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My husband and I both have daughters from previous marriages. Mine are 7 & 9, and his is 10. (from this point on I will refer to them as mine as his, just to clarify without the use of names, not how we refer to them)

My daughters live with us full time, while his daughter visits every other weekend. It is the weekends where it is just myself, my husband and his daughter that we have issues, and I am the one that takes the blame.

My husband has always had problems with how his daughter is raised at his ex's house, staying up and out until 10pm on school nights, eating out at fast food or cereal for dinner are routine. Not to mention the issues he has with his ex, he and I both are very concerned that her scheming and lying will rub off on his daughter.

His attitude when his daughter visits is that he only gets to see her for such a short amount of time, it isn't worth having to scold her, punish her, or send her to her room, and he gives her a lot of slack. Mind you I said we were worried about his daughter picking up those scheming and lying ways. Well she is a VERY smart girl, and she knows exactly how to work her dad and the situation to get exactly what she wants. What gets me is that he is so smart, and observant himself but he seems to be so oblivious to what goes on.

This past weekend I had watched her complain through her meals about how full she was and couldn't eat any more, but always had room for chocolate cake. And she magically awoke with a fever and sore throat so she could lay around and watch tv and play on the computer, but had no problem finishing the bag of chips, even though she was too full to finish the soup. Needless to say after a weekend of watching this go on I couldn'e take any more and spent my time biting my lip. At one point she asked me a question and I answered rather rudely (which yes was very childish of me) which made him very upset with me.

Later that night when we finally had a moment privately to discuss, he snapped at me about how his daughter didn't deserve to be treated that way because I was upset with him and that he would never treat my girls that way if he was upset with me (which he wouldn't and never has). I had said that he had the wool pulled over his eyes and it frustrates me to no end that everything he complains about his ex doing with her, he lets her get away with the same things, and it was as clear as day why because of how manipulative she was being. Well this didn't help and just made him more upset with me.

After going out for a long drive to scream my head off in the car I came home and slept in my daughters room and we haven't spoken since.

I am at my wits end because if I don't "communicate" with him about what the problems are, I am at fault. But when I do communicate with him he acts as if I am being completely absurd and irrational.

If I don't step up and stop "creating problems" when his daughter is around, guess who gets the boot? But I absolutely cannot let this behavior continue or turn the other cheek. What am I suppose to do?
 

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You don't actually mention how you feel about this kid - which is kind of telling.

I'm not saying you are an evil stepmother.

But ... it sounds like much more of the issue is that you do not approve of her, her mother and consequently do not approve of her father's handling of her.

Neither you nor he is going to be able to have a substantial impact on this girl's behavior or character over the course of 50 - plus days out of a 365 day year. It just isn't going to happen.

You can certainly set limits and boundaries in terms of expectations and what is unacceptable - but that should be a discussion between you and your husband in terms of what those expectations and limitations should be. And he should be the enforcer, not you.

Short of the child doing something grossly inappropriate or harmful, I can't see why you would ever need or want the job of disciplinarian.

"Hate the behavior, love the child." Remember that old chesnut?

My assumption would be that your husband is fearful of further alienating his daughter (who probably isn't thrilled with the idea of being thrown in as a part-time family member to begin with) by coming across as 'bad cop' all the time.

I have a special needs child - that opens up a whole new dimension of expectations and tolerance. I can tell you in no uncertain terms, if the message I was getting from a partner or spouse that they had issues with my child or how I handled my child, I'd be none too happy either.

I can only encourage you to try to take a positive approach of addressing the concerns with your husband, and ideally at a time when his daughter isn't present.
 

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Jeez let her be. Let her eat what she wants. A child (from what doctors say and from personal experience) should NEVER be forced to eat if she doesn't want to or to finish a meal if she says she's full. It will only make her dislike food more and crave junk. So IMO she could be NOT lying because I've been there, done that. But then again I don't know her to be sure anyway.

