What to do when your child speaks negatively about dad's girlfriend???

Alyssa - posted on 01/07/2010 ( 24 moms have responded )

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My husband and I have been separated for 2 years. We have a 3.5 year old daughter and he has an 8 month old with someone else. He and I have moved past all the hurt (for the most part) and get along pretty well. Our daughter spends a few afternoons and 1 overnight with him a week. He now has this girl and their baby living with him and AT LEAST once a week, my daughter randomly says "Mommy, I dont like _____." or "_____ is always mean to me." or one time she even told me that "_____ put me in time out and said you're a B*TCH to me." I have NO IDEA what to do anymore! I have spoken with her father and he just tries to brush it off like her feelings don't matter. He often says "She's only 3. She's making up stuff." She has even said to him in front of me some of these things and he hasn't even tried talking to her about it. I am sure he doesn't know what to do either, but its frustrating knowing that she really doesn't like or feel liked by this girl. Does anyone have any advice or suggestions as to what I can do to make my baby happier when she's at her dad's house? Thanks in advance!

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Clare - posted on 01/09/2010

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I remember when "because I don't" was the standard answer! I completely agree with you about not leading the conversation - I tried not to ask too many direct questions - more along the lines of what did you do, how's your baby sister/brother, Kim (step-mum) must be tired - perhaps that's why she seemed a bit cross with you, etc. It sounds to me like you are doing all the right things. I think that any 3 yr old with a younger sibling will feel a bit "pushed out" at times regardless of their parents' situation. Since you get along ok with your ex - can you discuss it with him? I went along the lines of "I'm saying this when our daughter says this - what do you think?" Perhaps if you had a conversation with him about children with younger siblings in general then he might be ok about it coz then you're not suggesting it's to do with you and him being separated. I think ideally it would be better if he didn't say your daughter is making stuff up but obviously that's a tricky one to get over to him.
You sound pretty balanced to me and I'd say keep up the good work - your daughter won't be 3 for ever and with passing time comes more understanding and acceptance. When my daughter (M) was 5 she asked me "if Daddy divorces Kim, does that mean he's no longer my daddy?" which I struggled to get my head around but came to the conclusion that her step-mum was so much an accepted part of her life that to M Kim was completely one of her family. Much as I didn't want to hear (on occasions) how great her step mum was I had to remind myself that it's better for M if she gets on well with her dad's family. M is now almost 16 and does sometimes say rude things about Kim and her dad - but then she also is rude about me and my husband - that's teenagers for you!

[deleted account]

BTW: Text messages are not admissable to court. BUT if you take a photo of a text message, they become adissable evidence.

[deleted account]

Hey Alysa,
Thanks for yr feedback. Firstly I think it's REALLY awesome that you reflect the question back to yr daughter when she asks if you like this woman- it's a really constructive way to deal with it and you're teaching her to think for herself- ALOT better than some mothers who expect the child to hate the new woman b/c they do. Yr obviously a great mum who is focused on her needs.
I would just caution you from assuming that yr daughter is being abused, as has been suggested, simply on the basis of the alleged name-calling- you dont actually know this for a fact yet. I'm not saying yr daughter is lying but she's 3 and little ones can get things mixed up sometimes. It's possible that something bad is going on; but it's just as possible that this woman and yr daughter just dont like each other very much, which is not ideal obviously; but clearly NOT the same thing as abuse. I'm a police officer and I'll tell you that b/c abuse is a VERY serious accusation, you dont want to make it lightly b/c it will damage yr credibility with Police in the future. Also alot of Police resources are wasted on false allegations, which is not great for the kids who really do need help. If you truly feel this is the case then I would gather as much evidence as you can before you take it any further or even voice such thoughts- remember you can be sued for defamation/libel if you cant prove the truth of yr statements. Also, I've been in the position of being accused of the abuse by the mother and it's not a great situation if yr totally innocent.
In terms of the affair, again, I cant imagine how painful and wrenching that would be; certainly the information you've got on this lady makes it seem like she doesnt have the best track record. I wonder though, did you get this information from yr ex, or others? I just wonder what the motivation of whoever told you this stuff actually is? I think it makes a big difference to how you should approach this. Also, even if she's not the most moral person in terms of respecting a commitment, it's a long way from there to actual child abuse. That said though, if she really did say this, then clearly some guidelines need to be put in place to prevent this happening again. I suggest that you do actually ask them to sit down with you and discuss your concerns as well as theirs. This seems like a reasonable thing to do regardless of what yr daughter has said; as it would give you a chance to try to get the 2 households working together for yr child's best interests. If this woman truly is motivated to be a good stepmom she wont refuse- I agreed when my biomom asked me. However one thing I would advise, when you say you have no control over it: I think you need to accept this to a degree, b/c trust me, from personal experience- good,bad, or indifferent, you only have a certain amount of control over the situation anyway- and that is only what goes on in yr house. The law will protect yr daughter to a certain degree, but unless they're taken away by a court, yr ex has rights. I'm not trying to be argumentative, just trying to protect you from the years of heartache we had until we came to accept this fact ourselves- outside of our care, my SK's have been put in some seriously questionable situations with very worrying people and we have been given to understand that there's not alot we can do but pray and hope for the best. Good luck with it and let us know what you decide.

