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Is this Parental Alienation Syndrome? What can we do about it? - Page 2

post #21 of 43
Also your portrayal of the situation indicates that teh child is turning against her mother, not you, and that she feels comfortable to talk negatively about her mother to you. You indicate that you have done nothing to create this situation and that you do not speak negatively about her mother to the child. If this is true, that is great. But if not, if your negative feelings or categorization of the mother as mentally ill or dysfunctional has leaked out through the child and back to the mother, you can expect that to be brought up in any custody suit that includes an accusation of parental alienation. That can be thrown two ways, remember. I would consider that possibility, and what the other 'side' might be experiencing and how that could come up in court, before I pursued that legal avenue.
post #22 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
Also your portrayal of the situation indicates that teh child is turning against her mother, not you, and that she feels comfortable to talk negatively about her mother to you. You indicate that you have done nothing to create this situation and that you do not speak negatively about her mother to the child. If this is true, that is great. But if not, if your negative feelings or categorization of the mother as mentally ill or dysfunctional has leaked out through the child and back to the mother, you can expect that to be brought up in any custody suit that includes an accusation of parental alienation. That can be thrown two ways, remember. I would consider that possibility, and what the other 'side' might be experiencing and how that could come up in court, before I pursued that legal avenue.
But I don't see it as a GOOD thing that she's turning against her Mother. That's part of the problem- first she "has to" hate us, then she loves us, and starts to begin to disrespect her Mother. Kids are supposed to have good relationships with ALL their parents, and that included their Mothers.

As for my negative feelings, you don't know how hard we've tried to make sure she never got wind of what her Mother is really like. We've always protected her against what's really going on, to the point that, we used to LIE to my stepdaughter, even at our expense, so that she doesn't see things how they really were. That was completely my Hubby's idea- now we don't outright lie, but we've NEVER said anything bad about her Mother or her Mother's family in front of her or that could get back to her.
post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post
"Please do something now. The longer you wait the harder it will be."


: Honesty is the way to go. And from what you describe, your dsd is not exactly being sheltered from the situation right now. She knows that she has to produce tears from mom at dropoff. She knows that she has to pretend not to love you and your ds. She knows, in short, that she is two different kids - the kid at your house who gets her needs met, and the kid at mom's house who is responsible for meeting mom's needs.


This horrified me. I think you husband needs to engage a family therapist for your daughter to visit on your days with her. There needs to be a safe uninvolved person she can talk to about this. Many child counseling options are sliding scale.


So, without drama on your end, start telling the truth. "We're going to call mom once per day, and use speakerphone here in the kitchen, because we know that she says things sometimes that make you feel bad about being here and that is not OK with us." If the ex doesn't care to speak where the whole family can hear, oh well, she can talk to dsd when she gets home. (Obviously this may change as your dsd gets older and feels she can handle her mom's spiel without outside help.)

This kind of makes them as bad as her mother since she is also listening in, however, I would let mom know that as long as she is listening in you will be doing the same and if you hear sm or sb or dad badmouthed you will terminate the call. I would put phone on screen during visits and call once a day - period. Or if sd asks to call. Don't prevent a call, just don't take mom's calls more than once daily.

Every.single.time. dsd says something about you not being "family," or if ex says it in front of you, correct the misimpression. "That is not true. We are all part of your family and we all love you very much. I am sorry that you mom doesn't agree, but I am your stepmother and ds is your stepbrother and we are part of your family." Lather, rinse, repeat. Let ex yell her head off if that's the result - but YOU don't yell and YOU don't bring negative emotion into it - only positive vibes towards dsd.

This is excellent advice!

A million little things will help, and will make dsd feel supported and validated as she tries to navigate the craziness of living with her mom (remember, you experience this bs secondhand, she LIVES with it). Attend school events.

YES! Her mother has zero power to tell you what you can do on this. You both have given her this power yourselves. Take it back. Also contact her teachers and ask if you can have events and dates sent separately to you or if the school has a website you can find them on. Lots of teachers do email with parents these days.

