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Mini wife & Guilty Father syndrome - Please help!

please_help's picture

Hello all – I am SO happy to have found this site as I am at my wits end with my situation. My boyfriend and I have been together for 7 years. We are planning on getting married in the next year or two. He hasn’t proposed yet. Anyway, when I first started dating him his two daughters were very young (3 years old and 1 year old). I fell in love with their father and with them. They were such good girls. We get them every other weekend and I’m starting to dread when that time comes around.

7 years later and they are starting to become materialistic and manipulative just like their BM. The younger one is not so bad but the older one has major issues. She’s extremely clingy and needy. She is going to be 12, has already started her menstrual period and acts like a big baby when she is around her father. She still wants to sit on his lap and cuddle up to him like she’s 3. She has to tell him that she loves him once every 20 minutes. All I hear is “I love you daddy” in this very childlike whiny voice. She follows him everywhere he goes and does not leave his side. She tries to climb him like a tree as if he could still pick her up”. IF he happens to get away for a second and he comes back around she’ll jump and down and yell “daddy daddy daddy” in her baby voice. The other day she was cuddled up against him on our chaise sofa with her head on his chest looking up at him like she was in love with him telling him how much she loves him. If he doesn’t answer her calls immediately, she will call my phone looking for him. She takes all of his attention from her little sister (who could care less it seems). She’s more independent and doesn’t really need the attention. Not yet, at least. The other day I told my boyfriend that I felt bad that his older was taking all the attention away from his younger. He said they both get equal love and attention. I He listened and took note though because he made the older one get off the couch with him and move to the larger couch and asked for the little one to join them. The older one yelled and made this angry voice and said “daddy you BETTER SIT RIGHT HERE NEXT TO ME”. She also is a little miss know it all and will interject in conversation between her father and I when we have a disagreement or difference in opinion on a topic such as politics. She’ll say “no daddy’s right and I agree with daddy”. Um, who asked you for your damn opinion? I’m just totally weirded out by all of this.

He said that the older one is just fighting for his attention because they fight over everything, which they don’t. Heads up that she is the middle child because the mom has another older daughter from her first marriage. Yes, this is her 3rd marriage.

I told him that she is too needy and clingy at her age and she shouldn’t be acting that way. That she shouldn’t be climbing on him like she does and that she can’t be picked up. He told me that he would pick her up at the age of 25. Um..OK? I told him that he needs to set healthy boundaries. That what if she was cuddled up to her NEW step dad like this? Would he like that? That if he lets her know it’s ok, she may wind up doing this with more older men in her life. I told him that it’s inappropriate that she is being intimate with him like I would (on the couch, etc.) and he agreed.

Now their mom is a materialistic floozy who married a man 20 years older than her. She is 35 and he is 55. I can see her being this way with him in front of the girls as she is extremely promiscuous and I don’t see her being a good role model. She lets the girls do whatever they want. The older one has little breasts and you can see them through her shirts and not the mother or father have forced her into wearing a training bra. She doesn’t like to brush her teeth, wear deodorant or brush her hair. She is extremely lazy and no one forces her to do anything. I asked my boyfriend “who are the parents here?”. It’s just bizarre to me.

I have my own daughter who is older. She is 21 and almost going to leave the home. I raised her single but I made sure she took care of herself and knew boundaries when it came to any man in our lives. Doesn’t seem the mom is showing the girls and now my boyfriend isn’t either. I know a lot of his issue is the fact that he has “guilty daddy syndrome”. He feels horrible that he cannot be with them every second of their lives and overcompensates in so many areas. He pays their mother close to $1000 a month in child support and will spend more when he gets them on weekends because he either wants to look good in their eyes or because again, he feels guilty. It’s to the point where he was wanting to move up the street from them because he wanted them to ride their bikes over, etc. but it’s unrealistic because we cannot afford to live in their neighborhood. Again, their gold digger mother married for money. We’re ok financially but not rich.

So I don’t know what to do. It’s to the point where I don’t even want them around anymore every other weekend because it’s driving me crazy. We have moved a tad closer to them which I’m thinking is a huge mistake because now he wants to get them on the week days here and there too. I’m just not happy with the current situation and am feeling like I’m going to wind up ending a relationship with the man that I love and adore because of his daughters. If they are anything like their mom, which they are turning into, they are going to use him and manipulate him for the rest of their lives and I’m not sure I can deal with it. Especially since we are not even married yet.

