How do I bond with my stepdaughter?

mommyof5_2010March 8, 2010

I am engaged to the most amazing man! I have 3 children from a previous marriage. I have a 10 yr old son and 7 yr old boy/girl twins who absolutely adore him. He is an awesome stepdad to them. He has a 4 year old daughter from a prev marriage and we have a 4 month old son together.

His daughter only comes over holidays and in the summer. When she is here she clings to him and whines and is a total brat. I know some of that is 4 yr old behavior but for some reason it annoys me more than if one of my kids did that. He and I are very strict with all the other kids but I am the only one who will dicipline her. When he is at work, she stays with me and she acts fine during the day, she is so well behaved, but the minute daddy walks in, she turns into a whining brat. I play with her during the day and we get along fine. When my fiance and I discuss the feelings I am having toward her, he gets very defensive and usually doesn't talk to me for awhile. We never fight unless it is about her.

We are supposed to get married in 3 months but after this visit, I wonder if that is the best idea.

Please help!!!!!!!!!!

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Please dont call this child a brat. She only gets to see her dad a few months a year, he spends more time with your kids, and you wonder why she is clingy. I suggest counseling. You need to appreciate that other people besides you and your kids have feelings.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 12:10PM
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"When he is at work, she stays with me and she acts fine during the day, she is so well behaved, but the minute daddy walks in, she turns into a whining brat"

Ok, first of all, I think this is a *typical* time for kids to act out. It's often referred to as the "witching hour." I have a 7 yr old bio-DD and a 7 yr old SS who is with us 50% of the time. I am with them after school until DH gets home and on Saturdays DH works, as well. They will often be good as gold for me but the minute DH gets home, it turns into whining/fighting/arguing.

I think some of it, especially in your case, is an attention thing. This little girl doesn't get to see her daddy very often, so she probably wants extra attention from him and is acting out to get it. It's that whole "negative attention thing." I think your DH needs to make an effort to spend quality one-on-one time with his DD when she visits. Your family as a whole (including her!) needs to spend time together, as well, but even if DH could spend 30 mins a day reading to his DD, or maybe take her to the park or out for an ice cream...just something that affords them that special father/daughter time.

My SS and I have had our ups and downs and one thing I noticed in the past was that he would listen to me and be well-behaved when I was the only *parental figure* around. But the second DH was there, SS would totally disregard me. I think some of this was related to confusion. Who was in charge? Who was he supposed to listen to? He was really unsure.

I cannot say that anything other than TIME helped this issue. SS now sees DH and I as a parental unit a lot more than he used to, and he will listen to either one of us. I try to stay out of things when DH is around, but let's face it, when we're all home, often DH will be working in the yard, or whatever---if I catch both the kids jumping on the bed, I can't very well say 'oh, DD stop doing that and SS, wait until your dad tells you to stop."

It's not realistic! Our family works a lot more smoothly when DH and I each have equal authority with BOTH kids. It really HAS to be that way, given the fact that they are the same age and that SS is with us so often.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 12:20PM
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Please remember that this little girl is only 4 years old - be a role model, have patience and give her love. It is a process and the divorce was not her fault. If your fiance is an amazing man he should be able to show leadership and strength and support his entire family in this.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 7:02PM
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if she only comes for summers and holidays he needs to spend as much time as possible with her, she misses him and is clingy, no wonder! she is only 4!!! it is certainly not her fault she only sees her dad that much. how far does he live from her, could he see her more often?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 7:05PM
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Believe me, I feel horrible about the way I feel towards her! I give her love and I take care of her but it is so much harder for me to do those things than with my bio kids. I hate that about myself!

She lives 1600 miles away with her mom, stepdad, and baby brother. I wish he would spend more father daughter time but he is so focused on making her a part of the family that they NEVER do anything by themselves. I realize she is only 4 and she misses her dad and I encourage them to spend quality time together.

I guess I am struggling with my own feelings towards her and the fact that when she is here, the rules change only for her. I know it is hard on all the other kids. I need to be a good mom to them also.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 10:48AM
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He never spends any time alone with her? That does not seem fair to me. His other child and your kids get more time with him.

I suggest counseling.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 10:56AM
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"I give her love and I take care of her but it is so much harder for me to do those things than with my bio kids. I hate that about myself!"

