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S/O Stepkids and passive aggressive behavior

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
In another thread we were discussing the way our dsd's seem to be going out of their way to do the very things they keep telling us they are not going to do.

The words 'passive aggressive' keep popping into my head. I googled 'how should I respond to passive aggressive behavior' (in quotes) and got so many articles that seemed to be describing the kids we were discussing!

Our stepchildren are feeling powerless, so they respond in a passive aggressive manner, and instead of getting attention from their bio parent, which is what they really want, they are just getting more negative feedback from us, the step-parents.

So, experienced step-parents, how do you get your DP to step up to the plate and pay attention to their children? How do you get past the denial?

My DH honestly seems to think he can force a mother-daughter relationship because he wants it so much, and the more he does, the more dsd and I resent each other. How is it possible for someone to be so out of touch with their own child that they can't see how insulting it is to expect her to just accept a replacement mom and not acknowlege her suspicions about what really happened to her bio mom?

From what I've been reading, children of divorce seem to have the same pattern of acting out in passive aggressive ways, so I'm comforted a little by the knowledge that her behavior is somewhat 'normal.' DSD and I have an appointment with the therapist on Weds, so when we go I am going to request appointments for the whole family with a family therapist from now on.

I feel like Dh thinks I'm supposed to do this all by myself and it's just gonna fall into place by some sort of magic.

:

So, what can I do to give her the feeling that she has some power, and what can I do to get dh to understand that she needs him? And what can I do to switch my mind over to compassion instead of irritation? A simple short phrase I can repeat in my head when the rage is bubbling up and I start mentally counting the days until she's 18 would be really helpful. I know I need to be compassionate, but I just don't feel that way sometimes.
post #2 of 21
I think you need to make it plain to your husband that you will not play Mommy to his daughter until she is ready to accept you as such. She needs time to grieve in her own way, and handing a replacement to her is not helping. Let him know that you are willing to be like an aunt, but you will not be Mom. Any discipline is up to him. And stand firm. Time for him to step up to the plate.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
I agree. She has spent 3 years screaming to be heard, and when I started reading about passive-aggressive behavior it was like a light bulb over my head.

He's in such denial it just blows me away.
post #4 of 21
Have you ever told her directly that you're not trying to replace her Mom?
post #5 of 21
does she have any pics of her mother up in her room? maybe you could offer her some as a gift? that might let her know somebody "gets it" perhaps it would cool some of the anger on her part. crazy things happen in the mids of kids.
post #6 of 21
I second the last two posts. Both great ideas.
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
I have done both of those things. I even helped her make a scrapbook and a disc of some video there was of her mom.

I'm so sick of the whole thing. DH is so disconnected and seems to think I'm able to fix the problems he and the previous wife created. It's unfair and maddening.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeyes View Post
I have done both of those things. I even helped her make a scrapbook and a disc of some video there was of her mom.

I'm so sick of the whole thing. DH is so disconnected and seems to think I'm able to fix the problems he and the previous wife created. It's unfair and maddening.

Dear bigeyes,

I should not be at the keyboard right now.... i got caught by your thread and I just cannot leave without very quickly saying something to you although I wish I could give this more time
just this right now, Ok?

You are doing a killer job. Of examining this. Of learning yourself. Of offering love to another for the sake of the love and the other , which, honestly, gives back to you more reasons to quit than reasons to forge ahead.
Can I tell you just this right now? As it is the most urgent thing I felt I needed to say - I am seriously very proud of you. As a step-mom you are light-years ahead of most steps that I see. and even at this early stage.
So, honey, you keep on going, OK?
I mean it. Keep on. This is going, with all its difficulty, in the exact right direction .
I am sure.
Sincerely,
anj119
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
thanks.

I have always heard that when they are hardest to love is when they need it the most. I had no idea how true that was until now.
post #10 of 21
I saw this in new posts and I'd like to offer the perspective of a former passive-aggressive stepdaughter, if I may. I realize that your situation is, most likely, much different from mine, especially if it's her dad that has custody (mine didn't, but not for lack of trying because he didn't want to pay CS anymore : ), but it wasn't that long ago that I was there and I remember how I felt.

