Advice on DH spending time with his DD with her Mother at DD Request

(44 Posts)
PoisonedApple Sun 18-Nov-12 22:06:08

Hello All,

I would be really grateful for some advice on this. I'll try and keep it short but I have been with DH for 5 years and met him when SD was 8 months old so I have been in her life pretty much forever.

We have what I think is a pretty good 'blended family' situation. SD is with us 2 nights a week, including one full weekend day. DH's partner won't come into our house (they did it up together and she really loved it) but is happy for me to come in and have tea at hers and I helped organise SD's birthday party this year with her. We also often have her to help out her Mum if she is working or away etc. We also do the odd thing altogether, like going to the circus etc. DH, Me, DD, SD and SD's Mum and even once with SD's Mum's Mum so I think things are pretty good.

SD is not an easy kid, she is 6 but still has massive tantrums and can be really disruptive and she is used to getting her own way so when she is here she takes over a bit and so honestly, because I work 4 days a week, I want the odd holiday just on our own so I can spend some proper time with my own DD. I know that sounds mean but there it is. DH and I promptly had a massive row and he kept saying that this was her family and we should have her as much as we can no matter what and he said I should love SD and want to be with her as much as my own daughter. I said that she has a Mum and I doesn't need a replacement for her and that I love her and I think we are doing pretty well but he wants more.

Recently SD has been upset at nights and this evening she finally told DH that she wants him to spend time with her and her Mummy doing things with just them. I completely freaked out - surely this is totally the wrong thing to do? He thinks it will make her happier - I think it is going to send completely the wrong signals and make things worse in the long run. It's not as if she remembers them being together so this would be an entirely new thing and I fundementally think it is totally the wrong thing to do. I could entirely understand him maybe picking her up from school an extra day a week and doing something special with her but to do something with her and her Mum is just wrong isn't it? Am I being unreasonable? Perhaps I should have posted it there instead!

Can any of you help?? Also is there a good book on how to do step parenting? It is VERY HARD.

AmberLeaf Sun 18-Nov-12 22:11:38

Sounds like this is her response to you wanting holidays with just you, your DH and your DD?

I can sort of understand why you want time with just your DH and your [his?] DD but leaving out your SD isn't really fair IMO and im unsurprised she isn;t reacting positively.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 18-Nov-12 22:14:07

I agree with you entirely.

Your DH should talk to his DD and ask why she wants to leave you and your DD out? He should make it totally clear to her that this is not going to happen, that everyone loves her, but that he is with YOU not her Mum and that it's not right to include her Mum and exclude you. Anything else is just wrong.

Don't let her upset the good balance the adults have found.

MN is better than any book smile

AmberLeaf Sun 18-Nov-12 22:14:28

I think it is going to send completely the wrong signals and make things worse in the long run

What signal do you think going on holiday without her sends?

It's not as if she remembers them being together so this would be an entirely new thing and I fundementally think it is totally the wrong thing to do

From your discription, she knows you and your DH as a couple and family, so it doesn't look good to exclude her when it suits.

AmberLeaf Sun 18-Nov-12 22:15:31

But yes, totally agree him spending time with his EX and his DD is not appropriate.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 18-Nov-12 22:17:28

Don't get me wrong, I'm entirely sympathetic to a little girl who sees her half sister (or step sister, not sure if your DH is your DD's Dad or not?!) living with her Daddy and her Mummy and just wants the same for herself, BUT the fact is that it's not like that and should not be artificially created.

Does her Mum have a new partner?

MrsTomHardy Sun 18-Nov-12 22:17:43

YANBU....this is not a good idea at all.

quietlysuggests Sun 18-Nov-12 22:21:28

I dont understand why this threatens you?
Could you explain a bit?
Why would it be a bad thing for a 6 year old to have her mother and her father to herself from time to time?
Perhaps she, like you, gets sick of all this "blended" activity and the strain it puts on her.
(And you want to whisk DH and DD off to yourself, they are your closest 2 people aren't they? But when she wants her 2 closest people - that outrageous??)

NotaDisneyMum Sun 18-Nov-12 23:10:20

I wonder if the artificial situation the adults in her life have created is contributing to her behaviour?