I can really relate to those feelings. I used to have them a lot. They were so intense at times, that I thought I was going crazy. I would feel overwhelmed with guilt because I found myself resenting when my SS was with us. I also noticed that I would be less patient with things wit SS than with my DD. I wouldn't show HIM this, but I could feel my blood pressure rising over things he did/didn't do that wouldn't make me blink an eye if DD did them.

I think there is a biological urge/instinct that makes us much more tolerant of our own children. It IS a biological thing. It's the same mechanism that enables us to not be bothered by our newborn's cries, or to not be bothered by changing our child's poopy diaper. DD threw up in my car not too long ago and I didn't blink an eye---but if anyone else throws up, I GAG at even the thought! YUCK. We are genetically programmed to love, nurture and protect our own.

THAT SAID... for this little girl's sake, and for your own sanity, you have to work through these feelings! And feeling guilty about your feelings will get you know where.

What worked for me was slowing down, backing up and saying "why am I upset here? What is the real issue?"

It has been my experience that when I'm frustrated about SF issues, there's usually a *deeper* reason than I initially think. If I am frustrated with SS, I can take a step back and realize that my frustration is more with DH or his BM. Just re-focusing my frustration or realizing that it's directed at the wrong person is usually enough for me to regroup and feel okay again.

I wonder if you are resentful that your SD is coming to visit her DAD, yet you are the one caring for her most of the time. I know DH has to work, I get that, but I wonder if he couldn't have a more flex schedule when she visits, since it sounds like she's not there very often.

I think you don't have a strong bond with her because she's not there enough. It's like babysitting someone else's child for you. (That may be too extreme, but you know what I mean.) So try not to expect too much. I know you want to love her and have your big, happy family, but realize that, given the limited time you have with her, this might never happen. I'm not sayign you can't have a loving relationship with her but if you expect it to be like the one you have with your own children, you are setting yourself up for failure. Give it TIME.

I think counseling for you AND DH about blending families would be a GREAT thing.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 5:58PM
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I agree with LH, but also, if dad can not get flex time, I think you should think about all the things he does for the family (from pay bills to be a great SF to your kids) and recognzie that he can not be there all the time.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 6:28PM
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I think he needs to focus on his DD, he can spend time with your kids the rest of the year. i think it is unfair to her.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 6:55PM
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Try and think of her a scared little 4 yr old girl that misses her mommy. To her it could be almost like being sent to strangers since she only sees her dad and your family a few times a yr.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 7:36PM
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You said that he has no problem with disciplining your kids, but he won't discipline her, correct? And he leaves it to you to take care of it with her? And he won't spend any positive one-on-one time with her? It seems to me that he's setting you up to be frustrated with her. If this pattern keeps up, she's sure to regard you as the bad one when she gets older, which won't help things.

I actually think that your problems with her are actually problems with him. Your fiance is acting like more of a brat than your SD, because he's refusing to act like a parent and then giving you the silent treatment when you express your irritation. He needs to act like a father, and that includes both discipline and affection. If he stepped up to the plate, the girl's problematic behavior would be less of an issue.

Do you think that he's willing to change and capable of doing so? That would be the big question for me.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 9:44AM
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It seems pretty clear that his daughter is trying to get Dad's attention when he's around and it sounds like with 4 other kids in the house + SM, she has a lot of competition! I would work with your fiance to try to come up with a reasonable schedule for some alone time with him and his daughter when she visits. You may also want to start scheduling alone time with you and your fiance and your kids too so they also understand the importance of quality one-on-one time with their parents and are less surprised or jealous when SD visits and gets alone time with Dad.

I take care of my future SD quite often while my fiance is working (she's with us every other week) and we both make a point of spending quality alone time with her as well as scheduling a "family night" every Friday where the emphasis is on doing something special together and creating a tradition. One of the best ways to connect with a step child and bond with them involves spending one-on-one time rather than just "being there" and hoping it all falls in to place.

Obviously I can't imagine how much more challenging it might be to balance so many of your own kids with SD and her limited time with you, but I wish you luck! Hopefully some alone time with SD might make your fiance realize he needs to be responsible for discipline too since you won't be there to lay down the law! :)

P.S. I share discipline responsibility with my fiance since we both believe in creating an atmosphere where the adults are in charge and keeping a united front. This definitely makes me feel like the evil stepmother sometimes but I got a great reward today when I was playing with future SD and she said "you're already my best friend". A little piece of my heart melted at that since there is absolutely no built in love mechanism with SKs.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 2:29AM
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