My boyfriend has an 8 yo daughter with his ex wife. I have been with him for almost 2 years. He has guilty dad syndrome and lets his daughter treat him as a doormat. She believes she is equal to adults and gets sassier as she ages, but acts like a 4 year old when she doesn't want to do something we ask or isn't the center of attention. She will pretend to not hear us when we talk to her. She is the definition of a spoiled brat (though her dad will never admit this).
We had family visiting recently and she would make loud noises at dinner if no one was paying attention to her, get up from the table and start dancing when we asked her to finish breakfast, and she constantly argues. When her grandparents were leaving, she went up to her room and refused to come say goodbye. Her dad CARRIED her down the stairs where she proceeded to jump on the couch and make angry animal sounds while pretending to claw at her grandparents. We've made chore charts for her and that has helped, but she is an only child and lives with her mom most of the time. She sees her dad every weekend and on holidays, plus extra time during the year like spring break and half of the summer. So it's not that she doesn't get enough time with him. She will frequently make her dad the "enemy" in a situation and play the blame game when she makes mistakes (something her mother does as well). She doesn't play by rules and often makes up her own rules in order to win, which has turned me off to playing games with her. She has no resilience when learning new things. If she fails once or twice, she gives up. She doesn't know how to ride a bike or jump rope - she refuses to learn and her dad doesn't push her. He always has an excuse for her when she can't accomplish something. It drives me insane!
I have tried to correct her behavior, but my boyfriend gets upset and says I'm too hard on her and I need more patience. I have been patient for 2 years! All I see is her behavior going in the wrong direction. She is never held accountable for anything because he hates seeing her feel bad or upset. One night, she refused to brush her hair and started crying. I told her to use the tricks I had taught her for brushing her hair and she kept saying it hurt because of the tangles. I told her I could spray detangler to help. It was useless because she basically just didn't want to do it. When I asked her why she was crying, she said that she didn't like adults forcing her to do things that hurt her. I said we were not making her hurt herself by asking her to brush her hair and she needed to do it on her own. My boyfriend then jumped in and told me to leave her alone and he let her "take a break" and read a book. Then he ended up brushing her hair for her.
I feel like it's always one step forward and five steps back. Am I in a no-win relationship as the bonus parent? We've come close to breaking up several times. He went on a trip for a few days and I was with his daughter and her grandparents. He came back and said he didn't feel like our relationship is sustainable and that he just wants to be happy. He ignored me for a day and then was fine, saying we could start over. We go back and forth like this and it's exhausting. I'm 36 and don't want to be single and renting again (he bought a house and we live together), but I don't know if I can take this for the rest of my life.