Personally ever since I was a kid I too would get full from a meal but have enough room for cake and chips and candy. And even now as an adult I sometimes get full or "tired" or "bored" from eating my dinner and will just put it aside and find a snack lol

Also if her father complains but finds that he shouldn't scold her since she's there for a short period then let it be. Let them resolve their own issues if your husband hasn't asked you to get involved.
And yes it was wrong that you snapped at the little girl just because you were angry at her dad. It's not really her fault.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well I also didn't mention how I feel about my kids or my husband, but just because I don't say so doesn't mean I don't care about or love any of them. I'm trying to get to the crux of the situation and there are many, many details that have been left out. You would think my concern for her well-being would speak of something. But according to the advice so far I should just accept everything as it is, and be prepared to coddle her and give in when she throws a fit.

I will agree that we pretty much have to accept the way things happen at each of our respective ex's homes, but that does not mean we have to accept that behavior in our home. To allow any of our children to get away with anything that isn't appropriate only enables the child and weakens our authority as the parent.

And frankly, no, I will not let her eat what she wants. That has been the main problem up to this point and it only empowers her finicky eating habits. Its not that she can't tolerate the food, she simply chooses not too, and she knows that she can get away with it. How is it fair to the rest of the family that we tailor our eating habits to be sure that the meal accommodates her? Heck, when I was growing up I ate what was put in front of me. Sure I would complain from time to time but I would have been disowned if I treated my mom like a short-order cook and expected her to make me what I wanted.

My problem is that what WE (he and I both enforce and discipline my daughters) enforce upon my girls is much more relaxed on his daughter. When we have all of the girls at the same time, exactly how resentful do you think my girls would be, towards their step-sister or their step-father, to see that she can get away with the exact same thing that they would get scolded for?

This may seem like a minor issue, but I am looking further down the road. If she is already taking advantage of situations at the age of 10 to get what she wants, (this does not just occur with food, this tactic occurs everywhere) do you have any idea how much I fear the teenage years. It is bad enough to fear the influence that the outside world will have on your children, but its another to fear the influence of someone that lives under your own roof.

How well do you think my husband would take it if I told him that I don't want my girls to be around when his daughter is?
 

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I hope I can offer some advice. I've been through this exact situation and my husband ended up leaving because of it. I don't want that to happen to you.

I see/hear myself in what you have said. I couldnt get past what was going on. I tried talking to my husband about it, his answer was to fix it and treat her like my daughter. When I tried treating her the same as my daughter, he didnt like that either.

My kids definately saw and felt the difference and it did build some resentment up for them as well as myself.


Finally, I went directly to his daughter and let HER know how I was feeling regarding the situation. I was completely honest with her in a kind loving way. I had to win HER over to my side, putting my husband in the middle was the worst thing I did. Once I won her completely over, things became real easy. She knew what I expected from her, meal times became easy, everything became easy. If she was unsure, she came to me to ask and it made such a difference.

Unfortuanately, he left shortly thereafter.....saying I hurt him too badly. For the record, she continued to live with me for the next 9 months and today our relationship is rock solid with much love on both sides.
 

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Obviously, this has far less to do with the child than it does with the dynamic between you and your husband.

If he is unwilling to set the same expectations, and you are unwilling to tolerate the behavior, all it will do is continue to feed your resentment of this child, and his resentment of you. Nobody wins.

Can he articulate what his concern with holding her to the household standard is?

I guess I'm struggling with the behaviors you have laid out more than anything. You don't indicate cruelty, agression, bullying, disrespect or anything distinctively 'evil'. I mean, is this a good kid who spends most of her time with a lax parent?

I have been in circumstances where somebody insisted that my autistic son eats 'what is put in front of him'. They assume he's just being willful. The kid is incapable of putting anything in his mouth that he doesn't recognize or isn't familiar with. The process of introducing a new food item takes between 5 and 6 weeks.

