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Blending family soon, defiant daughter

haint79's picture

I will try to make a very long story as short as possible.

I had a 17 yr relationship with a Narcissistic man (undiagnosed). I was unaware of what the problem was until after I finally left and went to counseling. The abuse was mostly verbal and mental/emotional but became physical before I finally left 3 1/2 years ago. We have 2 children, a girl who is 10 and a boy who is almost 8. My daughter is his golden child who can do no wrong, my son is the scapegoat who is consistently punished for everything and whose needs are overlooked. My son has accepted the way his dad is, and though he wants to maintain a relationship with him, he also wants to bond with my now fiance. My daughter is accustomed to being catered to by her dad and has always been independent, and now has control issues.

No child likes to be told what to do by someone who is not their biological parent, I understand. They feel the same way about my mother, who takes care of them when I am at work. But even she is a blood relative and they both seem to accept that and behave for her, for the most part. My fiance does not have any children of his own but has been in a few relationships with other women who have kids, so he has some experience. His approach is more strict than mine, which I also understand can cause friction with my children. However, he has watched me be their mom for over a year now and he has both offered me his opinion of what he thinks can improve as well as taken some of my approach into consideration. He has reached out to both of them and tried to bond. They have both been receptive to bonding with him, but my son has been more agreeable and flexible with adapting to his different ways than my daughter.

She is defiant and questions everything, complains frequently, pouts, and has begun to tell her dad if she gets upset with my fiance. This is a problem because her dad has focused on trying to get my fiance out of the picture since we began dating over a year ago. He promised me before I finally left that no man would ever parent his children with me, and he vowed to make my life miserable if I ever tried to bring another man into their lives. Now he constantly questions them and will not stop talking about how I can marry my fiance as soon as the divorce is final. He seems obsessed with pushing my fiance away and I believe she is on board with him.

Ok. So how many of you have dealt with this?! I would love to hear any advice or just stories any of you would like to share.

WTF...REALLY's picture

First off, don’t communicate with your ex-husband unless it’s strictly child related. Communicate via email only to keep it very clear. Do not reply to anything derogatory.

Secondly, you tell your daughter she needs to respect the man in your life. She doesn’t need to like him, but she needs to respect him. You Need to get very consistent about this with your daughter as she’s going to be encouraged from her dad act out in your home against your fiancé.

haint79's picture

Thank you so much.

I have kept all communication with their dad to an absolute minimum since last year when custody had to change. I had tried to be civil with him, even friendly, just for their sake, but he still ran all over me and then began treating me like trash again. Since then, I have been very careful to only communicate with him through text and only about the kids. Of course he thinks it's because my fiance is controlling me and has told me not to talk to him, but that is far from the truth. I don't care what he believes any more.

I have told her that she has to respect him even though she may not like him or the way he does things. She says she understands but I fully expect for her to continue playing sides. I expect for her dad to continue to coax information out of her and encourage her to act out as well. I am hoping that being consistent, like you said, with demanding respect for both of us as well as punishment (taking her electronics away, that's how I punish her and her brother if I have to) will show them that I won't tolerate disrespect.

skatermom's picture

I agree. Stop communicating with your ex. Tell him that what goes on in your house is not his business and tell your daughter the same thing.

Does she have a phone? I have to SDs10 who have phones and like to run and tattle via text or face time with mommy every time they don't get their way. Take the phone away during visits with you and allow her to say goodnight quickly to her father at night that's it.

Your ex is poisoning your household, he told you he would do it and he is via your daughter. Expect a rough road with the daughter, but maybe it will get better over time.

I'm going through the same thing with my SDs so will be reading the advice here.

haint79's picture

Thank you!

I only communicate with him if I absolutely have to regarding the kids. We have it written into our mediation agreement that we only communicate via text and that we post events for the kids on a Google Calendar, which I'm still learning about. As little communication as possible, and I like that.

She does not have a phone. I considered getting them both a phone so that they could contact me if they needed me, but the thought of them having smart phones doesn't appeal to me enough yet. I know he would just take them away from them when they are with him and put tracking programs in them, any kind of spyware he thought he could use to control everyone and get information. I haven't figured all of that out yet. So as of now, she just "accidentally" tells her dad things that my fiance has done or said that have made her angry. It's out of spite, I know, and because she knows it makes her dad happy to hear anything he can use to cause problems.