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Kaitlyn - posted on 01/04/2012

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Alyssa, i realize this was a while ago now since all of these posts were made, i just thought i should tell you, and i mean this in the best way possible(obviously i wish you never had to experience any of this) I am going through almost the exact same thing as we speak, and reading this helped a little bit, just knowing im not the only one going through something of this nature! My daughter is 3 , although my ex does not have another baby with this woman. he moved her into our old house only months after dating her and my daughter was present for there very first date! of course i was lied to about it for almost 6 months, didnt even know there was a gf in the picture, as my ex was trying to coax me into getting our family back together( which i was totally up for , if certain things changed and efforts were made where they were lacking before). I then found out while he was on a trip to mexico with his "ball team" that he was there with his gf, and i found out from his mother , who was the cause of most of our problems after our baby was born. My ex however im not on great terms with , although my daughter thinks we are good friends. He has tried numerous times to tell me he wants me and our family back together again but is still with this other woman! All about feeling he has some sort of control over me, or basically so i wont move on! My daughter comes home from her fathers saying ---- says you hate her mommy, and she says ur a B**** (the gf not my daughter). my daughter says shes a monster. Where this term came from, im not entirely sure! Whenever i talk to my ex about it, he starts an argument with me saying im making it up and that our daughter is lying and that his gf treats her like her own and loves her very much! While reading through this im disappointed to find out text messages can not be used in court because i have page upon page saved to my email address to show my lawyer of messages this girl sends me! Ive even met with her to try and sort out out differences and clear the air(since shes around my daughter i'd like to know the woman spending so much time with my child) it went well, but proved she was obviously nervous to be so bold and say what she really thought of me face to face.Because it wasnt long before the attitude struck up again. Although our situations are slightly different, they are also very similar so your not alone! im sure there are a million other women out there going through similar situations! my ex to this day has only been with this girl for about 7months, shes living in my old house as we speak, but it just sold and they are buying a new house together. It is something i will unfortunately have to live with, and hope wiith time it will work itself out and get better. I should mention, his gf is 10 years older then me and shes the one causing all the drama, shes 36 years old, so although i hope things get better, the chances seem bleak that she will mature much more . It has been a while since your last post and i hope things have only gotten better from here for you, your a strong women, i understand how hard it is to brush all other emotions aside to stay strong and positive for your child! It sucks having another woman in your childs life to begin with, and the negativity just adds to it! Ur daughter will grow up to be a strong woman for having such a mature and strong mother in her life! I've seen plenty of couples battle out there problems infront of there children, and that only hurts the kids! I've also seen a few friends separate and remain very close for the childs sake and i think its an amazing thing but just doesnt work for everyone! i hope things have resolved themselves for you a bit!

Carol - posted on 02/22/2010

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I am sorry, but it really is the adults responsibility to behave as an adult, and if the adult is not doing so, but behaving like a jealous spoiled child, then a child needs to be protected. psychological abuse is at least as bad if not worse than physical abuse. My feeling is that this little girl needs to be protected and perhaps counseled. her dad needs to step up and not just figure that his new girl and baby are everything, that his first child is at minimum equal and deserving of decent care.

