Father / Daughter relationship question

brit_n_rickJune 6, 2011

Husband and I have been together for 6 years, we do not have children together - nor do we plan to. He has an 8 year old daughter from prior marriage and the daughter lives with the ex. When we first got together, he and I lived 1000 miles away from his daughter and so he kept in contact via phone, email, and he would do visits to see her several times a year. I went with him a few times to visit but that was many, many years ago when his daughter was only 3.

Long story short - Everyone ended up moving to the same area (not really on purpose though). And now the daughter comes over every other weekend.

The issue: My husband now has an expectation that we (he, daughter, and I) should be very loving towards one another, hang out a lot together, and have a close mother/daughter relationship etc. The problem is that I don't really know his daughter, don't think of her as my daughter, don't think of myself as a 'stepmom', and to be honest, don't really want a daughter. My ideas about not having kids have never been hidden from him in any way. In fact - he and I talk about this pretty frequently and we both say that we don't want to have children together - we like our lives together too much.

I don't have a problem with the kid or with him having a relationship with his child. He should see her. He should spend time with her. This is a great opportunity for him to have a relationship with her. But does that mean that I have to be there for it all?

What is wrong with him having private father/daughter play-dates with her? They could go out and have fun, doing things just father and daughter, making lots of memories together. I think that sounds great! But when I mention this to him - he says that he would miss me too much. The few times that we have gone out as a 'family' - it has been no-fun. If we do a kid activity - then I am unhappy. If we do more of an adult activity - then the daughter is unhappy because it is no-fun for her. Either way - someone is unhappy!

I guess what I am asking: does anyone have similar arrangements with their spouses and children (either birth children OR stepchildren)? What do you do? How do you make it work? The problem is not with the stepdaughter - but rather with my husband...

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"to be honest, don't really want a daughter"

Your husband *has* a daughter.
She's a real human being, not an item on a menu for you to select or reject.
She's here, & she's his, & he's hers.

"don't have a problem with the kid or with him having a relationship with his child"

as long as you don't have to see her?

"if we do a kid activity - then I am unhappy"

Poor you.

"play dates"???

Play dates are not the same as, or a sutstitute for, family life:

This father & daughter are now able to spend huge chunks of "normal" time together (breakfast, washing the car, selling Girl Scout cookies) that they've never had before.

They're entitled to it.


says it all.

Good for this father for taking up his relationship with his child.

If you want to stay with him, put a smile on your face & welcome his child.

If you can't do that, tell them *both* good-bye.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 1:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

SylviaTexas - I understand what you are saying - that he had a child before me and that she is here to stay. I do not disagree with you.

But does that mean that I have a daughter? Nope!

I don't really understand your bad attitude about my posting. ??? I am not some hateful step-mom who is insecure and jealous and trying to keep the daughter out of my husband's life. Rather - I am happy for them both. I encourage him to spend time with her. We even pursued getting the child custody agreement to 50/50. In no way am I keeping the father from his daughter.

I am not saying that play dates would be a substitute for normal family time. They have plenty of 'normal family time'. They hang out at the house every other weekend. They wash cars, go on bike rides, go horseback riding, etc.

The point of my question was whether BOTH adults had to be involved all time? When I was growing up, I had play-dates with each parent as well as doing normal family things together. And I cherish my memories of doing things just with my mom or just with my dad, as well as things that we did together. My posting what regarding my husbands feelings that I should be involved ALL the time.

As far as my login name? My dogs' names are brittney and ricky p... what does that have to do with anything?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 1:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think Sylvia was too hard on you.

I don't think you're wrong for feeling the way you do, nor do I think your DH should expect you to be present every time he and his DD spend time together.

However, Sylvia does have a point in that---if you don't want kids, you do need to consider that your DH does. And circumstances can always change. I assume this girl lives primarily with her mother. But what if mom gets sick or even dies? What if something unexpected happens that suddenly puts your DH in the position of full time dad?

These are things to consider.

BUT I also understand your position in that you aren't interested in playing mom. And, personally, given the fact that your DH is not a custodial parent, I think that's fine and understandable.

I do think some compromise is necessary. There will be times you should all do family type activities together. But there should also be times that your DH spends time with his DD just the two of them.

