My weird stepfamily

candie31August 31, 2011

I have been married for all of 3 months, I have dated my husband for 4 years before we were engaged and married, I have a 9 year old daughter, and he has a 7 year old son, whom he has custody of, daughter does not want to like my husband, she did before we got married, but she just never settled down. At first she didn't want us to sleep together so she would stay up all night long, until the sun came up, during the course of her staying up, she would walk into our bedroom, and ask for unecessary things, all night long, when my husband would ask her to go back to bed, she would actually throw a tempertantrum, with hollering and screaming. She would keep everyone up in the house all night long. My husband is quite frustated, and so am I. She goes to visit her dad on every other weekend, and he has a steady girlfriend that my daughter just loves, she spends time with her, calls her on the phone, but she does not want to put that type of effort into my husband, whom she sees on a daily basis. I really don't know what to do, I am planning to get her counseling, along with the rest of the family, but I am broken hearted, because if I'm spending time with her, my husband is unhappy, and when I'm spending time with him, my daugter is unhappy, it's almost like they are subconsiously fighting for a certain spot in my heart. Can someone give me some really good advice, or has anyone ever experienced this, and does it go away, or is this the rest of my life, until my daughter graduates and goes on to college?

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Personally, I would skip counseling for her. You may need counseling or parenting classes for yourself. I say that because we had similar problems with my SD when she was that age but there were other issues (her mom abandoned her) and she was taken to counseling but here's the thing.. counseling does not work if the person getting counseling does not want things to improve. If you focus on how YOU (and your husband) react to her behaviors, you may have better results.

Why is your husband the one asking her to go back to bed? She needs her parent to make it clear what the expectations are... 1) Bedtime is time to sleep (in her own bed). You won't tolerate the staying up all night. 2) She is to be respectful of your husband. He is part of your lives & she doesn't have to "like" him but she needs to be respectful. (& your husband should likewise be respectful of your relationship with her) He should spend time doing things with his son (father/son time) and allow your mother/daughter time. Even in nuclear families that's important.

If you don't deal with it, it does not go away... it only gets worse. Wait until she's a tween/teen! She's almost there & then you add in hormones & teen attitude. It's YOUR responsibility to set the boundaries for YOUR daughter & be the active parent. He is your support system.

We have been married five years this month. On our honeymoon, his daughter called to interrupt every 30 minutes or hour the entire time with nothing to say during the calls... just to see how we are. It was the beginning of my descend into hell & now we are headed to marriage counseling. I'm in individual counseling & taking stress management classes. (& he's finally going to another parenting class because one of the things my counselor helped me see is that the root of the problem I am having with his daughter is how my husband deals or doesn't deal with his daughter)

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 10:42PM
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Good advice thank you, you asked the question of why is he asking her to go to bed, he asks her because I tell her and ask her to go to bed about 100 times a night, and she will go to bed, and then she will get up and ask for something else, so I think that he thinks that if he asks her, she will listen to him, I knew better, but I just had to let him find out on his own. He doesn't bother with chestising her at all, he leaves it up to me. I hope my family gets better, and we can live in harmony, I do not one to be a statistic of a blended family, some people say that blended families have 5 years tops before it ends in divorce. I do not want that to be me.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 11:37PM
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I kinda get what you are going through except my DD is 15 now. It's not to the extreme that she's keeping us up at night but I can tell that DH and DD are both unhappy. She's def fighting for attention it seems and feels that your DH might be a threat to the relationshp between the both of you. Do make sure that you spend time alone with her and DH can use this time to be alone with his son like PP said.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 10:18AM
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I think you got some sound advice from imamommy. But don't get your expectations too high, I know very few families that truly "live in harmony". I think reality is for most families that stay together that the just deal with each other better than the ones that dont. Most (almost all actually) of my friends in the town I live are still together. I know them fairly well. Very few, if any, are experiencing "harmony"....

I've been thru some of the issues you speak of in dating my GF for the past 3+ years...she has a son (11) of whom she has sole custody, I have a daughter (13) and a son (10) that I have 50% custody of....and because of the issues that have come up just when one of us is visiting the other, we are not going to be living together anytime soon. I've got a tough enough time trying to parent my kids with me and her mom not always being on the same page with stuff...I am not going to add a third party into the mix and make it worse.

