I can’t accept my partner’s child.

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Six months ago I met the man of my dreams – except there is one catch – he has a 2 year old daughter. I am 24 and he is 34, we have been dating for 6 months and are now living together. I am finding it very very challenging to accept his daughter into my life. He was not previously married to his daughter’ mother, in fact she accidently got pregrant in there 2-3 week dating period. They tried to make it work when they found out about the pregnancy but could not. My partner is extremely committed to his daughter and has promised to always be there for her. I am feeling very resentful of him and his past mistake. I am angry at him for having a daughter and get physically ill often when she is around as it makes me think of him and her mother. I often think about what it will mean to accept his daughter as a permanent part of our lives when we get married and worry that I will always hold resentment towards her. I am hurt, frustrated, sad, angry and overwhelmed with how this is effecting me emotionally. My partner is extremely supportive and listens with an open heart to all of my ridiculousness constanly. We are constantly working together to find solutions to our dillema. I know I am hurting him though and that he wishes I felt differently. I wish that I could accept his daughter with open arms and be much more understanding however i am constantly angry!

Recently I have started to hate the way that I act about the whole situation. I have asked him who he would chose it he had to – me or his daughter. I have thought about asking him to give her up and let us move on with our own lives and let her be with her mom. I have also thought about leaving. Thought maybe that i am not cut out to be a step mom and that I cannot live with my partner’s mistakes for the rest of my life and that love is really not enough in our situation. But whenever I try to leave I just cannot! I really truly love him and want to spend the rest of my life with him – but I need to get over this.

I have also been thinking lately that the issue may be inflated by the birth control that I began taking 2 months ago. Since i started the medication it seems as though I am struggling much more with this situation then I was before. Could my emotions around this situation be inflated by the birth control? What can I do to fix this and change the way that I am feeling?
I love my boyfriend with all of my heart and want to be the supportive girlfriend that he deserves.

A: The question you should be asking is why it is that you are so insecure that you need to compete with a 2 year old. You have found a man who doesn’t walk away from his mistakes, who is committed to his child, and who listens to your irrational complaints. No wonder you love him. He’s one special guy! But your relationship hasn’t got a chance if you continue to put him in the position of having to choose between you and his toddler daughter. This little girl deserves love and care when she at her dad’s house, not resentment and bitterness.

Yes, your birth control could be inflating your emotions but it isn’t causing them. It seems that you want your boyfriend to have no past, even though he is 10 years older. It’s unrealistic and unfair for you to be angry at him for having lived a life. Perhaps counseling would help you figure yourself out. Please don’t even consider marriage until you do. Your boyfriend, his little girl, and you deserve better than you are able to give right now.

Iwish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 May 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). I can’t accept my partner’s child.. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/05/01/i-cant-accept-my-partners-child/