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How to help me and dd.

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
My dd will be 14 in a few weeks. We chat about everyday things and watch movies a few times a month. But I really want our relationship to improve. She was so jealous of having a step sister at the age of 8 and has never really recovered. Now we are in a viscious circle.

Tonight for example she was sat on my bed and we were chatting, when my beautiful little girl came in to tel her a message. E just shouted at J and poor J ran to her room crying. I then had to go and comfort J and was left feeling cross with emily, thinking why can't she just be nice for once.

I want to see her as my beautiful dd and feel the blissful love that I feel for my younger dd, but I don't. I see her actions, she is mean to J, she is self centred and only values people according to how they look and what designer labels they are wearing. She is angry a lot of the time and shouts a lot, she has low self esteem and is a very negative person.

I had a stormy childhood with her, I was a single parent, depressed and stressed out, I had a foul temper and I yelled a lot and hit her, and lost it a lot of the time. I was in a mess. I had her at barely 18. She nearly lost me as my depression got so bad I attempted to take my own life.

For the past 6 years I have been sorted and managed to keep my cool and be level headed and be positive, I have turned my life around, but not for my little Emily who I feel i have lost. I think she still veiws me in the way that I used to be al those years ago, she feels like a stranger to me, and I want it all to change.

I want her to to trust me, to open up to me and I want to be her mum, to be there for her through the rest of her life. i want her to feel safe to confide in me about her latest crush, her hopes and her dreams.

Where can I start? I have read by this stage it is too late, but I can't allow it to be too late, I am her mum for the rest of her life. What can be done? I don't want to live any more days with regret and tears for my mistakes, i want my dd back.
post #2 of 18
maybe try family counsling?
sounds like there must be a lot of old feelings left over that need to be worked out
my father was not a very good dad, my parents split up when i was little and i only saw him on weekends, it wasn't untill i was around the age of 20 that we started to have a good relationship, the best thing my dad ever did was apologize and try to be a good father to me now, my mom on the other hand was a lot worse than him and has never apologized in a way where i felt like she at all ment it
post #3 of 18
This can be such a difficult age, even under the best of circumstances. My 12yo daughter can be very insensitive twords her younger sister. I've thought about recording her so that she can here how she sounds, it's awful! I think a certain amount of that is normal. It's important to not be judgemental about it. What you focus on you get more of (I heard that somewhere and it seems to be true). I try to acknowledge the feelings (from both ends) and gloss over the rest.

I would try to stay focused on your daughters positive attributes. What is she good at? What does she like? Take time to do things together, just the two of you.
post #4 of 18
First, to you. I want to second the family counseling idea. Speaking as a daughter, I felt abandoned by my mom (divorce, remarriage, stepsiblings) during my pre-teen and teenage years. As angry as I was at her, if she would have made the effort to try to reconnect with me, I'm pretty sure I would have put in the same effort. One truth I know is that the hunger for a mother never goes away, and is especially strong in adolescence. Speaking as a mother, and having made so many mistakes with my own daughter, I also know how forgiving our children can be if we take full responsibility for our behavior, apologize from our hearts, and make the sincere effort to be the loving, patient, kind, etc. parents we want to be. We all struggle; I believe one of the best gifts we can give our children is to see us struggle WELL, that is, to learn from our mistakes, to forgive ourselves, ask for forgiveness from the one(s) we hurt, make amends, and do it differently next time. Your daughter needs you right now, and you need her. Tell her your story, what you went through with her, what your feelings and struggles were. Let her get out her feelings about how it was for her (this will probably be a long process, again I highly recommend doing this with a good therapist who can keep the process moving along). Talk about the relationship you'd like to have together now and take steps to make it happen. It's NOT too late, it's never too late to reconnect with the ones we love. It will take a major effort, likely lots of testing on her side, but it will be worth it, for sure. And at the end of it, rather than seeing a mom who "failed," she will likely see you as a mom who tried, and who kept trying, because you love her and refused to give up. Best to you both on your journey.
post #5 of 18
No advice to add, but I wanted to give you a and tell you that it sounds like your DD is very lucky to have you as a mom. Lots of parents make mistakes (ALL of us) but it is something special to really make positive changes.
post #6 of 18
It's not too late Amanda. Hang in there and breathe.

After that, do whatever you have to do to get both of you in individual counseling with a mom/daughter session thrown in every now and then for good measure. IMHO, at this point, the focus needs to be more on individual sessions than "family" sessions.

Emily needs a place where she can go to let it all out and be heard and where only that which she wants to convey to you is conveyed. My daughter is 15 and I am sooooooooooo grateful for her therapist and how it helps us to build our relationship. Her therapist helps her to see things from my view, helps me to see things from her view, helps my daughter to convey messages and feelings to me, helps my daughter appreciate and respect my rules and efforts, etc., etc.

I don't think I could do these teenage years without our individual therapists. There will always be bumps. And, you can have the relationship you want with Emily despite the bumps. Don't give up.
post #7 of 18
WOW Amanda, we have lead a very similar life. Barely 18 when I had dd1. Single parent, completly out of control, low self esteem here. I was (and still am : (I'm trying so hard to get it in control) a yeller.

