Question: I'm engaged to be married in three months. My fiancé’s daughter seemed happy about our relationship at first, but I'm noticing subtle changes in how she relates to me and I feel she is jealous of my time with her dad. I don’t want to end up competing with her for his time. How can we deal with this proactively?

Answer: 

It’s natural that a child would be anxious about a new person coming into her family. It’s important that you try to put yourself in her shoes to imagine what this feels like from her perspective.

Be empathetic

If you were accustomed to having your dad all to yourself, how would you feel about sharing him with someone else? What will this mean for her relationship with her mother? Doe she still harbour hopes that her parents can be reunited? All of these are possibly questions that concern her, and there may well be others.

Speak with your fiancé

I would suggest that you discuss all of this first with your fiancé, so the two of you can build a unified approach to addressing these very real questions. It may be wise for him to talk privately with his daughter to discover which of these fears may be weighing on her and to try to alleviate her concerns with reassurance of his continued attention and support for her.

Having done so, he could then invite you into the conversation as well, so you can all talk together about how you will build open, healthy relationships with one another, as a couple, as father to daughter, and as step-mother and daughter. Ask her what she would like and need from each of you to continue to feel secure in these relationships, and do what you can to try to address these needs.

Openly communicate now

The more you can invest in open communication now, the better foundation you will lay for your lives together. This will likely require a series of conversations, before and after the wedding. If you can keep talking, acknowledging that this is going to mean adjustments for everyone, hopefully you will all learn to enjoy one another and form a fulfilling new family.

© 2017 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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