Introduce yourself to teachers, coaches, etc. If ex throws some sort of public fit about it, be politely confused and continue introducing yourself.

With a sad, pitying look on your face and saying to whomever you are with, "its so sad when she hurts dd her daughter with public drama".

At pickup/dropoff, get out of the car. When ex throws a fit, again, you are politely bewildered. Pretend you are dealing with somebody who is mentally ill and has outbursts. You wouldn't get enraged, but you wouldn't give in to their irrational demand that you get back in your car, either!

Don't get out of the car unless there is a need to. No need to create unnecessary drama.

No more missing time because ex scheduled something, and no covering for ex! Again, a nice calm "I don't know why your mother scheduled X during our weekend with you. I will remind her that our weekends this coming month are Y and Z, and hopefully she won't forget again." Lather, rinse, repeat. Never get visibly angry and never back down.


YES, YES!!!! Except don't say these things to sd. You need to take her out of the middle as much as possible. Put them on a voicemail or email to ex that in the future your weekends are your weekends and she can let you know what activities sd has but that the decision about whether she will attend is her father's. DON'T the two of you ever engage in tit for tat with her as the tug of war rope. To whatever sd tells you say, "don't worry about it dear, daddy and I will communicate with your mother about this." And do not discuss it further with sd. Let your house be the place she never has to worry about a parental reaction.


The thing with bullies is, once you stand up to them, they very often back down. Normally I'd say that final responsibility for fixing this situation rests with the bioparent, but really, it's YOU she's bullying. I think you might be the only one who can successfully change the dynamic. Where you dh would have to take the lead is if she started missing dropoffs, etc. and he needed to file a formal complaint.
I think ultimately after counseling, you will need to go to court. Beg or borrow or save tiny amounts starting now so that if she escalates you can do so.
post #24 of 43
That's the weird thing- she's been rebelling against her Mother so much (mostly when she's at our house, which puts us in the middle) that her relationship with her Mother is crap right now. It bothers me that she's losing her relationship with her Mother because her Mother won't let her have a relationship with everyone else. I'm not sure my stepdaughter believes very much of anything her Mother tells her these days- she talks very scornfully and disrepectfully about her Mother, expecially when it's just me and her.

At least consider the possibility that since this type of talk is how sd knows pleases her mother, that she is doing it with you now trying in a sick perverted way to connect with you. This is what she knows and she is so very young.




My Hubby's cell phone. Repeatedly. My stepdaughter is "trained" to ask who's calling whenever it rings. And if it's not picked up each time, or called back within 10-15 minutes, she calls again. And again. And again.

Come on now, numbers can be blocked and cells can be put on silent mode. You are allowing her mother to harass the daughter on her visits. This one is easy to handle.



My hubby supports the classes. That's not the problem. Her Mother was given an option from the Religion school of, I think Mondays, Tuesdays or Sundays. It would have fit into her schedule, no extra work on her part, for my stepdaughter to be brought on the bus to the classes, and then they ended after her Mother got out of work, so she could've just picked her up then, but she insisted on Sundays. The court papers state that "the child shall be raised by the Catholic religion", and since my Hubby's Christina but not Catholic and her Mother is Catholic, apparently it meant that she had ultimate control over her religion.

Refusing Sunday class is not refusing to allow her to be raised Catholic. Since there is clearly another easy option I would simply refuse classes on your visitation schedule. She can't accuse you of preventing instruction if there were two other completely viable days available.


Only birthdays have happend, keeping her away from our home. Birthdays, weddings AND funerals have happened at our home that she's been kept fomr, on "our" days as well as "her" days. We haven't denied my stepdaughter birthdays at friends houses on "our" weekends, but we have had to change plans many times, because her Mother told the brithday child she's be there.

The woman does not own the keys to your car. You are not required to take her to anything her mother sets up on your time. Just stop doing it. Dad can explain to sd that you are trying to make his time with her free from pressure to please mom and that on their time together he and she will make their own weekend plans.




This hasn't happened yet. It's more along the lines of a phone call telling my Hubby that my stepdaughter "has other plans".