I hated that my stepmom, S, swallowed every line, believed every lie, vilified my mother, helped my dad screw my mom over in court (S was a lawyer), etc. She read books like "How to Listen so Your Kids Will Talk" and attempted to use psychology on us to get us to open up and like her more and spend more time with our dad. I resented her for that. I didn't WANT to spend time with my dad. I wanted him to rot in hell. She would say things like "You sound very frustrated. Can you tell me why that is?" Oh, I don't know, perhaps because I want to be at HOME but I'm HERE and you keep interrupting my meditation with your insipid questions? Perhaps because you keep not only dragging me to church to worship a god I don't believe in, but you make me dress up to go and belittle my mother because she didn't send me with "appropriate" church clothes, nevermind I'm 15 and pack my own bags?

They took us to counselors and therapists and with every attempt I just shut down more because they didn't get it. All I wanted was to never see my dad again, to live with my mom full-time, to not have to give up my weekends and spend them in a podunk nowhere town where I didn't know anyone & wasn't allowed to call my friends because long-distance cost too much. S finally wised up to my dad's BS, but not before they adopted a child together and she caught him in bed with his business partner's sister (the same thing he did to my mom, by the way, and S called mom crazy when mom told her he'd do the same thing to her).

So what I'm saying with that novel is, maybe your stepdaughter is just an angsty teen who's trying to work through a lot of hurt and anguish and really does just want to be left alone to work through all the messy stuff in her head. Maybe therapy ALONE would be good for her, so she can talk to someone without feeling judged by the people who she feels are judging her all the time anyway (you're adults in authority. It's how teens think adults get their jollies, whether it's true or not). Counseling for you and your husband together would be good to work through the divide between what you think needs to be done and what he's willing to do. You're right that she doesn't want you to be her replacement mom, but all of the appointments and "bonding" and whatever else feels, to a teen, like what a mom would do.

Her dad needs to be the one to do those things, and you need to approach the situation like she's someone else's child, because she is. What would you do if your friend's daughter were treating you like this? How would you talk to your friend about her daughter's behavior? What would you want your friend to do? These are the things you need to work out with your husband, because she's HIS daughter, and while you may love her with all your heart, no amount of love will make her realize before she's ready that you're NOT replacing her mom.

I wish I could find S to apologize for the nasty things I said to her because I was angry with my dad, to tell her that while I hated her pretentiousness and the patronizing attitude she had toward me (told me once that I couldn't possibly know more about my brother than she did because she's an adult who's taken child psych courses and I'm just a kid, nevermind I lived with him), no one deserves to be treated the way my dad treated her, no one deserves to have a deadbeat dad and now their son has one just like my brother & I did.

I hope your DSD comes around a lot faster than I did, but it's going to be on her own time no matter how much or how little effort you put into it. You're right, it's about control, and if you're the one she has issues with, the less control you have the sooner that will be, because she'll see that you're not acting how a mom "should" act, you're acting like her dad's wife, a friendly female adult who lives in the house and deserves respect because that's what it takes to make a household run smoothly. You're not the one who tells her to clean her room, you're not the one who schedules her dentist appointments, you're not the one who reminds her to clean her plate, etc., all that is her dad's domain, because all that is "parental" stuff.
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
I think there is a lot of truth to that, unfortunately, DH works all the time and I spend most of my time with the kids. I'm it, like it or not. Unless he is going to call her on the phone every day after school, I am in charge of everything until he comes home, whenever that may be. Some days we don't see him at all.

And she's 9 1/2, but early puberty runs in both sides of her family and I feel like she is acting like a moody teen.

I'm frustrated with the whole thing, and I know dh doesn't get it because we just had a huge fight yesterday about it. I can count on one hand how many times we've had an arguement in the 3 years we've been a couple, and this was the biggest one ever. He does not get it. He thinks she is acting like a normal 9 year old. He thinks lying and passive aggressive crap are normal for a 9 year old, especially a girl. It's sexist and idiotic, and I can talk until I'm blue in the face, it doesn't make any difference. He thinks he's responsible for father son stuff and I'm responsible for mother daughter stuff, and the fact that neither she nor I feel that way doesn't matter one bit, because he wants it to be true. He never sees any of her actions as conniving or a cry for help, and keeps telling me that because I'm the adult I'm not supposed to get mad. But he gets mad all the time. It's like he has a different set of rules that only apply to him, and I know that when she is 14 and pregnant it won't be his fault, it will be mine.

