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I’m probably not meant to be a parent, please give me advice/perspective

Lainey89's picture

I’ve been dating this guy for a year and a half and our relationships’ pretty much perfect, best I’ve ever had, we’ll probably eventually get married, I’m 29 and he’s 30, he has an 8 year old daughter. He and the daughter moved into my house 5 months ago.

I’ve somehow gone 29 years with practically no exposure to children so

  1. I don’t know how to interact with them
  2. I don’t  know what’s normal/abnormal behavior aside from overwhelmingly obvious things

His daughter has some emotional issues which she’s been in therapy for but that aside she generally seems well behaved most of the time.

The problem is I dread spending time with her and here’s why.

  1. 80% of our interactions are dominated by food arguments (over what’s she’s gonna eat, when, etc) My ex said it’s just a phase but nonetheless it’s the phase that I’m getting to know her in kinda like my first impression of her
  2. I know all kids do this but she always argues when I tell her no
  3. She has emotional issues, if I was some expert parent maybe that would be easier to manage but I’m clueless
  4. Even when she’s in a good mood she just annoying, I hate to say it but you know what I mean, wants to play imaginary games and stuff like that. Which that is totally normal kid stuff and I know but c’mon I just don’t want to play imaginary barbie salon for 30 mins, I engage with her for her sake and to try and bond but I still would rather be doing other things

Maybe all these things would be more tolerable if she was my child that I gave birth to or raised from a very young age when there was a more opportune window for maternal bonding but I feel like I’ve missed that window and I’m just trying to force bonding with this demanding, annoying, overly emotional, argumentative tiny human.

Another factor complicating things (and we’re working on this) is she has multiple caregivers due to a complicated custody situation with his ex, his ex’s nanny and his parents. So she’s exposed to different rules all the time which creates constant arguments. For instance the grandparents let her play on the tablet at dinner, we don’t--- result = argument.

It’s probably not fair for her to have a step parent in her life that dreads spending time with her, so I don’t know what to do. But I want to feel different, I’m hoping someone can tell me something that helps change my perspective on this and give me some hope that it will get better and easier.


MrsStepMom's picture



I don't give a shit how much you love him. It WILLLLLL do nothing but ruin your life. Read through this board. There is no happy, no positive, no silver lining. DO NOT DO IT! Love is not enough.


You will eventually feel different. You will hate her, be miserable and end up divorced. Sound fun? And no, you won't be the exception. You are the rule as that movie says. This WILL happen to you and you will ruin your life. Get them out of your house now.

tog redux's picture

Listen - I know your situation is crap.  But there are lots and lots of stepparents (my sister is one) who are fine with stepparenting. She has a stepkid who is now 40 and who has been part of her life since age 9. It's not an automatic horror show for every stepparent, believe it or not, the horror stories on here are probably not the majority.

My situation will not get worse, trust me - we've been through the worst. My SS doesn't live here, my DH is a good parent, and he has always put me first.

Your situation is the one that's not in the norm.

MrsStepMom's picture

Uh genius read most of the posts here. My situation is the common one. Now go live your pretend perfect life and leave me alone. I am sure your instagram friends are SOOOO impressed.

tog redux's picture

There are lots of people on here who don't feel like you do.

Why don't you own your own choices instead of blaming all men with kids for your particular shitty situation?  

classyNJ's picture

Wow!  So you are being nasty to someone who doesnt just give the advice of RUN RUN  RUN all the damn time?  It's not her fault you didn't chose wisely.

Like some others here, I myself would not tell someone to run away just because they had children.  Yes stepparenting is hard, but I chose a man who parents his kids, boundries in place with DBDB is list our marriage as a top priority.

Don't put us down because we are loved and respected at least by our DH's if not the kids as welll.

tog redux's picture

Exactly. There are many people on this blog who feel differently from her. 

ESMOD's picture

I would say my situation is good. Just got finished making plans for Christmas in the Bahamas with my 21 yo sd and my dh.

