Why Won’t He Introduce His Daughter?

Posted on: 28 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

The new man in Mandy’s life is reluctant to introduce his little girl to her children.

I think you are foolish to consider giving this lovely man such an ultimatum.

He clearly thinks the world of you and your children. You think the world of him. He’s proved what a fantastic father he is.

He puts his daughter first - and I think the first lesson you have to learn as a prospective step-parent is that when you get together second time round, the children arrived before the partner. They didn’t ask to be born. They deserve their parents' attention in whatever way they need it.

And this little girl needs a bit of her father to herself right now.

You both bought your children into the world and they are your responsibility at least until they are grown-up enough to make their own way in the world. Each child is an individual, with individual needs and you can't rush the kind of relationships with them as you would like to.

In your fairytale world, everyone gets along. You are the perfect step-mother. He is the perfect step-father. Your children and his will meld together with no problems as one perfect happy family, and you can all go off to the fair together, eat candy-floss and ice-cream, giggle your way round the crazy house and go home laughing.

But life isn’t like that! The crazy house isn't in a fairground. In real life, we all live in crazy houses to some degree and nothing is perfect.

His poor daughter probably has quite enough problems, living with her mother, seeing her father for two days a fortnight and no doubt having a mother who has talked badly to her about her Dad and possibly his ‘fancy woman’.

Children often have irrational fears of the unknown. She doesn’t know you. She’s an only child. The idea of meeting you and a whole brood of others, all vying for her Dad’s love, must feel quite threatening and daunting.

You sound like a kind and compassionate lady, so stop feeling so sorry for yourself over one measly weekend a fortnight, and start planning things to do with your children for when your man is not around. Have real ‘quality time’ with them.

This is not about “putting yourself down” and feeling “not good enough”. It’s about knowing how super and special and generous you are, giving the man you love the freedom to spend a little time with his daughter, knowing that when it’s over he will come straight back into your family’s arms.

Miriam Stoppard and Flora McEvedy have written a brilliant book about step parenting. The Step-Parents’ Parachute: The Four Cornerstones to Good Step-parenting is well worth reading. You can buy it on www.amazon.co.uk.

There’s also an excellent website, Forever Families, that has a special section on blending families, which is what you are so anxious to do. You will find them at www.foreverfamilies.net/xml/articles/step_stepparents_role.aspx.

This is all very new. Please, give this little girl time to come round - she will eventually I’m sure - and give the relationship time to mature. It’s all a matter of adjustment. Don’t turn up the pressure and loose the chance of happiness for the sake of a deadline. Relax! And good luck.

Andy Advises:

I am very depressed at the moment and don’t know where to turn.  I have four children.  Two of them are disabled so I have quite a lot on my plate.  The children’s father left me about five years ago and doesn’t see them.  I have no family I get on with, so I am pretty much alone and as I’m doing a full time college course in fitness training at the moment, I’m finding it hard to juggle studying, the children and keeping my home together.

Six months ago, I got talking to my friend’s brother-in-law.  We got into a relationship.  It all happened very quickly and we’ve been living together for five months.  I love him so very much.  He has a daughter and that is not a problem.  We both accepted that we both had children from previous relationships.

His daughter lives with her mother but he sees her every other weekend and she generally stays with him overnight, at his mother’s house.

At the time we got together, his family, including his father and mother, brother and sister-in-law had already planned a family holiday to Disney Land.  As it was already booked, I understood that I couldn’t go along.

However, then he said he didn’t think I ought to meet his daughter until after the holiday, just in case his ex got ‘funny’ about him having a girlfriend.  I said that I understood that too.

However, the holiday came and went and I still haven’t met her.  He went to see his daughter early the morning after he got back and he still continues to take her to his mother’s for the weekend.  He promised it would all change after the holiday, but things are exactly the same a month down the line - and I’ve tried so hard to be understanding and compassionate.

I was so looking forward to meeting her, getting to know her, introducing her to my children and then getting to do things together as one big happy family.  I love children.  I wanted to make his time with his daughter more enjoyable.  After all, he enjoys sharing the good times we have with my children.  

Yet still he carries on in the old way and I’m beginning to feel as if he doesn’t consider my children and I to be are good enough.  We are his family for 12 days out of 14, but then come the two days when he has his daughter, and then my children are “packed away in a box” and forgotten for yet another lonely weekend.  They can’t understand what is going on.  

We have spoken about this but he now says his daughter doesn’t want to come here.  My children have become very attached to this man and can’t understand why he talks about his daughter but won’t bring her round to play.

I’m fighting to hold everything together.  I’ve now given him just five weeks to sort it all out, introduce me to his daughter or go away.  I just want to include him and his daughter in my family’s life.  I don’t want to lose my man.  I just want to build a real family.  Am I right to give him an ultimatum?  What do you think?

Mandy Writes:

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