Carol - posted on 02/22/2010

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Trust her and believe her, children do not lie and certainly not about things like that. This can have a devastating effect. I dealt with that for the longest time---his new wife is awful to my kids and they have always felt like their dad chose her over them, NO MATTER WHAT I SAID, it really has to come from him. Perhaps taking her to a child psychologist to help her will also make your husband take her seriously. this has a devastating effect on little girls. Perhaps that other woman wants for her not to come over, you need someone professional. Truly, she is an age that is really smart and quick and she will not lie, there is no bonus in it for her to do so. Ask simple questions like how was your day with dad and her favorite and least favorite things and you will get a better idea of the story. keep notes and truly, a professional that you trust will help. She deserves it.

[deleted account]

OMG Alyssa that woman is a piece of work!! What kind of person competes with a small child?? Is your friend prepared to give yr lawyer a statement of that conversation? If she is I would def do it and move with it. That is absolutey disgraceful behaviour and it sounds like yr ex knows it too but wont admit it. You are totally right this is NOT good for her mental health and that needs to be addressed immediately.

Judy - posted on 02/18/2010

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Hi... I am a stepmom...I heard the same about the natural mom...I responded to the children this way.... When she is being mean, tell her you love her. When she does not give you the hugs and kisses you want, hug and kiss her. When you need attention, ask for it, and ask for more hugs and kisses. When she says she is too busy, ask her what is more important than giving me a hug (or a kiss, or an answer to my question)? I asked each weekend how it worked... after about six weekends, the kids were smiling...every so often I have to give them different responses, but basically the same idea... it works. Send love, and you get love. Teach her to love her, and she will get it back in return.

Elizabeth - posted on 02/13/2010

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I don't know what is going on with your daughter but I don't think she would be making up stuff like this. A lot of times the other woman feels threaten by the kids of the marriage because they don't have them all to themselves. I know I am a divorced mom but my daughter was 14 when her dad left and she didn't get along with the girlfriend and her daddy would always take up for the girlfriend and her kid always seemed to come first over my daughter. My daughter does dislike her but now I try to encourage her to get along with her although I have not always felt like that. At first I wanted her to hate her although I never encouraged her to say bad stuff to her. If I was you if I even thought she was being mean to her I would not let her go over there. These dad's kill me how they never listen to the children over some woman. The children will always be there but sometimes the other woman don't last. Good luck with that.

Alyssa - posted on 02/08/2010

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Hi All. Its been a little while since I posted on here but just wanted to let everyone who was possibly interested know that I recently went out to dinner with an old friend of mine. She was dating my ex's best friend for a few years (however now married and expecting with someone different) At the time she was still with him, she saw a lot of my ex and his current gf (the one that my daughter constantly has negative feelings towards...) My friend asked how my daughter was doing with the new baby being around. I told her that she loves her sister but that she doesn't seem to like the gf very much and to the best of my knowledge it doesn't seem that the gf likes my daughter that much either. She said that she wasn't surprised by this. When I asked her what she meant, she told me that back before she even found out what they were having, they were all at a party together and my ex and his friend were off, leaving my friend and this girl to talk for a bit. My ex's gf said to her "if this baby is a girl "G" better watch out b/c she will NOT be the little princess anymore and if she thinks she will be the most important thing is his life, she's got another thing coming." My heart immediately sunk when I heard this. My friend has nothing to gain by telling me this, and I do not feel it is untrue. If anything it just solidified my feelings about all the things my daughter has been bringing home with her. :( She was actually plotting against my (then) 2 1/2 year old SWEET little girl. :( I confronted my ex about whether HE thought his gf liked our daughter. He couldn't even say yes. He just nodded his head. Then, I asked if she treated our daughter like she treated THEIR daughter and he said "she treats her fairly" WHAT THE HECK is that supposed to mean???? ARGH. I am really not sure what I'm supposed to do about this... He's a good dad. I know he loves her, but I dont think he realizes he is inevitably ruining HIS relationship with our daughter b/c he is basically forcing this woman who obviously doesn't like her to be around her. :( It hurts ME b/c I feel like he is choosing to keep the gf happy over keeping our daughter happy and mentally HEALTHY. I would NEVER put her in a position to feel this way no matter how much I felt for a man... If he treated my daughter like that, I wouldn't allow him to be a part of our life... She IS MY LIFE and that's all that matters. Anywho. Feel free to comment if you wish, but sorry for blabbering, I just needed to vent about this whole thing a little bit. Any support is just a bonus! Thanks.