I am afraid of what she is going to become, and I am starting to question why I ever thought I could do this. One person cannot fix a problem that was created by several. I'm tired of feeling like I'm a bad person for not loving someone who so obviously hates me. If I weren't married to her dad I would leave, and I'm not so sure I won't leave anyway.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeyes View Post
I think there is a lot of truth to that, unfortunately, DH works all the time and I spend most of my time with the kids. I'm it, like it or not. Unless he is going to call her on the phone every day after school, I am in charge of everything until he comes home, whenever that may be. Some days we don't see him at all.

And she's 9 1/2, but early puberty runs in both sides of her family and I feel like she is acting like a moody teen.

I'm frustrated with the whole thing, and I know dh doesn't get it because we just had a huge fight yesterday about it. I can count on one hand how many times we've had an arguement in the 3 years we've been a couple, and this was the biggest one ever. He does not get it. He thinks she is acting like a normal 9 year old. He thinks lying and passive aggressive crap are normal for a 9 year old, especially a girl. It's sexist and idiotic, and I can talk until I'm blue in the face, it doesn't make any difference. He thinks he's responsible for father son stuff and I'm responsible for mother daughter stuff, and the fact that neither she nor I feel that way doesn't matter one bit, because he wants it to be true. He never sees any of her actions as conniving or a cry for help, and keeps telling me that because I'm the adult I'm not supposed to get mad. But he gets mad all the time. It's like he has a different set of rules that only apply to him, and I know that when she is 14 and pregnant it won't be his fault, it will be mine.

I am afraid of what she is going to become, and I am starting to question why I ever thought I could do this. One person cannot fix a problem that was created by several. I'm tired of feeling like I'm a bad person for not loving someone who so obviously hates me. If I weren't married to her dad I would leave, and I'm not so sure I won't leave anyway.
*hugs* it sounds like your husband needs more counseling than your DSD does, to be honest. A lot of her anguish is likely because of his attitude. Have you ever sat her down and said "look, I know I'm not your mom, I'm your dad's wife. I do a lot of things a mom would do because your dad isn't home to do them. I would rather he were in charge of that stuff, but I'm the one who's home so it falls on me, not because I think I'm going to replace your mom, but because that's just how the chips fall. I know you resent me because I'm here and I exist and it looks like I'm trying to be your new mom, and I know the divorce hurt you a lot - how could it not? - but that anger is misplaced if it's directed at me." Let her know that you're on the level, so to speak, but leave the "what's making you frustrated" stuff behind because it's likely she'll think that is a seriously stupid question and it will just make her angrier. And then let a professional work with her and with your husband, because he needs to wake up and she needs a safe space. *hugs* again. I seriously thought she was 15 or something, with the description of her behavior and the "counting the days until she's 18" thing.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
I have had discussions with her. It's pointless. She hates me, resents him, and wants me and my ds to just leave. She thinks if I'm gone everything will be fine.
Dh thinks since I'm here everything should be fine. Her bio mom is dead, so no divorce, though I suspect there would have been one eventually.

If it weren't happening to me it would almost be funny. He's clueless and stubborn and she needs so much help I don't even know where to start, but I do know that the more she and I resent each other the less able I will be to help her. And I'm sick of being told that my feelings aren't important because I'm the adult. I shouldn't have to put up with this just because he doesn't ever deal with things himself, and that is really what this is all about at the core.
post #14 of 21
bigeyes,

take this how you will... it sounds harsh. It is offered with love, bee-lee dat.

honey, back-off the girl.

you are learning you are well intended you are intelligent and this will make you a better person.