You're absolutely right, he is poisoning my household and using her to do it and training her to be like him. I'm trying to figure out how to handle her "accidental" confidences about what goes on in my house.

BTW, we do not spank or use any kind of corporal punishment, we only take away privileges like electronics or tv time. That was her latest complaint to her dad, that my fiance "punished" her by taking away her electronics for the night because she got in trouble with her teacher for not turning in all of her homework. It was not even him, it was me. I told her I had discussed it with him, but that I made the ultimate decision to follow through because she had been careless with her homework and then wanted me to lie to her teacher for her. Manipulation already.

ldvilen's picture

Hate to tell you this, but this burden is on you. Your divorce, your issue. Your fiancé has no children, and he will be expecting a wife, a supportive wife. Yes, he knows you have children and he may even know you have one problem child, as you say, but he still has no clue what he could be getting into. He is expecting to be treated like a husband and not a servant boy, who is supposed to fight your battles for you when you feel like it, and yet at the same time, suck it up and take it, when you feel like it.

Doesn't matter if your ex- is narcissistic or if you daughter is too. They are your ex- and your daughter. They are your issue. If your fiancé is smart, and it sounds like he may be, he actually needs to stay out of your family fray as much as possible; otherwise, all of this angst is going to be largely directed at him in no time (and lifted from you). You may want this burden lifted from you. But, how unfair is that--to sacrifice your spouse or future spouse's peace of mind for your own?

Here is my opinion: Given that there are so many out there who have no clue about the realities of step-parenting, to the point of many having no problem treating SPs like lesser persons, I actually think if you have no children (bio-free), the best partner for you is going to be someone else with no children. In this case, your fiancé is going to be making most of the sacrifices for your ex-husband and your children. What sacrifices are you going to be making for him?

May seem like funny math, but it just seems to me that society expects EVERY SP to settle for being sloppy seconds. And, maybe that makes sense, to have a more-so marriage of convenience, if you have kids, he has kids, and so on. But, for a single person, they will have no clue what they are getting into. AND, the sad thing is, if society wasn't so hell bent on blaming SPs for everything and treating them like lesser beings, even then it could maybe work. But, for a single person, w/o kids, to marry someone with kids and then have his legal, 100% legit. marriage thought of as a sloppy seconds, lesser marriage that no one has to take seriously, it is just too much. It will break his heart. Someday it will suddenly all make sense and become very clear of what he gave up and how society views SPs in general. My two cents, anyway.

P.S. I say this as a child-free person who married a wonderful man with children over 15 years ago. I still personally have to deal with the fallout from his divorce almost 20 years ago. After a particularly bad incident that occurred when both his kids were adults, I chose to disengage from them, and no longer attend events with him where his children are present, unless I personally feel like it or, I should say, feel safe enough to. My husband doesn't have the balls to deal with his children, so I have dealt with it. He can go alone if he so chooses. A compromise, of sorts. If you want your marriage with your fiancé to work out, you need to have balls of steel and stick up for him as your finance/spouse, no questions asked. We all come into marriages with baggage, but issues with your ex- or your children are not his to carry for the next 100 years or so simply because you can't set boundaries and stick to them.

haint79's picture

Thank you for sharing your opinion and some of your story. I'm sure it is a very long one, as is mine.

I appreciate your candor and I can tell you have been through a lot. Validation is extremely important to me, so I want to tell you that I can feel through your words that you have had a lot of experience with this and it has been a struggle for you.

That said, I am seeing a part of what you're saying about sacrifices. I know that even this first year and a half has been hard on my fiance as well, and he has told me numerous times that no one has EVER disrespected him and caused him as much grief as my ex has. Some days I honestly don't know why he sticks around. BUT. I have stuck up for him with both my ex and my kids, without mistreating the kids or him. I think considering everything I am still dealing with, I have kept a pretty good balance and not lost my mind, or my kids, or my relationship.

I agree that perhaps someone with no children may be an easier life for him. But for whatever reasons, he has (I'm sure) played this over and over in his head for the better part of a year, and has decided to stay. As long as he is willing to be here and work on our family with me and my children, I will gladly fight the battles that need to be fought.