I just am at the point where I’m needing major advice on what to do. Does it get any better? How do you all cope with this? What do I need to do? I’m starting to be at my wits end and don’t know where else to turn. What do I do to get him to understand?

Do I run? Do I stay? How do I get through this? Will it ever end? Any advice PLEASE 

P.S. I have been a very loving “step mom” to them this whole time but I’m starting to not even want to be around them and have to “fake happy” when it’s getting under my skin.

thinkthrice's picture


I wish I had YEARS ago. The ONLY reason it's tolerable is because all three, who had the worst behaviour that I had EVER seen in ANY child in all of my 54 years, have PASed out.

Then he blamed ME for the PAS out; got downright nasty, cruel, abusive and viscious over his "pain" due to "losing his children."

He has come to the "acceptance" stage in his grief. His three are nothing but POS simply because the BM never had standards for them due to her pity over them being "children of divorce." (TM)

And so did he.

Ninji's picture

I was very affectionate with my father growing up. I hugged and kissed him until I moved out at 18. And so did both my brothers. All three of us kids cuddle with our parents on the couch. We were just that type of family. Everyone has different levels of comfort with this type of behavior.

With that being said, I understand. Its a primitive feeling. I feel a little weirded out when my SO and SD huge and kiss each other and there is nothing inappropriate about their behavior. Also, my SS9 is a lot like your SD. He has to have constant attention from SO. His behavior doesn't personally effect me but it still annoys the heck out of me when SO plays 3hrs of a board game with SS and then SS starts whining wanting more of his time. Sometimes I will say something to SO or SS about every weekend not belonging to SS and I also tell SO that SD is getting left out but generally I leave it alone. If my SO wants to be SS's puppet every weekend, there is little I can do about it...Except drink. Wink

At least your only every other weekend and you get to have your SO a few weekends to yourself. If SD and SO's cuddling is getting to you, find something to do when the Skids are around. I'm working on my MBA and I love to cook. I spend a lot of the weekend busy doing my own thing, which leaves SO open to be SS's personal puppet as much as he wants. We also have a unofficial Skids cut off time. Come 8pm Friday and Saturday night, SO and I are watching Netflix or something on the computer on our room with the dogs and SS and SD need to find something to entertain themselves until bed time. It gives us some quality time alone while still allowing Skids lots of time with dad during the day.

ChiefGrownup's picture

It can get better. With lots and lots of hard work. Even with a lot of hard work it might not get better.

Will it get better on its own just by hoping? Not a chance. It will just get worse.

Snowflake's picture

You have a lot of resentment and I will tell you that it doesn't seem that he is doing anything to make it easier for you. Why so long and still no ring. He obviously has no issue with feelings, especially if he is putting so much effort with his daughters.

It also sounds like he is taking you for granted. My advice would be to find a nice childless man, and they are out there, who can appreciate you and want to put you first.

please_help's picture

Hello! Thanks for the responses. No, he does not have any issues showing feeling's. He is very loving towards me as well.

Yes, I'm starting to resent cause no ring but I was promised this year. If it is not, than I'm leaving. He knows this.

Do you think taking me for granted? Like how? Just curious.

I agree to find someone with no kids and have promised myself that I will never date a man with small children. But I'm nervous because at my age (41) are there men out there who have no children? I feel like at this point in life a lot of them are divorced with children. Sad

Snowflake's picture

I think he is taking you for granted because he is not taking your feelings into consideration. With the moving, the lack of a marriage certificate.

And yes, there are men out there who are childless or who have grown kids who may actually be independent.

Evil3's picture

It does not get better at all. It only gets worse. My SD is 26 and will have Skype open at all times in her apartment to virtually have my DH "living with her" at all times. It's quite sick. It doesn't stop unless and until you put your foot down. I put up with mini-wife syndrome for almost 20 years before I finally put a name to it and was adamant about what changes I wanted or I was gone. Things are tons better but only because I got brave and turned the tables on my DH. Until then, I was the one that was afraid of getting left, so I would go only so far in saying something and then I'd totally back down when my DH would rip my head off and shit down my throat. One day, I had enough and was ready to pack it in unless some major changes were made immediately. I had my SD for more than 50/50 and then she lived with us full time and shunned me for over 7 years. I wish it was only weekends. Anyway, you will have to take a risk of losing the relationship to have a come of Jesus meeting with your SO. You may have to spell it out for him that you are the spouse and your SD is the daughter and then list the specific behaviours from your DH that you want to see. I had to do that and ironically, my DH experienced a sense of liberation, because he wasn't having to turn himself inside out to please high-maintenance SD anymore. My DH and SD will still fall back into their old ways and I will then remind my DH which one of us he's married to and fucking. He will then smarten up for a while until the next time. Luckily, the times in between lapses get farther and farther between. Also, try to liberate yourself from trying to figure out your SD's motives for being a mini-wife. You'll probably hear from others that maybe your SD doesn't get enough attention at BM's or maybe this or maybe that. It wasn't any of that in my SD's case. She was the most fawned on kid I had ever met in my life. It was nothing short of a case of her marking her territory. Regardless of the reason for mini-wives' behaviour, they need to be relegated back to the position of daughter while the SM is put in her rightful position as partner and spouse.