I feel so bad for my dd1. She has had a totally crappy life thanks to me.

Just sit down and talk to her about this. 14 is psudo-adult, if you talk to her like an adult she may respond with some really good stuff.
post #8 of 18
Well going by the example you gave I can see why Emily is upset with her sister. She was having a nice chat with you when J came in uninvited (why doesn't really matter), E. objected, J got upset and you left. You showed her that J's feelings are more important than hers.

I'm not for one minute saying you mean to do this, but I think from a 14 yo's perception, that's the way it is. I really think that Emily needs lots of one on one with you with NO chance of interruptions from her sister. And I also think that her sister should not be allowed in her room without knocking, and then only on invitation.
post #9 of 18
Do you guys do special one-on-one things together? I know as an oldest child at that age, I loved when my mom would go and do something with just me,--garage saling, flea markets, a visit to the local tea shop. It didn't matter what we did, but it meant so much to me that we had alone time. In hindsight, it probably helped her remember why she liked me, since I was a royal b---- from the ages of 12 - 14.
post #10 of 18
Originally Posted by mollykatsmom
Do you guys do special one-on-one things together? I know as an oldest child at that age, I loved when my mom would go and do something with just me,--garage saling, flea markets, a visit to the local tea shop. It didn't matter what we did, but it meant so much to me that we had alone time. In hindsight, it probably helped her remember why she liked me, since I was a royal b---- from the ages of 12 - 14.
Thank you for reminding me that I need to do this MORE!! I put some effort into it and my daughter LOVES it. I must do it more. Thanks!
post #11 of 18
I am sorry that ya'll are going through such a difficult time. My dd 12 is from my first marriage, which fell apart before she was born and I also was a single mom until she was 4. I had ds when she was 6 and dd when she was 9 and she is jealous of them also. It can be quite difficult. I have found that the best thing I can do is pray. Pray for your daughter and for your family. The Lord can heal all of these issues. :
post #12 of 18
I think that teenage daughters and their mothers have the hardest relationship because they have to pull away from the most intimate attachment there is. And the way that most girls pull away is to prove that you don't know them as well as you think, they aren't the person you think they are. If she made it easy for you to love her, she wouldn't really have any faith in your love. She has to know that you love her even when she is petty and vain and selfish and mean... not just sweet and nice. Who wouldn't love sweet and nice? The trick is loving the whole package. Isn't that true for all of us?

By being mean to her sister, she is making you chose sides against her and then feeling justified being angry and hurt. I would try talking outloud about it. "See you made her cry, now I have to go rescue her and I don't get to sit and enjoy you anymore." Just don't rub her nose in it... just name it and let her figure it out.

And don't worry... it only took me 40 years to work things out with my mother.
post #13 of 18
"Tonight for example she was sat on my bed and we were chatting, when my beautiful little girl came in to tel her a message. E just shouted at J and poor J ran to her room crying. I then had to go and comfort J and was left feeling cross with emily, thinking why can't she just be nice for once."

This whole paragraph says a lot to me. "When my beautiful little girl came in..." To me right away shows favoritism. I don't hear you saying, "I was sitting talking to my beautiful daughter when J came running in..." Why is J your beautiful little girl but E isn't? The "poor J" to me shows that right away you are sympathizing with J and blaming E. Why doesn't E have a right to be upset? It sounds as if she is insecure in your love and then you prove her point by choosing her sister over her. And this part, "why can't she just be nice for once ." That is one of those "You always do this," or "You never do that" statements. Why can't she be nice for once ? So she is never nice? Not ever? By the sounds of your statement it doesn't sound as if you think she is. I'm not trying to be hard on you but when I read that whole paragraph I just cringed. The bad older daughter is hurting the poor beautiful innocent little girl by being mean like she always is. That's what it said to me. If I am getting that then E probably is too. I agree with setting up specific times to just be with E without any possibility of interruption. Maybe take just her out to supper or lunch once a week. How about a weekly movie date? After J is in bed how about going to E's room and telling her that you're happy J is in bed now so the two of you can talk uninterrupted. Make E feel #1 in your eyes for once.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Just to clarify a few things. Emily and I are often together most evenings as dh works one week of lates then one week of earlies, so on the lates her and I are together. We chat and a couple of times a month we hire what we call chick flick movies, watching sat together eating popcorn. Sometimes we go round the shops whilst dh takes the little ones. Jasmine since Theo has been born has NO one on one time with me except her bedtime story.

When J interupted we were sat in MY bedroom, and the message was for Emily regarding a friend who had called round for her. I do sometimes say to Emily when this happens how now I have to go and see to Jasmine.

Over 5 yrs Emily has done a very good job of chipping away at J's self esteem and I see it in J's play now, she can get really bossy with her friends and sounds like a little carbon copy of Emily.

At the moment I will admit there is favouritsm. Jasmine gave me a reason for living when it all seemed so futile. She hugs me and adores me and cares how I feel. She even helps me out when I am struggling with chores. Now I do undertsand it is not in teens interests to help out. I don't want to have favourites, that is why I posted, i want to feel that way about Emily but when all I see are the bad sides it is so hard to feel any warm feelings for her.

