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Edie's picture

I'm a complete newbie here. I came across this site and have been struggling for a while, so thought i might get the support here that i feel i am struggling to get at home. I've been with my partner 4 years and living together 2. I have two children from a past marriage and my partners daughter who's almost 8 and comes every other weekend for 3 nights. We had to go to court to get this arrangment as my partners ex has done everything you can possibly imagine to stop us forming a family together. I have formed a lovely bond with my step daughter but i constantly have the feeling something is not quite right. When she comes she is constantly wanting all the attention, which i understand as she is bound question her dad spending time with us and not her. However, every single time things don't go her way she cries with no tears and more recently she has started to have full blown temper tantrums if she can't have her own way. She has told me they are worse at home and said she shouts at her mum and her mum calls them her hairy fits. She will constantly say she has tummyache if she doesn't like what's for dinner, and then cries for mum if we say she has to eat it, to get pudding. At first we believed her and then as soon as she didn't have to eat dinner she was back out in the garden running around. No tummy achy. Now we stick to our guns and say no, she has to eat dinner. She tells us things that don't add up at home and denies if she's been naughty even if we see her doing the naughty thing. If we point this out she will blurr what she has said and then the (no tears) crying starts again. She comes across quite arrogant and angry when we have to be firm, wont look at us and shrugs her shoulders before screaming. She has talked to me about how she gets away with things because she is mischief but cute and has told me she does sneaky things.I dont know if this is made up to get attention or true. I tell my partner but then i am told she is only 7 and i'm attacking her! I'm not. I feel awful. I feel like she is either getting away with too much at home or something is really up. During lockdown we have been in contact through skype daily and her mum set her up with a box full of all the memories of the day she was born to show us, including the cards to my partner and his ex. Then that weekend she sent her to us with her baby clothes and my step daughter asked us all to close our eye and said " you might remember me in this dad, but you won't Edie" It felt really painful. I bring this up with my partner and he gets very defensive and i become the problem. When we first got together the ex sent her with photos of them as a family and said they help her feel safe. My partner says if it keeps happening he will contact her but i think it should be squashed now. Should i have to have this sort of stuff happening? Or am i not being understanding? I worry about my step daughter a lot but am starting to dread the contact. I get panic when i think about it and feel detatched from everything and spaced out. I dont want to resent her but since lockdown she has been home with her mum all the time and it shows. she is like a double at times. Even says the same sarcastic sayings and sassyness. I keep desperatly trying to see my partner in her. The only thing me and my partner fall out about is the situation with his ex and daughter. When we fall out it is really bad though and causes a rift that takes ages to heal, we are currently hardly speaking and i feel so upset about it. I dont know whether i need to try harder to ignore my feelings or i should pull back and let him deal with the behaviour. I dont want all this to come between us. If anyone can give me any advice i would be really greatful. This blended family stuff is harder than i thought!


ldvilen's picture

Manipulative, controlling BM (and in this case, it may be SD too) and weaker, enabling DH = step hell.  However, having said that, there is a lot missing from this post.  I usually don't comment on posts regarding young children, as, yes, they can be manipulative, like any child can, but it can also be quite traumatic for someone so young to have their parents seperate.  If you've been with your partner 4 years, and she is only 7, then you apparently got together when she was only 3.  So, what caused the parents to seperate, or were they both ready to seperate?  That'd be one question.

I can tell you, a lot of divorced or seperated parents don't even think about coparenting or what happens if I get involved with another partner until after they are no longer in the same home together.  Children almost always follow their parents actions, so I'm guessing SD is going after you and negating you, the way BM does, and since your DH either goes along with it or doesn't promote you as his serious SO or even explaining to her what that means, the 7 YO knows she can get away with it.  Her parents are setting both their child and you up for failure.  