What I'm looking for is advice about how to navigate the rough waters of a blended family with my biological children learning how to respect their parents, both biological and steps. I fully expect for their dad to find someone else eventually, and as long as she doesn't mistreat my children, I expect them to respect her as well.

ldvilen's picture

haint79, I can see you have good intentions and this may get you'all through this yet. But, the happy well-adjusted blended family is more myth than reality. If your husband is truly narcisstic, even if he does remarry, he will still see you as his object, his possession. You need to be realistic about this whole situation--that's my advice. You haven't even married your fiancé yet, and you are already asking about successfully blending everyone, even though you may have more than your share of personality disorders in your family. For now, I'd just be focusing on setting boundaries with ex- and DD, sticking by them, and supporting my fiancé.

haint79's picture

I appreciate all of that. For the record though, I have almost 20 years of experience with my ex, his crazy family and their wild disfunction, and now several years of research and counseling as well. Though the sound of a fairy tale well-adjusted family sounds great, I assure you, I am not blindly stomping into this expecting things to be smooth and wonderful.

That's why I'm here. I do have good intentions, and I'm trying to be proactive and seek advice/help before things get out of control. I would like to know how others have dealt with their children and a new spouse AND a not-so-accommodating ex. I know I'm not alone, and I don't expect all the answers neatly delivered to me on a golden plate, I just want to arm myself with knowledge. That's all I can do.

Goodluck's picture

OP glad you are here at step talk. Hopefully you will find support, understanding and most of all many laughs.

Have you thought about allowing your daughter to stay with Dad?

You said : For the record though, I have almost 20 years of experience with my ex, his crazy family and their wild dysfunction, and now several years of research and counseling as well.
That should tell you what NOT to do. Being in love with your boyfriend IS very romantic BUT that is separate from the unresolved and continued concerns with your daughter. Also you believe your son is taking second fiddle (my words).

YOUR kids need a break, they need a break from the drama from the on going divorce and now the situation with your boyfriend. You probably need a break too.
I can share this with you...after my divorce from my xdh---I did not date for 1 year. On top of that I did NOT introduce anyone to our kids until I knew marriage was going to happen.

You wrote you are here being proactive and seeking help before things are out of control. Aren't they already?

Step back a little,,,,take some breathing space. YOU deserve it and so do your kids.

JMO and course my all but 25years experience.

haint79's picture

Goodness, I kinda feel like I'm being judged a lot here. I also understand I have only shared as much as I though I needed to, to explain enough so that my questions and concerns could be understood and others could offer advice. I do appreciate all the feedback! Just almost feeling like I'm being fussed at for having a man in the mix of the divorce and custody. I get it, I know a lot of people think it's too fast and I'm being selfish. I can't come here asking for input and not expect some to give opinions that might not be what I want to hear.

I have asked my daughter if she wants to live with her dad full time. She said she does not.

My point in saying I have almost 20 years experience with craziness and abuse is to offer that I'm not young and naive, not blinded by a dream world or living in denial. I have carefully thought out all of this, I assure you, many many hours.

I did not date anyone for a year after separating from their dad. I did not parade them through boyfriends that created drama or got them attached to anyone that I wasn't sure would be around indefinitely. Their dad moved a girl in 6 months after our split, against the court order, proceeded to be abusive to her when the honeymoon phase was over, and she shot herself (supposedly) in his bathroom with his gun. That's a whole other part to this tangled mess.

Look, I am at the point where things are moving forward, I am at peace with moving forward, and I am seeking advice on blending my children with my fiance into a loving, supportive family. I do not expect magic or miracles, I simply want to hear from others who have experience navigating bringing their children into a new marriage.

WTF...REALLY's picture

My current husband has a genuinely crazy ex-wife. She was physically attacked me, she has stab somebody and she has been in and out of jail. I feel you on having to deal with crazy in your life. But that definitely doesn’t mean you don’t deserve love. My husband deserves a loving relationship even though he married wrong the first time.

There really is no easy answer when it comes to a blended situation with an ex spouse wanting their children to hate the parents partner. That is my situation. The mother does everything in her power to get her daughter to hate me even though she does not want to raise her and does not want her to live with her. It’s a true mess. One that has taking it’s toll over the past eight years but we are getting through it. Consistency, compassion and strictness can definitely help. You cannot control your ex-husband, remember that. You can only try to keep the boundaries as strict as possible and understand your fiancé may get genuinely frustrated at times. I get frustrated since I’m the one having to deal with a teenage girl and her mother.

