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Boyfriend's Daughter's Strange Behavior

Question:

I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 3 years. With that being said, let me tell my tale.

His daughter is 10 and she lives with my boyfriend full time. Her mom lives out of state and only sees her on holidays. They divorced about 3 years ago. The daughter lived with mom for a year and begged to move back with dad. His daughter is unusually clingy. No one can get near dad or have a conversation without her standing by. My boyfriend has no adult relationships with anyone. The few he did have she acted as if they were her friends.

We separated a few times because it became too tough for me to deal. Recently, went on a vacation to Disney World with my family and nobody could talk to him or get near him with out her hanging onto him. He couldn’t sit next to anyone or take pictures with anyone else. At one point I rubbed his hair and she started rubbing his back.

I understand it takes time for children to adjust but she is not adjusting. I worry for her mental health because she acts more like his wife. It’s disturbing. He doesn’t see it. I just think she should go see someone or talk to someone. It’s debilitating to both of them. As long as she is part of EVERY aspect of what he is doing she is fine. But as soon as he has a conversation or attempts to socialize with anyone else she becomes very detached and clings to him as if to keep him away from anyone else.

He is a great guy and I would like to get them both to see this is not healthy.

Advice, please?

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Answer:

For some reason, you leave you out of this family dynamic. For instance, you talk about father and daughter being involved in something that is not good for either of them. Don’t you really mean that this girl gets in the way of your relationship with dad and that makes you very angry? My guess is that the answer if “yes.”

It seems to me that the daughter’s behavior is not at all strange. Unable to have a relationship with her mother, she clings to dad. In her clinging to dad she is trying to eliminate any rivals who might interfere with her and dad. You are one of those rivals. Dad’s problem is that he permits it. Judging from the way you have written this Email, leaving yourself and your feelings out, my sense is that you are also permitting this girl to continue this type of behavior. Perhaps you have told your boyfriend how much this bothers you. Perhaps not. It seems to me that your concern should be more how you feel left out and less about the mental health of the daughter.

Dad needs to start setting limits with this girl. In this case, limits are that, when he is talking to you, she is not to interfere. In fact, she is not to interfere at all. You and he are the adults and she is the child. She will feel more comfortable in that role. At the moment she is being allowed to have too much control and this is what is really bad for her. Also, dad needs to see to your adult needs as well as his. With this in mind, I suspect it is you and he who should go to couple’s or family therapy more than her.

My advice is that you fight for your relationship with him. It would be better for you, her and him if you did so.

Good Luck

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