People dont usually seek out these groups for good situations...and while I have had my frustrations too...probably not too different than the number of issues in tact families have.

Your spouse and their expectations and attitude will be most important 

tog redux's picture

Why are you arguing with his child over food, at all? You aren't her parent, let him handle the food stuff, and for that matter, all other parenting.  I never dealt with any of that with my SS because DH did.  You guys are still just dating, so not your job to parent her.

As for playing with her, set limits on it, and only do it as long as you want to. Some kid play can be super annoying and not fun at all for adults (like imaginary Barbie salon, at least for me).  I did much better with boy stuff - I like throwing a ball around.  Do whatever is fun for you with her, you aren't obligated to play with her (though it will make your relationship better). If you like board games, play those instead.

Just be sure he's a good parent, who can set limits on his own and doesn't expect you to help. That will help avoid the above poster's situation.  Mine was not like hers.

Lainey89's picture

Thanks for the reply, to answer your question we live together so the food arguments are inevitable. there's a lot of time when I'm home with her and he's at work so we deal with meal/snack time arguments. 

If I didn't say anything she would be eating cereal or candy every 45 mins.

He is a good parent and doesn't expect me to help, usually I offer to help. That's a good tip about playing games we both enjoy and setting time limits, I'll try that. 

tog redux's picture

So here's a thought - you shouldn't have her when he's not there, seriously - not on an ongoing basis.  It's not your job, and you are already tired of it.  Let him know that when he works, she needs to be with one of her other caregivers.  It's not selfish of you, you aren't a nanny just because you live with her father.

My relationship with my SS was like a "friendly aunt".  I didn't parent, didn't discipline, was rarely alone with him for more than an hour.  My DH handled everything.  I did help on occasion, but not often.  

Dads_Wife's picture

I always find Tog pretty helpful - somethings I think people get jealous because she has a husband that supports her and stands behind her. MrsStepMom has been walked all over by both her 'D'H and SS for so long that theres a lot of bitterness and resentment there that is hard to see past.

tog redux's picture

Thank you.  I don't think it's helpful to tell all newcomers to run or their life will be miserable as if it's 100% fact. The objective truth is that not all stepparents are miserable, there are lots of situations in which stepparenting works.  We are the outliers here, because most of us have a crazy BM or a DH who is a terrible parent. 

elkclan's picture

I think this is a good model for childless step parents. This is the model my SO used when he was with his childless girlfriend before me. It doesn't work for me because I have a kid around the same age as his and we do more 'swapsies' and plus I don't get to switch off from being a parent, because I am a parent - and basically I have to maintain that persona even when my son isn't around but his kids are.. I would LOVE to be the 'fun aunt' - that's a role I'd excel in because I'm basically a very bad girl at heart. 

Lainey89's picture

Yea I think that might be a good idea at least until her an I have a rapport established.

still learning's picture

So buy healthy cereal and let her eat it every 45 minutes.  There are plenty of alternatives to candy like dried fruit, etc.  Since you've chosen to be in a quasi parent role you get to control what is stocked in your cupboards.  FYI, I have growing boys and they eat bowls of cereal as a snack and I really don't care.  Let her father do the food battles if he must. When she's with you you can let her eat Organic Healthy O's drizzled with Raw honey and be the good guy. 

About your situation, you've got a long way to go until she's launched.  Is this the life you want for the next decade? Just wait until she starts menstrating and sneaking out with boys. It's only going to get funner! Why the heel did you allow your man to move in with his child?  Doesn't he have his own place?  

Gah! I really want to shake some of you women and scream, "What're you doing???!!!"  

STaround's picture

I would add, if the move involved changing schools etc., as a SM the one thing I would do is help her make new friends.  Many moms will be hesitant to allow their DDs over at a household with only a man present.  Talk to DH, get her involved in activities as school, hopefully she will make friends there. 