SD is to young to refuse visitation, mother doesn't have right to refuse visitation. Get police and courts involved.



We don't. That's why we "lose" all the time. "Daddy took you campiing for three days? Wow, that must've been uncomfortable sleeping on the ground and getting bit by bugs! Remember how I took you to Disney World for a week? The rides, the massage parlor, the nail salon, all those gifts I bought you? And remember how much fun we had with blah blah blah blah......" And then my stepdaughter can't remember how much fun she had with us.

Nonsense, of course she remembers it. And better yet, she will remember which home was low stress and took the pressure off her and let her be a child. Trust me, I had a father just like her mother. The competition, withholding, all of it. I saw through the BS even as a child as young as your sd. Just be the best most loving family you can be and put a bubble around her at your home away from discussing/engaging/complaining about her mom. It WILL work.



I would know, because it's been mentioned by her Mother repeatedly for the last five years. At our house, unless my stepdaughter is going straight to sleep, or straight outside on a cold winter day, we don't blowdry hair. My Hubby's way of thinking, as well as mine. Her Mother thinks if you don't blowdry hair immediately after it's wet, even on a 90 degree day in the middle of the summer, you'll get sick and die. That's fine... for her house. But why should we be forced to go by her rules at our house? That's actually been under one of the "neglect" accusations- we don't blowdry her hair every time after her bath. It's a pain in the butt. The person blowdrying hates it, the person getting her hair blowdried hates it. Why should my stepdaughter's Mother get to dictate how my stepdaughter is parented in our home?

She can't dictate anything about your home. Again you are giving her power she doesn't have and can't enforce. Don't engage. Say to sd, "thank you for giving me the message" and then do what you always do. IF sd says, "we have to blowdry my hair." Say, "do YOU want it dried". If she says no, then you say "great, lets go get lunch, go out,..." If she says yes then dry it for her. There is not a court in this land going to remove custody cause you didn't dry her freshly washed hair.



That feels kinda creepy, I'm not sure if I could do that or if my Hubby would even agree. She saves most of it for me- we have alot of "girl time" (hair, nails, clothes, etc), and she jabbers the entire time.

Just redirect her, ask about friends, school, what she did at religion class. She is not of an age where its impossible to keep her preoccupied and off non-safe topics.


I know. It bothered me when she was believing everythingher Mother told her about, now it bothers me that she's been ripping her Mother apart for my benefit, it feels like. I've found myself actually having to defend her Mother to her alot in the last several months and that can't be healthy for my stepdaughter, either. It's almost like, she's used to ripping me apart to her Mother, that she thinks she has to rip her Mother apart to me, but I've never, ever (even when it almost killed me not to!) said anything negative about her Mother in front of her or where she can possibly hear it. I'm afraid it will permanently emotionally mess her up or something.

I wouldn't defend her mom. I would just sympathize with her in a reflective way, "You sound very frustrated", "that is a tough situation". Don't support, defend or destroy her relationship. Its not your relationship to fix. Just support HER and love HER. And try to eliminate discussion of mom from you entire visit by redirectly/distracting. All three of you sound wrapped up in this woman's neurosis. Disengage!!!!




That's exactly it. Is this gonna screw her up bigtime? Even with me and my Hubby trying out best?

This is why I am saying she and dad should see a family counselor, sometimes together sometimes her alone.




My Hubby lost his Mother when he was young. He's a firm believer of "don't take a child away from her Mother at any cost". Unfortunately, not letting his daughter talk to her Mother when her Mother calls, falls under this catagory. I'm not sure at what extent we can go with limiting it.

SD should be allowed to call her mother any time she wants to. Mother should not be allowed to keep intruding on your visits whenever she wants. Honestly, your big problem here seems to be your husband as much as the mother. He could use a counselor to help him see what appropriate boundaries he NEEDS to set to help his dd.




I think that's a big part of the problem there. My Hubby tries to keep peace, for his daughter's sake, but I know for a fact that I've (unintentionally) intiminated my stepdaughter's Mother.