Besides, after going thru one divorce, marriage is not the most appealing concept to me right now.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 10:19AM
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You need to let her know that you will no longer be telling her 100 times a night. You know that she KNOWS the rule, and she is choosing to break it. From now on, let her know that you will tell her ONCE, and if a second reminder is needed, that it will come in the form of a consequence: No TV, no play dates, no soccer, no cell phone, no computer time, no video games, no ipod, no dessert -- whatever it is she *really* cares about. Make it of short duration but with impact. Make a written list of consequences for 1st, 2nd, 3rd offenses - post it - then DO it. Do NOT back down. And do it yourself - not Hubby.

I'd also take her to lunch for a heart to heart. Let her know that you love her very much and ALWAYS will. And that you love your husband and ALWAYS will. And that no matter what she does (or what he does) that you will always love them both and that neither one of them is going anywhere. Let that sink in.

Part two of the message is that since neither DD of Hubby is going anywhere, that you all need to get along. That life can be really nice if ALL of you choose to behave well, but also that life will be miserable for everyone if ANY ONE of you chooses to behave badly. Let that sink in.

Part three is to ask DD to imagine how her step-dad will feel about her if she continues to behave horribly to him. Ask her how she would feel if her step-dad was nasty to her. Then ask her to describe what her life would be like living with a step-dad who disliked her. Let that sink in.

Part four is the message that it's NOT too late. That step-dad still loves her and understands that she is having a hard time with her feelings. That if she will make an honest effort to make things work, that he will absolutely make the same effort and then everybody can live happily ever after.

This message will probably need repeating a few times, but it should also have at least some measurable impact the first time. If not - I'd agree with the recommendation for counseling for YOU first, then DD.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 11:06AM
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--"if I'm spending time with her, my husband is unhappy, and when I'm spending time with him, my daugter is unhappy, it's almost like they are subconsiously fighting for a certain spot in my heart."--

Is this only at bedtime, or do you mean Dh is unhappy when you spend time with daughter on a one on one all the time? if it's more than just at bedtime, when did it start? While you were dating or after you married and set up house?

While you still were living with just your daughter and you, what was the bedtime/nightime hours like? Did daughter have her own bed where she was expected to go to and stay in during the night, or was she allowed to get up often and/or even get into bed with you so everyone slept well?

I think you've gotten some good advice above. I' say something is really bothering your daughter else she would eventually give it up and fall asleep. Even if she 'hates' new stepdad, kids require (whether they want to or not) a certain amount of sleep and they crash after awhile...but your's seems to be just going and going.

Another thought about sleeping. Did you just move into a new home or is this the bedroom she has been use to for a long time? Anything 'scary' or different in her room now than say 6 months ago?

If Dh is stressed and frustrated at your daughter's behavior the daughter can likely sense it. If he really is unhappy when she spends time along with you, the daughter very well may feel (right or wrong) that she must 'fight' for her mother.

You've been married three months. it is all a big adjustment and nothing is ever smooth and all takes time. You mentioned Bio dad has a GF that daughter thinks is currently just dandy, have you asked bio dad what his weekend sleeping is like at his house (does DD sleep well and sound, does GF sleep over or is it just him and daughter? Only asking because how she handles their relationship and/or sleeping hours may just as suddenly change if ex moves GF in if GF just 'visits' there now, daughter may dislike her next).

This really may have little actually to do with your new DH per him, his personality, blah blah as much as it does with just being afraid she's losing her mom or that her mom does not have time for her anymore or any number of similar type thoughts. DD liked him well enough until you married him so he can't be all that bad.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 11:50AM
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first of all, you don't have a "weird" blended family. Your D's behavior is typical of children who are afraid of losing their bio parent. They do have the anxiety of being abandonned by you.

Just relax and see the blended family just as the 2 families with all of its past and baggages trying to be together but yet each wants to be dependent. Time will help settle the fear in you D with kindness and compassion acts from you and your H.

It has worked well for me in my blended family as I make it clear that my wife must be responsible for how to deal with her children (discipline, school, activities, what they want to be when they grow up), and I do the same with mine. The only time I get involved w my step children is when a safety issues is concerned.

I have heard of so many hurt feelings with "you cannot do that because you are not my dad/mom.". As a bio parent, we can easily forget and forgive such an attack from our own children, but as a step parent, we don't have such a bonding and trust to forgive and forget. So, don't go there.

About her coming into your PRIVATE bedroom all night long. That must stop and stop immediately by YOU and you alone. Let her know that your bedroom is private and she needs to respect that,just like you don't walk in the bathroom while someone is on the pot. Also you might want to spend a few minutes w her before bed time so that she does not have the fear of abandonment.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 9:58AM
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