please_help's picture

Thank you! Is there a way to approach her and "relegate" her back to the position of daughter without him knowing? Like a way to approach her on my own?

Evil3's picture

If you did anything, she would see you as the enemy. She already does, because you're taking some of her dad's attention. It has to come from your SO. He's the one that needs to stop enabling her clingy behaviour and start treating you as his SO in front of her. He might even do well to explain the difference to her and tell her that she does not need to constantly cling to him. It's all on him.

ScrewUboozilla's picture

It will only further entrench you as the enemy.

Better to have a friend say something who sees it.. He won't see it if you do. Some people say take pictures of them.

I was told I was jealous. Yeah cause you have a girlfriend! It's a big pissing match between you and the Dtr, fighting over dadddyy.

I do not get why the men don't see it. I have sat there as a third wheel on their "date" while they sat next to each other giggling over the Kim K game on her phone. I told him never again would I be made to feel like that... He thought I was out of line. No YOU are looking like a perverted pedophile with a 13 yo!

Any chance she was sexually abused? Pretty sure SD was based on her behavior, and others agree with me.

ScrewUboozilla's picture

My neighbor and friend who has witnessed the SAME exact behavior my SD16 put it perfectly when we were discussing the same exact thing.. I could have written you post word for word... He has a girlfriend. His daughter. Of course you are weirded out. You shouldn't have to share your husband like that.

This past weekend we are at cousins wedding, SD of course manages to sit next to daddyy.. And her BFstb19 is on her other side. Whose thigh does she have her hand on? Daddyyyy. OMG I would never put my hand on my dad's thigh like that. You don't touch your daddy like your boyfriend.

Same deal, no boundaries, no mothering or boundaries by daddy. She still tries to sit on him occasionally.. Jumps on him.. Shoves her double Ds in his face. Sits with her legs spread open in her dress.. No one has taught this child how to be a young lady. It's really sad.

It has gotten better since boyfriend came into the picture.. But she used to spoon him on the couch. SICK. and she used to sleep with him.. Until 13 when I came a long. I just try and manage so that whatever occasion we are at boy friend is there, we are at a restaurant or busy outside. No couch time.. No place where she can run around in her bikini or booty shorts jumping on daddy, etc.

I get she loves her dad. But someone needs to step up and have an uncomfortable conversation with the kid. It isn't me. Told him that at age 13... Big fight about it. He is ridden by guilt.

I will now tell her to go put clothes on if she comes over in tight stuff. I have a 13 yo son and say.. You don't want him spanking his monkey thinking about you do you? I also say, she better dress appropriately, when DH says she is coming with, or over.

Guilty daddy's will never see their precious princesses as anything but 3 years old. Even if they are 25. He flat out told you her feelings will come first.

She will continue to be overly intimate and sexualized with him. I asked my counselor at the time about it.. She said girls will practice on their dad's.. Like what is appropriate.. And it's up to dad to show her what is appropriate with men.. If he doesn't she will do that with every boy and man. SD used to jump on her moms creepy boyfriend at the age of 14. You don't do that. What do people not see? He is a man..

One of the first times that SD stayed over at our house, she had a friend over too, they slept on the queen size blow up cot in the family room. She asked daddy to stay on the couch downstairs with them. He did. I kick myself for not saying something at the time.. But I didn't realize how bad it was then.

