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Rafael M.T.Therapist
Rafael M.T.Therapist, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 3191
Experience:  MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
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My boyfriend has moved into my house with his 13 year old daughter,

Customer Question

My boyfriend has moved into my house with his 13 year old daughter, who he has been looking after for 5 years after her Mother passed away. I have a daughter the same age, they have been friends since nursery. The trouble is, he has brought his daughter up with his set of rules (which was basically letting her do what she wants), I have brought mine up a little more stricter, if you like. My daughter knows my rules and abides by them, his daughter pushes the boundaries and naturally my daughter will tell me when she feels his daughter is behaving in an inappropriate way (e.g. boys and bad language). This is causing my boyfriend and I to argue over it and obviously we both think eachother's daughter is in the wrong. Please help.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 3 years ago.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I am very sorry to know about this very frustrating and concerning situation.

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

I'm at a loss. It has got to the stage where I no longer want to be in my own house when she is here.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

The core issue perpetuating this overwhelming situation is not about your daughters, but about the lack of agreement between you as parents about what is the most assertive and healthiest, aceptable parenting and set of rules and discipline you need to implement at home.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

When you decided to live together and join both families, you committed to work on being a real team, where mutual respect, understanding, affection and support were going to be at the core of your relationship.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

common sense could easily show that allowing a child do as she wants is unhealthy and unacceptable, and to set different rules and benefits to tow children at home could never work nor promote their healthy development and growth.

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

Yes that is what I thought it would be like. I've brought my two children up on my own for nearly 8 years and my rules have always worked. I'm not an overly strict parent, but I need things doing a certain way as this has always worked for us.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

If your partner seems unable and / or unwilling to understand or distinguish what is healthy from what is destructive, then I believe you would need to get a marriage therapist to facilitate this dialogue, and support you assessing how sound and acceptable if each one of your positions, in order for both of you to commit to work on exclusively one approach for both children, since there is no other way your relationship and family could growth as a healthy and fulfilling unit.

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

I'm thinking maybe she might need counselling because she hasn't dealt with her Mother's death.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Absolutely, both , healthy discipline and affection are essential, no extremes, no codependency, no tolerance to what is disrespectful, abusive or neglectful, and calling names , using bad words and not taking full responsibilities for their own actions is juts unacceptable.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I totally agree with you, and I do also believe he is the one who needs psychotherapy the most, since he is the adult here, the parent and obviously does not seem to even acknowledge the core serious issues here and the deficiencies in his parenting style.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

You need to work on developing an open, honest, respectful and supporting communication, in order to promote your relationship health and integrity and to be able to raise yoru children in healthy ways, otherwise they would suffer a lot, their personalities would get distorted as well as the lives they shape as adults based on what you offer them now.

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

So if I feel a certain type of behaviour is unacceptable, I tell my partner. It's been a while now and she is still not adhering to the rules. I couldn't send my daughter to school the other day because she was so upset at what his daughter had said to her. I think she resents me in a way for taking her Dad away from her, but we all sat down and spoke at length about moving in together and they were all for it.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

May times single parents try to compensate painful life experiences like divorce, separation, marital conflict , abandonment or the loss of the other parent spoiling or not proving healthy limits and discipline to their children, and what they end doing is exactly the opposite of their original intention, they truly damage instead of helping their children, an dit is very sad and unacceptable, but unhappily happens a lot.

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

So where do we go from here as this is the only thing we disagree on?

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

And additionally, her mother's mother interferes alot, spoiling and running us down.

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

*spoiling her

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Yes, any issue around her behavior must be directly addressed and discussed with him, and form there, after a clear agreement both should implement and enforce the very same discipline to all your children without exception, otherwise it would not work but create destructive conflict and really hurt them.

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

So how do we deal with him saying my daughter is telling tales on his daughter and trying to get her into trouble? I want to know (and I think HE should) if she is acting inappropriately?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Then you both need to confront her behaviors and make it clear it is unacceptable for her to damage her that way and to be this disrespectful or abusive towards you. Nobody has the right to damage a child, under any circumstance and spoiling is many times even worse than abuse.

