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Defensive Dad

stepgf1's picture

I am looking for any advice that can be given to me as my relationship is suffering. I am a 30 year old female in a 2 year relationship with a 33 year old male who has majority custody of his 16 year old daughter. We have lived together for the past year now and have discussed getting married and having our own children in the near future, but issues with his daughter has brought this to a halt for us both.

In the beginning of our relationship, there weren't many expectations of me from him with his daughter. I approached the relationship from the point of a big/little sister one which was a big mistake. I don't think the daughter is exceptionally bad, but in terms of disrespectful words and actions, lets just say she is very teenagery. I wasn't being treated as an adult by her and I don't believe that the smaller age gap between her and I help. To make matters worse, any issue I brought to my BF about something inappropriate said or done by her has been immediately met with defense -"She was joking/she didn't know/there must have been a reason." EVERY time I've said something. I hate feeling challenged as an adult and don't feel like a partner in the relationship. Due to my feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place, I withdrew myself in her presence...not that she minds; she hasn't been open to establishing a relationship either. However, my BF is extremely upset and places all of the responsibility on me. He complains that I never say anything positive. He feels my feelings of being disregarded by him when it comes to her are a poor "excuse" of not making more effort and if I love him, I need to love her just the same.

Months into our "expectationless" relationship, he began to put pressure on me to help me make decisions, give him advice, and teach/show her things as a woman. I don't feel comfortable doing this because I am not a parent, parenting a teenager at my age isn't a role I'm prepared to play, and he only wants to hear the positive anyway or the conversation results in an argument of which I am always on the losing end. I encouraged him to put this pressure on her BM who hasn't been an active parent for the majority of her life, and she has stepped up. However, he doesn't like the mother and doesn't want his daughter to be like her so this makes him even less satisfied with our lack of a relationship. We're both at a point where our displeasure at the way things are working is a make or break point, but if only he can finally hear what I've been telling him for months - that spending time with her feels like I am throwing myself in the line of fire and nobody will do anything about it because he sees her as a "child," maybe we can work towards her and I building a relationship that works for me as well.

Is there anything I can do to be authentic to myself and get him to see that I have valid feelings that aren't being addressed? Is it possible to get a defensive parent to see things objectively at all?

alwaysanxious's picture

Welcome to my world. I think you have done the right thing, removing yourself. I think you should continue with it. He is just going to have to deal with it. When he asks you for advice he is only setting you up, they never want to hear the negative. So, just say "I don't know, what do you think?" DON'T fall for it! Don't answer. You will not win. I've been there. I forget sometimes and kick myself when I do respond and then we fight.

She's not a child anymore, she is a teenager, very different. I am not comfortable with it either because my teen would be raised very differently. The disrespect, the free range attitude of her dad, the "I'm so wonderful the world revolves around me" attitude, and the "poor me" to dad when somethng doesn't go her way. Drives me nuts. Remove yourself, you have done it keep doing it. You are on the right track.

You cannot control that your SO doesn't get it. He is going to have to adjust. All you can do is reiterate, I'm not the parent and anything I say starts a fight. I am always on the losing end, I'm not giving an opinion.
Also, there is the "do not respond" option. Just don't say a word. Your lack of response may help make him stop asking.

I so sympathize with you. I don't even want a relationship with SD15 anymore. I'm 34. Its tough.

I have more to say.. adding here.
It sounds like with his "you dont' love me very much because you don't love her the same" crap, he is setting up the relationship for failure. You are there for him. In about 3-5 years she will have her own life and ditch him. Where will he be then? Alone. He cannot expect you to love her the same. He can expect you to be courteous and respectful of her. That is all. If his conditions for a relationship are that his partner treat his daughter like their own and love her the same, then he needs to find someone else.

I know what I say here, I have done it. I told my SO its not going to be what he wants, if he wants everything for his daughter, then he needs to look elsewhere. I am not here for her, I am here for him.

Good luck!

Auteur's picture

Disengage. Your BF has had unreasonable expectations of YOU from the start.

Do you hear such crap as:

"you're the adult here and she's the child"

"you don't like my kid"

"you should try harder"

blah blah

All guilty daddy mantras.

My "SO" GG has a younger former co-worker that will NEVER EVER have another adult relationship b/c he treats his daughter as an equal to him. She has "adult spousal status" and I don't know HOW many GFs this guy has gone through once the women see what is going on and get sick of it.

