Final Update on Post 24. Support and hugs greatly appreciated.
Please read update on post 19.
I posted recently regarding some difficulties with my 11 year old DSD who came to live with us a month ago. Her behavioral problems at that time I found to be difficult but I could work through them with her. However, new things have come to light since then that are absolutely unacceptable to me, and that seriously cause me to wonder if this is the best home for DSD, that maybe she's better off with her mom.
This week I learned that DSD has been hurting her baby brother and that it's been ongoing since her summer visit. My DS is 10 1/2 months old. This past summer during her visit he was between 4 1/2 to 6 months old. I've also learned this week that I am pregnant and that soon I will have not 1, but 2 babies to protect from her. I am feeling so angry with myself because this past summer I noticed more bumps and bruises on him. One time the skin was off much of his finger and when I inquired to my DSDs (ages 11 and 13 at the time), neither of them could tell me what happened. I wanted them to be able to play with their brother, as they lived 1000 miles away and, basically, see him once a year. I didn't want to place restrictions on them. DH assured me that DS was just becoming more mobile and that's why there were more bumps and bruises. When I told him I thought DS was being intentionally hurt, he told me that I didn't know that, and he was honestly offended. I felt like a wicked stepmother for even suggesting it. I am angry with myself for not insisting at that time that they be in DH's or my presence every time they play with DS. DH has since apologized to me, but I told him that if I ever feel so strongly that any child of mine is being harmed (including DSD) that my intuition and the signs I actually see are enough proof for me to take protective measures. I absolutely have to prove nothing. No, I can't go about accusing people who may be innocent, but I can absolutely make decisions that keep my children safe. I feel that parents don't listen to their intuition enough, and now I, too, am guilty of that. I felt bullied by DH for having the suspicions I had about his younger daughter. He accused me of being unfair and thinking badly of her.I'm working through these emotions because I know I can't hold resentment against my DH.
DSD moved in with us full time about a month ago, and the very first night she was here, DS got hurt in her presence. She lied to both DH and me about how it happened, and when she told the "truth" I still didn't believe her. I talked to her, the same way I did when DS was getting hurt over the summer, and said that sometimes accidents happen and if there's an accident, no one's in trouble. I just need to know what happened. DSD began coming to me when DS got hurt and telling me what happened, things like DS bumped his head on the coffee table and I began to have a bit more trust in her. I will say that he has gotten hurt so much in her presence, that I stopped leaving her alone with him for the most part. One day this past week I was changing DS's diaper on my bed. I was telling DSD a funny story about the last time I was pregnant, something her dad did. I know she's very jealous of her brother and I was attempting to make her feel "included" in some of my basic interactions with him. DS was near the middle of the bed, closer to the headboard and wall. DSD was lying next to him. I assessed the situation quickly and decided that DS would be safe for the few seconds it took me to walk to the utility room and get a clean diaper cover. I was trying very hard to trust her and to help her feel that I trusted her, something we've been struggling with lately. When I returned she had already moved DS to the corner/edge of the bed where he could fall and hit his head against the dresser. She was standing feet away from the bed and generally looking very nervous. I knew at that moment that she has absolutely been hurting him on purpose. She intentionally placed him in harm's way and I caught her. She acts FAST. I had a talk with her and told her I absolutely believe she placed him on the edge of the bed on purpose. She had a meltdown, but she did admit that, indeed, she had and that she's actually been hurting him since the summer. She says this is because she is jealous of him. In my mind, there is absolutely no acceptable reason for an 11 1/2 year old girl to hurt a baby. She didn't even feel guilty (at least that I could see) until I caught her and called her on it. It is so very concerning to me.
DH and I planned for me to homeschool DSD. We'll be moving to a bigger place within the next several months and didn't want to place DSD in a school system that is not the best, and didn't want to make her switch schools again. However, now that I know she has been hurting her brother, I am constantly on edge. I don't leave him in a room that I am not in, unless I am guarding the door to that room (say, during nap). I bring DS to the bathroom with me.I can't relax. I can't put DS down somewhere to happily play where he "should" be safe. for example, I can no longer exercise in the other room during his naps. I cannot put DS in the jumper where he would be safe so I can take a 5 minute shower. I feel like a prisoner in my own home. Anyhow, we made the decision to place DSD in public school after Christmas Break. I need to feel my baby is safe at least some of the time, without my constantly being on guard. I do let DSD hold and play with DS--but only in my DH's or my presence. DSD knows she has lost this privilege.
DSD requires so much attention that it is not humanly possible to give her all the attention she wants. It's only been a month and I feel like I have aged at least a year or two in that time. She lies on a daily basis and and does dishonest, deceitful things. I do not and cannot trust her. We plan to get her in therapy, but it will take time to get her in and much more time for her to work through her issues to a point where I feel safe. I'm afraid the situation is more than I can handle. I'm afraid she may be better off with her mom than DS is with DSD here. I'm also afraid for the baby I am carrying. :-( Deeply afraid. She does other things, like leave things out that DS could choke on or otherwise be very hurt by--like marbles or sharp adult scissors. I've told her many times she can't leave these things out with a baby in the house, but I continue to find them. Normally, I would think it's the age, but given her track record, I really wonder if she's leaving them out for the same reason she places him in harm's way, so that he will get hurt. I shouldn't have to wonder these things about anyone who is living in my home.
DSD's behavior is getting worse, not better. DH knows that if DSD hurts DS one more time, she is returning to live with her mother. I'm sure he doesn't like this, but he does know and believe that she has been hurting DS. DH is so sad. I am sad. I don't want to turn this child who so obviously needs love away, and I want to help her. However, it can't be at the expense of my DS's physical and emotional safety. I am pregnant now and I know that after the baby is born I won't be able to take them both to the bathroom with me all the time. I don't have faith that DSD will improve remarkably in that amount of time. I feel like I have to choose who to save, and I feel that (as heart-wrenching as it is) I have to save my babies. I have an absolute responsibility to keep my babies safe and to protect them ALL THE TIME from abuse. What DSD has been doing to DS is abuse.
I feel guilty. I feel bad. I am a good person and a good stepmother. I am loving and kind. But I am not a saint. I can't be everything to everyone. I am so sorry DSD has these issues and likely very real hurts that have caused her to be this way. I want to help her work through things, but I can't sacrifice the safety of my babies. I'm really feeling that I don't want to wait for her to hurt DS again. I'm really asking myself what I have to give. I can't allow one child to drain me so very much so that I have little to nothing left over to give my babies, and I can't have that child harming my babies on top of everything else. I have no idea how long she would have to be in therapy in order to heal to a point where she is no longer a threat, but I sense it will be far longer than I can handle. I feel so torn.
Please offer perspectives and advice. Thanks. (Please no rude comments about the fact that I suspected and didn't act earlier. I already feel bad enough. DSD is a master manipulator and DH and I have had many arguments (in private) since she arrived. I, too, wanted to believe the best in her. I wanted to believe she wouldn't intentionally hurt her brother. It's no excuse. Unfortunately, there are no excuses.)
Edited by PoetryLover - 4/15/11 at 12:30pm