GAYLE - posted on 01/18/2010

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If I were you I would try to talk with dad when you have a minute alone. I would tell him that it isn't about you or him and what matters most is your daughter and if she isn't happy when she is at his house then he needs to see her when the girlfriend isn't about. He needs to have words with the girlfriend about how your daughter is feeling and he must put your daughter before his girlfriend. You have a choice here..you either allow him to ignore how your daughter feels and have her upset or you make sure he gets his priorities straight. How can a 3.5 year old come up with stories like saying she is a B**ch. Kids this age only know what has been said to them and if you ignore your daughter now she won't trust you when she is older. Or you could tell your ex that you will tell the girlfriend yourself how unhappy she is making your daughter. Hope things go ok for you and take care. Kids have to come first and I am glad that you can actually talk civilly to your ex. Lets hope he listens.

Brandy - posted on 01/17/2010

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i also have this problem but my children are older and hate their dad's girlfriend, mine are old enough to voice exactly what is going on and what she says and does to them. A 3 y/o isn't making things up, obviously something is going on and needs to be addressed. If your ex isn't willing to fix the problem, then it's time to get help. Take your child to see a child therapist and have them find out exactly what is going on, and maybe they can offer suggestions to help her cope, or if it's something serious, get a lawyer or dhs involved. No child should ever be called a bitch and something has to be done!!!

Alyssa - posted on 01/17/2010

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Kerstin, Thank you so much for that great tip about photographing the text message!!!!! I never heard that and WILL do that! :) Hopefully I will never need it but its great to know!

[deleted account]

Poor thing. She is only 3 and already has to deal with some parttime loss of mom, plus another family. She must be confused and hurt. Sounds like you are a very nice mom, doing all the right things!

Remember: 3 year olds dont understand the concept of lieing. If she say something, you MUST consider it to be the truth. After all, you are her only friend!! Maybe talk to a child psychologist to determine what is going on and what is in your daughter's best interest. Doesnt sound it is spending time with dad and the ladyfriend.

[deleted account]

Oh Alyssa that's really heart-breaking! I cant understand her attitude at all. I was also scared of my SK's holding my 1st born at first- as I was of everyone except my hubby holding her, natural I guess; but I also wanted my SK's to bond with her asap b/c she is their sister; and then the same when my son was born. So we made rules about holding her (only with a grown-up's help etc) and I got them to help with everything else, like bathing and changing her- even if it was only passing me things- so they could feel included! It's not that hard to make little people FEEL like they're helping even if they're not actually doing that much. Now my SK's are pretty seasoned baby-handlers ;)
She sounds like she is resentful of yr daughter and is 'punishing' her by not letting her be involved and yr daughter is right that IS mean. I've heard of some women doing this in an attempt to 'pretend' their partner's other kids dont exist. As far as court goes I would say it wouldn't change custody agreements per se, but I think they need some family counselling b/c she needs to accept yr daughter's place in her dad's life, including the baby's life- and the court may be able to help with that. If nothing else her child could end up resenting her for interfering with their relationship with yr daughter. GOSH, she should count herself lucky that yr so co-operative with yr ex and so reasonable about it all! Among other things, my BM actively interferes with my SK's relationships with their siblings here.

