son (9) and daughter (12) We have 2 issues - his daughter lies, steals from my daughter, manipulates he and I. Recently she has made some nasty comments about me to my 10 year old, and also to my partner (he told me what she said) She also does things like make cupcakes, and when she comes for visitation brings 2 cupcakes and pointedly says "I made these JUST for you Daddy" He finds this adorable, I think it is a dig at me. He refuses to discuss her issues with me with her, he thinks that my 10 year old is making it up (as his daughter is "just a child and doesn't think or behave like that" - aside - what so my 10 year old does?) The 2 girls have connected ipods, and SD 12 also sends rude messages to my daughter - "F**K you", and writes notes saying "Emma is a bitch" As I said, my partner refuses to acknowledge that his daughter is behaving badly as she is his "baby" and would never behave that way. What can I do? Secondly. We are supposed to have his children every Wednesday evening, and every second weekend Friday to Sunday night. Ok, that's fine. When they are here they control everything. He spends a lot of that time solely focussed on them. Ok. He also sees them outside of that time quite a lot - takes them to sporting activities, school functions (I am not allowed to attend as his ex-wife causes scenes and the kids don't want me there) I encourage him to spend time with them alone (without me) And I try to stay in the background and allow them time when they are all in my house. However, for various reasons we have had them 8 out of the last 9 weekends, and I want some time out from them. Am I being unreasonable? On the weekends when we don't have them my older daughter will babysit and we get to spend some quality alone time together, needless to say that hasn't happened for nigh on 2 months now. I am tired of the stress of them being here, the attitude from Miss 12, the never having any time alone with my partner. He thinks I am trying to come between him and his kids. He says they would be here all the time if he had his way. If that were the case they would be spending every other weekend with their mother - win for me LOL They would also get less leeway with me staying in the background, and be expected to modify a LOT of their behaviours that we can't reasonably deal with in the small amt of time we have them. So, am I being unfair for being annoyed at him requesting to have them AGAIN this weekend (he asked just for Sunday for a particular event, she said we have to take them Saturday afternoon)

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Mina replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

 

I have read your post and it sounds like you feel rather tired with this situation and somewhat that your needs are not respected by your partner. You sound hurt and maybe you feel trapped in a difficult situation like this. I can definitely understand how you must be feeling for all these issues. 1) spending most weekends with your partner's kids and not keeping to the original agreements 2) not spending any private time with your partner and 3) the challenging behavior of his daughter. I can imagine that these issues have been having a huge impact on your life and your relationship with your partner.

 

It sounds like your partner has great difficulty keeping to the original agreement of seeing them every other weekend which would have been a more balanced way of having his own private life and at the same time keeping close contact with his kids. You might need to ask yourself how long has this been going on for? Has there been any change in patterns recently? Of course parents love their children and want to be with them but has his need to be with them increased over time? Has this been discussed with you? has he asked about how you feel regarding this? At this point he seems to be focusing on the kids for some reason and not on his private life, which I can understand that it may make you feel rather dismissed or rejected. In these situations where there are children from previous relationships, there should not be an issue "either them or me" as this is not helpful and may lead to separation. Couples should decide together as any similar major decision affects both person's quality of life. However, in this case your partner appears to have overstepped the boundaries and is not taking into account your needs and wishes. I am wondering though if this is happening in other things in your life together as well... How good would you say your communication is or has been over the years and how assertive would you say you are when it comes to voicing your disagreement with something?

 

In relation to the problem with his daughter and her behavior, this could be a tricky one to explain and manage. Her behavior could possibly be attributed to jealousy for you as you are now the "girl" in her dad's life. "Attacking" your children could be a way for her to get to you and make you the "bad" one to her dad's eyes. It might be worth the while to try and see things from her perspective. I know it is very hard as you feel attacked in a way by her but if you managed to see her dad and your relationship and these changes in her life through her eyes, this may actually lead you to change your approach to her and slowly convince her that you are not a threat and that she can only gain from having a good relationship with you, gain in comfort and support, having a friend to talk to etc.. This may take a while as you don't know what is being said in her home about you. However, you could still make an effort to approach her and explain to your kids her situation and to ignore her misbehaving for a while.