From your DSD's position, she has a mum a dad, and apple who sometimes do things with her separately, but sometimes they're all together- but when daddy & mummy are both there are apple is there too. Mummy won't go to apples house where she lives with Daddy, but apple comes to mummy's house, and daddy lives with apple all the time but never with Mummy, and apples DD lives with Daddy and apple but never with Mummy, and...and....and....

When DCs are very young they accept whatever family dynamic they are involved in without question, but as they get older they begin to try out new scenarios, first in their head, and then in real life.

I think the level of blending in your DSD life has blurred the boundaries for her. In her mind, it's only fair that both the important women in her life have time with her Daddy - in her mind, it's not fair if you do have daddy to yourself, but her mummy doesn't. sad

PoisonedApple Sun 18-Nov-12 23:19:19

Thanks NotaDisneyMum, never thought of it that way, I just thought the ideal was for us all to get along as best as possible.

Also, I was always advised that kids learn very quickly how to deal with two different households and that this is the way things are in one and this is the way things are in another and thats just life as they know it... but I guess what you are saying is that she is now old enough to start asking questions so what do you tell someone whose only ever known her current situation? How much can she understand about grown up relationships?

Also, I feel very guilty about the holiday thing but I feel guiltier about the lack of really good quality time I spend with my DD.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 19-Nov-12 06:42:04

In terms of house rules, and so forth - yes, DCs can adapt to differences between households but in your case, there aren't two separate households, just one big blended family, with two houses, but not everyone is treated the same, at least in her mind.

I'm a great supporter of child counselling/play therapy for all DCs who experience family break up - I'm sure your DSD would benefit from some support to work out the dynamics of her own complex family - perhaps the school or GP could refer her to a suitable service?

fluffygal Mon 19-Nov-12 07:08:21

I have a 5 year old DD (as well as a DS, 2 SS and another DD with my OH) and we live in a blended family, my ex comes over, plays xbox with my OH, we get on well (usually but just had a massive argument!). She would never think it was ok for mummy and daddy to spend time together without my OH, she completely understands the situation and the adult relationships. I wouldn't be comfortable if she asked for us to spend time together as a couple, as we are not one and it sends the wrong messages. I think you will be setting expectations for the future if he goes through with this.

On the holiday front, the only time we have gone on holiday with just our DD and not the other 4 is when she was 1 and too small to leave behind. They stayed at their nans though so preferred that to a holiday! We either holiday as a 7 or OH and I go away together. It is not clear whether you DSD knows you want to go away without her or not? I do understand the want to spend time with just your DD (I have it with my two SS sometimes) but it really isn't fair on her.

sanityseeker75 Mon 19-Nov-12 12:34:54

I'm afraid I agree with most of the other posts. I think you can't really have it both ways and expect to exclude her in family activities when it is best for you but not feel happy about being excluded yourself.

My guess is that your fear of being excluded is down to the fact that you may be worried about DH and his ex rekindling old flames if left to play "happy families" without you and that if he is spending time with them then that is less time sent with you and DD? Well actually you have to remember that ex's are ex's for reasons - that said I still don't think that this is right.

But if you feel like that as an adult then how can you not expect DSD to feel that she wants mummy and daddy time together where she will be the centre of their universe and give her full attention.

Like fluffygal we either holiday together as a family or DH and I holiday alone.

I think some distance between the two households needs to be sorted so that DSD understands that whilst everyone loves her you are still two separate family units in which she belongs fully.

It is very hard and I do not believe that there are right answers but there are definitely wrong ways of going about things - even if these seem sometimes the easier or more peaceful options

sanityseeker75 Mon 19-Nov-12 12:40:36

I'm afraid I agree with most of the other posts. I think you can't really have it both ways and expect to exclude her in family activities when it is best for you but not feel happy about being excluded yourself.

My guess is that your fear of being excluded is down to the fact that you may be worried about DH and his ex rekindling old flames if left to play "happy families" without you and that if he is spending time with them then that is less time sent with you and DD? Well actually you have to remember that ex's are ex's for reasons - that said I still don't think that this is right.

But if you feel like that as an adult then how can you not expect DSD to feel that she wants mummy and daddy time together where she will be the centre of their universe and give her full attention.

Like fluffygal we either holiday together as a family or DH and I holiday alone.

I think some distance between the two households needs to be sorted so that DSD understands that whilst everyone loves her you are still two separate family units in which she belongs fully.