Alyssa - posted on 01/11/2010

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Thanks Mandie. I have written down all incidents as she tells them to me. They need to be organized but they are all written down and dated. The problem here is that they are MOSTLY not about her dad. We have had our fair share of problems early on in this whole mess, but I wouldn't allow the gf to be around my daughter for the first year. It wasn't really until she got pregnant that he made the point that she wasn't just "a phase" b/c they were having a baby. I agreed and felt it was important for my daughter to make a place in his home BEFORE the baby came, so she started to have her 1 overnight a week (that was a year ago.) So, since then, when the gf has been around is when my daughter started acting up when she had to go and saying these things. Its hasn't JUST been since the baby is born either. Maybe a little more, but I think that my daughter loves this baby so much as she does all babies and the gf never lets her help out or hold her or feed her. That's when my daughter says that "__ is mean - she told me I'm naughty b/c I wanted to hold the baby" or whatever. Anyway, I guess I am trying to say that all of the complaints are about the GF not her dad and I do NOT want to take away his time with her b/c of his GF.... that's not fair to my daughter either. Its like a lose lose situation here. Not sure what a court would say if it ever got to that point anyway... b/c the things i have written down are against her not him. Does that make sense? I will certainly keep you updated, but not sure how fast that will happen! we've definitely been dragging with this divorce for whatever reason. (doubts in my opinion, but who knows.)

[deleted account]

Alyssa,
yr very welcome xoxox
Well this puts a different spin on things. This woman sounds a bit concerning. I would definitely bring it up in mediation or a meeting with them (obviously you'll have to be careful how you word it) and make sure you diarize any future incidents- like any other texts or emails you get (save copies of them too) and anything else yr daughter brings up. If it gets as far as court, judges like to hear dates and times of events and also you look more credible if you have a chronological diary of the issues.
It sounds like this woman is immature and yr ex sounds like he needs to have a bit of a think about himself too. I know what you mean about the control thing- you just want them to be safe. I cant tell you how many times I have said- to so many different professionals involved in our case- if this was just a run-of-the-mill child custody situation, where the only issues are whether or not the parents can be civil and focus on the children's needs; I would be the first person to tell my husband to pull his head in and co-operate with the children's mother. But when the children's safety is constantly in question, you cant in all conscience just let that go. You have to be able to sleep at night and to look yrself in the mirror and say "Well I did my best and I cant do anymore than that". Keep us up to date with how you go and I wish you th best of luck xoxox

Barbara - posted on 01/10/2010

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Where ever she's hearing the cuss words she's repeating them from there. Calling a young child any name only says the adult doing that has not matured. Talk w/your child's physician, see what they recommend doing.

Alyssa - posted on 01/10/2010

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Wow Mandie! Thank you so much for all the time you put into that! It was very helpful! Let me try and answer as much as I can... I heard of her reputation from my husband before they got together. He said she got someone fired for sexual harassment her first week on the job after sitting on someones lap and complaining about it and being inappropriate with other workers. Little did he know he would become one of them a few months later! LOL. I also heard things from other coworkers validating that after the fact. Anyway. She does have very little moral in my opinion but i AM biased. I try to keep that away from my daughter, even though it was hard for a long time there! As far as abuse, YES, I am NOT happy that my daughter told me that she was called a "B" and that was after she called ME it and I went through the whole "that's a naughty word" speal blah blah blah. I asked where she heard it and thats when it came out. I told her it is NEVER okay for anyone to say that to her and I am sorry that she had to hear it and such. This woman has also sent me a very very very nasty text message shortly after, not too long ago out of the blue and for no reason. I didn't respond, I just talked to my (ex) husband about it and he apologized for her, but that just made me really think it COULD have happened. Oh the words she used, "B" probably means something nice to her! I did speak to him about what my daughter said that time and a lot of the time, but I have not even thought about taking action with the police, but thank you for explaining all the consequences. I did say to my daughter "Hunny, are you telling stories, b/c if you say things like this, "___" could get into a lot of trouble and if its not true, that would be sad." He and I were in mediation for a while when we first separated and if anything comes from it and we follow through with a divorce (who knows!) I may bring it up there. If it continues, I will ask them to meet, but not sure she will agree, like I said so it could be pointless to ask. I have come to realize I dont have much control over her while she is in his care, however, I never stop wanting to protect her and that makes it hard! LOL. Thanks again for your response!