I'm not saying your stepdaughter should be treated like a special needs kid. I guess what I'm trying to suggest is being open to changing your frame of reference in how you relate to and deal with her. Obviously, you can't deal with this kid in the exact same manner that you deal with your girls. Find a way to get on board with addressing some of the behaviors and invariably she will simply come to expect and recognize the limits and boundaries when she is with you.
 

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I completely understand what you're saying. Well as long as you AND your husband have the same rules for your own children then she should be respectful enough to obey your house rules when she comes over, at least to a certain extent, and it is her father's job to explain this to her. But you should also take into consideration that she has a different mother and she was raised differently than your daughters, and she has a different personality. She's an individual and needs an individual approach. The more you push her the more she will hate you and do the opposite of what you demand from her, and then you will end up hating her and fighting with your husband.

I guess you need to find some sort of balance, and I really can't say how because you should talk to your husband and try to explain this problem to him in a more loving manner and try to come to an agreement of some sort.

But again, don't force her or any other child to finish their meal. I am just so against forced eating since I've gone through it and it is somewhat traumatizing. There were foods that I hated to even look at until I was in my late teens because of forced eating (by grandmother).

I also think your husband will not take it well if you tell him you don't want his and your daughters to be around each other. That would mean you're not accepting his child because of her flaws. If you want her to treat and respect you the way your daughters do, then you gotta treat her the same as you do your own children.
It is the adult who has to set the example, not the other way around.

One more thing, children need to be explained things in more detail. They can't just figure it out on their own like adults do. When you tell a child that something is good or bad you need to explain WHY it is good or bad.
 

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To allow any of our children to get away with anything that isn't appropriate only enables the child and weakens our authority as the parent.

And frankly, no, I will not let her eat what she wants. That has been the main problem up to this point and it only empowers her finicky eating habits. Its not that she can't tolerate the food, she simply chooses not too, and she knows that she can get away with it. How is it fair to the rest of the family that we tailor our eating habits to be sure that the meal accommodates her? Heck, when I was growing up I ate what was put in front of me. Sure I would complain from time to time but I would have been disowned if I treated my mom like a short-order cook and expected her to make me what I wanted.
There were 5 kids in my family growing up and I was an extremely picky eater and no, my mom wasn't about to prepare special meals for me. However, she never made me eat what she cooked, I was welcome to make a sandwich or have bread, fruit, etc. (not chocolate cake and ice cream). I sense that you do not feel there is any room for compromise that will not compromise your rules/authority but will allow a little wiggle room for what she wants to eat. You might consider an alternative that works within your rules for all of the girls.
How well do you think my husband would take it if I told him that I don't want my girls to be around when his daughter is?
This is only a good idea if you are wanting to add distance and resentment to your marriage. Blended families are not easy...I'm not always thrilled with what is happening when my kids are at their dad's & it took some adjustment in our home when I remarried and probably what had the most positive impact was my relinquishing some control where it came to parenting.
 

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My husband and I both have daughters from previous marriages. Mine are 7 & 9, and his is 10. (from this point on I will refer to them as mine as his, just to clarify without the use of names, not how we refer to them)

My daughters live with us full time, while his daughter visits every other weekend. It is the weekends where it is just myself, my husband and his daughter that we have issues, and I am the one that takes the blame.

My husband has always had problems with how his daughter is raised at his ex's house, staying up and out until 10pm on school nights, eating out at fast food or cereal for dinner are routine. Not to mention the issues he has with his ex, he and I both are very concerned that her scheming and lying will rub off on his daughter.

His attitude when his daughter visits is that he only gets to see her for such a short amount of time, it isn't worth having to scold her, punish her, or send her to her room, and he gives her a lot of slack. Mind you I said we were worried about his daughter picking up those scheming and lying ways. Well she is a VERY smart girl, and she knows exactly how to work her dad and the situation to get exactly what she wants. What gets me is that he is so smart, and observant himself but he seems to be so oblivious to what goes on.

