I have been reading your blogsite. I’m so happy to have come across it, I am gaining a lot of good insights. However, I haven’t really found anything that really seems to address my personal struggle. I have been with my FDH for a few months. I am in love with him. We’re already talking marriage. However, my struggle is that I can’t seem to accept the simple fact that his daughter exists. I want absolutely nothing to do with her. I cringe when he even talks about her. I’ve put myself in counseling over this issue. I don’t necessarilly have an issue with kids and do want kids of my own eventually. However, when I think about yielding my life to include anything to do with her…I feel like I’m going to explode.
I don’t care if she likes me and I don’t care about building a relationship with her. I have stopped spending any time with her on the weekends he has her because I was having breakdowns every time I would spend any time with her at all. She is only 4, so I feel like accepting this situation would be putting my life on hold until she is graduated from high school–which is obviously a long time away. Please help if you can…I understand that I don’t have to love her…but I just need to get to the point where I can accept the fact that she exists in my life. It makes me extremely angry every time I even think about sharing my life/myself/my time/my money/my FDH with her. Have you ever had anyone feel this way before? Did they get over it or should I get out now because I’ll never change?
REPLY FROM CATHRYN
Thanks for your candor over this extreme situation. Many Stepmoms have experienced feelings of “Not liking” their stepkids at some time of another. I imagine even birth parents feel this way sometimes. What I find compelling in your story is that you are considering a life with this man even though you feel as you do about his daughter.
I am glad you are getting some therapeutic support for your reactions to his 4 year old daughter. From what I understand, this is something that speaks to your childhood and past experiences. You sound confident in your feelings about her and your intention to not be involved so I ask the question, “Why would you want to have a long term relationship with this man, given that having a daughter is not something he has control over?” To me, it is sort of like the issue of having a child (or not) in a marriage. People can love each other, but when important, unchangeable feelings crop up, sometimes it is a sign that the relationship isn’t the “best fit” for either person.
Stepkids at that age are usually very needy, very easy to distract are often just soaking up love wherever they can find it. They are also very, very intuitive (as their intellects aren’t developed yet) and so they can sense when people do not like, care about or want to be with them. Are you prepared to have a life where you step away from your home and Beloved each time his daughter is around. Are you going to ask him to deny his daughter a loving stepmother? Are you going to ask him to not talk about her or his concerned about her whenever you two are together? If any of these things are true, this feels like you two are giving up a lot before you even get started together.
To me, this is a relationship issue of great importance. Have you read any of my relationship articles? The one about “Testing and Proving Love” may have some value to you. The reality is he does have a daughter. While this is, along with his past is hard to accept, your feelings about his daughter, right from the start feel like a recipe for pain for all of you-especially after the initial “honeymoon” of a romance levels off.
It’s not bad of wrong to not like someone. We feel whatever we feel. It seems like the absoluteness or the closed door, in your mind about this young child, is not something that can be overlooked by either of you. Since I’m not a therapist, I don’t feel qualified to give you anymore advice. Let me leave you with a question or two to stimulate some thoughts or insights. Good for you for being open to working through these feelings with a trained therapist. There is much to gain from a good counselor.
Here are some questions I’d like you to consider:
Where you are in life, are you looking for the full attention of a lover so that his having a daughter feels like it is costing you some of his love and attention? If so, did this happen to you as a child, teen? Strong reactions usually indicate an unhealed wound from our childhood and is a good clue that some love and healing needs to come your way.
Is it this particular child or children in general? Sometimes when we haven’t received the love and attention we deserved as a child, it’s painful to see others get what we didn’t get. It’s painful to see today’s children get away with things we never got away with. This is common and understandable. While we can’t go back and change our childhoods, we can give the child we once were, lots of lovingkindness and attention and, over time, this loving attention can heal even the most extreme cases of abuse. If you are interested in this concept, check out the work of Dr Alice Miller, “Drama of the Gifted Child” or “Free from Lies” are two good ones to start with.
As I’m thinking about you, it feels a shame that you should have to compromise on so much of your life (and your BF so much of his) because of your feelings about his daughter. There are great joys having and sharing children, yes even with stepkids, although I understand it is very different.There are also joys with people who do not have children. Please honor you and your feelings. Nobody has to be wrong for a situation to not be right for all parties involved.
Good Luck in your process. I wish you clarity, peace of mind and happiness in whatever you choose to do going forward. Cathryn