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Old 07-21-2014, 02:38 AM
BillNIndy BillNIndy is offline
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Default Question about parenting a poly partner's child.

So, I'm currently living with my girlfriend, "Jane". She is married to "John", but John lives in his own apartment. John and Jane lived together for 5 years prior to my relationship with Jane (monogamously). I now live here with my 17 year old daughter and her 15 year old daughter. My sons come over regularly and all of the kids get along great.

For some reason, I get resistance from building a positive relationship with my Jane's daughter, "Jill". I know her well enough to know that she's hot and cold about just about everyone she knows, but I feel as though Jill is much more "cold' with me than anything. She started out being a proud poly child once she wrapped her mind around it. She told a lot of friends at school about it and even had me and her mom host her birthday party sleepover.

However, Jill has lost some friends to polyamory. When some of her friends shared our lifestyle with their parents, they were no longer allowed to be around Jill or our household. Some of these friends were long time friends and this hurt her badly, even though she doesn't show it. She has, however, become very vocal about how much she doesn't like polyamory and wishes things could go back to the way they were before it all began.

Jill has a strong resentment for me (in my opinion) because I'm the thing that "changed" her life in the way that she no longer wants to be a part of. Jane and I are both in agreement that there is no "going back" at this point. This is how her mom, John and I live. I think another reason that Jill is resenting me is that her mom now spends 4 or 5 nights a week (depending on the week) away from home. Jill now has a new boyfriend in the picture that gets 2 nights a week as well.

I'm trying to build a relationship with Jill since we do spend so much time together and I'm trying to also co-parent Jill since Jane is not home so much and I am the only adult figure in the household. However, we've only been living here a month and I'm still not sure what my co-parenting limits are. I do know that if Jill wants to have company over or wants to go somewhere, she is to call her mother and not ask my permission because I could not give it. Jane also will not let Jill's friends spend the night unless it is on one of her nights to be home.

I feel bad for Jill. This has to be hard on her, I want her to understand that I get why she feels the way she does. But, I want her to understand that I am not going anywhere and I am here to love and support her just as much as her mom would. I just can't get close to her.

Example: Tonight, I was thinking it would be a cool little trip to go to Kings Island for a short trip (go up one night, get a hotel and go to the park all day long). Kings Island has some great discounts going on and I thought we could swing the trip financially. I asked Jill what her thoughts were of herself, her mother, myself and my daughter going on a Kings Island trip. Jill said quite bluntly, "Well, I don't know, I would rather just go with my mom."


Have any of you had to help parent a partner's child and the child was not in favor of the relationship/lifestyle choice? Has anyone experienced anything like this? I feel like I must not be the only one who has gone through this and I'm open to any suggestions as to how I can overcome Jill's resentment toward me so she can see what the true benefits of being a poly family child are.

It's quite a cool thing to have more than 2 "parent" figures that love you and you can always count on. This is my vision, anyhow.

There's many examples like what you see up there, but I feel like I "have no parenting authority".... which makes me feel like a babysitter sometimes and that frustrates me. I tell Jane that I feel that way and she thinks I don't care for or want her daughter with me when she is away from home. It's not that, I just think that she would need to give me some authority in Jill's life so that I can be respected as a "parent". If Jill knows I can't make any decisions, why would she ever respect me? She's started to push boundaries and break rules. Jane's rule is that I don't handle it, I call her and she will call Jill and take care of it. Jill says, "What, did he call and tell on me?" then she becomes more angry with me and refuses to talk to me or come out of her room.

It's funny, as I sit and write this, I think of what needs to happen, so... I'll share my thoughts and I welcome ANY AND ALL feedback.

Jane needs to spend more quantity of time at home with Jill. At least see her for some time each day. It's hard for her to go 5 days without seeing her mom. Also, I need to be given some power to do some of the parenting when Jane is away. I think that Jane should expect & trust that I would make the right choices in Jill's life knowing how her mother would handle the same situation.

Wow.. this was a novel. My apologies and my appreciation to those that actually read this and offer me some suggestions.
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Old 07-21-2014, 02:57 AM
Inyourendo Inyourendo is offline
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Sounds like Jill doesn't like you, she doesn't have to either. I would let her and her mother have quality time together and let them just enjoy outings alone. You aren't her parent so don't worry about coparenting her. Obviously if you are being left alone with hwtr and you babysit her she does have to be respectful and treat you as an authority figure. If Jane doesn't allow you to be an authority figure while babysitting then she shouldn't leave Jill in your care.
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Old 07-21-2014, 03:14 AM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
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To be frank; if I were jill, i woukd be looking at runaway options.
NOT because there is anything wrong with you.
Because a teenager whose oarent doesnt care enough to be a daily PHYSICAL presence in their life?!?

I have kids ages 23, 18,17,14,7 and grandkids ages 3,1 as well as caring for and helping to raise my sister who is 21 next month and neices who are 13, 10.