It's not fair of him to expect it to ALWAYS be the three of you, but I also think you need to be more flexible and open up a bit to at least being a "friend" to this girl. You don't have to parent her or BE like a parent, but maybe try to view her more as a niece or a friend's child? Have FUN taking her to a movie or swimming or out to dinner, or to a carnival, etc. Maybe it feels uncomfortable and awkward simply because you're not used to the dynamic?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 2:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

B & R, I agree that Sylvia was far too hard on you, but then it is difficult to understand the dynamics of being a stepparent unless one IS a stepparent!

Ideally you could come right out and ask your DH to compromise; you could spend a certain amount of "family time" with him and his DD, but he would also spend one-on-one time with her. However, men can be very sensitive and defensive when we ask that. They expect us to love their children as much as they do, and can feel very hurt if we don't. So, you probably need to be a little more diplomatic in how you tell him. Tell him that you and your SD are building your relationship, but that she also needs time with just him. You know what? I bet he wants you to be along because he is bored if you don't come--but, he is a grown up, so he needs to do it anyway.

With my own stepdaughters, over time our relationship did indeed develop, and I came to very much enjoy spending time with them. But that isn't instant. And here is something to think about: if you end up married to your DH for the rest of your life, your SD will be in your life that long also. You want to have some input in her upbringing at this stage so as she becomes an adult, she will be someone you like to be with and can be proud to have as a family member...and hopefully you will enjoy and have affection for.

So, suck it up and go along for some of those kid events; feel free to tell DH that you don't think it's fair to make SD come along to events she isn't old enough for...and when you are going your way and he is going his with SD, always part with "and when you guys get back, let's play Scrabble" or something. So he doesn't feel quite so abandoned. :)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 2:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My DH seems to have a similar issue. He has a hard time spending time with his DD by himself, and they *both* constantly want me with them when she's staying with us. So I can understand the frustration.

I think you got some good advice from the ladies here. The good thing about kids (if you aren't too fond of them) is that they grow up, and sooner than later like to do more things similar to adults. Pick some things you can all do together, and gracefully bow out of the rest.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 3:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You should expect to do things together sometimes, but i don't think you have to always do things the 3 of you.

It would actually be healthier for them to have a little daddy/daughter time. Even if it's a couple of hours, i'm sure he'll manage "missing you" for just a few hours.

There's lots of activities as well that can work for adult/children at the same time as well. One example might be going to a beach somewhere. You can sunbathe and relax, and she can run around on the beach and dig in the sand. And "dad" can do whatever he wants as well, dig with the daughter or hang out on a towel by you or both.

Maybe if he pushes for you to always be there, you can just suggest how good it would be for the daughter for the two of them to have bonding time together.

have him read a few articles :)



    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 4:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, you're right, my step-parent days are over.

which doesn't mean that I can't read.

Even assuming that your husband is pushing you to be more touchy-feely, your own statements paint the picture of a woman who doesn't want her husband's attention diverted by a child who was conveniently elsewhere until just recently.

& I am hard on people who don't treat children right.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 4:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A woman who doesn't want her husband's attention diverted? Really, Sylvia?

Me thinks you are projecting just a bit.If I remember correctly, you had a bad experience with a hurtful and even downright cruel SM, correct? That's terrible and I am sorry for the pain you've been through. But I think you are being unfair towards this woman. Nothing she said lead me to believe she is being hurtful or mean to her DH's child. AT ALL.

So what if she's a bit of a stand-off SM? While I do agree that OP must be more flexible and more willing to partake in family activities, I see nothing wrong with her being more of a "friendly figure" in the girl's life and letting DAD parent.

Nowhere did I read anything that lead me to believe she resents the child for infringing on her time with DH.

OP said this:

"I don't have a problem with the kid or with him having a relationship with his child. He should see her. He should spend time with her. This is a great opportunity for him to have a relationship with her."

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 4:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Put the kids FIRST. Just some info for you to consider. My DH and I married 13 yrs ago; at that time his kids (2 of them) were DD age 23 & DS age 24. It took some work to get to where we are today. I have 2 DDs - ages "at that time" = 14 and 7. My kids lived with us; his kids never did. If I were you I would spend some time with the young DD and pick some time with both of them. For example - my D step daughter is getting married in Sept 2011. Of course I want the absolute best for her, and over the years she & I have become close. There have been a couple of "events" in the wedding planning where I have said "of course I will be there" and others where "you know - it is better for you to go with her Mom & me not go". My DH has agreed with me 100%, and I hope all will be fine going forward.

