So I need a sanity check...
I have a 13 year old daughter, and her mother and I haven't been together for since she was a toddler. That said, I have regular placement, and I am very active in our daughter's life - I coach her softball teams, I do homework with her, I talk to her about anything and everything, and I work hard to never disrespect her mother, because that's her mom, and I would hope (though it is not the case) that her mother would do the same for me. I'm married now, but my wife and I cannot have children.
Her mom has 2 other children (5 and 6), with her boyfriend (they've been together for sometime). I try my best to respect him, and I bite my tongue frequently to avoid giving my daughter the impression that I dislike or disapprove of her mother's family's actions. When family activities come up, I always try to be open to my daughter participating in her mom's family's activities, b/c that is my daughter's family, and she shouldn't be made to feel guilty about being a part of it. That said, I'm always open for "extra time" with my daughter, b/c spending time with her is a joy, not an obligation.
That said, over the summer, my daughter started coming to me with concerns that Mom only wants her as a "nanny" for the two little kids, and that Mom doesn't want/care about her, and doesn't want to spend time with her. I talked with my daughter about how, as a teenager, it's common to think "that the world is against me" or that "people are out to get me" and that she should think about these situations in that context, and is this really an issue, or is she just having "teenager" feelings about the situation. I also spoke with Mom about our daughter having these feelings, so that she would have and opportunity to be proactive about this, and hopefully make an attempt to ensure that she's connecting appropriately with our daughter.
A few weeks ago, the two of them had a huge fight while my daughter was at my house, on an evening where she was going back to her mother's house. The specifics of the fight we minor, as it devolved into yelling and crying. I attempted to calm things down, but Mom just attacked me, despite my attempts to focus on our daughter's feelings after encouraging our daughter to apologize if she hurt Mom's feelings. The takeaway from this, for me, was that I wanted to get counseling for our daughter, because this wasn't just "teenaged" feelings, but something more, and I felt it important for our daughter to have an unbiased person to talk through her feelings. Of course I told Mom about this, and asked for her input.
We had our first "group" counseling session. In the course of the session, the topic focused on the lifestyle at Mom's house, the hectic schedule there, the dynamics of the relationship between Mom and her boyfriend, and the what our daughter has witnessed between Mom and her boyfriend. The counselor challenged Mom to see if she was willing to make changes in her lifestyle to give our daughter a stable schedule, and to (hopefully) improve the relationship between the two of them. Her response, and I'm quoting this as much as possible, was "It breaks my heart as a mother to say this, but maybe you should spend the weeks with Dad, and just visit me on the weekends." It broke my heart to see my daughter's reaction to this. Of course I will make that work, of course she's always welcome in my home (because it is her home too), but I want my daughter to have a better relationship with her mother than that.
My daughter feels as though Mom isn't proud of her (her words) and, as I look at it, probably not being willing to try to improve their relationship. Ultimately, I'm trying to figure out how to move forward in this reality - I don't want to destroy the relationship between them (and I never have), but I'm trying to think through how this will work for my daughter going forward, and what the best way for me to support her in that.