The common theme I have noticed with kids, is that THEY NEED adult reassuance that they REMAIN important, central figures in the lir caretakers lives through their teens and into their young adult years.

But especially at a time when their own interest in sexual/romantic relationships is blossoming- they are FAR too aware of undercurrents and far too UNAWARE of ramifications/implications to easily manage the emotional pitfalls of having a parent choose to leave them in the care of a new lover so that they could run off with a different lover.

Her mother needs to reassess her priorities. Her daughter needs to be in HER care. You are NOT her parent. Regardkess of your good intentions, you can't recreate the years of bonding time that comes with raising a chikd from birth.
I got my stepson when he was 18months old. He still could never get past feeling the NEED for his mothers (drug addict) acceptance/affection etc. having me as a full-time stay at home mom could not replace the need for his MOTHER.

In your case, this girl is already a teen. What you are seeking is an impossinlble task.
"Love As Thou Wilt"
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Old 07-21-2014, 04:59 AM
Oreadne Oreadne is offline
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15 year olds are kind of the worst, that age is SUPER difficult and pretty much everyone I know went through a stage of being a real pisser at that age.

I would totally agree that Jane needs to be home more and spend more time with Jill. Why is she gone so often? Unless she is working evenings that seems pretty unreasonable to me. So of course when its time to take a fun trip Jill would rather only be with her mom, because she never sees her.

I don't think you should aspire to be any sort of parent figure, and honestly at that age I doubt she has much respect for authority figures either. As a teenager I would have rebelled against that greatly, and didn't think I needed anyone parenting me at all.

You should be allowed some decision making ability in regard to how things affect you though. If Jane is gone and Jill wants to have a friend over, she should check with you, because you are the one at home. I would avoid any attempt to become a parent-figure, but you could definitely become more of a cool-respected-adult (who isn't a babysitter - because she's not a child).

I would avoid attempts to be overly-friendly because she will know that you are trying "too hard" and will push back, but just be very considerate and respectful. Teenagers don't want another person making rules for them, but they do want someone who asks their opinions, treats them with respect, and brings back their favorite kind of ice cream from the store. Imagining myself in her situation, the best thing you can do is to treat her like more of an adult than a little kid who needs babysitting.
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Old 07-21-2014, 07:47 PM
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SNeacail SNeacail is offline
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Originally Posted by BillNIndy View Post
She has, however, become very vocal about how much she doesn't like polyamory and wishes things could go back to the way they were before it all began.
Of course she does, her mom is abandoning her so she can get her rocks off!

I think another reason that Jill is resenting me is that her mom now spends 4 or 5 nights a week (depending on the week) away from home.
THIS is the main problem! Jill has been abandoned by her mother and she knows it. Anytime a parent is gone 4-5 days/nights a week kids feel abandoned and develop deep resentments. You are just the nearest target for her to lash out at.

You guys should look into some serious family counseling. Obviously your GF doesn't see that her dumping her daughter in your care so she can go "play" is a problem, and likely nothing you say to anyone will make a difference. You are NOT this girls parent and you shouldn't try to be.
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:03 PM
Inyourendo Inyourendo is offline
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if her mom is rarely ever home she should actually be living with her dad, you're virtually a stranger to this girl.
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Old 07-21-2014, 11:51 PM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Jane needs to spend more quantity of time at home with Jill. At least see her for some time each day. It's hard for her to go 5 days without seeing her mom.

Also, I need to be given some power to do some of the parenting when Jane is away.
What parenting is it that you think you have to do? It is hard to give feedback without a specific example you are struggling with.

You have direction for now. At this time, if there is a problem, KID calls Jane. Not you. It may not be the arrangement you want best but this new family life is not just about you. There are other family members.

The kid chooses to participate like mom instructs or kid chooses to work out alternative with mom. There is the is the phone. Piece of cake for you. You just remind the kid she has choices here and step out of the way. You could offer to listen if she wants to weigh out pros and cons with you or step aside and let her figure them out with her mom. It may be that mom made up this arrangement without consulting kid or you about your preferences for this time of life. Maybe that could be corrected.... Make a working agreement together instead.

Does it occur to you she acts up to GET to talk to Mom because even negative attention is better than zero? Do not get in the middle but encourage them to talk to each other and send time together more constructively instead.

I think that Jane should expect & trust that I would make the right choices in Jill's life knowing how her mother would handle the same situation.
Nope. Because you are ready to receive those roles at this time does not mean the other people are ready for you to.

That also does not really solve the main problems. Three problems that would be huge to a 15 year old alone, but she is getting them like triple whammy.
  • The child is grieving friend break ups. Those are big losses for her that she did not choose.
  • The child has had big changes in her home life with new people moving in.
  • The child is in poly hell as a result of the mother polydating. She needs time and attention with the mother. No amount of time with you makes that up. You are not her mom. Limit of the universe.