Please remember this is a lifetime and you married a man with beautiful children. Have an open heart & put the kids first.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 6:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it could be "men" thing. My SO does not have difficult time spending time with his daughters alone, he is a very involved father and is close to them. But he very much prefers if I am with them at all times. He has this concept of we are all a family. Like he insists that DD and SDs all visit at the same time because he believes that what families do (even if we don't have that many rooms or beds). I personally do not have this need to constantly be all together, i want time alone with my DD. My SO respects that but he'd rather have all of us together 24/7. I guess we respect each other times with our adult children separately but I understand needs to have family time.

I think it is OK for you not to spend 24/7 with the kid, but i am wondering if you did not want children and did not want kids activities, why did you marry a man with kids. One day she might live with you full time, what are you going to do?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 6:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"The problem is that I don't really know his daughter"
I wonder why don't you know her? She comes over every other week, it is plenty of time to get to know someone. maybe if you make an effort to get to know her, you might enjoy it.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 6:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

brit n rick, I had a similar situation with my DH. Ours was different in that my DH had primary custody, but the same in that he wanted to do "family" things what seemed to be all the time. I was still used to living alone, and I craved time to myself, SS 9 wanted lots of attention from his father, and DH was happily oblivious to the fact that, well, basically, SS and I would have both been happier a lot of times for it to be just the two of them.

I think it's difficult (if not impossible) to have any kind of real relationship when you are always with a third party, and it always seemed to be a bit awkward. What really helped with us was that I started doing things with SS, without DH. I liked this because we could do things that I liked and thought SS might enjoy (eight is a great age, by the way. That's old enough to start going to museum, art gallery, lunch, shopping, athletic events, and other less childish pursuits.) SS got the full undivided attention of an adult, even if it wasn't DH. DH was happy because that fit into his "family" imaginings. And then, DH and SS could do something with just the two of them, and I'd get time by myself.

SS and I got to know each other better during our excursions, and you might be surprised how much fun you can have with an eight year old, when you get to be the adult in charge and can be kind of like a cool aunt or such. The "family" excursions become a lot more relaxed because I (and I think SS) no longer felt a tiny bit like Daddy was in the middle, and attention to me was attention not going to SS.

I know some of the Moms here might disagree and feel that SD should be spending time with her father and not with her SM alone - but I figure that, if Dad is going to have SM along as much as he can anyway, she might as well try to have a better relationship with the child.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 8:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"What really helped with us was that I started doing things with SS, without DH."

This is such a good and valid point, and something that helped me tremendously in my own relationship with my SS(9).

He was not quite 2 when DH and I started dating---my DD is the same age. (They are six weeks apart!)

The kids were not quite 5 when we moved in together, and then 6 when we got married. They are both now 9 yrs old.

Anyway, I struggled in the earlier days, even right around the time we got married, with feeling close to and good about my relationship with SS. We did have a lot of externals, with his BM actively working to ensure he didn't like me. SS was very torn and that made it hard for him to warm up to me, and it made me feel very hesitant/hands off.

But I wholeheartedly agree with Mattie---spending time alone with SS made a big difference in our bond. It was like he began to see me as a parent figure who cares about and for him; when DH was around, it was almost as though I didn't exist.

I think the best turning point was 2 years ago when I took SS on vacation WITHOUT DH. I took both kids--DD and SS---on vacation with my extended family. Spending a week with SS where I was the ONLY parent really bonded us in a way I can't explain.

It's still not perfect or ideal; we are not super close, and I think he still, at times, is hesitant about me just b/c of the animosity BM has directed at me. But it's better, soooo much better than ever before. And I have no reason to think that things will not continue to improve the older and more independent SS becomes.

I understand your situation is a bit different in that you're not custodial, and you spend big chunks of time alone with your SD may not be an option.

But Mattie makes a great point!

And you have the "girl" factor on your side, too. You and SD could go shopping or go get mani/pedis. Go see a chick flick. Those kinds of things. Bond with her over being females, relate to her on that level. That gives you an "excuse" to do some things WITHOUT DH.

