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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there!
I'm new to this forum and really need some help. I separated from DD's (6 yrs) father about 2 years ago and moved in shortly afterwards with my DH, who I married last December. I've been watching the relationship between DD and DH go from luke-warm to better to just non-existent. I've got a slew of parenting books that DH has skimmed now and then. But it just seems like he's getting more and more distant from DH except when he wants to complain about some behavior of hers. He's gone through a phase of "would you please tell your daughter not to . . . . " to which I would respond he should tell her himself. But then he would always use a whiny voice with her and then wonder why she won't listen to him. I'm really exhausted at the moment and feel like I'm really just a single mom who happens to be married and I'm too busy trying to make everyone happy and no one is appreciating it. I really need help in the parenting department, so how can I get DH to take a more active role - other than complaining.
 

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I'm trying to think of how to phrase this, so please forgive me if it's confusing - and I totally don't mean to offend you, I'm just throwing thoughts out there.

How much time do the two of them spend doing activities together that they both enjoy? Like, maybe play a game of basketball, a board game, bike rides, whatever? Maybe they're losing that connection.

Maybe she's becoming more of a "girl", and he feels uncomfortable or doesn't know quite how to relate?

Maybe being a parent didn't turn out the way he imagined.

Maybe he's giving space because he felt he was treading in on DD's biofathers' territory, and he's trying to be respectful.

What was their relationship dynamics, and what was his "position" in the family unit? Was he the "buddy", was he the "backup discipline" ("be good DD, or I'll tell DH and then you'll be in trouble"), did he end up in a position where he held maybe too much responsibility for her (and is now trying to hand responsibility back to you), was he responsible for her yet had no authority over her (I disagree with how you handled _______, and I'm her mother, you don't punish her/tell her what to do/tell her no about ______/whatever)?

It could be so many different scenarios. The ONLY way to get to the bottom of it is to have a talk with him. Not an angry "What's your problem?!!" discussion, more of a "I've noticed that you and DD aren't as close as you used to be. What happened? Is there something I can help with to make the relationship a little better?" And he may or may not tell you. If he doesn't tell you anything, maybe try to get all of you involved in some fun "family activities" so you can all have some more bonding opportunities. It's hard these days anyways to keep a family all connected and in touch with each other, and to spend quality time just having fun being a family. All those little bonding moments can add up and make a big difference.

Hope that helps and things get better.


-Jolene
 

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I think jellop has some good suggestions.

I also think perhaps you need to have a talk with your daughter about what you expect: which I assume is for her to respect and listen to your husband. It sounds like he doesn't feel that he has any authority with her.

Then there is the fact that most step parents just have less patience than bioparents. We find the kids more irritating. Not that we don't love them, but their bad behaviours tend to get on our nerves more. So sometimes I think it's better for the bio parents to handle talking to the kids about their behaviour, as the step-parent relationship can easily become adversarial. <disclaimer: no, not every step parent feels this way, but a lot do>

I find I have to stay upbeat and a bit silly (a la playful parenting) with DSD, otherwise she is very difficult. Things are definitely better when I make time to physically play with her or take her to the park, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes, I definitely need to have a talk with him, but was hoping for some input first before I rush in head first.


In the beginning when dd wasn't too terribly happy that DH and I were together (she was 4 then), DH would try hard to please her - play games with her, carry her on his shoulders when we'd go for a walk, etc. He knows that I practice AP with her and he looked it up, checked out my books, but in the mean time I could swear that he just thinks she's a spoiled brat which she most certainly isn't. He doesn't do ANYTHING with her anymore, barely talks to her - but he is cheerful when he does usually and he gets a bit upset when she doesn't say goodnight - and I'm just responsible for EVERYTHING concerning DD. And then I have to make sure she's behaving towards him - yes, I've talked to her often and she has drastically improved - and I have to maintain her relationship to bio dad and his family. In his defense, we bought a house in March and have been renovating since so, of course, he's busy and/or tired. And in a postitive light, it seems he's understanding how to deal with DD's behavior on his own, but oftentimes I feel he's got extremely high expectations of what a 6 year old should be able to do. And he often mentions to me (when she's not around) that there must be something wrong with her because he doesn't know anybody who ever did _____ when he was a kid. So basically I feel he thinks I'm way too permissive, not tough enough on discipline, not consequent enough and that dd is turning into a spoiled, abnormal little brat thanks to me.
*sigh* I'm just really tired of walking on eggshells here.
 

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Are you my DF, posting on MDC under an alias?
:

Your conversations with you dh sound very similar to conversations that happen around here.

Being the stepparent is an odd position to be in. In our situation, DF really seems to expect that I love STBSD the same way I love my own child. I wish I could, but right now I just don't. Love for a child who is not your own that is unconditional is very rare. I just do not have those feelings towards her. That lack of unconditional love is what makes this so true:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Laggie View Post
Then there is the fact that most step parents just have less patience than bioparents. We find the kids more irritating. Not that we don't love them, but their bad behaviours tend to get on our nerves more. So sometimes I think it's better for the bio parents to handle talking to the kids about their behaviour, as the step-parent relationship can easily become adversarial. <disclaimer: no, not every step parent feels this way, but a lot do>
It sounds like you and your dh have different parenting philosophies. My DF and I do as well. I (and it sounds like your DH) have higher expectations of children. There are some things that DF lets STBSD do that our child will NOT be doing (when I am around, anyway). I was raised in a family where the adults in the house were respected. He doesn't seem to think it is as big of a deal. you and your dh sound like you have similar differences.

