leca1959's picture
leca1959

I'm the fiance' of a Dad with a 14 yr old girlie....*sigh*...

Hi,

The man I've been seeing for just over 5 years now, and whom I love very much, has a 14 year old daughter. Since we lived about 3 and a half hours apart, we kept our relationship rather long-distance for the first 4 years. I have been "living with" him for just over a year now. He shares custody of his girlie with her mother, two weeks at dad's house, then two weeks at mom's house. Don't ask me to explain how I feel about that...*sigh*... this kidlet doesn't know where to refer to when someone mentions "home".

But that's a whole 'nother ball of wax.

Cindy (not daughter's real name) is almost 15 now.  I met her when she was 9. Before I even met her, I was warned by her dad's parents, sister, and a couple of his friends about some of her "behavioral issues". By the time this little girlie was 9 years old, she already had a well-established reputation as a picky eater and a person of moods. It seemed everyone was always catering to her any time she would act upset when she didn't get her way. It was as though everyone was afraid of her. I was also told that I should not be worried if she and I didn't hit if off for a while, that she was quiet and shy around people she didn't know. As it turned out, she and I hit it off right off the bat, to everyone's amazement. She was (and still is) just a normal kid with way too many people catering to her every whim, out of fear of upsetting her.

I've been around kidlets all my life, in one form or another. I've worked with kidlets for quite a few years in classroom settings, I have one of my own (he's grown now with two girlies of his own), and I durn near raised four of his friends. This was not my first trip to the "kidlet" rodeo.

I could see, even then, the probable problems that would be coming about in the future, particularly as she entered her teens. However, my naiveté jumped in here, and I walked right on in to this relationship anyway. I guess I thought maybe I could help? Dad has never been around kidlets much before, and he's rather a “loner” in some ways, so he's not got a lot of experience to draw from on raising a kidlet.

Here's where my naiveté comes in...

I guess I thought I could be of some help to him with her. He seemed to really want my imput on one hand, but only as long as it coincided with what he decided he was going to do any time an issue arose. He realllllly loves his girlie!! It's one of the things that I most admired about him from the very beginning. He is such a wonderful person too. But he is scared silly of this kidlet, and has been from the beginning.

He loves her so much and he's so afraid that if he goes against anything regarding her or what she wants, that she'll decide to go live with her mother. What a weapon he's handed her!! And at such a young age! And trust me when I tell you, she's quite aware of the power she has. How could she NOT be... since she's been developing it for many years now. Her parents divorced when she was five years old and, as mentioned before, when I met her at 9 years old, she had an already thoroughly established reputation for getting what she wanted or getting upset and making everyone else’s lives difficult.

For example, and this is no exaggeration, when we went to the Outback for dinner on a gift $50 gift certificate from Dad's parents for his birthday, "Cindy" ordered a $26 filet mignon. Then, she only ate half of it. Dad was upset about it and we talked a little about it when "Cindy" went to the restroom, but all he said when she came back was, "I guess she can take it home and we can use the leftovers to make a quesadilla."

I was floored. This girlie was only 10 at the time, and everyone already knew well that she would only eat certain things and nothing else. And they all allowed this behavior! Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident either. I heard about and saw for myself, several incidents of this same kind of behavior.  What "Cindy" wanted, "Cindy" got". No one wanted her to be upset and get mad at them. She does an excellent "look" and she's great at the silent treatment. She tried those on me a couple of times at the beginning, but doesn’t try it much anymore since I started laughing and told her that her face was going to stick like that if she kept that up! One time I even ran and got a mirror as I was laughing. I held it up and told her she just HAD to get a look at what I was seeing! It would crack her up!! She finds it difficult to maintain her mad with me, because I am not going to give in to it, and she knows it. She knows exactly how far she can go with me before I step on her little head.

You have to understand, there's more to our relationship than you know. She and I get along wonderfully most of the time! We always have. She leans her head on my shoulder or loops her arm through mine, even with her parents there.  We go places together at times, just the two of us, like Walmart or, over holidays, to the mall or out to lunch. She's always got her arm through mine. We have good talks too. I am the one she came to when she thought she was starting her period. I'm also the one who taught her how to use tampons lol. We talk about boys, and all kinds of stuff. We're good friends.
She really is a neat kid underneath that “princess” robe.

I guess my point is, we get along just fine! Pretty great even! Until the parents come into the picture anyway... then she reverts back to her "princess" role. Dad allows it, and I want to smack 'em both upside the head!  And now that she's almost 15, she's about perfected that "princess" role too.

