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It’s not her, it’s him!

SubstituteMommy's picture

Over the last several months, I have slowly realized that my SO makes me hate being a step-mom. SD9 isn't warm with her father. She doesn't respect or acknowledge him, she isn't affectionate or loving towards him, and she pretty much only speaks to him when she wants something. I have been around since she was four years old, so I have a lot of ideas as to why she acts the way that she does with him. (1) He used to be a mess. They lived with his awful parents and he didn't have much to offer. SD didn't know what stability felt like until they moved in with me and my kids. SD remembers a lot and she acts like her father was an idiot who I had to save. (2) SD is not a caring or affectionate person, but my SO is the most affectionate person I've ever known. SD gets worse as the years go by. Her father has spent years suffocating her with the overbearing amount of affection that he has shown her. (3) SD acts so much like her BM and grandmother. I truly feel like the small amount of interaction that she gets with them is enough for her to share their negative, bitter, and hateful feelings. (4) SD is very self-absorbed, unemotional, and disconnected. She lives with us full-time and visits her BM out-of-state a few weeks per year. She never talks to her BM on the phone and she doesn't call her "mom." She constantly says bad things about her, makes fun of her, and is mean to her face. They don't have much of a relationship, yet SD is perfectly fine when she is there. She's fine no matter where she is or who she is with. It's like she has no emotional attachment to anyone at all. Don't get me wrong, it's good for kids to be okay with both families, but it's different with SD. It's like people only exist and matter to her if they are in front of her face, doing something for her.

My SO constantly makes himself look pathetic when it comes to SD. She has made it very clear where he stands and she's unapologetic about it. He likes to make stupid comments like, "Hey, the girl on the movie doesn't like her dad either! Just like you, SD!" as she rolls her eyes and stays silent. Or like, "I can't tickle you anymore? You're so rude!" as he grabs her to kiss her face while she cringes.

He tends to have MANtrums and say meaningless things when she hurts his feelings by being herself. For example, she stopped wanting him to tuck her in and say goodnight. She admitted that he annoyed her by standing at her door after she had already closed it and gotten into bed. My SO was upset and he told me that he wasn't going to make it a point to say goodnight anymore and that if she wants to say goodnight to him, then she can. Was that true? No. He still desperately goes to say goodnight every chance he gets. Another example was on Father's Day. She didn't greet him or make him a card or write anything nice in the card that I bought for her to sign. I even reminded her what day it was that morning and she just looked at my SO and said, "Yeah, I know." as she walked away. My SO was mad and he proclaimed that he really figured out who she is and that he needs to stop trying so hard and blah, blah, blah. Was that true? No. He still acts like a complete sucker when it comes to that child. Another example was this summer. She stayed with her BM and grandmother for seven weeks (instead of the usual four) due to them contracting COVID-19 and quarantining. She only called a couple of times while she was away, and when she did, she was rude and aloof. Her father ended one call with, "I love you very, very, very much!" to which she replied, "Okay. Bye." and hung up. My SO was agitated and he stated that he understands how she feels about him and that he needs to handle her better and blah, blah, blah. Was that true? No. She came back and remembered that we exist and that she needs things from us, so all is perfect in her father's world.

I don't expect him to give up on SD completely, but he needs to have some dignity and quit making himself look like a weak man who heavily relies on his child's love and acceptance when she has no desire to give that to him. His desperation is far from attractive and I hate feeling so disgusted by him on a regular basis. Even with all of SD's annoying issues, my SO is the one who makes step-parenting frustrating and aggravating.


tog redux's picture

How does SD do in the rest of her life? Does she do well in school, have friends, etc? She sounds like she's figured out young that her parents are both useless. Since she's a kid, she needs them, but she has little respect for either one of them.  And from what you said, she's right about that. 

Maybe your DH could try being an actual father to her, instead of acting like a 4th grader with a crush on her.  I too would have a hard time watching all that.

SubstituteMommy's picture

She does well in school. She has a hard time keeping friends because she's a bit of a bully and she's extremely conceited. I agree with your assumption about how she views her parents. I have a hard time believing that her father will ever learn to be the way that he should be with her. It's sad, but I'm not planning on sticking around to watch it long-term anyway.

futurobrillante99's picture

I would be greatly annoyed having a parent like your husband. In my face and needy all the time. It's like having a dog. I'm more of a cat person and I'm an introvert. That needy crap would drive me bananas!!

He needs to turn his energies where they will be appreciated. If he leaves her alone, she may start to seek connection....or not.

SubstituteMommy's picture

You hit the nail on the head with that one! He is super needy! I am more loving and affectionate than SD is, but it would've driven me crazy if my dad had acted the way that my SO does! Yuck.

ITB2012's picture

My DH is very similar. Big statements of how he doesn't like what the kids are doing, he's gonna put his foot down, and then what he does is pussy-foot around them and tell them how hurt he is by their behavior. The only "consequence" they get is having to sit and listen to him whine about it for about 15 minutes. Then he assumes they will want to change because he loves them and they love him. And then he's surprised. He also doesn't see his do as I say and not as I do hypocrisy (for example expecting them to recognized holidays and get gifts when he doesn't bother himself to do it for others---except for them).

SubstituteMommy's picture

Big statements of how he doesn't like what the kids are doing, he's gonna put his foot down, and then what he does is pussy-foot around them and tell them how hurt he is by their behavior.

THIS! That is exactly how my SO acts! You must know exactly how I feel. I will never understand dads that act like that and how they justify it.

ESMOD's picture

Kids have different personallities.. but they can also be formed by their experiences.. it sounds like her early years were quite unsettling and chaotic for more than just COD reasons.  It does sound like she is justified in her feelings towards both of her parents that let her down.  

I don't like that your DH tries to or has tried to force physical affection on her.. who knows.. maybe she has experienced some abuse along the way?  or maybe she is just more introverted and when people come into her space uninvited.. it makes her uncomfortable? she has a right to not want another person to touch her.. he shouldn't push that boundary.

Has he thought about trying some counseling so that she could maybe talk through some things without all the "pressure to love daddy" on the line?

I think he needs to understand he can't make up for being a crap dad now.. she knows and was there when he wasn't.  He needs to be a responsible father with good rules and boundaries and treat her like his child.. not like his prospective girlfriend. that is too much pressure on her.

SubstituteMommy's picture

I don't believe that she has been abused. She's only met one of her BM's many guys, which was her half-brother's dad, and she liked him a lot. He's no longer in the picture though, much to her disappointment. I agree that she has the right to not want to be touched. My SO disagrees. He's said, "I don't care if she doesn't want me to kiss her. She's my daughter and I'll kiss her all I want." He could definitely use counseling. I've been realizing that more and more as time goes on.

Winterglow's picture

"she has a right to not want another person to touch her.."

OMG - get this through his stupid skull NOW! He's treating her as if she were one of his toys and not a young human being. He HAS to understand how important it is for children (especially girls) to be able to be in control of their bodies and not to feel that they have to just "give in" to adults.

SubstituteMommy's picture

I agree! SD is often treated like an object. I would say that to her dad when we were going through all of the stupid court battles. Everyone acted like she was a toy that they were all fighting over (another reason that I believe she's already narcissistic at such a young age, but that's off topic). Her dad will never understand how important it is for him to back off and give her the space that she wants because he takes it so personally.