I'm new to this site and don't really know the abbreviations, so please bear with me. I have been seeing my boyfriend for about 7 months and am moving into his house in 2 months. He is a wonderful man, and very supportive. His ex wife and he share custody of their two children (Leon, 5 and Penelope, 3 1/2), switching off every other week (50/50). They have been separated for a year and a half, but their mother only moved out of the house 7 months ago.
I suppose I should mention that I am American and my boyfriend is French (we are living in France). His ex is also French, and the children to not speak any English (I speak French).
His son, Leon, is a very sweet boy and I feel as though we are bonding at a good rate. He is kind and inclusive. His sister, Penelope, is another issue altogether. She is EXTREMELY possessive and controlling. She wants everything to be done her way all the time, and if she is told now, she can throw a temper tantrum from 2 minutes to 40 minutes. She does this to everyone (her mother, father, grandparents, schoolteachers, etc.). My boyfriend is a very active father and he tries very hard to lay down rules and have them be obeyed. He doesn't give in to his daughter and tries to make sure she knows her behavior is not appropriate. He gives her a lot of attention because she asserts herself, and he tells her he loves her and is always going to be there for her.
Penelope does not like me. I think she is threatened by me because she's already lost her family unit and seeing her father two weeks of the month. Perhaps she believes that I will take him further away from her. I'm at a loss for what I am supposed to do around her. She won't talk to me and if I ask if I can help her with something (opening a yogurt after dinner), she ignores me and waits until her father will do it for her. I realize she is only 3 1/2 but her behavior is really irritating, and hurts my feelings.
Am I just supposed to continue as I am now, offering my help and being ignored? It's difficult to want to put any effort into making a connection with her, but I feel that if I ignore her as well...it will only reinforce that I'm only interested in taking her father away from her.
Mostly it's the temper tantrums that we have problems with though. She screams, cries, kicks, punches, stomps her feet, etc. One evening it went on for 40 minutes. My boyfriend told her he would not let her do what she wanted to do and she lost it. Then she was told he wouldn't carry her because they had agreed it was her brother's turn. She continued to scream. He told her he would carry her later on if she could be quiet and she wasn't. We were walking back to his car, and she screamed the whole way. When we got to the car, he tried to pick her up and she screamed and backed away quickly from him and the tantrum got even worse. People were staring at us thinking he was kidnapping her or beating her or something. He hadn't even touched her yet! He had to pick her up to put her in the car, and I could see how much effort it took for him to control his temper. She kicked and screamed and threw her hands all around as he put her in her car seat, and continued to scream as we drove off.
We could REALLY use some sound advice for what to do, or at least some happy ending stories if this has happened to anyone else. We're hoping she'll grow out of it if he just keeps holding his ground.