This particular guy is in your age range.

If your BF is not willing to parent traditionally and be on the same page as you as a united front, RUN NOW!!

DO NOT BREED WITH THIS MAN as he has already proved himself a faulty parent.

hbell0428's picture

Hello! This is a very common thing with daddy's and BK. My sd14 is the same way!! WE have been together since she was barely 2 and the princess can do no wrong. BD is very defensive; I AM NOT SAYING IT IS YOU BY ANY MEANS! But I got to the point that I almost thru in the towel!

Here is what I did......I took it from another approach. (I almost had to act like dad was a 5 year old) I pointed things out nicely; when she would do something that was totally nutz! I would simply say......."This is one of the things that drive me nutz" and we would talk about it. It took 6 months of this crap! But now - he told her that everything goes thru me. (which I am not sure I like yet!! LOL) but now when she "rolls her eyes or screams and cries" He jumps on her before I can say a word!

Good luck and remember - we are step parents; no matter what we do is right........just kidding; have a good day!!

alwaysanxious's picture

If I do that "this is what drives me nuts thng" he would just see me picking on SD. I'm glad it worked for you, but some men don't want to hear anything about their precious SD's

B22S22's picture

My DH said once - and only once - "well, maybe you need to put a little more effort into talking to them (sk's)."

My response, "Well maybe YOU need to put a LOT MORE effort into delineating the pecking order in this house so we'll all have it straight."

He was mad, didn't speak to me for a while, but has made a couple slight attempts at doing that.

stepgf1's picture

Thank you guys so much for the feedback and advice. Unfortunately, even politely saying things don't work. The only time he wants feedback that isn't positive is when he asks for it...and even then the convo doesn't always go smoothly if I say something that he doesn't like. When I tell him that this is why I don't say anything to him at all, he gets offended and says I have to say something because I should care enough about her to do so. Its hard when he wants me to treat his child like my own, but he doesn't treat ME like he would if she was my own. He can't have it both ways, but wants it that way.

alwaysanxious's picture

Typical. Its a no win situation. Just keep working at it and when you get tired, you'll leave or she'll go away.

hope2011's picture

OMGosh, I feel like I finally found people who UNDERSTAND and it's not me alone feeling like a horrible bitch for daring to say something "negative". We just had this conversation AGAIN tonight. I wrote it all on my own thread so I won't hijack yours. Just want to say I understand too and THANK YOU for posting this!

racers411's picture

I feel your pain, as does everyone else here!!!

Having put up with the same kind of crap from my DH for the last 2 years his son has lived with us, I completely understand the dilemma of trying to keep your mouth shut to avoid fighting, but just boiling inside when you see skids doing stuff you would NEVER allow your own children to do.

First thing ALL Bio parents need to get through their thick heads RIGHT NOW......NO Step parent is going to feel exactly the same way about their step kids as they would their own bio kids.... WHY????? BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT THEIR BIO KIDS.... so stop trying to force it!!!
That doesn't mean we don't care or even love our skids, but it's not the same, so don't tell us we should feel that way or that they should feel that way... that is a recipe for failure!

I just found this incredible book that I would recommend for all step parents:

Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do BY: Wednesday Martin

Good luck!!

KeepingMySanity's picture

I just went on Amazon and bought that book as soon as I read your post .... thank you for that, I have been trying to find books that may help me keep my sanity but it's so hard to tell if something will be good or not without a recommendation. Thank you!!!

overit2's picture

YES to Stemonster...and have your DH read those parts about how RELATEDNESS matters. Even Dr. Phil (and I'm no fan) explains how it's an unfair expectation to think sm's will feel the same love we do for our spouses/biokids.

We weren't there when they were born, we didn't plan for those kids, we didn't choose to have them, we didn't change diapers, feed them, see all those things parents do w/their own or adopted children. There is no possible way you can love them like your own (bios or adopted).

I just got my book Stepmonster in the mail on Monday and so far I'm LOVING the insight in this book. HIGHLY recommend it.

buterfly_2011's picture

Yep this is my story too......... it doesn't get better until guilty daddy figures things out. OR that's my take on it anyway. Ours is 16 too. We had BIG plans until SD16 stepped in. Now the engagement is off and I have sold my dress and returned his ring.