Stepdaughter/Stepmother Jealousy

Okay so this is a bit of a taboo blog. I appreciate that I may be feeling some things right now which aren’t very adult or mature and that has been putting me off writing about them, but I need the release and so I would really appreciate it if readers didn’t leave any comments to tell me to to grow up because I already know I need to! ha!

For background my fiance has 3 children. We have been together 3 and a half years and I get on pretty well with the kids. I get on with the two boys very well – its very easy with them but things with me and his daughter its been a bit trickier.  On the whole we get on well – sometimes very well in fact but if there has been any hard times, its been with me and her.  She is nearly 12.

Fast-forward to now and our engagement and I am really struggling.

Last weekend she turned up with a face like thunder and was refusing to look at me or was staring at me blanked faced when she did (this happens randomly).  I HATE it when this happens and it makes me feel very awkward in my own house. Within ten minutes she asked my fiance for “a private chat” and they went upstairs for about an hour.

When they came down, it was clear she had been crying and they spent the rest of the evening cuddling on the sofa, I was in the dark about what had been said (and still getting the frosty treatment from her) so I wasn’t feeling particularly great.  Eventually when the kids were all in bed he told me what she had said which was basically that on the wedding day, she wants to be with him and she doesn’t want to have to leave his side.  She wants to be our bridesmaid but doesn’t want to be with me and my other bridesmaids in the morning (she wants to be with him and his best man and ushers) and that she was worried we would break up and he would be sad again like he was when he broke up with her mother.

So those are the facts.

This is where I am struggling – despite knowing I am being childish and unreasonable, this is bringing up some huge jealousy issues for me and I don’t know how to deal with it.  Her wanting to be with him on our day is making me angry.  She is bad enough on a normal weekend – god forbid she doesn’t get to sit next to him at the dinner table or something.  I feel so stupid but I have so much anger and jealousy at the fact that she seems to pull his strings and then he bends over backwards to keep her happy (I know, she is a child). It is irrational.

So why can’t I handle this? Why do I feel so angry with her? Why isn’t the knowledge that she is clearly struggling herself with our engagement enough to help me have sympathy and compassion for her? Why am I feeling quite so angry and resentful and childish over a little girl?

She is jealous of me taking her daddy away and I am jealous of her taking my fiance away!!  It’s horrible.

I think there is some of my own “dad stuff” in this. I think there is a lot to it for me and I really want to hash it out with T tomorrow if I can. I shouldn’t feel threatened by a child and her father – I do not want to be like that.  Is it as simple as me seeing him give her what I was never given is so painful for me that I am getting angry instead of sad????

I also don’t want to be like my mother who pushes her child aside for a man and I don’t want to be cold-hearted towards a little girl who is clearly worried.  I really, really don’t want to feel like this – but I do.

I am struggling that she spent the weekend laying all over him – sitting next to him constantly, laying her legs over him, holding his hand – generally keeping him away from me and marking her territory. I’ve even tried to reassure her by being nice to her despite how I am feeling and I’ve told my fiance things to say to her such as that nothing will change when we are married and that she has nothing to worry about….

My fiance said that he thinks we are both jealous of each-other but naturally he has more understanding and compassion for a child than a fully grown adult.

I just want one day.. one day where it is just about me and him and not the kids  – not her. I just want one day where I can kiss him and dance with him and hold his hand and smile in photos but the reality isn’t like that. Even the seating plans have been dictated by the fact that she has to be sat next to him at the top table “because he would like that” (read: he better or she will strop)… I even picture her pulling at my dress when we try to have our first dance (I know, dramatic much). When we went on holiday last year in a caravan she suggested that “me and daddy sleep in the double bed and you on the sofa”…

Is it because I didn’t have this relationship with my Dad? Is it that I am scared she will take him away because surely I am old enough to know better?

Help!!

Oh and to make matters worse, we are heading to another caravan holiday Friday for 4 days. Right now I am absolutely dreading it. I don’t know how I’m going to cope.

To o

29 thoughts on “Stepdaughter/Stepmother Jealousy

  1. The way you’ve written this, anyway, it sounds like your fiancee needs to set some serious boundaries with his child. If she’s a bridesmaid, she needs to be with the bridesmaids, or with her siblings, not ‘with him’ all day.

    You seem very unsure of what is appropriate and what isn’t, probably because of your troubled past, where this wasn’t clear. It is hard to sort out what is our stuff vs what is other people’s stuff. Other people definitely have their own issues and weirdness they will try and pass off as normal at our expense.