But, his daughter HAS NOT PEACE. His actions are not bringing peace at all. He needs to change tactics.

That was about the time where she started getting very upset with my involvement with my stepdaughter. If it's just me and her, she backs down. If it's just my Hubby and her, anything goes. If it's me, my Hubby and her, she tries to ignore me, because I'll tell her (nicely, because my stepdaughter is always there) exactly what's on my mind.

As I said, seems bigger problem is your husband. She clearly backs down and if you were a united front this would greatly reduce this situation. If he is letting her dictate you not coming to events, her brother talking to her ( this is abuse of your minor child preventing the sibling relationship and I bet a judge would NOT like that).



That's the problem. My Hubby is mostly untouchable, by her standards, and things are said to me or to my stepdaughter for me to hear, that a female would get, but not the average guy. Like asking how was vacation with DADDY, what did she do with DADDY, did she have fun with DADDY, okay, hug DADDY goodbye now" while physically standing between me and my stepdaughter and then trying to bring my stepdaughter into her house without letting her say goodbye to me, never mind completely putting into my stepdaughter's head that she's only been with us to spend time with DADDY and not the rest of her family. My Hubby doesn't pick up on it and making a fuss would just make me look like a petty fool to him. Know what I mean? Suggestions?[/QUOTE]

She is baiting you. Stop taking it. Let her say what she says. Hug/kiss dd before you leave for drop off. Say verbal goodbye even if she is being hustled away. She has all of you on leashes and jerks them at will. Disengage.
post #25 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post
Assuming, of course, that your h

As far as your complaints about your SD's mom's attitude toward you and your son: Those things are regrettable, hurtful and immature. But Mom doesn't have a legal obligation to facilitate and support your SD's relationship with you, only with your husband (her child's father). So when you and your husband begin preparing for the court a list of the ways Mom attempts to sabotage his relationship with his daughter, be very specific and leave yourself out of it. Good luck.

good post! I agree with except don't leave your son out of the complaint. Preventing her from bonding with her brother SHOULD be brought out fully in court. And I agree that a ruined life is a far greater tragedy than going into debt or getting a second job to pay for a lawyer.
post #26 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by harleyhalfmoon View Post
But I don't see it as a GOOD thing that she's turning against her Mother. That's part of the problem- first she "has to" hate us, then she loves us, and starts to begin to disrespect her Mother. Kids are supposed to have good relationships with ALL their parents, and that included their Mothers.
Why? Why should a child have a good relationship with someone who is poisoning her interactions with others, trying to cut her off, emotionally, from other people who love her, and just generally emotionally abusing her? If she has a "good" relationship with her toxic mother, it's just setting her up to think that this kind of garbage is acceptable.

Quote:
As for my negative feelings, you don't know how hard we've tried to make sure she never got wind of what her Mother is really like. We've always protected her against what's really going on, to the point that, we used to LIE to my stepdaughter, even at our expense, so that she doesn't see things how they really were. That was completely my Hubby's idea- now we don't outright lie, but we've NEVER said anything bad about her Mother or her Mother's family in front of her or that could get back to her.
I don't think that was ever a good idea. You can't protect kids from the truth, and when it does come out (as it seems to be doing), they're just left feeling betrayed by everyone.
post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
Why? Why should a child have a good relationship with someone who is poisoning her interactions with others, trying to cut her off, emotionally, from other people who love her, and just generally emotionally abusing her? If she has a "good" relationship with her toxic mother, it's just setting her up to think that this kind of garbage is acceptable.


