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Playing Second Fiddle to Dad's New Family


I hate it when parents split up and then treat their new family (new kids, wife, even inlaws) better than you. My parents split up after 23 years of marriage and me and my siblings have been 2nd fiddle or, more accurately, 3rd or 4th ever since my Dad was remarried.

I'm an adult and this may sound childish, but it still hurts. He's gone to great lenghts to bend over backwards for his new family, take them on a lot of trips, give them a lavish lifestyle, watch their kiddie soccer games + tennis lessons, but he rarely has time to spend with any of us. Also, his wife is super controlling. I know the best thing I can do is learn to accept the situation for what it is, but that's easier said than done. I just want to be able to rely on my Dad the way I used to be able to.

Anyone have any suggestions on how I should deal with this?
Feb 24, 2007 @ 06:11 pm

3 Replies


Second place

Unfortunately I'm in the same position as you. My parents split up about 8 years ago after being married for 20 years, and as soon as my dad met his girlfriend (now his wife), my siblings and I always came second after her. It's not childish at all - it really hurts when either of your parents can't be bothered to make time for you, and I don't see why you should have to accept coming in second.
It sounds to me like your dad is trying really hard to impress his new family, maybe because he worries they won't like or accept him otherwise.
Have you tried talking to him and saying how you feel? What he's doing is obviously really unfair to you and your siblings. Perhaps he has just been putting in so much effort to be accepted by his new family that he doesn't realize what it's doing to you guys - I would definitely start by trying to have an actual conversation with him about this.
Eventually I got really fed up with coming in second place to my dad's wife, and I decided it was easier to just cut off all contact with him rather than always being disappointed - hopefully you won't end up in the same situation as me.
Feb 25, 2007 @ 05:00 pm

Been there too...

13+ years and counting! I don't think you ever quite get over it. All you can do is decide to not let it control your life. If you can, try to have a frank discussion with your dad. If that's too hard, try to lower your expectations. See him more as an uncle or family friend who occasionally has time for you. I would give up expecting to be treated the same.

In my dad's case, I think he assumes since all his "first" children are adults and married, we don't need him as much. His "second" children are much younger and require a lot of input. In that sense, he's not entirely wrong, actually. Even though it hurts, consider that little kids have different needs and expectations than mature adults. However, seeing a huge disconnect between him professing to love you despite the past, and seeing him lavish attention and gifts on his "new" family that he probably didn't do for you back then, can hurt.

Bottom line is there is nothing you can do except talk to him about your feelings. His wife probably won't change her attitude and will likely resist any changes in dad's behavior. consider that this puts your dad in a horrible position. Granted, he brought it upon himself, but now he's in it for the long haul and there's no clean way to deal with this.

So have a little sympathy, but protect your own heart. Talk to him. Set realistic expectations and goals for what you want from this relationship. And allow yourself to feel hurt sometimes, not criticize yourself for feeling weak. Don't rule out the possibility of improvement for the future. Try to build relationships with your half-siblings, even if you can't do so with your stepmom. Find the positive and release the negative.

More easily said than done, I know! But know you're not alone!
Feb 27, 2007 @ 10:39 am


This sounds really sad. I think parents should remember that their kids didn't ask to be born and whether they are still little or adults they should always make them their #1 priority.

Sounds like your Dad has a lot on his plate juggling 2 families but he should never make you feel less than his younger kids. It's probably really tough to talk to him about this but maybe it would be good for your relationship. As for the step mother don't worry about her. Just treat her kindly and with respect so your dad never has a reason/excuse to spend less time with you. I think ultimately the easiest thing is to lower your expectations. It will never be the same as it was before but if you can accept the relationship for what it is now, maybe things will get better.

That's what I've had to do anyway.
Mar 03, 2007 @ 10:13 am

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