“My partner has a 14-year-old daughter and over the past year, she has had to live with us because her mum has health problems and has had to isolate. I have found it increasingly difficult to cope because the girl never goes out and is hanging around us all the time.
“It’s a bit better now she’s back at school, but my partner and I can never be alone together, without her finding some thin excuse to interrupt or stay around. I know she must have found it difficult at first to adjust to her father having a new partner, but surely after a year she should have come to terms with it. I’ve tried to explain to my partner how uncomfortable this is making me, but he seems unable or unwilling to tackle it.
“Last weekend, he arranged a nice meal to celebrate the fact we’ve been together for a year, but then spoiled it by inviting his daughter to join us. Why can’t he see how important this is to me?”
“Frankly, I am amazed that you can’t see that his daughter is important too! This poor girl must be desperately anxious about her sick mother. On top of that, she’s been uprooted from her home to live with her father and a woman she doesn’t know. Whether she’s continued at the same school or had to start at a new one, she’s probably had to cope with feelings of loneliness and isolation because of all the restrictions.
“What do you expect your partner to do with her at times when you don’t want her around? Lock her in her room?
I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but I think you are the one being a bit unreasonable here. You can’t simply dismiss a child whenever you think he or she has become inconvenient.
“If you are finding it hard to have ANY privacy together, then perhaps it might be a good idea for your partner to have a chat with his daughter. She is certainly old enough to understand that couples need some privacy, but beyond that, she has as much right to be around her father as you – perhaps even more so at this present time.
“You are, potentially, her stepmother, or you could be in the future, even if you aren’t get married. If you fall for a man who has a child – then either you take that on board, or you rethink your relationship, because that child is a part of who he is and comes with the package.
Instead of trying to find ways to exclude her, could you not find ways to get closer?
“I wonder if your partner is concerned about your lack of empathy and understanding for his daughter at such a difficult time in her life. Instead of trying to find ways to exclude her, could you not find ways to get closer? For a start, you both love and care for the same man, so look for other areas of shared interest and other common grounds.
“At 14, his daughter is becoming a young woman and in a few more years she will, potentially, be moving out and making her own life. Perhaps you could consider helping to equip her with some of the skills she’ll need, especially as her mother isn’t able to do so right now. Get her involved with meal preparation and cooking; get her doing a share of general household tasks; help her to learn about budgeting and finance.
“I’m not suggesting you try to replace her mother but more like an aunt or older sister – you never know, you might even start to care about her. If you can’t adjust to these realities of family life though, perhaps you need to consider whether this is the right relationship for you.”
If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.