 

These are my thoughts for now. Hope that helps

 

Take care

 

Mina

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Mina, firstly thanks for your response. I am ok with what you say in the first bit, but am not sure that that is the best way to handle the issues with his daughter. Let me be clear - I do understand her perspective, and that she sees me as a threat and wants me gone. I have done as much as I physically, mentally and emotionally can to make it clear to both of his children that I am not going to come between them and their dad, that they still get personal time with him away from me, that they are as much a part of our family here as my children, that I am not trying to take their mothers place. Etc etc etc.


And I try not to sweat the small stuff (like them ignoring me and pre-fixing EVERY comment they make with "Dad..." to make it clear to the rest of us we are excluded from the conversation, always asking dad what's for tea when I cook every meal, etc etc. The cupcakes even - not a big deal.


 


BUT - I do not wish to overlook or ignore the lying, stealing of my daughters posessions, bad language/nastiness and the rude comments about me. I do not feel that this is acceptable behaviour from ANY of the children, and I will not condone it and subject MY child to that - my daughters are also in the situation of having a new step-dad, and a new step-mum, new homes, schools etc to deal with, new siblings in their space playing and taking over their toys, they have the same issues to deal with and they are not behaving in this way and if they did they would not get away with it. Stealing my daughters things is NOT ok. How do I just let her get away with it? How do I explain that to MY daughter? Sorry, but what you are suggesting is to continue with the strategies I am already using, and I need help with how to get her father to step up and deal with the more serious issues.

Expert:  Mina replied 1 year ago.

Hi again,

 

thanks for coming back to me and for the additional information as I hadn't realised that her behaviour is reaching those levels or that you have been trying what I suggested already. I was mostly replying to your question that you ended your post with about whether you were unreasonable with wanting to set some boundaries around the visiting times of his children.

 

The situation with his daughter looks like a very tricky one that needs careful handling. I can understand how you must be feeling protective over your children as well and how this may be turning at times into a difficult situation between you and your partner. You are right in what you say about inappropriate language or behaviors such as stealing. Of course these behaviors are completely inappropriate and need to be addressed. You mentioned before that your partner does not accept any of her responsibility. Have you ever presented him with hard evidence of her behavior? such as a note from her or a bad email or something similar? While it is obviously important that his daughter is exposed, not so much as a form of punishment but more as a way of learning boundaries and how to behave and what is appropriate and not, I believe that the problem lies with her dad. The reason I am saying this is because he is very likely aware or has a hunch about her behavior and her anger and dislike towards you although he does not admit it, but he is also likely to feel guilty for "leaving her behind" as he separated from her mum. This guilt could be preventing him from really seeing and admitting her problematic behavior. If he did admit that then he would need to play the role of the "strict" parent who teaches children responsibilities and manners etc. which is not much fun. Instead, he seems to be avoiding this responsibility himself as he maybe afraid that she will dislike him or that he may hurt her feelings more. Maybe this is what you could help him with; to help him understand that by addressing these behaviors he would be really taking the proper role of her dad as he would have the opportunity to teach her a valuable lesson of how to cope with her hurt and anger instead of acting it out. Acting out on her emotions would only lead to more problems and would seriously affect her psychological development, her relationships, her self esteem etc. This "teaching" is part of the parent's job and this can be one of the hardest parts as you may have already experienced with your children.

 

I can imagine how frustrating this situation must be for you. However, I think it is important that you approach him with a supportive attitude, trying at the same time to leave out any tone that may sound accusatory or criticizing as this would only make him feel defensive as he may already feels (because he is probably aware of this problem already).

 

If you feel that the communication between you is not brilliant you might find the assistance of a couple's therapist useful in this to enable you to express your thoughts more freely and constructively.

 

I hope things will improve and that you will soon feel that you and your partner are on the same boat.

 

 

All the best

 

Mina

Mina, Clinical Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 188
Experience: Working as a Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist in NHS. Experience in both children and adults
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