Emily had me all to herself for 8 yrs, and I kid you not from the minute J was born Emily has gone out of her way to be mean to J to shout at her, to hit her, to manipulate her. She held her down once with her cousins and tickled her so much till J was screaming for her to stop. She laughs when J gets hurt and is constantly telling her her clothes don't match. So I guess I do feel so protective over J.

Just recently I have heard J telling Emily 'you hate me don't you ?' and she NEVER answers 'NO, I love you' or even just 'No'. So a big part of me feels she is this spoilt little girl who has never gotten over the fact her mother dared have any other children, and how she has been pushed out of the way. She feels you can only love one person. If I try to make E feel number one in my eyes she will feel she has won over Jasmine. I don't want my family to feel like this where one has to win.

And ther eare some times when Emily does nice things for me, and on the rare occasion she ahs been nice to J, I could probably count on my fingers how many times she has been nice over the years to her sister.

Please understand, J wasn't initally my favourite, I loved them both equally and dearly. It is since J was born, the way Emily has behaved towards her, that my warm feelings for her have been erroded over the years. It is not the other way round, that J is my favourite and that is why Emily is so mean to her.
post #15 of 18
Maybe you should read Siblings Without Rivalry. They talk about and work through many of the things you've mentioned. It might help. I checked a copy out at the local library but I've seen them used on the trading post, too. Good luck!
post #16 of 18
Ditto what Heavenly said. I was NOT the favorite in the family and despite my mom claiming she didn't play favorites, it sure felt like she did. Try reading Nancy Samalin's Loving Each One Best. It is hard not to play favorites but it is vital you don't. No matter how who got to be favorite, they feel it. I am sure E felt left out when J was in the baby stage. Babies need so much attention. Oh, another good one, not addressing sibling issues but parent attachment is Hold On To YOur Kids.
post #17 of 18
Part of it is the way we look at people.
My dd was 5 when I met my partner she would go nuts cause I would look at him in that "i am in love' way, she had me just herself. We used to do everything just her and I as I was a single mom too...then came 'him' eventually she warmed right up to my partner....

Then came the ds...the 'perfect' one. After my ds turned two she felt better as now he could get into trouble.

I was lucky for her and I only to have had boys so far.

I think she wants some just you and her time, and give it to her but find out what she wants to do - as its always changing. Go somewhere where you can't be interuppted. She's old enough take her for a drive after the young one goes to bed for a latenight icecream, drivethrough. Give her all of your attention and soon she probably won't be interested.

But she needs to know that YOU want that from her. Think of doing special things just with her (and with your other daughter too don't leave her out) All kids need one on one time with mom, my moms friends had triplets she got one daycare spot three days a week so that her kids when they were 2+ could spend one day a week alone with mom.

You could take a fun cooking class, dance class something 'cool', go paint pottery, make bead necklaces, get your toe nails done. But start slow.

I am not sure counselling would do much but get everything out in the air. And really what she wants is more you, more positive time. I also promised my dd that she'd never have to babysit....so if she has to watch the little guys while I get something done I 'pay' her in someway. So she doesn't feel stepchild'ed and can alway say no.
post #18 of 18
Please dont beat yourself up about your past.
In addition your dd's current behavior may or may not have anything to do with your less than perfect parenting decisions of your past. Her attitude towards you is very typical teen. Regardless of emotional hangups.
I was also a young mom and was single until my dd was 8 and then got married when she was 9 and had my ds1 when she was 10 and my ds2/dd2 when she was 11.
So at 8 she was my only family and by 11 she was one of four children with two parents.
I did not really have the problems you struggled with, and I tend to think my daughter is very well adjusted for her age. And yet we have these struggles.
She can be mouthy and nasty and selfish. While she adores her brothers and her sister she sometimes is not nice at all, and is not particularly helpful.
There is something about this age which I think they are so wrapped up in who they are and they are becoming, that it is hard to acknowledge anybody else or their feelings. (although sometimes peers get better treatment than family).
SO while her jealous treatment of your other dd is certainly a problem resulting from rivalry which could benefit from counciling. I wouldnt beat yourself up too much because it sounds to me like a lot of her behavior is kinda typical. (which doesnt make it right, but does make it less worrisome)
A few months ago I posted a similar post about the frustrations I was having with my daughter and got a similar response about it being a problem with my attitude and I obviously wasnt treating her well or loving her enough.
I know you came on this board for some loving advice and not to be judged and have your parenting shredded to pieces.
Also you have a right to your emotions. It is hard to like somebody who is being nasty and treating you and those you love poorly. You can do your best to not show it. But dont beat yourself up over feeling that way.
When one of my children hurts another, the one who got hurt is "my baby" at the time. Whether it is my 1 year old twins, or a dispute between my oldest and her 3 year old brother.
You were being honest. And I just want you to know that i respect that.
It is hard.
Get some counciling. Both to help her deal with her anger, and to help you deal with yours. (and maybe some constructive advice on how to respond to her and the issues you are having)
But I know exactly where you are coming from and you are not alone.
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