    You may have daddy issues, but this child does also. I think you’re a long way from ‘pushing a child aside for a man’ as you fear. Your concerns are legitimate. It’s also not good for a child to have that much power over her father. Yes, it’s good he is concerned about her, but she should not be directing his arrangements. Seems like there is a hefty power struggle going on here, with a young child winning the game.

    Maybe her feelings or jealousy, anger, abandonment, sadness could be directly addressed somehow, as legitimate feelings, but feelings that don’t need to be acted on. It likely does suck for her that her dad is re-marrying. Some of life is just painful and has to be gotten through, even for children.

    Um, maybe I am this old fashioned curmudgeon – could be.

    Anyway, good luck. Hope you can gain more clarity in your session.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your reply and for not making me feel worse than I already do for feeling this way!

      It’s very reassuring to hear that I don’t sound like I’m trying to push a child away for a man, thank you. I genuinely don’t want to do that!

      I feel like if she were my own child, this wouldn’t be happening? Who knows.

      He has reassured her that he will be okay and that he loves us both and that she won’t be left out but (apparently) did tell her that there will be parts of the day where he has to leave her such as photos etc. He seems to think over time she will her more used to the idea and will feel differently…. I hope he’s right. X

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds really hard but don’t judge yourself for whatever feelings you are having. Have you considered “befriending” her and bringing her to your side? Ie go to some girl stuff together etc. maybe as she gets closer to you, she can think of having a relationship with both of you together rather than just her dad. All children want is attention and love, maybe if you can bring yourself to bring that to her to a certain degree she won’t feel as starved.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well we’ve got on well over the last 3.5 years and have a good relationship. She still has to sit next to him and things but it’s never been a huge drama until now… the wedding announcement has triggered her jealousy and fear I guess and I get that. I don’t think it’s truly about “me” but it feels it x

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      1. I know for instance a friend of mine married a single mom and when he proposed to her also a little ring for the little girl so that now they are family and not left out. My mother used to be insanely jealous of my little cousin who was pretty much raised by my father and was 5 when they got married. I don’t think there’s anything with these feelings at all…but then again there’s nothing wrong with her feelings either. The only difference is that you are an adult and you can “swing” the child to your side. Maybe get a little gift for each of the children so as to celebrate with them this event. They fear and jealousy might ease. Maybe pick a special dress for her as a bridesmaid, or maybe have the kids be a special part of the ceremony kind of like bridesmaids and groomsmen to both of you…etc. How old are the other kids? Maybe write them a card about how you’re happy to be marrying their dad…or what they mean to you etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you. We have offered them to be bridesmaid and ushers but she said yes initially and then no… and now yes but that she will only get ready with them (boys) not me… and she doesn’t want to walk down the aisle either… maybe it’s time like you say x

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I forgot to mention that of course the way your father might have a lot to do with these feelings! You couldn’t pick your father, but it seems like you’ve done a good job at picking your future husband 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I completely agree with Ellen’s comment. Her sitting with him at the main table seems like a bit inappropriate to me. This day is about you and him. Not him and her. You are marrying him, she’s not marrying him. She shouldn’t have this much control over your special day. She’s an important part of it, and she can have input but not to the point where she is in control like that. I’m really I retested to see what your therapist says, I hope you can give us an update X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I mean, obviously at the top table will be some and him – then the kids and bridal party (but she has to be sitting next to him and not someone else)… so I guess it’s not wholly unreasonable? Ahh I’m more worried about my feelings of resentment and jealousy that I’m old enough to know better.

      I will sure update you though! Xx

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      1. Don’t worry about those. I have plenty of them from having a narcissistic too. They’re not going to go away overnight. I get jealous about a lot of things….honestly there’s no need to judge your own feelings. They’re you’re feelings because of what you’ve been through. My therapist told me when I judge my own feelings and resist them, they’re harder to move past!

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  4. I expected this to be way more childlike than it was! Sounds adult to me.
    I agree with Ellen’s comment. She still needs boundaries and to not be allowed to run the show! I can put myself in her place and of course it’s difficult but she can’t permanently divide the two of you! I think she needs reassurance that nothing will change in terms of him still being her father. Not to dismiss the importance and significance of you getting married but I hope you know what I mean. It doesn’t change his love for her or you. Even without a troubled past, I think that any woman would be put out by her behaviour!
    My stepmother resents the money and time my dad gives my brother and I when they’re home, but that’s because she is a gold digger who doesn’t like children!
    I like Ellen’s advice and you don’t want your fiancé falling into a trap of behaviour that he can’t break. But definitely discuss it with your T. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He’s said all that to her about nothing changing and loving us both in different ways etc… I think she’s just jealous koz there’s a lot of attention on us two at the moment with cards and balloons and stuff at home and lots of wedding chat from family. My fiancé suggested we don’t talk about the wedding on holiday so we don’t make her jealous but all that does is make me jealous lol! X