Alyssa - posted on 01/09/2010

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Hi everyone. Although I joined this circle of moms a long time ago, I am just starting to use it and not really sure how it works and if you check back to posts like this but I wanted to say thanks for your thoughts! Mandie, I am completely open to your thoughts as a step-mom. Its nice to hear the other side. And Clare, I have asked my daughter "Do you like ____?" when she asks me if I like her or dont like her. She says she doesn't like her about 99% of the time. And Cheryl, what you say really worries me b/c that's what I have been feeling in my gut for a while. I may as well just put this out there that before this woman met my husband, we were together for 12 years and my daughter was only 10 months old when he introduced us as his wife and baby to her. They had an affair only months later. We were having a hard time adjusting to life with a baby and we were living with my parents at the time so times were stressful. After a few months he had "made a mistake" and we went to marriage counseling for about 5 months before he decided it was too much for him. He was back with the GF a week later (really, he never stopped talking to her b/c they worked together) THAT was 2 years ago. I have tried to move forward and make the best of the situation we have. I do feel I am pretty balanced (thank you!) but unfortunately, I dont think this woman is balanced whatsoever... she broke up a family at 20 years old (and heard she had a reputation of that) I am pretty sure he feels "in over his head" since the new baby "SURPRISE!" and our daughter saying these things is just more to stress over for him. Its really so frustrating b/c I do not have any control over it. She loves her dad and I am not going to take time away from that. I told him that if she continues to say stuff that the two of them and I will have to sit down and have a talk b/c it is completely unacceptable behavior (I have a strong feeling however that she will never agree to this.) So, does the fact this this woman and he had an affair change anything of what you think? I'm curious. Thanks all so much again. Its been nice to get some feedback!

Cheryl - posted on 01/09/2010

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hello, this yours is not just another girl-friend this is someone abusing your daugther. Ask yourself would you allow anyone to say these things to your child? Kids need a reason to make things up, this probable is not a lie, or story. If this person was nice to her what would she be saying. Something is goin on.
I would not allow her to go over there if this continues. It will put hate in your daugther about this woman. Your child should not have to go threw this.
If your ex is not willing to talk to his girlfriend, maybe you need to do it.
Calling a child a bitch is unacceptable by anyone

[deleted account]

That's a hard one Alyssa and I feel for you. I'm a stepmum so I hope you dont mind if I give some advice from that perspective? I wont be offended if you'd rather hear from other mums (if it helps I'm a biomom too)
When my hubby and I got together my youngest SS used to say "I dont like you" to me as well- well all my SK's did at one time or another but he was 4 so, closer to yr daughter's age. I really wanted to have a good relationship with him so I asked him why and often I used to get "b/c I just dont" as well. I'll be honest there were issues with his mother telling him to say things (I'm not saying you do, just talking about my own situation) but I thought there had to be more to it than that so I quietly persisted and eventually he said one day "I like my mum better than you" and I realised that was what it was mostly about- he just wanted his mummy and fair enough too for a little one. Hopefully that's the case with yr little one, she's 3 and that's the only way she can express her unhappiness with the situation. My SS also used to sometimes call me, to my face, 'that F'ing bitch', 'that F'ing slut' or 'that F'ing c**t' and if his daddy asked him about it he said that's what his mother called me- not relevant except when we would hear him say to her on the phone that I called HIM one of those names and it would usually be on a day when I had not let him get his own way about somethng and he knew his mother would get mad and jump to his defense if he said that. Not saying that you get mad, clearly you are taking a more considered approach, I'm just saying kids in a parental split situation learn to take power however they can.
However, if this woman has really called her that name, then clearly that's a whole different ball game.

Alyssa - posted on 01/08/2010

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Thank you Claire. I do try my hardest to show and tell her that even though she is never going to be forced to like this person, she does have to be respectful and nice to her. I often ask "why" or "how does that make you feel?" questions where she is only three, but to her "because I dont" is a typical answer. lol. I am not sure how to ask for specifics without leading the conversation b/c I dont want to have her just agree with me, I want it to come from her. How do you word your questions?

Clare - posted on 01/08/2010

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Can you find out from your daughter why she doesn't feel liked by your ex's partner? Ask for specifics so that you can understand better - I don't believe your daughter is "making up stuff" she may be mis-interpreting things and you may be able to put them in a different light for her. I have always tried really hard not to agree with my daughter when she is rude about her step-mum and to tell her that she shouldn't be rude about people but I hope I've managed to be sympathetic to how she feels. It will be difficult for your daughter especially with a new baby around. Best of luck

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