DEAR DEIDRE: MY girlfriend and I have finally moved in together after ten years as a couple. We were so happy until she found her daughter had started self-harming.
She found blood on her daughter’s pyjamas and bedsheets. It came as an awful shock to us both.
Instead of planning more DIY projects around our new home, we are discussing if I should move out.
My girlfriend’s daughter is 15. She also has a son aged 13. They stay with my girlfriend half the week and their dad for the other half.
I am 42 and my girlfriend is 39. I have always made a big effort with her children because I knew they come as a package.
We support the same football team and if we couldn’t get tickets we would always watch the games together at home. I introduced her daughter to hiking and she would regularly ask to go with me.
I’m an electrician and if I’m not at work, I go for long walks or busy myself in the garage. I’m trying my best to keep out of the way. This isn’t the new chapter either of us imagined.
I’m not convinced the self-harm started because we moved in together and I have a feeling there is more to it. Since schools closed, the daughter has started to miss her friends. She’s gone from a cheeky, lively girl to withdrawn and quiet.
She often argues with her dad when she goes to stay there too. I don’t know what to do. I love my girlfriend and want to be supportive of her and her kids.
I am desperate to be with her but I feel pushed out.
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DEIDRE SAYS: Children have a massive longing for their parents to be happily together and can blame anyone who seems to come between them.
Can your partner explain to her daughter that she and her ex love her very much but are both happier apart?
Your girlfriend needs to confidently explain she has every right to be happy and her happiness means having you in her life and their home.
It sounds likely you moving in is just one of many challenges her daughter is facing. She needs additional support through these isolating times.
Undeniably, more young people have been struggling with their mental health through this pandemic.
Suggest your girlfriend contacts the Young Minds parents’ helpline (youngminds.org.uk, 0808 802 5544).
My support pack on Stepfamily Problems can help you all too.
Contact the Samaritans
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article contact The Samaritans on 116 123. They are available for free at anytime.
Or email https://www.samaritans.org/
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