Being a kid she may act out at you for not being her mother too. Handy target. Help her to her mother if this is the case. Or her father. Make it clear you are not here to drive the kid up the wall.

You could read this article through the parent-child lens. What do you find? Jill is struggling with intrusion? Displacement?


It is not your job to solve that layer of the polymath. What you could do is encourage them to have time alone together and make the repairs required. From Jill's POV, the last thing she might want is any bf of mom's suddenly having parenting power over her. To be at the mercy of strangers? That is a breeding ground for teen resentment and rebellion there if Jane does not get a grip in this situation.

If the child is sad that her friends' parents have forbidden them to be friends with her, maybe she need space to air that out. She did not choose to poly but she is paying part of the price of admission. Life lesson --- other people prejudice/fear affecting you.

From the kid POV, poly reality for her stinks so far. She is not with dad, she barely sees dating mom, and there is this bf person (you) that is new and strange and poly sibling type people that are new and strange living here, she has lost access to friends that might have been a comforting ear.... Where is the wahoo for her? Most crap month of her life so far and she is NOT an adult with adult coping skills or benefit of adult experiences to help her get this in perspective.

The kid may take more time to adjust than an adult. Even adults come on the forum struggling with their partner polydating and feeling lost or abandoned because it is just going too fast for them. Where does this kid get her support then?

Jane could get better supporting Jill in a transition time rather than dating more people and spending her time on that. She is spreading her time thin.

Instead of solving it by you becoming more in person parent, JANE could be more in person parent than telephone parent. If the child / family needs counseling, seek it.

Respect is built up, not demanded. If you want this kid to respect you, you could start first by respecting her position right now and encouraging mother and daughter to come together to sort it out. If it is still possible book those two the trip to the island for reconnecting... Maybe that is the place to start. Show the child her need was heard. Include her in trip planning ... That is vital. Do not fob a new thing on her that she has had no choice in. So much has been things she copes with that were not her choice... Give her spaces where she CAN have some choices over.

Check in on your own kids and their adjustment to the recent changes also. Work on building your own separate relationship with your new roomie Jill after that. Super slow. Maybe frame it as respectful roomies because that you undeniably are right now. Do not rush for it to be parent-daughter. Too easy for her to insist you are NOT her dad. Cuz you are not at this time.

I do not know if my POV helps any. Hang in there.


Last edited by GalaGirl; 07-22-2014 at 01:01 AM.
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Old 07-22-2014, 08:07 PM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Hi BillNIndy,

Not to give anyone a bad time or anything, but I'm confused: If John and Jane are married, why don't they live in the same domicile?

I don't know if it's the poly, her age, or a combination of things, but it seems like Jill is losing (or has lost) her respect for the adults in her life. The problem seems to have gotten quite serious, and I think you need to get a (poly-friendly) family therapist. The therapist should talk to Jill alone, and then should talk to you and Jane. It's probably going to take quite awhile to fix this problem.

To me it's crazy the amount of time Jane is spending away from home, as it's obvious that Jill desperately needs her right now. And you are in a really shitty position, because I don't think you can be an authority (let alone parental) figure towards Jill. Jill will fight you tooth and nail if you try it. At her age, you need to address her as if she was an adult, as much you can.

I feel like Jane should sacrifice most of her poly life she wants for the next five years, so that she can be there for Jill and try to make up for some of the damage that has been done. (It's probably okay for you to stay in the picture as long as you can maintain somewhat of a low profile.) Once Jill is fully grown and lives in her own place, then Jane can resume her 4-5 days away a week routine.

The others have given good observations and advice, and I'm in agreement with them. Handle this situation with great care as things are teetering on the edge of Really Bad Things Happening. On top of everything else, Jill is probably hurting deep inside, and is trying to put up a tough exterior to protect herself. So many things could go wrong (read: get worse) here.

Sorry you're stuck in the middle of this.
Kevin T.
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"
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Old 07-22-2014, 08:22 PM
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YouAreHere YouAreHere is offline
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When does Jill spend time with her father?

Assuming that relationship hasn't gone downhill, she already HAS a father, was raised by him, and there is no making that emotional connection for yourself. You will have to find what works for you (if anything), and it seems to me that Jane realizes this.

If that relationship HAS gone downhill, and now Jane is away around 5 nights per week? Jill now effectively only has one parent, and even that is on the equivalent of two days per week. Of course she's going to be upset. She's feeling a void that you can't fill.
Dramatis personae:
Me: 47/F, Monogamish? Divorced with 2 kids, 2 cats, a tarantula, and a 1930s house with many projects.
Chops: 48/M, Partner of 7 years.
Spinner: 53/M, Friend I went on a couple dates with. Divorced, Mono, "just friends".
Xena: 48/F, Chops' partner of 7 years
Curls: 51/F, Chops' partner of 2 years

Supporting Characters:
Choplet: Chops' son
DanceGirl: My oldest daughter
Pokégirl: My youngest daughter
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