This past weekend I had watched her complain through her meals about how full she was and couldn't eat any more, but always had room for chocolate cake. And she magically awoke with a fever and sore throat so she could lay around and watch tv and play on the computer, but had no problem finishing the bag of chips, even though she was too full to finish the soup. Needless to say after a weekend of watching this go on I couldn'e take any more and spent my time biting my lip. At one point she asked me a question and I answered rather rudely (which yes was very childish of me) which made him very upset with me.

Later that night when we finally had a moment privately to discuss, he snapped at me about how his daughter didn't deserve to be treated that way because I was upset with him and that he would never treat my girls that way if he was upset with me (which he wouldn't and never has). I had said that he had the wool pulled over his eyes and it frustrates me to no end that everything he complains about his ex doing with her, he lets her get away with the same things, and it was as clear as day why because of how manipulative she was being. Well this didn't help and just made him more upset with me.

After going out for a long drive to scream my head off in the car I came home and slept in my daughters room and we haven't spoken since.

I am at my wits end because if I don't "communicate" with him about what the problems are, I am at fault. But when I do communicate with him he acts as if I am being completely absurd and irrational.

If I don't step up and stop "creating problems" when his daughter is around, guess who gets the boot? But I absolutely cannot let this behavior continue or turn the other cheek. What am I suppose to do?
It pisses me off to no end when men who have kids from previois marriages do these little things that are telling of thier gulit for not being in the home with the child and his ex. You shouldn't have to suffer the reprocussions of that. If you have certain rules at your house that your girls follow than she should too. He should be grateful that you are speaking up about this as her mother obviously is exposing her to the life of schemes and crime.

I normally wouldn't suggest abadndoning the situation but he's threatening to give you the boot so take it and run. I would have no qualms about leaving a man with a bratty daughter.
 

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There were 5 kids in my family growing up and I was an extremely picky eater and no, my mom wasn't about to prepare special meals for me. However, she never made me eat what she cooked, I was welcome to make a sandwich or have bread, fruit, etc. (not chocolate cake and ice cream). I sense that you do not feel there is any room for compromise that will not compromise your rules/authority but will allow a little wiggle room for what she wants to eat. You might consider an alternative that works within your rules for all of the girls.
I agree with Swedish - if this is your MAJOR problem with her - work a compromise. I was only 1 of 2 kids, but a picky eater. My mom didn't make me a seperate meal, or make all meals to suit me. If I didn't like it, I was welcome to go find something else I could make myself. I lived off of cereal and chicken noodle soup the majority of my childhood, and I didn't have any bad nutritional side effects. I was happy, my mom was happy, everything was kosher. Just keep some canned soup in the pantry and tell her to heat up a bowl in the microwave if she doesn't want what's for dinner.

The other thing is she might be a 'grazer' eating small amounts of food over time. I was that way as a child as well. I wouldn't eat all my dinner, but in a half hour to an hour I was ready for a snack....actually I'm still that way as an adult :). Basic point, your the adult, she's not going to work on finding a way to work with you, you have to find a way to work with her. Its not giving in. Giving in would be you fixing her an entirely different meal. Your letting her choose - your dinner, or fix something herself.
 

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:iagree::iagree::iagree::iagree::iagree:

We have seven children, a mix of his-mine-and ours and we do the exact same thing. Some are human goats and would eat anything we set in front of them including the plate. Others are picky eaters and no matter what, will complain about what we make. (Some like Italian/pasta only, some are vegetarian, and some like stir fry/Asian only). We make one meal a day for the family--dinner--and we make a nutritious meal that tries to take into account different styles and whatnot. BUT we are not short order cooks and do not make second meals; if one of the kids doesn't like that day's meal they have the option of making something on their own like a sandwich, a burger, an egg, or soup (and we keep all that in the pantry for them)--and our "family rule" is any person can have all the fruit they can eat. NO ONE can have candy, ice cream, cake etc. until they've eaten some sort of healthy "dinner" (even if it's just a big bunch of fruit and a sandwich).

That works for us and like I said, we have seven kids, two adults, some finicky eaters--some grazers--some not.
 
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