I don't think that was ever a good idea. You can't protect kids from the truth, and when it does come out (as it seems to be doing), they're just left feeling betrayed by everyone.
The trouble with this is that as soon as you decide that someone is 'toxic' and that it's your job to let the child know the 'truth'... you are doing exactly what the OP is protesting against. You think it's valid coz it's your perception, well so does the other party. 'Toxic' is kind of a ridiculous word, I see it used so much on this website, and basically it means 'someone who I don't get along with, who I think is wrong and I am right, I am a victim of them and they are an awful person with no redeeming qualities.' VERY dangerous territory, and a dangerous thing to communicate to a child about their other parent, no matter how right you *think* you are.
post #28 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by homewithtwinsmama View Post

At least consider the possibility that since this type of talk is how sd knows pleases her mother, that she is doing it with you now trying in a sick perverted way to connect with you. This is what she knows and she is so very young.
I've considered the possibility and it scares and saddens me. I don't want any part of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by homewithtwinsmama View Post
SD is to young to refuse visitation, mother doesn't have right to refuse visitation. Get police and courts involved.
Nope, she doesn't have the right to refuse visitation, but she can make the child miserable coming here. Would you want to go visit people your Mother thought were bad people (whether or not they really were), knowing that your Mother would be miserable and "worried" the entire time you were gone, and being told things like, you could have went to the Aquarium or to watch a show on Broadway, but you had to go to your Father's house instead? My stepdaughter wants to come here- she really does love us- but she believes (and who knows, in some sick, way, maybe it does) that it "hurts" her Mother when she comes here, especially if she's not miserable and missing her Mother the entire time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by homewithtwinsmama View Post
Nonsense, of course she remembers it. And better yet, she will remember which home was low stress and took the pressure off her and let her be a child. Trust me, I had a father just like her mother. The competition, withholding, all of it. I saw through the BS even as a child as young as your sd. Just be the best most loving family you can be and put a bubble around her at your home away from discussing/engaging/complaining about her mom. It WILL work.
Oh, I hope so. I think she's starting to get it, and I feel like I should be happy and satisfied, but it feels like it's backfiring, because of the way things are starting to go between her and her Mother.

Quote:
Originally Posted by homewithtwinsmama View Post
SD should be allowed to call her mother any time she wants to. Mother should not be allowed to keep intruding on your visits whenever she wants. Honestly, your big problem here seems to be your husband as much as the mother. He could use a counselor to help him see what appropriate boundaries he NEEDS to set to help his dd.[/COLOR]
You know what the funny thing is? My stepdaughter has been going back and forth between houses since she was three or four months old (she's not 8 1/2), and only twice (once when she lost her first tooth, and once when she got sick) has she asked to call her Mother in all this time, with it being her own idea. We've never restricted it and she's on the phone with her friends all the time, but she just doesn't think (feel the need?) to call her Mother when she's here. I've been surprised by the lack of interest, actually. Every other phone contact between them at our house has either been her Mother calling, or my stepdaughter saying her Mother said she had to call at such-and-such time/when such-and-such happened.

Quote:
Originally Posted by homewithtwinsmama View Post
good post! I agree with except don't leave your son out of the complaint. Preventing her from bonding with her brother SHOULD be brought out fully in court. And I agree that a ruined life is a far greater tragedy than going into debt or getting a second job to pay for a lawyer.
I should point out here, my son is MY son, not my Hubby's son. As far as we're concerned, in our family, they're sister and brother (they've been raised as such for the last 5+ years). But legally, nobody will care whether or not they're bonding. And her Mother knows this and makes sure it's known on a regular basis.
post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by harleyhalfmoon View Post
I've considered the possibility and it scares and saddens me. I don't want any part of it.
It really does sound to me like you are taking the high road here. And I have read this thread from the start, and my comments are more towards discussion that seems to be encouraging you to take the perception of the mother as 'mentally ill' or 'toxic' and use that to justify involving the child in ways that IMO are not acceptable.

It's not okay that your DSD is given the message that her mother will not be alright when she is with you. I am not sure what to suggest really. The photos, the other positive suggestions are excellent IMO. I might say something reassuring to her, I can't come up with perfect words right now but something maybe gently pointing out that adults do get by in the world when their kids are gone, that adults don't need kids to take care of them the way kids need adults. I would keep my tone light and positive, keep it a general statement, with the aim to provide a 'baseline' for how adults generally behave or how they are in the world. Not pointing out that the mother's behaviour is manipulative, because that is where you get into trashing the mother to the child. But I think it is really important for your DSD to have a general baseline of adult behaviour, and she can come to her own conclusions.