Make no mistake here, I am so NOT the perfect mother…not by a long shot. I’ve made mistakes too, and I’m sure I will make many more before I get out of this world. But I just feel that we all need a little help sometimes when we’re dealing with a situation we’ve not dealt with before and raising a kidlet is a hair-raising responsibility at best, even under the best of circumstances. But I’ve been around kidlets for so long and, although that doesn’t make me an expert by any means, it does mean that, sometimes, I might have something to say that might be worth hearing. And above all, I know I have only the kidlet’s best interests at heart. I love her and I want her to realize her full potential and be the best person I know her to be! I’ve SEEN her at her best. It’s an awesome thing…. But she’s not my daughter, it’s not my responsibility, and when I interfere…. Well, I’m just interfering.

My problem is that I am finding it more and more difficult as time goes on, to keep my yap shut. I try to stay out of it between her dad and her but, with my kidlet background being what it is.... sometimes I open my yap anyway. Like when dad has told her to do the dishes, and she tells him she will....later... and he lets her get by with that! Then, two hours later, she's gone to bed, dishes aren't done and dad's in the kitchen getting started on them. I'm sorry, but every once in a while, I just can't NOT say something, even though I know it's just going to irritate dad. Because, once he takes up her slack, I’m the one who’s made out to be the “bad guy” because I was the one who was making her do her chores or follow the  ground rules dad had set down. I’ll say something like, “why are you doing the kidlet’s chores?” and he’ll heave the deep sigh and, of course, nothing is accomplished except that I’ve interfered and I’m the bad guy once again. When really all I’m trying to do is support him in the decisions he’s made concerning her responsibilities at home.

I can even understand why he feels the way he does, to a point anyway…. He doesn't want to say anything to her, he's very non-confrontational, and that coupled with the fear of her being upset with him or losing her, keeps him giving in to her moods so much of the time. He'll keep it in for a long time, but he knows he should be saying something to her, and he knows I'm seeing all this. So, when it stacks up some, then he gets ticked at her and lets her have it. I don't agree with that either.... kids need consistency.

I also do not hold this girlie responsible for her behavioral issues either. These are habits she's developed because of lack of parental intervention. It's not up to her to raise herself and teach herself responsibility, respect, consideration for others, and the value of a dollar. That's the responsibility of the adults in her life. Any 14 year old is going to take advantage of any opportunities that are set right in front of them, and you can't blame them for that.

Sooo........ as the situation escalates, and my employment here has come to an end, I find myself making the decision to remove myself from the situation. I am going back home to my house which is about three and a half hours away. I know that if I stay here with the situation as it is, I will only create problems for myself and dad. I know me and my mouth, I won't be able to keep quiet all the time as I probably should, and for three and a half more years yet! There's no way I can see that happening...

Some people can do that...but being a mom, and a surrogate mom of sorts to my sons friends, and having worked with kidlets for so many years in a classroom setting...I'm used to jumping right on in and dealing with issues as they arise. This approach, however, does not work with dad and me and the girlie. And I do not want to be the person who causes a rift between dad and his kidlet. Hence the decision to remove myself now, before it really gets going around here.

I guess I'm looking for some kind of validation for my decision. There's really no one else, around here that I can talk to about all this. I have a couple of friends (older women and moms themselves who live near me three and a half hours from here) who totally think I'm doing the right thing by removing myself from this situation. Both have been through their own versions of similar situations, and neither sees a happy ending any time soon for any of us.  However, I also know that this is hurting dad, and it's breaking my heart.

My friends remind me that I knew this was going to happen before I ever stepped into this relationship and that I was going to have to deal with it sooner or later. Unfortunately, "sooner or later" got here sooner than I'd expected. Or maybe I was just hoping it'd never get here at all....*sigh*.... See? There's that naiveté coming through loud and clear again.

I am so worried about dad though. I love him so very much. I guess you could say though that, in this case, I love him enough to leave. It's not that I want the relationship to end either! I don't want to lose him. I just know that I cannot go through the next three and a half years in that kind of atmosphere. We would end up apart anyway, only on much harsher terms.

So I've made the decision, even though I know it will be so hard on us to go back to the long-distance relationship thing. I feel that if we have any chance at all to make it later on; it'll only happen if I bow out now.

He knows it's true, and he knows there's really no other way to deal with this situation.  But it's breaking our hearts anyway.

I know this is long, but there aren't any others here in this situation, to talk to.... any advice?



tamz's picture
tamz

Well, it seems you knew what you were getting into before you took the leap. Not only did friends and family members warn you but your boyfriend as well. In spite of being "Niave" I bet you could imagine something like this happening when you ventured on. It is my opinion that you should move out. Not only could you establish peace in your own home, but you could give your bf a wake up call. It is not healthy for him to serve his daughter this way. It's a disservice to her more than help. Also with you not living there, maybe you and the daughter can start fresh on your relationship and she will feel less threatened. I always want to be an advocate for the kids, but you deserve harmony & respect in your life so go get it sister!

leca1959's picture
leca1959

Thanks for the reply tamz, I do appreciate it very much. I wish there was an easier solution to this dilemma, one that wouldn't consitute me being the only person to make the sacrifice or be the one to "endure the difficulties", but I can't seem to find one. I also feel that, in a way, I am seeing the demise of my relationship with dad coming at me in the distance. It's going to be quite some time before we can get to a point where we work on what we'd hoped would be our future. I can't help but wonder who we'll be by then and if we'll even have a future to work towards anymore. Time and distance have a way of dulling our senses and emotions.
As they say, life goes on.... but it breaks my heart that it has to be this way...