As far as you having to do everything for your dd, well, bottom line is that she is your child. I have always erred on the side of caution when it comes to what I do for STBSD. Once she decides who she wants to do something for her, she will raise heck if the other adult tries to do it for her. It has really only been the last month that she has allowed me to buckle her into her car seat. Your dh may just not want to force things. Until they both feel comfortable, dd's needs will be primarily your responsibility.

The last issue in our house is that STBSD is only here half the time. So DF feels guilty, and he wants her to enjoy her time here. So he does let her get away with certain behavior that he says he wouldn't tolerate from our son. She is here for a limited time and he doesn't want to spend the whole time dealing with discipline issues. I don't know if you have feelings like my DF's, but that is also a common dynamic in blended families.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Geez, I wrote up a huge response and it got eatenn.
:
Anyhow, I wouldn't have a problem with DH having a different parenting philosophy - which he does. I just wish he would use some of it! I don't expect him to bathe her, put her to bed, take her to doctors, etc. I'd appreciate it if he would spend time with her playing, reading, going for a bike ride. I just irks me that I have to do every little thing with her and he gets to freely criticize all of it from a comfortable distance. I think if he spent more time with her and learned to see how she ticks, what her limits are and what she excels at that he could use this information to his parenting advantage and get her to cooperate in other areas.
He has little experience with kids and (obviously doesn't remember being one himself) and has such overly high expectations. He can't hardly watch her eat at the table - fine motoric skills need practice - so he stares at his plate or out the window. If he does look in her direction, he'll find something to complain about. Sometimes he acts like we're in the army and expects dd to reply with "how high?" when he says "jump". If he had more experience with other kids, he'd know that she's actually really well-behaved even if she's not an angel and definitely not a spoilled brat. I mean, DH has two nephews DD's age (she's between them in age) and they always wreak havoc, have tantrums, etc. and the family always has to go home early. I can take my dd anywhere without fear that she's going to turn into a little terror. And he really doesn't seem to appreciate this at all. And she has grown so attached to him - calls him Papa, covers him in hugs and kisses, which he does reciprocate and he does have a pet name for her, too. But that's the extent of it!
And to think that when DH and DD we're first meeting, he said he was amazed at how polite she is and how nervous he was about getting her to like him. Now it doesn't seem to matter to him at all.
 

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Quote:
He has little experience with kids and (obviously doesn't remember being one himself) and has such overly high expectations. He can't hardly watch her eat at the table - fine motoric skills need practice - so he stares at his plate or out the window. If he does look in her direction, he'll find something to complain about. Sometimes he acts like we're in the army and expects dd to reply with "how high?" when he says "jump".
This is totally my stepdad. I think it's very typical of step parents to have these types of expectations. I'm not sure if it can be fixed, or at least not by the bio-parent arguing with the step parent about it. Having more kids around does seem to help. Is it possible to very gently suggest to him that you feel like he is focussing only on DD's negative side, and ignoring her good side?

Is it possible for you to encourage them to spend more one-on-one time together? Maybe if you started taking a yoga class every Saturday morning or something, they could go to the park or rollerskating or play catch or skateboard or ??? Something out of the house is best imo.

Oops I guess I'm repeating myself. Sorry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've had to bend over backwards to keep the bio dad in DD's life. After we separated he didn't want to see her anymore. I had to talk him into keeping up contact with her. And I have to deal with his mood fluctuations - after two years he still tries to get revenge for me kicking him out now and then by threatening to reduce visitation to one day once a month or cancelling a weekend visitation the day before only to send me a text message in the middle of the night to say he's changed his mind. And then I have to somehow break the news to DD gently, do my best to explain whatever is wrong now to her, and repeat over and over that her bio dad loves her no matter what problems he has with me. And of course I have to organize visits with DD's paternal grandmother as well (who thankfully lives in the same city as her son, the bio dad). Other than visitation on weekends, the bio Dad can't really do much else in the way of "support" and he wouldn't readily do it either as he still feels a lot of animocity towards me and uses dd for revenge.
And it just occurred to me yesterday that DH is a step-child as well. I forget because his family got thrown together soooooo long ago. I had some problems at first with them because I wanted transition time for dd - that we should live alone without her bio dad and before moving in with DH so that she could understand what it meant to be separated. It was also an opportunity to get to know DH through visits instead of moving in directly and being suddenly confronted with him daily. His family didn't understand that. They were like, "well, we didn't have any problems when we were kids. we adjusted just fine!" Of course, they were all about twice DD's age at the time, and they are simply not DD. She's a really over-sensitive kid.
I've got to go now and will post more later.
 
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