I still see or sense unfinished business here or enmeshment between BM and bio-dad.  Not sure why; just sense it.  Also, I'm not saying that bio-dad should be harsh with his daughter, but he should try to recognize and redirect her angst vs. ignoring it.  This HAS TO come from him.  However, you are in a very difficult situation, as the child is so young, you have a manipulative, controlling BM, and your DH just wants it all to go away.  You may see his daughter as being the only problem, but I'm sure SD and BM (and possibly even DH, to a degree) see you as being the only problem.  Not that DH doesn't want you around, but he wants you to apparently just "suck it up and take it."

How does your DH do with your children?  He may do just fine, and it is not uncommon for step-dads to fare much better than SMs, as a lot of times it just comes down to whether or not BM will accept you, and in this case, it appears she doesn't.  Bio-dads generally do not have near as much influence with their own kids as a BM does.  And, your BF is doing nothing to counter BM's sly agenda.

Some times in step situations, rather than point the finger, you just have to see things for what they are (and, more than likely, will be in the future), and weigh whether you truly want this relationship to continue.  Weigh it all, but try not to blame the young'ns for reflecting their own parents' confusion, enmeshment, manipulations or just piss-poor parenting.  It is unfortunate that too often in these situations, parents divorce, and their children and any future partners are the ones who wind up paying a higher price.


Edie's picture

Thanks for your advice. They seperated 1 1/2 years before i met him so SD was around 2. I know the relationship was very bumpy towards the end and both were drinking. My partner has told me she was controlling and he couldn't take it any longer so used to walk out and stay in hotels to get away. From that I think BM had enough and kicked him out. I knew BM and my partner 20 years ago. She contacted me when I got with my partner telling me  "How would you feel if it was your husband" They had been apart for over a year and he had had a short relationship with someone else after. She also told me I couldn't meet her SD and we could wait until she was grown up and then we could do what we liked, saying my partner had his "free" weekend once a month to see me. There has been a lot of acromony and a court case for access with absured accusations, all found untrue and I just feel to stop my partner having a happy life. 

My partner is great with my 12 year old daughter and gets on ok with my 17 year old son but my son spends lots of time with friends and in his room so they haven't spent as much time together to really bond as well. Sometimes he is really understanding and he does tell SD but I think there is a tramendous amout of guilt and SD has worked this out. The other day she screamed at him "mummy wouldn't leave me in the bathroom" when she was having a screaming fit and I advised him to come away and let her come out of it on her own. I didn't think it was good to reward her with attention for bad behaviour. I'm so drained by it all. I was on my own for 7 years before this and no anxiety. Now i'm up and down all the time because there always seems to be some drama related to his ex or SD. Sorry for the ramble.

Thisisnotus's picture

BM here wasn't that extreme but close and SD12 is very much like your SD. 

I ignore her 90 percent of the time. She gets "sick" if she doesn't get her way but I couldn't care less. My DH allowed BM to alienate her (I thank my lucky stars) so I only to have to see her a few hours a day about 3 days a week. I could not and would not deal with her crap for a long period of time.

justmakingthebest's picture


The biggest bit of advice that I can give is that you and your partner have to stay on the same page. When it comes to discipline let him be the primary and you be the back up, but make sure that he is following the house rules with his daughter as well. Resentment will take over if SD gets a special set of rules that give her a free pass and your kids have to maintain the "standard". 

The stuff with BM and the baby box- that is all about getting a reaction and driving a wedge. Don't let her. When she starts with that stuff just leave the room and busy yourself for a few minutes- switch laundry around or something. Don't let her see that it bothers you but more that you just don't care. Throw in an eyeroll when you walk out. 

Alienation is a real and crappy thing to go through. 

Ispofacto's picture

You're "lovely" bond with SD won't last.  Distance yourself now.  Disengage.  Limit your exposure and avoid her as much as possible.

If she doesn't want what is served, let her go without.  Remove all the junkfood from the house and don't buy any more.

If she gets on your nerves, don't eat with her.

Hide your valuables.  She will steal from you.