Beyond that, I would suggest court, if necessary, but not to take custody. There is usually a clause in custody agreements that states that teh parent will be decent about the other parent and respect the child's right to that relationship. You can take her to court simply over that, no? And represent yourselves even. All you are asking is that she not manipulate the child into feeling guilty for being with you. It doesn't have to be a custody battle, nor does she have to be labelled negatively or psychopathologized. You can simply go to court and ask for acceptable behaviour.
post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
The trouble with this is that as soon as you decide that someone is 'toxic' and that it's your job to let the child know the 'truth'... you are doing exactly what the OP is protesting against. You think it's valid coz it's your perception, well so does the other party. 'Toxic' is kind of a ridiculous word, I see it used so much on this website, and basically it means 'someone who I don't get along with, who I think is wrong and I am right, I am a victim of them and they are an awful person with no redeeming qualities.' VERY dangerous territory, and a dangerous thing to communicate to a child about their other parent, no matter how right you *think* you are.
Agreed. It is one of that unfortunate things in a blended family. You really cannot just give the child the "truth" of the situation, or your opinion of the other parent because it will come back to bite you in court. You have to just support the child in their relationship with the toxic parent and try to find the safest way for them to have the relationship until the courts decide that the other parent has crossed the line.

also, from the beginning, I've made dss a "birthday book" each year showing all the fun he's had with us in the past year. I used to scrapbook it, now I use Snapfish. He has a birthday book at our house for every year going back to his 6th bday (now he is 14) and he really does look through them and remember all the thing we did together.
post #31 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
The trouble with this is that as soon as you decide that someone is 'toxic' and that it's your job to let the child know the 'truth'... you are doing exactly what the OP is protesting against. You think it's valid coz it's your perception, well so does the other party. 'Toxic' is kind of a ridiculous word, I see it used so much on this website, and basically it means 'someone who I don't get along with, who I think is wrong and I am right, I am a victim of them and they are an awful person with no redeeming qualities.' VERY dangerous territory, and a dangerous thing to communicate to a child about their other parent, no matter how right you *think* you are.
I'm not suggesting in any way, shape or form that the OP and husband badmouth the girl's mom, or attempt to "communicate" that her mother is toxic. However, it's every bit as much of a mistake to try to interfere the other way. If the mother is poisoning her own relationship with her child with her manipulative games, then trying to portray her mom as something she's not isn't in the best interests of the child...and is going to make her feel totally unheard. I absolutely think they should let the child know the truth...but I'm not using "let her know" to mean "tell her". I'm using it to mean "allow her to know", as in "don't try to hide it". I think the OP's husband is totally off track here. He seems to have an idealized idea of what a bio-mom is (probably understandable, since he lost his) and is trying to preserve that for his dd...even though it's not what she's got.

"Toxic" does not mean "someone I don't get along with" - not at all. There are lots of people I don't get along with, but I don't think they're all toxic. Heck - I've gotten along very well with a few people who were toxic as hell. Toxic people aren't that hard to spot and the mom in the OP has all the earmarks.
post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flor View Post
Agreed. It is one of that unfortunate things in a blended family. You really cannot just give the child the "truth" of the situation, or your opinion of the other parent because it will come back to bite you in court. You have to just support the child in their relationship with the toxic parent and try to find the safest way for them to have the relationship until the courts decide that the other parent has crossed the line.
The OP said they used to lie to her step-daughter, to preserve her relationship with her mother. What relationship needs to be preserved through lies, if it's not a toxic one?

Yes - the OP and her dh need to watch themselves, because of the courts and the legalities, but they cannot protect a relationship from its own internal pressures. This would end up with the OP and her dh "gaslighting" their daughter/stepdaughter, and denying her own reality, in order to "protect" a lie.

