Background: DSD is 8 and DH is CBF. I've, with both his and BM's acceptance and, in the last two years, encouragement, handled school stuff, picked her up every day, volunteered at school, signed her up for sports-- taken her, paid-- etc. I am more involved than I would ever advise someone else to be, BUT, it works for us, and my relationship with DSD has been led not only by BPs, but by DSD. I am not looking for help with my relationship with her or DH. Our dynamic works for us.
However-- we're in a unique situation right now. BM met a guy in April, married him in May, moved him and his two children into her and DSD's two bedroom apartment. DSD was sharing a bedroom with a violent little boy and an 11-year-old girl with a propensity to post string bikini selfies on Instagram. It was VERY confusing for DSD. She started crying a lot, didn't want to go over there. Didn't want to talk to her mother. Started hanging up the phone after a minute even, whether they'd finished talking or not. Just not acting like herself. I know there were issues with SF.
So this week, SF left BM. And DSD is having a hard time knowing how to react to it. She didn't like the kids or SF, but she's been TOLD she liked them and that they were brother and sister (problematic as she met them once before the wedding). She has gone back and forth between being sort of pensive and sad (normal) and being jubilant (I love my mommy so much, etc)-- neither of these things is unnatural, I wouldn't think, but neither is typical of her, either. She told me that the thing she'll miss the most is "the iPad", so I know she's not longing for deep personal connections. I know at least some of her mourning was because she was worried DH and I would get divorced ("Can I see [me, SM] EOWE when you guys get divorced?"-- DH and I have no problems at all, but she's connected that 'everyone' gets divorced.) Her mother is not super maternal-- but she actually seems to have handled this situation better than expected. She's gone out of her way to say that DH and I are "not like her and SF" etc. I've got no problems with the way she was told.
But here's the thing-- I have no IDEA what to say to DSD. There's been a lot of "what do you think?" And "how do you feel?" And trying to validate those feelings. But I also don't want to let her engage in revisionist history (For example, she said, "I'll miss having a little brother so much!" And I said, "Why?" After a few minutes of thinking she said, "I won't miss him at all.") I want her to be validated in her feelings, but I don't want to overstate the importance of this relationship-- she's seen these people a total of less than a month in her life. They were married a very short time.
I just want to know how to guide her through this time. It's kind of a tricky one. I have been encouraging of the "maybe I'll get more time with mommy" thing, because she seems to be excited by that. But there's a dark undercurrent here. She's learning some lessons we were hoping she wouldn't have to yet-- about the seriousness of choosing a partner and the illusion of security. Ugh.
Has anyone else been in this situation? Are there things I should look out for? Anything I could say to comfort her without denegrating the other household?
on Oct. 26, 2013 at 10:36 PM