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New to being a stepmom, advice needed

12 years ago

Hi! I'm a divorced mom of 2 girls (13 and 16) who live with me fulltime. I've been dating a guy for 9 months now. He has 2 kids, boy 11, girl 8, he has them only e/o weekend (and one eve a week). We've been spending our weekends with all 4 kids together for 4 months now, at my house only (his "home" is his grandma's old house, long story - so he doesn't have a proper "home" setup like I do).

The trouble is his daughter. My girls are very active, social, lively, fun-loving, independent, confident girls who of course do older teen-type stuff, though they will play with his young girl - except for her issues. His son is a stereotypical "annoying" active boy, though he has ADHD. He is a fun, spirited boy that we enjoy having around. But his daughter is odd, to say the least. The best way I can describe her is that she acts "like a little old woman," not at all like an 8 year old. She follows us around literally on our heels, won't play with toys or entertain herself for even 20 minutes - just wants to follow us around, listening and watching our every move. She is hyper-sensitive to bumps and bruises, terrified of her dad getting hurt/criticism of him - even mild teasing - which we all do at our house to each other in a loving way. She worries about how much everything costs, asks who pays how much for everything, is fixated on time as well. She asks odd questions that seem inappropriate for her age (example: "I assume that's alcohol you're drinking?" to me as I poured myself a club soda). She is fixated on death - drew a picture of my 16 year old IN A COFFIN for Thanksgiving - which freaked my girl out. She is not at all active and resists/wants to leave when we do things we love like rollerskating, ice skating, visiting museums, family festivals, etc. The most childlike thing she does is fixate on our small dog & 2 cats to the point of obsession (she has never had any pets before, so I understand this to a point), but she stalks them, harasses them and wants us to help her walk them 5+ times a day. She is also highly manipulative regarding her dad, will lie to get out of doing things, copy us relentlessly, won't relax or be "herself" to a huge degree. Basically, not one of us 3 can relate to her, and she honestly unsettles us with her odd, adult behavior. I feel awful for saying these things, but it's true.

Part of the issue is that her dad kind of "checks out" when they are with us, so I end up doing 85% of the planning, caretaking, mealplanning, etc. I have addressed this with him, he tries a little harder, but it has gotten to the point where the 3 of us are absolutely dreading the upcoming weekend. I know this is part my fault, because I feel I allowed us to rush into blending our families too quickly - I thought his girl would "normalize" to our lifestyle and home quickly (I knew she was odd and has several issues she needs help with). His kids basically are damaged from trauma in their early lives - their mom was seriously hurt in an accident, their dad had to care for her and them at the same time, then left them as soon as she was able to manage on her own (they were in the middle of a divorce at the time of her accident, so he resumed it). He feels horribly guilty for giving them to their mom without a fight - he regrets it and is seeking visitation and custody changes, but that is going to be a dramatic battle as well. Their mom is in a new relationship - also going warp speed at the detriment of these kids and her man's - but that's another post.

Basically, I'd like to get feedback about ways to help this girl, but to know what I can and can't do/expect, etc. Their dad/my boyfriend needs to step WAY up, and I don't want to be their mom, but I don't want MY girls to suffer through these weekends any more. My girls know she is different and needs patience, but it's getting harder instead of easier. (My girls are not perfect or saints - I'd like that on record!) I also get that his girl idolizes me and my girls, because she has never seen so much love and laughter in a home. But when my girls want to hide out all weekend to avoid his girl, and I find myself barricading myself in the bathroom to escape - during an only 40 hour visit - something needs to change.

My boyfriend will be crushed and angry if I tell him we need him to stay at his not-so-homey house this weekend - but I don't know what else to do. This is causing me such anxiety as we approach Friday, that I'm seriously considering breaking it off with him, though we get along/adore each other so much in every aspect but this one. I obviously can't say something like, "I love you, but can't handle your child." (This is the first man I've been involved with who has children - I've been divorced for 11 years) Any advice will be very appreciated!

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