You know...I've slipped up a couple of times over the years, when I was unusually angry. But, by and large, I don't ever badmouth my ex. I do it privately with dh sometimes, but that's about it - never, ever, ever where ds1 can hear me. But, I'm also not going to try to protect a relationship that my ex threw away. The relationship between my son and his dad is between them. I won't obstruct it - but I also won't (and can't) make it happen. The OP and her dh also can't create or protect a healthy relationship between the dd/dsd and her mom...her mom has to do that.
post #33 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
"Toxic" does not mean "someone I don't get along with" - not at all. There are lots of people I don't get along with, but I don't think they're all toxic. Heck - I've gotten along very well with a few people who were toxic as hell. Toxic people aren't that hard to spot and the mom in the OP has all the earmarks.
This would be an interesting spinoff and in fact I'm sure I tried to start a thread on the subject a few years ago here. Labelling someone 'toxic' is a judgment on their whole character, their whole selves, as negative and poisonous only. And the person using the name is some sort of virtuous objective judge? Dangerous territory. It's an easy copout because it makes them all bad, and you (general you) all good, and implies no shared responsibility in the relationship. But it's inaccurate and in fact in this situation, ironically it does the same thing to the other party that the OP and her family do not want done to her.
post #34 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
I'm using it to mean "allow her to know", as in "don't try to hide it". I think the OP's husband is totally off track here. He seems to have an idealized idea of what a bio-mom is (probably understandable, since he lost his) and is trying to preserve that for his dd...even though it's not what she's got.
I think you're exactly right about my Hubby. He does the same thing with me- if my son's misbehaving, he'll defend me to the end of the earth, "You will not talk to your Mother like that.", etc. I think he never really got over his Mother's death (yeah, I know, you never really "get over" something like that, just learn to deal), and he could probably use therapy on the subject, but that's not in my hands. Unfortunately, my Hubby is a wonderful Father, and I hope someday my son will be a wonderful Father, as well, and my stepdaughter will grow up and her children will have a wonderful Father, but I get the impression that it's being subconsciously put into both childrens' brains that Fathers are second class citizens, to their children, that Mothers are the only parents who really count. Even if the Mother is a venemous one.
post #35 of 43
The idea that only dads count is a false one but highly pervasive in our culture at large. Think of how many images are out there of mom and baby, for one. So fathers who are being alienated really have a lot of work to do.
About the toxicity. . . I think it's important to remember that as stepmoms in this situation, we only see one side--the worst side--of our steps' mothers. I remember overhearing my steps' mom by chance, and I almost fell off my chair b/c her voice was so kind and gentle!! I wouldn't have recognized it if I hadn't looked back!! I try to remind myself that my stepchildren are nice people, and since they are with her for the majority of the time, there must be many redeeming qualities about her that I simply don't see. I also see that she is highly, highly isolated. SHe can't share with others what she's doing, b/c they would not approve. (This woman is also isolated by having a bad relationship with her own family, and she doesn't seem to have long lasting relationships).
This doesn't mean excusing bad behaviour, of course.
Oh, also, an earlier post was advising all sorts of things for you to do, like contacting teachers, etc. Thsi is great--but it's not for you to do, but your husband. Do NOT insert yourself into a parental role. Leave that to your husband, and you will be less vulnerable and happier.
post #36 of 43
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Originally Posted by thismama View Post
This would be an interesting spinoff and in fact I'm sure I tried to start a thread on the subject a few years ago here. Labelling someone 'toxic' is a judgment on their whole character, their whole selves, as negative and poisonous only. And the person using the name is some sort of virtuous objective judge? Dangerous territory. It's an easy copout because it makes them all bad, and you (general you) all good, and implies no shared responsibility in the relationship.
What shared responsibility does the OP's dsd have in this mess with her mom? Her mom is manipulating her dd, in order to have her own emotional needs met. The girl in question has no shared responsibility here. She is owed honesty from someone in the situation.

And, yeah - some people are toxic. Maybe you've been lucky enough not to deal with it, but when people are manipulating you (and you admit in one of your own posts here that the mom is manipulating her dd), to your detriment and their own gain, they're behaving in a toxic fashion. I've had toxic people in my life, and it has nothing to do with me being "all good" or anything else - it has to do with their attempts to make themselves feel better at my expense...no matter how much damage they may have done me in the attempt.