My current husband is very lucky because my ex and I do not fight and my son treats him exceedingly well.

ldvilen's picture

-"haint79, I don't think you are being judged. We keep giving you advice and you keep asking, "I would like to know how others have dealt with their children and a new spouse AND a not-so-accommodating ex." There are answers to this question not only on this page, but all over this forum and

You have no control or pull over any adult that doesn't allow such, much less a not-so-accommodating ex-. All you can deal with is what you can control. You can control (or attempt to control) what goes on in your own home. That's pretty much it. I'm confused a little bit. If you have so much experience, esp. in counseling, then you would have been told quite frequently that you can only control your own actions and not the actions of others.

And, there is no way on this planet you can tame a narcissist. It is all about them. Always has been and always will be for that type of personality. They are only interested in others re: how they make them look. Your ex- isn't going to ever be amiable to your fiancé because your fiancé makes him look bad, because you chose fiancé over him. If anything, your ex- is more likely to try to play games with him, which is what you are seeing now. Heck! This even happens more often than one would think when the ex- isn't suffering from narcissism.

You may be thinking that given time and patience and sucking it up and taking it, your daughter and even your ex- may come around. But, most here would tell you that once you are married, things usually escalate vs. deescalate.

By the way, are you and your "ex" still technically married? Not sure what this line means: "Now he constantly questions them and will not stop talking about how I can marry my fiancé as soon as the divorce is final." If so, not good. And, now you are hoping beyond hope that you can make everything work out. . . . OMG, I just read this: "she shot herself (supposedly) in his bathroom with his gun. That's a whole other part to this tangled mess." Oh Boy! You need to get your kids, full custody if you can, and stay away from your ex? as much as possible.

This is not something you come to a chat site to work out!! You could be putting your fiancé in harms way, big time!!

haint79's picture

Believe me, I am not taking any of this lightly, or just here to chat and hope that some advice will help me work it all out.

Yes, I am aware that I cannot control the actions of others, only my own, and I accept that. That's not what I'm looking for here, advice on how to control my ex. I understand he will always have his own best interests at heart and time will not change his thought process or intentions or likely not make things easier. My fiance and I both expect for him to continue his petty attempts at disrupting our life, but God bless the man, my fiance is willing to take it on and stay with me and my children.

My ex and I have been separated for 3 1/2 years. The only reason the divorce has not been finalized is because of changing custody arrangements and the sudden death of HIS fiance in his house last year. Yes, I am very concerned about that incident, and he is still being "investigated" according to the police. Alas, this has not shifted any judge's opinion of whether or not he should be able to spend unsupervised time with his children, so in good faith, I am moving forward as well as I can for now.

Again, I am not asking for approval of my decisions to remarry sometime after my divorce is final (which is supposed to be this Friday). I would like to hear from others what they have done with their children in this kind of situation, where a biological father plays games and uses his children to cause problems for their mother and new step father.

Ispofacto's picture

The kids need to be in counselling. They have a narcissistic parent and have been through a divorce. Find someone who will back you up on the concept that adults should have authority over children, so he/she can reinforce your and your fiance's rules and boundaries. You can expect your ex to coach one or both of the children to make false allegations of abuse, either sexual or physical. A relationship with a counselor should protect you and FDH from that, either prevent the kids from making false statements, or from being believed.

haint79's picture

Thank you! They are scheduled to begin counseling with me and with their father, as ordered through mediation, to address the issue of keeping discipline fair and regulated, and to hopefully address his favoritism of our daughter over our son. I am absolutely going to speak to the counselor about everything, and I'm sure they may offer or suggest that my fiance and I seek an additional counselor as well. I expect anything from my ex, he has forced my daughter to write a letter stating that my fiance has hurt them and mooned them (yes, mooned. lol.) The kids were interviewed separately about all of it and told the counselors that she was forced to write it, and that my fiance has not hurt them, and they are not at all upset about him mooning them. The taped interviews were released to both attorneys and the guardian ad litem. I'm sure it won't be the last time my ex orchestrates something like that.

Ispofacto's picture

Okay, good. Keep that previous attempt at coaching forefront with these people.

My only other suggestion is to keep all communication in writing, and ignore 99% of the BS that comes from the psycho. Keep all documentation. Videotape exchanges. Try not to leave your fiance alone with the kids.

ldvilen's picture

Got this from another site here:

I have some reading suggestions for you. Maybe you have already read these, but if not, I highly suggest checking them out:
BIFF - Quick Responses to High Conflict People
In Sheep's Clothing : Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People
Divorce Poison
Joint Custody With A Jerk