Maybe make it a point to do sometihng just you and SD once a month---even if it's just a quick run to Target, or to the grocery store.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 9:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As a stepdaugher myself, I can tell you that I absoluty resent my SM for never letting me have have alone time with my Father. My sister and I spent ALOT of time with just him. Once he married her I can only think of a handful of times we have been alone with him. And he got married when I was 11 and I'm 28 now! I can't even go out to eat with him without her because "she'll throw a fit over it". Let your husband read this and tell him that never having alone time with my Father without her ruined our relationship. It will never be the same again.

With that being said....I'm now a SM to SD11. I also do not wish to ever have children. But I know I married a man with a child and I'm ok with that. Once I married him I married her as well. If this child were your best friends child, or your niece, would you feel differently about spending time with her? If not for yourself do it for your husband. It doesn't mean you have to be around 24/7 when she's there but at least 60/40. And there are plenty of things kids/adults can do together and both sides enjoy. I feel as if you don't enjoy it, it's not the activity itself you're not enjoying. It's the company your with.

Sorry if this sounded harsh!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 5:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm a new Step Mother
I have two sons of my own and went from 2 adult children to 12 in all with my partners 3 adult children and there two spouses and 3 grandchildren. I'm family oriented and enjoy them all. Even as sometimes this change can be very overwhelming. Here is my question. My partner has one daughter. She is the only daughter between the two of us. After his divorce she became pregnant and he raised her and the grandchild for the first year or so. So I understand that there is a very strong bond between them and I have been understanding as I had a close relationship with my father. Problem how close is too close? At family get togethers she seems to behave more like his wife and I'm her child. She has even publicly told me to shut up. I confided in a family member who validated that they had noticed this behavior as well. I was very hurt. She and I usually get along famously. She will stand or sit between us. I feel that she is threatened and very jealous of me. My partner agress but that is all that we have said about the subject as it is a very sensitive one. No one wants to hear anything negative about their child. That's just asking for a defensive attitude from him. What do I do now? Just ignore it. How in heavens name would I ever approach her or him with this? Am I being jealous?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 2:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi 12inall -- I have no idea-- but I wanted to say, I do not believe you are the jealous one, I believe it is daddy's only daughter that is jealous of daddy's new wife. I wouldn't let it continue -- that's for sure but how to stop it... I have no idea. Your Dh would have to be on board in stopping her behavior.

You should post a new thread so that others can see your post and give you better ideas.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 3:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you myfampg
I'm hoping that now I have brought this to Dh that he will be more sensative to what's going on. He is a very reasonable and understanding man. We have a several family events going on in the next couple of weeks. I don't want her to feel threatened by me. But she has a husband of her own now and I feel she should be letting go alittle. I'm going to see how all this plays out in the next month. I will be patient. I will not cause harm to this family it means too much to me. I am going to focus more on having a good time with EVERYONE. Maybe there is more that I can do as well to help her feel that her relationship with her father is secure. This forum does help I feel like I have someone to talk to that can understand my situation. I will keep you updated as to how this goes. Maybe I can help others. Wouldn't that be nice if something good like that could come from this?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 2:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes - that would be awesome! Good luck!
I do have a stepmom (I've had three actually) and the first two I can't really say because I was young but the 3rd and current I actually don't really have an issue with. However, I am not close to my dad, he really has not been part of my life. I think the only 'complaint' I have with my SM is that she can be smothering. But I think it's a nervous habit for her. She wants to make sure everyone is ok and doesn't need anything. And if it gets quiet (awkward silence) she fills in with nervous babble that no one understands... These aren't things I would change about her because that is who she is. I think the only thing I would change about her is how she pretends everything is perfect when it is not. She is the peacemaker. She wants to unite everyone. And she can't. But she keeps trying.
I can't imagine being a grown adult and having such disrespect for my dad's wife.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 6:48PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Can I handle becoming a stepmom one day?
I just turned 36 earlier this month. My boyfriend and...
My SO suggested that I share a bed with his 11 year-old son!
For the last 3 years, I've been in a relationship with...
Marrying Widower with Adult Children
Somebody help me, please! I am about to marry a widower...
Trying to figure out how to be a good adult stepdaughter...
My mother died eight years ago, and my dad remarried...
if I could tell stepmothers of adult children anything
My dad remarried last year, a year after my mother...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™