Maybe the mom isn't a toxic person...but her relationship with her dd is toxic. Maybe it's only toxic in this one area, but that really doesn't matter. She's poisoning her own relationship with her dd and the idea that anybody outside that relationship should - or can - "protect" it, is laughable.

Quote:
But it's inaccurate and in fact in this situation, ironically it does the same thing to the other party that the OP and her family do not want done to her.
I don't even follow what you mean here. What does anything to the other party? You think the OP and her dh should just go along and pretend that her mother's behaviour is perfectly acceptable and understandable and that her mother's happiness is totally dependent on this girl rejecting other people she loves? That's somehow "doing the same thing" to someone?

Do you think the little girl should be lied to and shielded from simple facts, in order to preserve her relationship with her mother? Should a relationship based on lies and manipulation be "protected" by third parties aiding and abetting the manipulator?

I don't give a crap about the girl's mom in this situation. Honestly - while I have a lot of sympathy for her, personally - I'm not worried about the OP or her dh, either. I'm concerned about a little girl who is being manipulated to hell and back...and a boy who is being treated like a potential predator, for no reason at all, except to pad his stepsister's mother's need to feel 'special'. The adults can fend for themselves, but the kids deserve to have an even playing field. And, one thing I know about toxic people and toxic relationships is that they thrive in darkness, fear and secrecy...and don't do so well when the light is shining on them.
post #37 of 43
By shared responsibility, I was referring to the OP and her partner's dynamic with the mother.

'Toxic' IMO is a copout. You nor I can decide if someone else is 'toxic' and that all responsibility for problems in a relationship falls to them. Life just doesn't work that way. Would be nice if it did. But if you call someone toxic chances are they think you are toxic right back. Kinda silly IMO.
post #38 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
By shared responsibility, I was referring to the OP and her partner's dynamic with the mother.
That's not what I'm talking about at all, so we're having different conversations.

Quote:
'Toxic' IMO is a copout. You nor I can decide if someone else is 'toxic' and that all responsibility for problems in a relationship falls to them. Life just doesn't work that way. Would be nice if it did. But if you call someone toxic chances are they think you are toxic right back. Kinda silly IMO.
If that's what you think, then it's a safe bet you've never met a toxic person. My grandmother was toxic. She did her level best to screw up my life, my sibling's lives and my cousin's lives. She did it to serve her own best interests, and did not care what she did to the rest of us. If she thought I was toxic, so be it...but I'd decided she was toxic (not that word, because I didn't know it) by the time I was 8. If she thought I was toxic at 8, then she had even bigger issues than I think she did. And, if she thought we were all toxic, why did she try so hard to force us to love her more than anyone else in our lives, including our parents?

And, yes - life does work that way, sometimes. My ex was toxic, but that doesn't mean I didn't make mistakes in our relationship. I did. But, I made mistakes - he tried to emotionally destroy me, in order to keep me around. When toxic parents are messing with their children's lives, then I think it's further evidence that said parents are toxic, if they think their children are "toxic right back". When you have to constantly manipulate your child, so that your child (or grandchild, for that matter) will fulfill all your emotional needs, you're toxic.
post #39 of 43
When I hear the word 'toxic' I think of two people both pointing at each other, with speech bubbles above their heads that say 'toxic.' And I will leave the convo at that coz it's derailing this thread.
post #40 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
When I hear the word 'toxic' I think of two people both pointing at each other, with speech bubbles above their heads that say 'toxic.' And I will leave the convo at that coz it's derailing this thread.
So, you think that manipulative parents are thinking "toxic" at little children, and you don't think that's toxic, in and of itself? People who manipulate children into fulfilling their own emotional needs, at the expense of the child's emotional needs, are toxic. There's more wiggle room in adult/adult relationships (although people can be toxic in those, too), but when it's adult/child, it's pretty clear. Honestly - if you've never dealt with any toxic people, I'm truly happy for you, and I hope you never do. I also hope your children never do.

Fair enough - we're definitely going OT.
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