Which one of us is the step parent?

Erin - posted on 08/02/2010 ( 7 moms have responded )

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My SD came to visit us in our home for the long weekend for the first time. We had been working up to this step for years now with many hoops jumped through and bridges burned. She came down while her mother and maternal grandmother fretted endlessly to her paternal GM who drove her down here. Meanwhile she comes down and falls in love with our house, with the state we live in and all of our 'toys' to play with. She sticks to me like glue hangs out with her sis and bro and enjoys some games with her dad. Yet she seems to have a stronger bond with me then her own father. I tried to talk to her about why she has grown so distant and uncomfortable around him when she used to be all over him like glue and she just tells me that she is getting older "i guess" which I can tell is a cop out for how she feels....all the answers she gave me were cop outs. The only one I clung to was that she didn't know him well enough (which she knows more about him then me) so I encouraged her to try to get to know him and to give him a chance. He isn't the easiest guy to understand cause he does have mood swings but he adores her and wants to spend time with her and has worked very hard to keep her a part of his life. From talking to her I can tell that there is parent alienation going on and something more that I can't get a handle on, she's a hard nut to crack, but I feel like Im in the very awkward seat of parent when my DH has taken the place of a SP. Its making him crazy and frustraited and very depressed. What should or could I do?

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Betty - posted on 08/04/2010

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My SD does the same thing and it drives my husband nuts. Somtimes I worry that it will ruin our marriage because he fights so hard to have SD in his life and now he has to fight for a kiss goodnight. On the flip side, SD seems to be favoring her step father over BM too. Maybe us steps aren't so bad after all(:
I try to give the two of them space so they can contine to be close. I'll run a few arrends or something so it's just the two of them. They still have tons of fun togther and there are things a daddy is always best at(: like play fighting, video games and tossing her high into the air!
Just make sure they have time for just the two of them. If you catch her enjoying her time with DH make yourself dissapear for a while. Do some alone time with SD while DH is busy with things so he can't compare the two relationships and become jellous, it's great that you are bonding with her like this.

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Erin - posted on 08/05/2010

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wow, its so great to see that we aren't the only ones going through this! You girls are amazing! I know my DH hasn't been #1 dad to her and has been inconsistent in her life physically and emotionally, but is gradually getting more and more reliable and consistent. he's worked so hard to get her into his life and he seems to sort of freak out when he thinks that she doesn't like him or want to be around him. She knows I love her because I am very upfront with her and am always looking for ways to make her feel included and special. I know for a fact that she wants to be a part of our family, that she loves spending time with us including her dad, and that when she gets his attention while playing games or even while cooking she seems to glow, but when he asks her for hugs or to walk with him she balks and clings to me. She is getting better and more natural with good night kisses and hugs and seems to feel at home with us, which makes me happier then anything. But they do need to go to counseling and my DH needs to work on his personal issues so he can be more consistent w/ her and to not take it personally when she withdraws. She needs to figure out what keeps stopping her from pursuing a relationship with him and to learn to communicate her feelings to him without being scared of the results. They both are TOO much alike. She would tell me her favorite movies and favorite games and Id be floored b/c they would be exactly like her dads. If they could break down the wall they would have an amazing relationship!!

Christine - posted on 08/05/2010

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Same thing on my end, hon! My son has always been closest with me -- even when FH and BM were still married! (I was his godmother!) Once they split, I think he was desperate for some stability, and clung to me like super glue! Even now, unless it's a 'boy thing' (going to a car show, working on Daddy's Chevelle, going off-roading) he wants to be with Mommy 24/7! I asked my FH if he minds, and he always says not at all -- that he prefers it this way because that means our son has truly accepted me as a parent in his life (what boy ISN'T a huge Momma's boy?!) and it makes him both happy that he loves me so much. Can you say 'awwww'?! He really is my little buddy -- he even likes going to the salon with me to get my eyebrows waxed!

As far as SD & DH on your end, I agree with the other ladies -- make sure they have some 1-on-1 time, and that he provides stability and consistency. Eventually time will heal all wounds -- she just needs to figure out her heart won't be broken and see BM's lies for what they really are! Kids are pretty adaptable... My son has learned not to talk about our life with BM because she screams at him or makes him feel bad about the good things in his life. He goes over and sees her for four hours once a week, plays with her friends kids, gets stuck in front of a TV for two of the four hours, and comes home. He calls it 'getting babysat.'

Tina - posted on 08/04/2010

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My situation with my step daughter was the same. When she came to be with us, even before we were married, she looked to me for everything. I don't blame her, the dad was very inconsistent, wouldn't follow through on discipline and sporadically kept in touch with her. I was the one she could count on, and she let her dad know it. Your husband needs to look at what kind of a dad he has been. The answer is there.

[deleted account]

I totally agree with Penny. The other thing is when girls spend most of their lives in a female run or dominated household they gravitate towards the woman. My hubby has s tep-daughter from his marriage with his ex and the child knows he's not her biological father but referred to him as Dad. When she used to live with us (long story which I wont bore you with) she was the same stuck to me and actively gave her dad a hard time.

The other thing with this child was that she was mommy's spy and was asked to find out all about me- I'm sure she even passed on what kind of underwear I use LOL- I'm not saying that's the case with your SD but I would advise you to be aware that it can be the case. I found out way too late and to my own MAJOR detriment about trusting this little lady. Now she is estranged form us both and you guessed it- that's my fault.

[deleted account]

I'm glad to hear the visit went well! My SD did the same clinging thing for a long time. She'd cling to me and her sister but would ignore hubby. I had to teach her that ignoring her dad, who is an adult, is rude. We also encouraged her to do little things with her dad. Once she was more comfortable we'd encouraged her to do more. For example if we were excited about something we might say "give your dad a pinkie-high five" and that would be her pinkie touching his palm. Then it moved to high-five, holding hands, hugs, etc. She is still not 100% sure of her dad but with each visit she is more and more comfortable. I'd suggest you and hubby read "Divorce Poison" by Dr. Ricahrd Warshak. That really helped my hubby realize that it's not his or her fault. SD is just protecting herself from 1) getting hurt (because of everything her mom has told her) 2) the wrath of her mom when and if she finds out SD had a great time with you guys. My SD has already learned that she doesn't tell her mom "fun" things we do together because her mom gives her a hard time and makes her feel guilty. One thing I always try to keep in mind is something my hubby told me: be glad she clings to you and look at it as an opportunity to get closer to SD.

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