My 5 year old little girl doesn't feel like her dad's house is a home, what do I do?
My daughter told me yesterday that her dad's house is not her home and she didn't want to go back. I asked her why and she told me that she doesn't fit in there and that she doesn't have a bed. Her dad, step-mom(pregnant) and little brother are currently living in a 1 bedroom apartment and there is not a lot of space but I feel strongly that she should have a bed, she should not be sleeping on a kid couch, you know the one's that Walmart sells for $30 dollars that flips down. I have tried talking to her dad but he just get offensive and tells me he knows what he is doing. I am not comfortable with her spending the night there until she has a bed, but her dad thinks I am trying to take her away from him, even though I have explained my stance on it. He tells me that they are on a waiting list for a 3 bedroom but it will be about 3 months before they get it. I don't know what to do because I want her to see them but if she doesn't want to go, should I force her to? Also, I have been told she is very mean to her step-mom and when asked way she says because she want me to be happy. I never talk bad about her dad or step-mom in front of her and I don't know why she doesn't think I'm not happy. What do I do?
It's a difficult situation, and I know you want to do what's best for your daughter. The way you handle this will make a huge difference on how your daughter perceives her visit to her dad.
Kids need both their mom and dad, and I see that you wrote that you don't talk bad about her dad or step mom in front of her, which is wonderful, and you should be praised for this. I know it's hard at times.
But when your daughter talks about the situation, your reaction is making it harder on her. You have spoken to your ex-spouse, and he is doing everything he can to get a 3 bedroom apartment. He has also provided a bed (one you don't approve of as an ideal bed) but he has purchased her a bed. From my perspective, the situation is fine, and he is providing a safe and welcoming environment for her.
If you talk to your daughter differently, it will make a dramatic difference. The Wal-mart bed was specially bought for her so that means she is special and they made an effort to make her feel at home. (It might make a great sleepover bed for friends when the 3 bedroom apartment is available.)
Talk about how it is difficult to live/visit a smaller place, but sometimes that makes people closer. Tell your daughter stories of early in your marriage and what kind of house you lived in or possibly stories of your childhood when you shared a bedroom, or slept in a temporary bed or sleeping bag when visiting relatives.
How you talk to your daughter can greatly improve the situation. You ex is doing what he can, and I believe you should support him on this.
I know it's not ideal, but he is providing a bed for her, and he is actively looking for a larger apartment.
Shirley Cress Dudley, MA LPC NCC FACMPE
Director of The Blended and Step Family Resource Center
Author of the book, Blended Family Advice