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

I agree with that. I also understand that she may resent my daughter for having a Mum and a Dad when she has only got her Dad.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

What if you record them, make audio an video recordings or them, in that way it would not be anybody's word about what happened by concrete facts that would show reality. I think your approach should be focused on assessing concrete behaviors and attitudes, words and what they create in time. facts and consequences would show who is being honest and respectful and who is manipulative and dysfunctional, that each parent must take full responsibility for enabling , allowing or nor providing adequate parenting, and change his/her ways. This way you would work with your child, for her to take full responsibility for her own words, actions and reactions, knowing that you would be fair and that any wrong doing of her sister would become obvious, so to trust you.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

That makes perfect sense, then she requires extra support and understanding, but not codependent tolerance and enabling of what is unhealthy and unacceptable.

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

Someone suggested letting his daughter "get on with it" and then if something bad does happen then be it on his head, because to be honest this whole situation is making me ill.

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

I'm naturally protective over my daughter, I know what young girls/boys can be like, I was one. And I'm enforcing it on his daughter also, because I want her to be safe. I can't help it.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I would never recommend anybody in your shoes allowing or tolerating any unacceptable behavior, since it would enable them even more. Setting healthy boundaries and limits after confronting destructive behaviors and consistently implementing rules is the way to go whenever we talk about healthy parenting. If she does choose not to change and he shows no accountability now, then as soon as more obvious consequences or evidence appear, he must take full responsibility for it, otherwise you would just feel more overwhelmed by it and you daughter would suffer the consequences too.

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

Do you think think then that I should let HIM take responsibility for His daughter and I just look out for mine?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Both of you should take responsibility for both of them, sine you are a couple, on family, but if he refuses to work on being truly accountable and assertive setting healthy limits and boundaries and implementing healthy rules, then he would have to take exclusive full responsibility for her and the consequences of her actions, then you would have to reassess your reality and see from those consequences how dysfunctional or not his parental approach and her behaviors happen to be. Then depending on what he chooses to do about it, you would reevaluate what you are truly willing to afford or not , taking into account your personal and your children's well-being.

JACUSTOMER-a7w0jq3r- :

* SIGH *

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

This is not easy at all but tough, it is real and there is no option but to cope with it as good as you can, hoping your partner does the same for your relationship and family to growth and become a truly happy, strong and fulfilling one.

Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 3 years ago.
Rafael M.T.Therapist says:
5:35 PM
This is not easy at all but tough, it is real and there is no option but to cope with it as good as you can, hoping your partner does the same for your relationship and family to growth and become a truly happy, strong and fulfilling one.

I truly hope you both could work on this challenging situation with adequate professional support you need, to get the harmony and well-being you all deserve. Please do not forget to rate support session, otherwise website would not compensate me with a percentage of what you paid for service. Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

How do I explain this to my daughter's Dad? I feel I will be blamed.

Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 3 years ago.
You could and should only take responsibility for what depends on you. The plan is for you to work on this issue with your boyfriend and get into an agreement for him to take full responsibility for his daughter's behavior, giving her the chance to show she is in fact respectful, responsible and healthy; while you do make sure your daughter does the same. After a specific period of time, like 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the concrete behaviors and situations you experience, you would meet and assess what happened, how well this plan worked and what changes are necessary in your parental agreement-strategies and take consistent and responsible actions from there.

This approach should never imply allowing or tolerating any form of mistreatment , disrespect or abuse by his daughter, that's why you need to be very alert and cautious, monitoring what happens there in order to intervene as soon as any episode arises with your boyfriend's support.

If you approach it this way you should not feel guilty nor be blames at all , since you would be taking good care of your daughter as a responsible parent, while working on adjusting this transition with your boyfriend sand his daughter. In case you and your daughter do your best and your boyfriend and her daughter show inability or unwillingness to respect you and be responsible, then you would have to seriously reassess what you are willing to afford here, since at that point, you would have certainty of the core issues limiting your chances to build a healthy relationship and family together.

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