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh well apart from giving time, I’m sure what else to suggest! Long term she will have to get used to it. I can see how it would kill the engagement buzz though. I suppose the only thing you could do is to take some magazines and ask her to have a look through them with you. It’s so difficult! x

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha! No it didn’t sound like that! I can only go for the basics when it comes to parenting! 🙈 It’s a shame it has to be like this but normal too. You’ll just have to share the excitement with others until she comes round. xx

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I can see that this has probably come at a difficult age for her, when girls start to test out a more ‘womanly’ relationship with their father and in return a good father should show them safe boundaries – not ignoring or belittling, but also not being too intimate or making it feel sexual. All of that is normal, including jealousy of other women (even a mother in a happy relationship with her daughter), and the engagement is naturally going to heighten all of those tensions.

    I don’t think *your* jealousy is childish at all. The relationship you had with your own parents meant that you didn’t get any of those things yourself, and it is totally fair that now you want your turn. Plus, it sucks to have to always be the mature and rational one just because you are older and supposed to know better. Your feelings still count.

    I agree with the others that you and your finance will need to take action on this, but I think it needs to be done firmly but very kindly and sensitively, not just as a ‘laying down of the law’. Maybe the discussion that you should have with your fiance beforehand could focus on what “marriage”and “wedding” mean to each of you. To me marriage is about making a commitment to each other. Caring for the children is *part* of that commitment but should not displace it. The wedding is a public show of that commitment, a celebration of your new relationship in front of everyone and a chance for everyone to feel part of that relationship and commitment. There will be parts of the whole celebration that are particularly symbolic of this being about you + husband, and parts which are more about the sharing with a community of family and friends. I think it is important to make that distinction in terms of which bits the daughter gets to play a special role in, and that you and your finance are in agreement on that distinction. For example, the first dance at the reception is very symbolic of your being first in his life, and it would give the daughter and everyone else the wrong message if she were to intrude on that. On the other hand, her getting ready with him in the morning seems to me like a perfectly normal thing to do, because that part of the day is about being with your family of origin and sharing those last moments with them before you create your own new family.

    Nearly twelve is old enough that after you have had this discussion with your fiance, for him to have a similar discussion with his daughter and for her to understand why you are doing things a particular way and that it is not just about you as stepmother demonstrating power and control and dominance over your new family. She won’t *like* it, but hopefully she will be able to look back later and respect what you have done.

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    1. Thank you so much DV, this was a brilliant response which I’ve read a few times this morning before replying to let it all percolate a bit. Thank you for taking the time to be so detailed.

      I think that this is definitely the Electra complex at play and I fully “get it”.. I also agree with what you’ve said about my fiancé making sure he doesn’t allow her behaviour towards him to become in any way sexualised or inappropriate and he 1000% wouldn’t so that is good. What he needs to work on however is continuing to show me some affection and love around her and not being scared of upsetting her. I guess he would “rather” upset me because I am meant to be an adult and able to handle it more appropriately than her, but I still find this very hard. I think it triggers a lot of stuff for me from my childhood of being pushed aside for someone else and being made to feel that my feelings are not important so I do have some compassion for myself to a degree.

      I particularly liked this “I think it is important to make that distinction in terms of which bits the daughter gets to play a special role in, and that you and your finance are in agreement on that distinction.” Yes, you are 100% right. I like this idea, I need to express this to my fiancé and make sure he knows that I have no intention of making it 100% about us, and 0% about them/her BUT that some parts of the day are truly for husband and wife and that I want to ensure I don’t miss out on those bits. I need to tell him too that in the long run it will help her to have these distinctions.

      She starts secondary school soon and I am hoping that a year of that will help her to mature before the wedding day.. we will see. The added issue is that when she is around her cousin (one year older) she plays up even more and is quite rude to me (to everyone actually) and that cousin will be there on our wedding day too so I dread to think how she will behave… x

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      1. Maybe they’ll just hang out together at the wedding and and leave you alone 🙂

        The mention of cousins and weddings made me laugh though. At my sister’s wedding, my daughter and her cousin snuck off and decided to go wading in the shallow stream behind the church and they both have have wet hems on their dresses in the wedding photos. Luckily they were wearing washable dresses and their shoes survived ok (plus, they were only about 6 at the time so I wasn’t too cross).

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  6. Oh love I’m so sorry this is happening!