Step-girlfriend's picture

Oh I feel you. I had not been around kids that much either, and when I was I looked at them like they were scary little aliens. I had no idea how to interact with my SO's kids (SD6 and SS10 at the time, now 9 and almost 13). I did learn and grew more comfortable with them, but even now It feels weird, especially with SS12. The key is finding a few things you don't mind doing with them. I rarely just give in to SD's whims...if she wants me to play some imaginary crap, I just don't. I have NEVER played Barbies with her!! I'll play a board game with her, watch a show, even occasionally jump on the trampoline (this seemed like a good idea until I bounced so hard I fell off the trampoline. lol), but for the most part I make sure I have some interest in it too. I'm not good at, nor do I want to fake it. She can play Barbies by herself.

I don't know if it gets better or easier? My interactions got easier, yes, and it's nice when they grow out of the Barbie's stage and you can find more things to do together. It's still hard. I distance myself sometimes, for my own sanity, and for a break from skids. Just make sure you're getting the alone time you need, and taking care of what YOU want, or this can turn from bad to worse real fast. If you are feeling overwhelmed with SD, don't ignore it, do something about it. Say no when you need to.

Winterglow's picture

About the food ... They moved into your home so you get to call the shots as to what you'll cook and you get to refuse their inmut. If the little darling doesn't like what you made then it's not your problem. Don't engage. If he wants to take over the cooking then let him. 

Don't let them walk all over you.

Winterglow's picture

Another thing ...

I saw that you are often at home alone with her so you have to do the cooking. In that case, you cook what you want to cook, yoiu set it in front of her, and she takes it or leaves it. Don't make a struggle out of it , just be matter of fact. She won't let herself starve. After a few missed meals she'll come round. Don't feed into the pickiness (but don't try to force things with food that she genuinely hates).

I also saw that you said that fighting about food is inevitable ... no, it isn't. Stop thinking that this is normal. Normal is what you make it. For lots of families, normal is eating what is cooked for you. 

notasm3's picture

Give her a bucket of candy and let her stuff herself.  That's what her father would do right?  Don't argue with her.  Leave the room if he argues with her - or better yet tell both of them to leave the room.  Cook what you want to cook, when you want to cook.

And she should NOT be there when he isn't there.  You are not the nanny.

Swim_Mom's picture

I feel for you. There is no way I could've been with a man with kids without having my own. I'm glad my DH has kids only because it feels balanced, not because I have any particular love for his kids. I rarely see any of them, which is fine with me. I was thinking about your comment on playing Barbies for half an hour...there you have it, the difference between a step kid and a real kid - only for my kids, could I suffer through something like that! Trampoline, yes!

RiverLark's picture

We had issues with my YSD when we all moved in together, she had emotional issues, tantrums, wouldn't eat anything except nutella. I had fantasies about making cute lunches and doll picnics. LOL. 

The best advice I can give you is what worked for us - we have no problems with this kid now. (And what worked for me might not be best for you. )

routine was a big thing. Does she have a set bedtime? We implimented a bedtime routine and stuck to it. This was on the advice of a child therapist. ours was, at 8 pm take a bath, at 830 read or watch tv for 15-20 minutes, then a bedtime story. We were also advised to give her some choices, so bath or shower, tv or book. The times were pretty non negotiable. That's not the rule elsewhere? too bad. that's our rule in THIS house. 

The food thing is a gd nightmare and anyone who says "that's not your problem" is not being realistic or compassionate. Sometimes step parents have to be the caregiver. That's going to happen with a kid that age when you live together! And holy crap you can't just feed them candy. What we did was limit the amount of junk in the house so she couldn't just grab it. This is my natural state anyway, I never used to have junk food in the house. Try to find a few go - to things that she will eat. Chicken soup from a can and crackers, chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes, tacos, easy kid stuff. It's tough because there's a good chance she's rejecting you and your cooking out of loyalty to Mom. Also kids are shitty eaters. They like gross things. if you're used to cooking for adults (Like I was, I used to love to cook) it's a very rough transition! 