just for now make no decisions take no actions float awhile
rest

with confidence,
Angela
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
That is probably what I will do anyway since I'm in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and don't know anybody. Where would I go?
post #16 of 21
into yourself far enough to find shelter. you would go layer by layer further inward until you found a place solidly anchored and unaffected. Away from external attitudes and opinions. in that place you would unpack the months of subterfuge and, withholding judgment, you might reassign ownership of the passive aggressive tactics which you've identified correctly as obstacles to your success and happiness. Shifting the blame blaming the burden burdening the impossible unimaginable incredulous indignance. Might you discover a passive aggressive saboteur working with your credentials and without your permission right under your nose?
you also might not

let me say though... my experiences in life have taught me that the issues which plague me most doggedly, the ones which i cannot let go to the degree that they cost me sleep and prevent my peace
those things which i feel most urgently desperately need my immediate attention no matter come hell or high water no rest demanding resolution or death
when i get that feeling now
that is how i know
that the thing to do is the thing which is the furthest thing away from what i want to
and that is
let it go

sometimes what helps me to do that is to psyche myself into it by using my imagination..... like i am watching a movie or a play and i intentionally suspend disbelief .....
so i just take on a role just to try it out to see if i can

pretend
practice
act like you aren't thinking about it don't care don't bat an eyelash
really be convincing

usually that does it for me.
but, thats just me.

but, really..... the poor thing. she has far too much power in your relationship if she is using that power intentionally.... no, sweetheart, you cannot assign her live ammunition. You will not react to her behavior with heartfelt anything any longer. You must realize you have given her a loaded gun and you must do the responsible thing as the adult take it back take the power back and take your raised hackles back to the same place you left your last full blown tantrum

the safest sanest course momma
acting like you don't really care don't really mean that you don't care. ykwim? HA!
love
-anj119
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
makes sense. Acting like it doesn't bother me is the hardest thing of all.

But, what are natural consequences when someone lies and steals? Do we both just ignore? Dh told me today he found some of his stuff in her room too, so she has been stealing from both of us.

He is still not convinced that I'm right about any of this, but at least he is listening a bit today.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeyes View Post
So, experienced step-parents, how do you get your DP to step up to the plate and pay attention to their children? How do you get past the denial?
I feel like Dh thinks I'm supposed to do this all by myself and it's just gonna fall into place by some sort of magic.
and what can I do to get dh to understand that she needs him? And what can I do to switch my mind over to compassion instead of irritation? A simple short phrase I can repeat in my head when the rage is bubbling up and I start mentally counting the days until she's 18 would be really helpful. I know I need to be compassionate, but I just don't feel that way sometimes.
I'm not that experienced (only 2.5 years I've been a stepparent).
But I have a similar problem.
Stepson, J, only wants his dad's attention.
His dad doesn't give him any attention.
I'm forced to be babysitter on weekends because my husband works weekends and won't do anything as far as changing his schedule or getting a different job.
Therefore, I spend tons of time with J, and his dad doesn't.
J has said he just wants his dad to spend some time with him, play catch with him, play card games with him, etc.
When my husband does spend a little time with J, J behaves better for me.
When J doesn't get 'daddy time', which is most of the time, J's a little shit.
I also feel like my husband expects me to deal with his son.
It's been an ongoing struggle trying to get my husband to do his part as J's father.
If J asks me can I have... or can I do ... and his dad is home, I simply respond with, "ask your dad".
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Frustrating, isn't it?
Dh has agreed to pay some extra attention to dsd, so we'll see. Tomorrow we will put in the request for a different counselor.

sigh

I still think he's a bit blind, but at this point I'll take any action on his part as a good thing.
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeyes View Post
He thinks he's responsible for father son stuff and I'm responsible for mother daughter stuff, and the fact that neither she nor I feel that way doesn't matter one bit, because he wants it to be true. He never sees any of her actions as conniving or a cry for help, and keeps telling me that because I'm the adult I'm not supposed to get mad. But he gets mad all the time. It's like he has a different set of rules that only apply to him, and I know that when she is 14 and pregnant it won't be his fault, it will be mine.

I am afraid of what she is going to become, and I am starting to question why I ever thought I could do this. One person cannot fix a problem that was created by several. I'm tired of feeling like I'm a bad person for not loving someone who so obviously hates me. If I weren't married to her dad I would leave, and I'm not so sure I won't leave anyway.
I totally understand where you are coming from....I so do. It's so so very draining. I wish I had some magic words of wisdom but I don't because it's still sometimes a battle in our home. What's helped alot is individual therapy.

My advice is: I think you and your DH should go to a marriage/family therapist so he can hear from someone else that his dd needs him to step up (NOT YOU, until you and her are BOTH ready) and take care of his child. He is fully responsible for her emotional needs and he can't just pawn them off to someone else. She lost her mother (I remember a thread of yours from the past)....she needs her father.
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