AngieMama804's picture
AngieMama804

Hey,
I just read your dilemma and I hope you don't mind my thoughts.... I think, being that you have established such a great relationship with his daughter, that you should sit down with her for a heart to heart. You have become a part of her life and leaving will affect her dramtically. You are probably the only stability she has in her life right now (not to put pressure on you), so be honest with her. Tell her that you feel like she manipulates her parents because she wants them to feel guilty about splitting up. Tell her it's normal to feel that way, but that she needs to learn how to compromise with people. Honestly, if she doesn't learn that skill now, how will she be able to have a love relationships of her own someday. Or a relationship with her own children someday? Tell her that you know it's not your place to interfere but that you care about her and not interferring would be impossible for you because you care so much about her. Explain to her that you feel like if you stay and marry her Dad you're afraid this may eventually end your relationship with him if not now, eventually. See if she'd be willing to sit down with both of you and come to some kind of agreement with what's expected of her (chores, behavior, etc.) I bet she cares and loves you enough to try to make it work if she thought she was going to lose you. Maybe even some professional family counseling. No, blaming of course, just resolving issues.
Good luck!.................~Angie~
P.S. See my post! You said you had a lot of kidlet experience...HELP :)
Where are you from? I've never heard the word kidlet? It's cute.

Ranger Dad's picture
Ranger Dad

If you love this man, then give him a chance to do the right thing. Tell him you do not want to live in an environment where everyone is not respected. You can not count on the girl to change her behavior at the thought of losing you. Her father needs to set expectations for her, she won't just start treating him with respect because you asked her to. She has been doing this for so long that it is how her relationship works with her father. He has taught her how to get things from him and that is by holding him hostage. He has to demand respect or things won't change. If he can not do this, her behavior will remain the same. I think you should try to help him understand that he is hurting his daughter. Then if he does not want to change things then leave. Its not healthy for you to stay and be frustrated watching them BOTH do an injustice to each other.

tamz's picture
tamz

Would you feel comfortable sharing this thread with your fiance? Maybe that would be a good way to start the dialog. He should know that you are considering moving out anyway...

leca1959's picture
leca1959

Hi all,
And thank you so much for your replies and advice. Dad & I have talked about this situation and we absolutely talked about my leaving the house. I know he's not happy about it. But I also know that (in a way) it's going to be a relief for him. I've seen hints of resentment when I've said anything, along with those sighs. I've mentioned the feelings of resentment, and he's not denied them. And, to be honest, I have some occasional resentments of my own. It's not easy for me to watch him let me be the bad guy.
In a way, I guess I feel kind of let down by him, these are supposed to be the rules of his house, after all. And I was trying to back him up, to show a united front for the girlie.
Unfortunately, there have been enough of these types of incidents now, that I think the kidlet has figured it all out because, where before she wouldn't defy quite as much with me in the room or with me personally, she's gotten more outspoken in the last few months. And there's nothing I can do. It's not up to me to follow through with discipline for her, or to teach her respect for herself or others. I've tried to help, but as I mentioned before, my efforts are met with sighs and resentment...I'm interfering.
I don't see the situation getting better any time soon and I know my own limitations.
I do love dad, and I do love the kidlet, but I've got to take care of me too here. I feel very much "out of the loop" here and have for some time now, especially with this situation.
The only conclusion I can come to that will bring about the most peace for those involved, is to leave.
Please know that I have made the effort but, as the song goes..."you've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em"..... and it's time to let go.
But it still hurts so much...

leca1959's picture
leca1959

Hi AngieMama8,
I am so very new to all this, but you asked if I'd read your post.... how do I get to it? I'd be happy to read it, I can't honestly say I'd be the best person to offer advice at this point though but, sometimes, it's easier to be the person on the outside looking in. Actually, I think it's pretty much ALWAYS easier to be on the outside looking in....
But if you can tell me how to get to your post, I'd be happy to read it.
Good luck to you and thank you for your words. I do appreciate them.
:)

Desperado's picture
Desperado

Hi, I just want to let you know that the dilemma does not necessarily end when they turn 18 - I have a stepdaughter and she just turned 20, she still uses the manipulation tactic and unfortunately still works to get whatever she wants from my husband. I don't have a kid of my own - and it is a roller coaster ride for 5 years now. First from being excited to meet her - then trying so hard - understanding, tolerance and now I gave up, and the only feeling remaining is resentment... It's sad and the worst thing my husband does not even notice, I keep my mouth shut thinking I don't have the right. What else can I do... sigh... yes I know how you feel