It is very hard and I do not believe that there are right answers but there are definitely wrong ways of going about things - even if these seem sometimes the easier or more peaceful options

glasscompletelybroken Mon 19-Nov-12 13:02:18

As far as allowing your dsd to insist that her mum & dad do things together with her and not include you, I think it is vital that this doesn't happen. It will make it very confusing for this child and also gives her a lot of power.

Re the holiday thing - your dsd probably also has holidays with just her mum so may get twice as many holidays as your dd anyway. I'm not clear if your dd is also your DH's dd? If not then you could have a holiday just you and your daughter - as dsd does with her mum. If she is then it's slightly trickier but I don't think it's unreasonable as long as it doesn't affect the normal visiting arrangements for dsd. You could have 3 or 4 days away with your DH & your dd without making a big deal of it.

If dsd has one holiday with her mum and one with you and her dad and your dd has one holiday with you and DH and another which also includes dsd then they both have 2 holidays each and that is fair.

Your dh is not being reasonable expecting you to love his child as much as your own.

Lookingatclouds Mon 19-Nov-12 13:04:30

I think it's a very natural reaction to look at what other children are getting and want the same. She sees your dd (is she yours and your dh's?) having a lot of time with just you and him - may be she'd like the same with her own parents?

If they do arrange to do something with her on their own, you could also spend that time having the one to one time with your dd that you'd like. It could work for all of you.

brdgrl Mon 19-Nov-12 17:02:06

Of course your DH should not go along with the idea of playing 'intact family' with his ex and DSD in the way DSD seems to have suggested here. It isn't the reality, and could do her a lot more harm than good and cause more insecurity in the long run.

What does seem like a good idea, and from what I've seen of 'separated' families, what does work well, is to create an environment with enough goodwill, generosity of spirit, and imagination that DSD can have both of her parents involved in her life and there - sometimes together - at the most important milestones and events. It sounds like that is possibly already true? That is very different from going on 'dates' with mum and dad.

If dsd has one holiday with her mum and one with you and her dad and your dd has one holiday with you and DH and another which also includes dsd then they both have 2 holidays each and that is fair.
Yes. Exactly.

purpleroses Mon 19-Nov-12 18:24:45

The OP having some time with just her DP and DD is not the same thing at all as her DSD wanting time with both her parents and not the OP!

Her DSD only lives with them for half the time, so of course there is time when she isn't around. And people are allowed to be happy in this time, to have holidays, and to enjoy being with one another, without feeling guilty that DSD isn't there.

I wouldn't be happy with my DP spending much time with his ex, nor would he want to, (nor she for that matter...!) and I wouldn't expect or want to spend time with my ex. Maybe a cup of tea when dropping off kids or something is nice to do, or to have her dad over for dinner on her birthday or something, but not extended or regular periods of time.

That said, I think there's nothing odd that your DSD has asked for this - she's at an age when they're just trying to figure things out. My DS was about that age when he was asking for a new brother or sister, and suggested I produce him one with his dad shock (we'd been split up about two years!) DD, when not much younger, suggested I move in with her dad and share the bed with him and his DW!!

They learn how other families function, and all credit to you - if everyone gets along well - they don't necessarily figure out why their parents don't spend much time together. She just needs to be told gently that her parents have split up, and that when people have split up they don't do things together very much any more. But that she gets all the new people in her life, two homes, etc instead.

brdgrl Tue 20-Nov-12 01:25:07

well said, purple.

frantic51 Tue 20-Nov-12 02:20:16

Actually the 2 holiday scenario as suggested very possibly doesn't look fair from DSD's point of view. Your DD gets two holidays with both her parents (always presuming your DD is your DH's also) and DSD gets one holiday with one of her parents and one holiday with her other parent.

Not saying it's right that she should get what she's asking for, just saying it's a perfectly reasonable request from her point of view. Agree with the other poster who says she is at the age when she craves to be with the two most important people in her life, her parents, without anyone else there to share the, "limelight".

How you deal with it, I'm not wise enough to advise. sad

Lasvegas Tue 20-Nov-12 13:45:22

Although my DH divorced his ex wife 4 years before I met him, I would still feel uncomfortable with him spending 'quality' time with his ex and children from a previous relationship. Likewise I wouldn't be keen for him to spend time with a past girlfriend.

Your DH is bonkers to expect you to love a step child the same as your own child. There is no bond the same as having carried a child for 9 months and given birth to it.

