13 answers

Need Help with Relationship Between Step Dad and Daughter

I need some ideas for my husband to be able to bond better with my six year old. We have been together for 3yrs, and some days things are fine and others are not. Here is some back ground to better understand the situation: Her father and me were together for 5yrs 3 of which she was alive for. I moved out a week before mothers day with her when she was 3. Her dad is one of those guys that gets back at you were it will hurt you the most. So he went to the courts and made up some story about me beating her and got full custody of her the Friday before mothers day where i could only see her twice a week with somebody there. When i got to go to court to tell my story it got thrown out and now we have joint custody. I got with my husband about 6 months after all this happened. At first everything was great, but then her dad started bring girls into her life and then they would leave and she wouldn't know why. That is when the problems started. I have tried letting them have there time together so that can bond and that works for a little while until she goes back her dads and then it is like we have to start all over again. I have tried to get her dad on the same page as us but he wants nothing to do with it. I am about out of answers. I just wish i knew what is going on in her little head. We have sat her down and told her that my Husband is not replacing her dad nor would he want to. We have also not pushed what she calls him. She has asked me many of times if she has to call him dad and I told her that she did not but if she wanted to she could. If anybody has any advice I would appreciate. Thanks

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

SOunds like the 6yr old could benefit from some counseling? Maybe there is a group of kids at school going through the same thing?

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I raised 3 kids with a step-father and they all had good relationships with him as kids, as teenagers, it has been a mixed bag - but I think things will settle again after the turbulent teen years. Relationships do change and evolve over time, so be patient. The book "Mom's House, Dad's House" was a big help for us, as was some counseling. The counselor helped us identify what were issues we needed to address with the ex, and more importantly, what to ignore. As awful as the ex may be, never denegrate him in front of your daughter. If she reports things that are not true, say "I don't know why your father would say that, my memory (or my understanding) is ..." and if she wants to report issues with her dad (as long as it is not abusive) say "that is between you and your dad" or "that sounds like something you need to talk to your dad about". Keep all communications with the dad brief and business like. All of this is incredibly difficult - it is difficult to resist the temptation to counter any comments the ex may make about you, it is difficult to resist the urge to tell her your side of the story. Just have confidence that over time your relationship, and your husband's relationship, will be based on her experience with you, NOT anything her dad is saying/doing.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.:

It sounds to me that your little girl is scared, confused and caught in the middle of drama orhcestrated between her parents (namely her father).

Unfortunately, the best thing you can do for her is to be kind and gentle to her always. You should place a photo of her Dad and her in her room and a photo of you and her in her room too. Make sure you send a message to her that both of you LOVE HER! She needs to know that her family still exists. Also, tell her no matter who she sees her father with or how many "visitors" he has, that YOU are her mother--first, last, always.

Second, write her father a note (without emotion) as to your inerests for your daughter and how you hope he can mimick this in his home to bring some stability to her young life thus far. Ask him to place a photo of "you and her" and "Him and her" so she can see this in his home too. It will reaffirm some stability to her that you both love her and no one blames her for the separation.

Third, for your new husband and her not to bond before the marriage is a real problem for me. How long were you divorced from her father before you got involved with the new man. Not to sound like I'm being judgmental but your new husband and her should have had a good relationship and bond before you married so that you would know wether or not getting married was the best thing at that time. This alone is another issue that requires patience.

Lastly, try a family therapist or a group session of divorced moms and children on a weekly basis. Buy some books and read with her. That is together time with just you and her sharing with each other through books. Buy books that relate to little girl things, to moms, daughters, dads, and other kid interests. She will trust you more and may begin opening up to you about her fears. Spend more one on one time with her and then include the stepdad with the two of you. Go bowling, to chuckee cheese, to the park (if it is warm) but be with them. It will take time and patience on your end and the stepdad too but your daughter is worth it, isn't she?

I hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.,

I am writing as someone who has been in somewhat the same situation as you. My daughters father lives in a different state and blah..blah..blah. I am not going to bore you with the details. I met my now husband when she was 6. She is almost 13 now. And we have had our moments don't get me wrong. But when she is talking about him, it's let me ask my dad. When she talks to him it's by his name. He teaches her all kinds of things. Sure, we have attitudes and things. But there is one thing she has never said is that "you're not my dad." She might think it some days when she does not get what she wants. He takes her places on the weekend. When he talks about her or introduces her to new people he says "this is my daughter....". It's great for me to hear that. We have been together since 02 married in 05.

When we got married, my daughter went running to him crying and giving him hugs and said to him "you're my dad now". They had a dance together at my wedding. Kind of like a father-daughter dance, they danced to "In my daughters eyes, by Martina McBride"

For the most part, they have a great realationship. But it is learning a lesson process with both sides. Him coming into a family already and her being introduced to a man. So, just remember, it's all about her. It has taken a long time to put the past behind me and it not even close to being easy that is for sure.

As long as your husband is there for her, she will remember that in the long run. Your daughter is taking all of this in and storing it in her brain. I never said anything bad about her father, even though I wanted to. I want her to have her own feelings. I am there when he breaks his promises to pick up the peices and so is my husband.

I hope everything goes well for you. Good luck with that.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't have any children, but I am the only child of my parents, who married other people. I can tell you in one word how your daughter is feeling confused. Like any child in this situation, her relationship with her father is being interrupted by strange women. It's already difficult enough adjusting to the idea of having your parents in two different places without having to deal with them seeing other people.

This process can be less painful and confusing if a few things happen:
1) You and your husband should continue to stay consistent with your love, protection and discipline with her.

2) Try having your husband talk to your ex to build a relationship in the interest of the child. This may be difficult at first, but it is possible. Sometimes, guys respond better to other guys. When the two of them form that relationship, your husband can relate to him how you're trying to raise your daughter and how much better it would be of he enforced the same rules.

3) Allow your daughter the opportunity to express her feelings to you, even if she is not able to relate them fully, reassure her that you are here for her and that no matter what she says or does, you will always love her.

Presuming she is in school, many schools have a program called "Rainbows" that helps children deal with the effects of divorce/remarriage/etc. If not, I would see if the social worker at her school could work with her. Sometimes an objective adult can get info out of children much better than their own parents. It sounds counterintuitive but true.

hey girl, I'm glad to hear the court thing worked out. Kids are fennicky as well as volunnerable, oh and need i say perceptive. you may want to in a nice way let ex know how his dating decissions is having an effect on you two's daughter. (be nice).also keep in mind that your not telling him how to live or how to run his house. The child is looking for stability and hey you may just be the parent who can give her that. don't force your liking on to your child, these things take time. Patience tolerance and understanding. she may think he'll be leaving too and dosen't want to get attached. And what does hubby have to say about all this anyway? you didn't mention how he's feeling. Could it just be you? Any time you want to know what's going on with your child then just ask them how they feel, they like that. This is what works for me, i would take them somewhere relaxing or fun (their favorite spot)and while you all are doing your thing start asking little questions about what they think, no, whats their oppinion on something, or how a situation makes them feel and don't comment just say " oh , that's in teresting,or, thank you for your honesty, and an even better one " I love it when you tell me how you feel".

SOunds like the 6yr old could benefit from some counseling? Maybe there is a group of kids at school going through the same thing?

I have no experience whatsoever to be able to give you advice on what you could do. But I did see in your little bio about you that you have another 18 month old daughter. So that means, you became pregnant with your second child when your older daughter was younger than 4. Do you think any issues or insecurities could stem from the fact that you have anothe r child with your second husband? I don't know if you've considered it. But, I know, with my two children, my daughter did go through a period of insecurity and jealousy after my son was born - it wasn't right after, but it developed when he was about 6 to 8 months old (both have the same father). Subconciously, she might think your husband would only love your second daughter. I don't know if your first husband would ever feed those kinds of ideas into her head. Good luck.

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