My 7 Year Old Daughter and My Fiance - FamilyEducation
My 7 Year Old Daughter and My Fiance
11/27/2009 at 15:00 PM

Hello everyone. I need advice or opinions on a situation that has been going on with my daughter for about a year. I included our history b/c I thought my current issue might have something to do with it.

History: I got pregnant my junior year of high school (in 2002, at 17) and lived with my mom and dad until 2008. My daughter's biological father sometimes comes around or calls regularly for about a month or so but often disappears for months or years at a time -- resulting in my daughter being aware of his existence but NOT AT ALL close to him. My parents were a HUGE part of my daughter's life and she is very close to them. Until 2007/2008, I acted like a typical teenager (going to college, going out with friends, and parenting on the side) and my mom and dad picked up most of my slack so my daughter could have great family support. In 2008, my mom and dad moved out of state and I transitioned into a full time single parent. My daughter and I have a typically close relationship, and our relationship has really blossomed since my parents moved away. In 2007, I became friends with my current fiance (there was absolutely no romantic relationship that my daughter was aware of). The 3 of us would sometimes hang out and go do family like activities and my daughter LOVED my fiance. She thought the world of him. In 2008, my fiance and I got officially together and in 2009 we got engaged and the 3 of us moved into a new house in 09'.

My problem: A few weeks after my fiance and I started dating (and disclosed our new relationship to my daughter), I noticed that my daughter seemed to resent my fiance. In fact, she flat out told me last year that she "doesn't like [my fiance] being my boyfriend b/c I give him all the hugs and kisses and I don't pay attention to [my daughter]." I tried to pay equal attention to both of them since then (i.e. giving her a hug before I give him a hug).Their relationship over the last year has had ups and downs, but most of all she seems to have a distaste for him. She seems like she doesn't want to show affection to him (e.g. when she is going to bed and I say "go kiss [my fiance] good night" it seems forced) and she doesn't talk to him about her day and just seems generally distant from him. But a few months ago, she was playing with him and she stopped and said, "Is it okay if I call you my dad?" (he got teary eyed). This is confusing b/c I hear her referring to my fiance as her dad to her friends but she seems embarrassed if we overhear her. When I asked her why she doesn't call him dad to his face (she calls him by his name) she said its just taking her awhile to get used to him. She also seems embarrassed if he watches her play soccer or do cheerleading (she says she doesn't want him to come to games or practices). She also said (in front of him) that she "wasn't sure" if she wanted him to come to my extended family's Thanksgiving celebration. She told him she hated him one time when they were playing around (he threw her in our family pool in a playful way). However, she is completely in love with my fiance's mother, brother and sister and their families with no problems at all.

He gets very hurt by her behavior. He told me the other night that "he can't wait to have a little girl that runs up to him and hugs him as soon as he comes home" (after she ran up to me and hugged me when I came home). He tries so hard to have a relationship with her (offering to take her places, playing with her, doing her homework with her, just trying to be her dad whenever he can). He leaves most of the discipline to me unless she really acts up (she has an awful attitude problem). He really is the best step parent anyone could ask for, and she just rejects most of his effort and I don't know why. I am worried b/c I don't want him to have a different relationship with our future children together than he does with my daughter. I don't want her to feel like the stepchild, but it seems like she doesn't want to get close to him and the result is that any relationship they could have is sabotaged.

Does anyone have any insight they can offer? This bothers me in so many ways!

Thanks for your time.

Your daughter's actions are normal considering her situation. She has little contact with her bio-dad so she does not want to get too close to another man who may, in her mind, choose to leave her. Once you are married, this may change. It is understandable that your daughter's behavior hurts your fiance. Explain to him that her behavior is a result of her past disappointments and the many changes in her life, and with understanding and patience she should come around. Your daughter will always be his step-daughter and he probably will be closer to his future children. Do what you can to include your daughter in the wedding and your future family. If and when she hurts your fiance (such as the holiday comment) tell her that is an adult decision and while she can tell you privately what she thinks one must always do ones best not to purposefully hurt one another. Don't ask your daughter to kiss your fiance or show affection. She needs to be allowed to do things like that on her own so she feels safe and secure. You are doing a good job as a parent, keep it up and patiently let your daughter come to terms with your fiance's place in your family.

To you and your fiance, "Dad" means someone you can count on. To your little girl, "Dad" is a very confusing thing. Even Grand-dad, who she has counted on for most of her life, has now moved out of state.

Thank you both for your insight!