I have been dating my now boyfriend since July 2020. He is 43 and I am 42 and his daughter is 7 years old. I don’t have any kids myself.
His daughter rarely finishes her food at meals and she has trouble sitting down simply to eat without there being any type of distraction (iPad, cartoon, movie, etc). Usually, she will climb/hang off the chair, walk away from the table, and/or start running around into the kitchen or living room to illustrate something while talking loudly. When she has friends over and they eat with us they sit down calmly and have often finished their food while she is still talking and sometimes hanging onto their chairs as well.
I don’t live with my boyfriend but since his daughter lives with him every other week I am beginning to learn to know her and grow fond of her. I find her both smart, witty, intelligent, and highly emphatic – so much so that she worries about her father’s and mother’s feelings and “take responsibility” for them. And my boyfriend on his side suffers from a bad conscience towards his daughter because she has had to endure the hardship of the divorce.
He says himself that he knows he is overcompensating in order to “make it up to her.” This shows up for example in terms of letting her have sweets/cake etc regardless of which day it is, buying her toys or sweets when she is sad about something and only making her food which he knows that she loves.
My issue is this: With all the running and almost non-stop loud talking, she rarely finishes her food. My boyfriend is telling her to sit down and asks her to eat some more which she then tries to do for a few seconds before the running and talking begins again. I find it really hard to eat given how I think and feel about this situation.
Often I just shut myself off a bit thinking that there is no point in saying anything. After all, what could I say that would make it any better? I end up feeling puzzled about it all (why the running and talking? she doesn’t usually act like that, it is only around meals) and also resigned and stressed out and I cannot really enjoy my food.
Do you have any advice on how I can better deal with myself in this situation?
I have considered saying in a calm voice that I will just sit down somewhere more quiet to eat but I am afraid it will come out as resentful or harsh. Also, I am scared that saying anything may “cause” his daughter to think I am mad at her or “cause” my boyfriend to think that he is not parenting her “correctly,” and the last thing I want to do is to add to his feeling of not being a good enough father.