Stormyweather's picture

Guilty daddy syndrome be buggered!!! The husbands who act like this with their daughters and the subsequent angst they create, LOVE the attention it creates between two women! He totally knows it and dosent stop it because he dosent want to. It's his male ego at work here IMHO!

please_help's picture

Hello all and thanks again for your words of support & encouragement! This site is the! Smile His ex and those girls still have so much control over him. He will sometimes call the ex and the daughters for days and no one will answer or text back. But the MINUTE that the BM and girls call he drops everything to make sure he answers and/or goes to pick them up. There are so many occasions on weekends where he DOES have them, that the BM will make other plans for them because "they have things to do" and even though they are his designated weekends, he just lets it slide. He never sticks up to the BM about anything. I've told him I don't know how many times that he needs to take a stance and stand up for himself. Stop letting her control so much of the situation with them. If and when she tries to do that on a weekend where she has them, to say no. He doesn't though. It drives me nuts. On Easter he wanted to take them to church and she said she wasn't sure if it was a good idea because they're religion at home is "love". She's a total whack job and a con artist. Funny thing is she doesn't have me fooled. But that drives me crazy how she will ignore their father when she feels like it but when it's convenient for her she will reach out and guess who is there? Good 'ol "daddy". So it seems that he has no boundaries with any of them. The mom or the daughters.

Another thing to mention. Her older daughter was his live in step daughter while they were married for four years. They have been apart for 8 years and he till this day feels the need to play "daddy" to her oldest who is not his. This drives me crazy. He says because she needs love to and was a father figure. Well guess what. The oldest who is not his has a FATHER and a new STEP FATHER so why don't you back off on that? He has his whole family and his biological daughters including her on things like holiday's when we go away and when the oldest real father doesn't come to get her on his weekend my SO wants to bring her over with his daughters. I'm sorry but she is NOT your daughter, I'm already having a hard time with this situation as it is and you want me to have your ex's and your NON bio child in my home?! WTF is that?! Luckily, her oldest and his non bio is much older and in high school and doing her own thing now but that was something I struggled with.

I'm starting to think that there is a bit of narcissism here on SO's end and starting to wonder if he is the way he is to "look good" in the girls eyes or because he truly just is the way he is.

Like yesterday he was supposed to pick them up and the BM said not a good day because they were busy. So he messaged her and said "can you please tell the girls that you said I couldn't get them because I don't want to look like I stiffed them". Like he's overly concerned about it. Instead of just texting them and saying mommy said you guys had too much homework, see you later this week or whatever. He just is extreme. The minute he drops them off after our weekend he will walk in the house saying how much he misses them. Last weekend he wanted to put an air mattress up in our room so they could sleep in the room with us and he could be close to them. Um, excuse me. We JUST moved from a smaller home into a bigger one so they could have their OWN room and a yard to play in, etc. and you're telling me that you want them to sleep in OUR bedroom? NO! The older one won't even go out to play in our beautiful new yard cause she's stuck by her "daddy's" side. It's just ridiculous.

Wow! That was ALOT of venting huh? lol

I feel like as I'm typing this, that yes. I think I need to re-evaluate what I'm doing. I don't know if I could deal with this for much longer. Especially cause not even married. It's just really hard because I do love him. We've spent 7 years together as a "family" and I truly do love him and the thought of not being with him breaks my heart. Just the thought of it.

This stinks. Really stinks. :sick:

SweetMom's picture

It seems like you are giving and giving from letting kids steal your joy to other things. This will consume you! Oh you can fight and fight and he will correct things but it's going to take time. Do you want to give what little time you have on this man and his mini wife? It's always going to be some type of bs. One day you're going to wake up older, broke, time will have passed you by because it it waited for no one. Yes you may have changed him and his outlook by then but you'll have all this resentment and hate in you. If you have hate on the inside it will show on the outside. Everything I read about your story sounds very very familiar except yours sounds a bit much more than mine In The beginning of my relationship. Yes he can change but it's going to take lots of fights, time, and you have to demand stricken boundaries. He maybe her daddy but he is your man!

SweetMom's picture

I read your last comment ^ oh honey, I feel so bad for you. You are blind and don't know what's ahead. Get your act together and get away from this fool you are with. You can have a relationship In Different homes of dating and set rules that he is not to accept phone calls or texts when he is with you that you need attention too. You need a man to yourself. Right now you have a puppet on a string and you're not holding the strings. You will always be on the back burner with this ex wife and kids. And you said you been with him for 7 years, wow! Wow! Wow! You allowed this shit to go on..that's crazy!

SugarSpice's picture

this type of behaviour does not end with adulthood. one sd is married and still calls her father every single day. she has no friends and call her father her best friend. a friend of mine who is a stepdaughter herself says this is way too close. being this intimate with the father will ruin any chance she has with own husband. i just wonder when the divorce will take place when the young man figures this out.