PoisonedApple Tue 20-Nov-12 19:36:44

Don't think I explained myself well, sorry! Yes DD is DH and mine.

Thanks everyone, lots of helpful stuff here. Have to say I'm sticking to my guns with the holiday thing, we don't make a big deal out of it in front of her and she goes on holidays with her Mum. I would take DD off on my own but then DH sulks!

I have suggested to DH that he spend one night a week with her after school doing something that is just theirs but that it is a regular, reliable thing for her, like going to the library every week for a new book (assuming there are any libraries left). As for the doing things with 'Mummy and Daddy' I think I am going to construct a well worded argument for why this is a bad idea and I think we should explain as purpleroses said that her Mummy and Daddy aren't together any more so this is why - does anyone have any suggestions as to a suitable explanation that a 6 year old could process? There is no way DH would ever consider going to a family support service for counselling or play therapy but I think it would be great for her - does anyone know where to start asking for that sort of help? Assuming they haven't all been cut...

Thanks everyone

frantic51 Tue 20-Nov-12 20:07:58

I have re-read your OP and have to say that I completely got hold of the wrong end of the stick! I was under the impression that your SD (I notice you don't refer to her as DSD hmm ) wanted a holiday with both of her parents! But she just wants time with her parents so no overnight stays anywhere, no time after she's gone to bed with your DH and his EX P alone. And you have a problem with that? shock As she gets older it can only be a good thing for her if she gets to spend time, occasionally, talking to both her parents together without anyone else around. Otherwise you get into the scenario of parents talking together about what she's said to one and what she's said to another and children, if they're intelligent and wanting to please, are quite capable of saying one thing to one parent and one thing to another, particularly if they are aware that the parents have conflicting opinions on a subject. It can lead to all sorts of unnecessary conflicts.

I really don't enjoy spending time with my ex but sometimes I just have to for the sake of my children. Fortunately, neither of us has a, "significant other" to get in the way of our parenting of our children. But if I ever had one and one of our children felt they needed some time with just his or her parents to discuss something they felt was important, he would be told that he would just have to put up with it and, for all his faults, I'm fairly sure that my Ex H would be the same. Our children come first, always.

As she gets older, are you going to insist on going to all her parents' evenings with them? Later on what about GCSE choice evenings, further education talks? What about sports fixtures, concerts, plays or whatever she may be in? If you can't go for whatever reason she is going to have to do without her daddy unless her mummy says she won't go? What if she were ever ill (heaven forbid) would her daddy not be allowed to be at her bedside with her mummy if you weren't there? What about if, when she gets married, she wants her mother and father on the top table together and you on another table?

I think you need to get a grip, OP. As has already been said, an ex is always an ex for a reason and you need to be less clingy and trust your DH.

purpleroses Tue 20-Nov-12 21:20:25

When I was explaining to mine at at around that age why I wasn't going to stay the night with them when they went to their dad, or produce more babies with him(!) I just said that we'd split up, and that we weren't a couple any more. This would have been a bit easier if we'd been married and then divorced I think, as the language is clearer for children to understand. But we weren't ever married so I just had to say we had been living together when they were born, and then we had been arguing a lot, so we had decided everyone would be happier if we lived separately. And when people split up, they don't sleep in the same bed, or have more children together, or go on holiday together any more. I really had to spell that out to them. I remember my DS nodding during one such conversation and looking a little sad. I think despite us having been split up for ages, he hadn't really processed what that meant. He knew we had separate houses, but he hadn't figured out that we were otherwise any different from other friends' parents who lived together.

I'm not sure about family support services that could help you (there may well be - I've just never looked into it) but there are certainly books you can get that are aimed at children to help them understand the basics of adult relationships and separation.

NotaDisneyMum Tue 20-Nov-12 22:59:24

frantic. There is a difference between a DC sitting down with both parents to discuss school choices, express views about changes to contact arrangements and attending parents evenings compared to spending a day as a family at the zoo or aquarium; in other words, sharing leisure time.

My reading of the OP is that her DsD has requested the latter - just like my DD did; she wanted me and her Dad to take her for a pub lunch or to the park. That didn't feel right to me and I was advised not to do it. When necessary, DD does spend time talking to both of us together - but there is a specific purpose, not something we do because she wants us to.

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