    I think any normal woman *without* your history would still have a bit of an issue with the daughter dominating his time like that when she’s round, let alone on the wedding day.

    I’m not buying her reasons about dad being sad if you separate, or rather that they are not the root cause of what’s troubling her. She must have found the break with her parents traumatic. Maybe dads relationship with daughter changed during that time, even if it was just while he was dealing with his own emotions over the split, and she was affected by it. Or perhaps dad is the better parent and she’s trying to cling onto him as much as she can because she doesn’t have him full time? Maybe she is petrified of being replaced and discarded because she sees how happy he is with you. Its totally possible for you to really get in touch with that compassion for her, without sidelining yourself or giving in to everything she wants, because her demands are just temporary fixes for underlying insecurity anyway.

    I personally don’t see any issue with her being with her dad in the morning, forget the official term bridesmaid, just consider that she’s part of the wedding party and it’s natural she’d want to be with her dad, it’s just unfortunate for this event that she was born a girl haha. Also don’t see any issue with her sitting next to him unless that causes unfairness for someone else ? As long as it’s not BETWEEN you 😬😬😬! But that’s where I’d draw the line. The need to be next to his side all day needs to be explored and addressed for this to end well. Do a mini therapy! Telling her nothing is going to change, nothing to worry about etc won’t do anything because her actual true fears haven’t been heard yet. She needs those heard and empathised with first, before offering any solutions or reassurance. Find out why she feels anxious about being away from him on the day. Maybe she needs a bit of one to one time with him now to reestablish some security with him, that she seems to be lacking for whatever reason.

    Whilst this is triggering stuff for you, I’m not sure you need the day to be about you as such, it just needs to not be dictated by daughter, and it will then be as it should be…a day that is focused on husband and wife but it still shared with everyone they love.

    Cool the daughter down and I think you will level out quite nicely 😊.

    X

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    1. Hey love. Thank you for everything you’ve said. You’ve made me feel much better as always.

      I also don’t buy her reason about worrying about him being sad and I told my fiancé this (I’m not sure he liked that!!).

      I think a lot of it is about the fact she only sees him at weekends and so she wants all of his attention and she probably hates that I get him to myself all week long and at weekends too …. having said that, this new thing has only happened since we got engaged so I do think it’s a bit of “I want to marry daddy” stuff.

      He has told her all the stuff everyone’s recommended about nothing changing and him loving us both in different ways and all that stuff. She said she knows all this …. she only seems happy when she is laying all over him or with him on her own (they do lots of things on their own like gardening and bike rides etc) but it’s almost as though she gloats at me with a look of “haha he’s mine” … its proving hard for me not to bite!

      I’ve also agreed that she can be a “bridesmaid” and yet get ready with him and not me and said she doesn’t have to walk down the aisle either. We’ve also told her she doesn’t have to be a bridesmaid but then she complains she will be left out!

      I’ve also agreed with my fiancé that she can sit next to him at the top table but I will admit to childishly feeling resentful about that…. why??? I don’t know.

      I don’t know. I have therapy in 9 mins (not that I’m sitting outside counting down the minutes or anything hah!!) so I’m hoping T will be able to help me. I came shake this feeling of embarrassment that I’m feeling so immature! Xx

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      1. I would find it hard not to bite too! I had different scenarios but resulting in similar feelings and I did bite on occasion!

        Yeah she still wants to be a bridesmaid otherwise she’s not officially in the wedding, but apart from the dress is sounds like she won’t really be a bridesmaid, but that’s obviously not her it’s working in her head. I get her thinking though.

        It seems like you might still feel resentful because I’m sensing that means she’s got one over you (and she might flash you one of those looks to cement it). And actually I would say you feel that way because that is whats happening. It sounds like she is somewhat in your place at times. There’s nothing wrong with having a hug with dad but I’d expect you to be draped all over him on the sofa, not the other way around.

        I think you’re being hard on yourself. Yes this is triggering you and making it harder to see the whole thing through adult eyes, but the balance of attention here isn’t quite right, and that would affect anyone xxx

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  7. I really feel for you in all of this. Its natural she feels insecure but her Dad needs to walk a fine line between accepting that and getting her to see she needs to have compassion for you too, as you are not an evil stepmother trying to separate them.
    From some of her actions it does sound like a power play and he needs to set a boundary with her while letting her know that the pain of grief underneath the passive aggressive stuff needs to be expressed in a healthier way. Otherwise she will develop narcissistic issue herself.
    Wishing you all the very best with a difficult situation at what is such an important time for you both.
    Deborah x.

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