Became involved with a young woman, knowing she had a 5 year old daughter. Biological dad was in the picture til daughter was 2-3, and then left the state. Strangled mother while pregnant, does drugs, all around no-good.
My fiance (young woman) lived with her parents, and her parents generally raised daughter. When I came into the picture, fiance started coming around me more often and daughter grew to love me. However, there was definitely a noticeable need from daughter to be with grandparents and quite frequently.
We became pregnant and had a beautiful baby boy. Now my family consists of Myself, Mother, Daughter, and son.
The mother and grandmother are pretty close I would say and whenever the grandmother wants to see daughter, Mother let's her go. This has, in my opinion, gotten a bit out of hand when all summer (2+ months - EVERY weekend) daughter goes to her grandparent's house all the time.
Now, from her perspective - She was a single child, who inherited a brother. I'm generally gone during the week days working, and she has to fight for her mother's attention with her little brother. But when the grandparent's beckon her, she gets attention from both grandparents and they leave the boy home with us. So she gets undivided attention from two people instead of having to share one person's attention with her brother.
From my perspective. I don't get much time with either child during the week. My only time to spend with them is on the weekends. I expressed my thoughts to Mother - I don't get to see them. I'm trying to blend this family, but every time I have an inkling of time to spend with them together, she bails and goes and gets that 2 on 1 attention. When we are together we are two peas in a pod and vibe really well. I love her and try and do cool things with her and teach her. I've also bought us a new home that fits all of us with plenty of play room and got a new job to support all of these changes.
Now, we have another child on the way and I think it's super important for her to stay with us on the weekends. We are essentially making rules for my boy, and making daughter follow them too because now he looks up to her and does what she does. We are holding her accountable which without a doubt is probably a bit harder on her than when she was an only child, because she is constantly being told not to do something for reasons a, b. But we are explaining to her why we are enforcing these rules...we aren't just hushing her and sending her away. We take the time.
If she continues to go away on the weekends I feel like she will become alienated when the new baby arrives. I feel like she will pick up habits of her grandparents instead of habits of our family. I guess I'm curious if I'm being overbearing here...am I wrong to want her to stay with us? I mean sure get out every other weekend and get some time away with your grandparents (who spoil the heck out of her). But the majority of the time should be spent with us...
So another point is I'm the step-father. I feel like if I start enforcing this stuff with her mother, I will be looked at as the bad guy. I don't want to make either party upset, but this weekend for example she was gone from Friday 4pm to Sunday 5pm. I barely saw her at all. I was a bit upset about that. Do I have a right?
Any advice is much appreciated. Sorry for the length, but this does require some explanation. Thanks in advance!
UPDATE 1: Mother's thoughts - Mother sees things from both perspectives. She has usually allowed daughter to go with grandparents regularly because she, as a child, went to her grandparents regularly. My concern is that her parents didn't really prepare fiance for life and a lot of that fell on my shoulders. So when I raise my concern she sees it and feels deeply for the situation and tries to make adjustments but ends up just telling the grandparents "OP wants to spend more time with daughter so your weekends are cut off" Which ends up making them resent me.
Update 2: Questions to myself- It seems the grandparents have assisted in raising her as some commenters have mentioned. To answer some questions: I do feel like there is a power struggle. I will make house rules, and have a clip down system (taken from her school) so if she's bad three times she will need to go in timeout or whatever fitting punishment at that time. I enforce this. Mother enforces it when I'm gone. When she goes to grandparents she has free reign and no boundaries and comes back with no sense of accountability and does what she wants. Do I feel the need to have control? Yes, I would say I do feel the need to have control. Because of poor choices made in the past, which we are all guilty of, this girl has a void in her heart. I want to have at least a part in making that better, and filling that void as a father figure that loves her mother, and her. Grandparents are coming in as psuedo parent's and when they get two-on-one time it generates momentum in another direction. Then I find myself asking if she even wants to be here? If 9 times out of 10 she chooses to go hang out with them, does she want to live there?
Seems general consensus is to seek family counseling, which we will look into but I guess I am looking for some kind of validation here. If I'm invalid in my behavior and thoughts I can change and I will be the change, but I need to know if I'm way off base or if this makes sense.