I could talk about routine and food for hours so I'll leave it here unless you have any questions, but I want to tell you that from the perspective of someone who has been there, this WILL improve. 8 is a terrible age. They have meltdowns and they have tantrums. Oh, that's another thing, do some research on the difference between the two, it's super helpful to know what one you're dealing with. 

A routine will help. And you'll find stuff you both like to do. The more I liked my Sd the more I could stand playing barbies. I like to draw so I found getting some art stuff and fooling around with that together worked. They're kids - in a lot of ways you have to meet them on their level. 

The question you have to ask yourself is - do you want it to work? Because if you don't think you'll find any joy in constantly mashing potatoes, playing barbies, and having the kid as the centre of your life, get out now. The kids take over. People say to put your relationship first, but really, she's a little person that your husband made. That's always going to come first. 


Good luck! 

Lainey89's picture

Riverlark, thanks for all the helpful input. I definetely want it to work, we try to stick to our routines but need to get better at it. I was wondering about your comment

"Oh, that's another thing, do some research on the difference between the two, it's super helpful to know what one you're dealing with."

Are you saying to research the difference between tantrums and meltdowns?

I appreciate your comment here as well "anyone who says "that's not your problem" is not being realistic or compassionate. Sometimes step parents have to be the caregiver". It's true I feel like it would be a little selfish and against my nature to constantly pawn her off on someone else when I can easily watch her, especially since she lives with me. But as someone else said I think limiting that time a little more would be beneficial right now while we establish rapport. 

Lainey89's picture

Thanks everyone for your input, I really appreciate you all taking the time give me your thoughts. It’s given me a lot to think about and incorporate into my relationship with her. It's also nice to know that I"m not alone and other have gone through the same thing. Btw I'm new here and still trying to catch onto all the abbreviations, is there an abbreviations guide someowhere on here? lol.

Rags's picture

I have never had any desire or drive to be a parent. I mean ZIP, nada, nothing.  However, those are feelings.  Parenting has nothing to do with feelings and everything to do with action IMHO.  The actions of parenting grow feelings.

When I met my incredible bride (of 25 years as of July 30) I knew if fairly short order that I was very interested in making a life together with her.  She brought SS STB-27 with her and if we were going to make a life together that meant that I would be a parent to her son.  So I parenting.  It is my firm belief that equity life partners are equity parents to any children in their home regardless of kid biology.  This philosphy has worked for us.  As it turned out... SS is an only child in our family. I raised him as my own.   His mom and I have an amazing life and a big part of that is our son.  He asked for me to adopt him when he was 22 and we made that happen.

So, my advice is to not focus so much on how you are feeling regarding the Skid.  Focus on the adult relationship and take the actions of parenting.  The outcome can be extremely positive even if you never develop strong parenting feelings.  I am proud of my SS, his mom and I have raised a man of character, honor and standing in his community.  I am proud to be his dad. 

However, I still have zero feelings about being a parent.  As it turned out, I have never had a BK.  I have missed nothing.

So, don't be so hard on yourself.  Enjoy your life.

Bear92's picture

I'm sort of in the same boat as you. Fiancé is 29, I'm 27 and his daughter turns 11 in a few weeks. Her BM isn't around and I've taken over mom role. I feel annoyed almost all the time, as well. I hate that I feel that way but, like you, I feel that as we bond and our relationship grows, maybe this will change. We've been together 2 years, getting married in 7 months. I'd love an update on how things go for you. Maybe we can share advice.

Mermar90's picture

I'm in the same boat. Got married last year at 28, he was 30. His daughter was 12. But we've been together for almost 9 years total.  I've also had little to no exposure to children and find his daughter annoying. I don't think you should dump him if you love him and can at least imagine continuing to try to make it work with his daughter.

Instead of playing barbies I will recommend legos, or a video game, or arts and crafts, or going outside, because that's what I like. So then at least its tolerable to spend time.