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Mending relationships

User-anonymous
Posted by: Anonymous
Flag
Tue 20, Jun 2017 at 3:16pm
Categories:
After Separation

Hi! I have a tough situation. I am a step mom. My step daughter is 7 now, and I have been present for 5 years. My husband and her mom were never married. It was an "oops what are we going to do" situation. They are a horrible relationship so I am usually then one doing the communicating. Anyway, there was a period of about a year when she was 3 I think, that her mom refused to let us see her. She took us to court and all accusing my husband of inappropriate behavior (which turned out of course to be a complete lie) but ever since we go to have her back, she has had a bad relationship with her father. She is with us 2 weekends a month and when she is here she seems so happy and content but then sometimes her mom texts me telling me that her daughter is telling her she is scared or doesn't understand why she has to come over to our house all the time. Her mom tells me that her daughter is always talking about me and fun things that her and I do together and she loves to see me but never once talks about her father. Well, I am having a tough time getting her father involved and doing things with her. He doesn't seem interested and I know that the past is playing a role in this but i don't know what to do to help mend the relationship and make her excited and happy to be with her dad. Any suggestions to help explain to my husband the importance of family and to stop being selfish. I take care of her 99% of the time she is with us and although I love every minute I also would love some help.

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Comments

  • Pc jaybee (moderator) Flag

    Thanks for your very interesting post. I am giving it some thought and I'll get back to you.

    Wed 21, Jun 2017 at 8:35am
  • Pc jaybee (moderator) Flag

    It's good to hear that you and your step-daughter's mum can communicate with each other and that she is able to give a balanced view (positive and negative) of what he daughter says about her visits.
    You say your partner doesn't get involved in caring for her. So, how would you describe their interaction? What is his demeanour towards her? How would you describe her feelings towards him?
    If she senses coldness or indifference, this might be why she feels scared. It's easy for children (or any of us) to perceive coldness or indifference as hostility or anger.
    Have you asked your husband how he feels about his daughter? Can he recognise what it might feel like to be his child? He may have felt trapped by her unexpected arrival in the world and perhaps he is struggling to separate his anger about this from his feelings about her as a person.
    The dilemma here is that you have taken on a lot of responsibility that you perhaps don't feel you 'signed up' for. On the other hand, to cut off the contact this child has with her father, minimal though it is, would almost certainly feel to her like a rejection.
    It's also possible that he feels like a pretty useless dad. He may feel out of his depth given that he hasn't been very 'hands on'. (Mostly, the way we learn about parenting is by doing it!) Maybe the thing to do initially is to explore with him what he feels he could do well with his daughter - however small, and go from there. i.e. focus on what he can do with her, not what he can't.
    I hope that's not too many ideas and that at least some of it is useful.

    Wed 21, Jun 2017 at 2:47pm