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Parenting Issues Message Board


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Hello,
I need advice on a couple of issues regarding my boyfriend's daughter. To give you some background, we've been dating for 6 months, I'm the first serious girlfriend he's had since the mother of his child. We're both 26. Their relationship was a highschool one, not love, 2 years of being together including the time she was pregnant. They separated when their daughter was 1, never married.
We started dating in August, I met his daughter in September. We didn't mean to move so quickly but I met her accidently and we've been spending lots of time together ever since. Her mother has custody but he has her every other weekend. Her mother is a very "loose" woman who currently has two boyfriends but tells my boyfriend not to bring women in and out of her daughter's life. I am the only woman he has ever introduced to his daughter. She is very materialistic, very jealous and not liked by anyone in his family or any of his friends.
Him and I have a very strong relationship, we're very serious about each other and have talked about getting married down the road. I really feel we are going to be together.
I've dated one other man that had a child. I was in this child life for 3 out of his 4 years and loved him as my own. I can't see how I could love a child any more than I love him, even one of my own. Unfortunately, my ex and I decided that it was too traumatizing for the little boy to have me in and out of his life so I just don't see him anymore. I want to have a good relationship with my boyfriend's daughter.. let's call her Brenda.. but so far things are not going great.
Issue #1 - Brenda's mother is jealous of having another woman in her daughter's life. Brenda goes home excited about the things we do together and talks about me to her mother. Her mother has started telling her daughter that her dad should be focusing his time on her on the weekends he has her and that I shouldn't be around. She also told this to my boyfriend. He basically told her that Brenda and I get along great and that I am a very important part of his life and I am not going anywhere so she has to get used to me being around her daughter. The latest is that she told her daughter she is jealous of the fact that another woman is in her life and that she's worried her dad might marry me and I will become her stepmommy and she will love me more than her. Can you believe that???? This is not an appropriate statement to make to a child that has just turned 8. I feel that it will place a burden on her little shoulders and will cause her a lot of guilt over liking me. It was actually Brenda who told me this weekend that her mother said this. It was at her birthday party with many people around so we didn't get a chance to talk about it.

Issue #2 - Brenda can be a difficult child or an angel from one minute to the next. She can be very unpleasant, doesn't share her toys, doesn't say thank you unless someone prompts her to, whines A LOT and is generally very spoiled. At the same time, she can be very sweet, I just feel she needs a lot of attention. If she doesn't get her way, she becomes very unpleasant and whiny. We were playing a game on the weekend and because she didn't know the answer to the first question on her turn, she said she didn't want to "play this stupid game anymore." I don't know why she is like this. Her father is very good with her and dishes out an equal amount of discipline and love. He is a great father.. however I cannot speak for her mother. Her behaviour makes it very difficult for me to love her. I try VERY hard but it's just not happening. Sometimes when we're cuddling or playing I feel close to her but I don't LOVE her, not the way I used to unconditionally love my ex's son. Is it because of her personality, is it too soon? I find myself not looking forward to the weekends when he has her because I don't know what to expect. At the beginning she was VERY excited about her dad having a girlfriend and was very eager to be nice to me and play with me. Now, I think because of the guilt trips her mother is putting on her, I find she holds back. She'll cuddle with me one minute and the next pull away and say "I don't like you." But I know she does! I have been NOTHING but nice to her.. and in a genuine way, not a fake way. I really do want to build a relationship with her because if she is going to be in my life, I want us to be friends and to be close.

Does anyone know how I should approach these two issues? What do I say to her when she tells me the stuff her mother says? I know her dad had several talks to her and her mother about this but when she talks to ME about it, what do I say?

Also, how can I build a stronger relationship with her? I've taken her to my office xmas party, I've taken her to see the Nutcracker ballet before Christams. I take her for icecream, to the park, I read to her, play games with her, give her my attention as much as possible. However, when I also give attention to her dad or him to me, in the form of a hug, she'll come and get in between us. I understand she is adjusting to having to share her dad.

I just feel like sometimes she is a parrot for her mother. She will repeat things that her mother says like: "Ana, my mom doesn't think you should be around when dad has me. I don't want dad to have a girlfriend anymore." To this, we both asked her, does she like me? Yes. Does she like having me around? Yes. Does she want me to sleep over? Yes. At the same time, she repeats her mother's words. I just don't know how to handle this. It's out of my area of expertise. I know there are a lot of mothers and stepmothers on this board and I hope you all can help me.

Thanks for reading this ridiculously long post!





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