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I'm done. - Page 2

post #21 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigeyes View Post
One word of caution, the natural consequence of wearing the warmer clothes can backfire on you.

My dsd actually wore warm clothes to school, refused to drink the water we sent, and then sat in the sun during recess and lunch until she went to the hospital in an ambulance with heat stroke. ... Is your dsd capable of going that far?
I don't *think* she is, but otoh this is a kid who will refuse to use the bathroom, while visibly doing the pee dance ("I don't have to go") and then have an accident 10 minutes later. I don't think it's hot enough for her to give herself sunstroke here though - I also think the day camp watches them pretty closely. Last time she wore the too-warm clothes (this is an ongoing thing) the day camp teachers had bought her a slushie. Although she still insisted, with bright red cheeks, that she wasn't hot.

I think I'll go on the camping trip... but with several books and an ipod.
post #22 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laggie View Post
I don't *think* she is, but otoh this is a kid who will refuse to use the bathroom, while visibly doing the pee dance ("I don't have to go") and then have an accident 10 minutes later. I don't think it's hot enough for her to give herself sunstroke here though - I also think the day camp watches them pretty closely. Last time she wore the too-warm clothes (this is an ongoing thing) the day camp teachers had bought her a slushie. Although she still insisted, with bright red cheeks, that she wasn't hot.

I think I'll go on the camping trip... but with several books and an ipod.
Yeah, you might want to be there to watch what happens. We have an extreme case and have learned to prepare for anything.
post #23 of 59
Is it possible this issue is more related to DH than DSD? An honest question. I mean, if he backed you up, would she get the message pretty quickly what's ok and what's not? Seems the issue is more about DH, to me, and he's pretty happy with the status quo and is working to maintain it while you and DSD are suffering (DSD is sufferering since she's going to such lengths to try to change the situation).

Resigning as step-mother might be a reasonable step if done with love and care. Would be curious to read updates on how that goes.
post #24 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laggie View Post
Thanks for all the hugs...

DH is obviously mad at me about this. Apparently expecting him to look after his child is unreasonable. Making lunches is too much of a challenge. If we had other kids and I was making lunches anyway, I would make hers too, but that's not the case.

I'm trying to decide whether I will go along on the camping trip planned for the end of the month (2 nights). Generally camping trips are filled with the joy of DSD refusing to participate in any activities or to help with anything, with the added pleasure of constant whining and complaining. Sound fun?

I'm pretty sure this isn't an attachment problem. She actually is fairly affectionate, she just goes out of her way to do the opposite of anything I say. Like this morning, after I told her it was going to be hot today like yesterday, she decided she wanted to wear jeans and a sweatshirt. Her daycamp teachers must think we're on crack.
I think you are being too controlling with her, and she is struggling to have some independence. Are you the person who hates the bangs?

The lunches sounds like a sticking point for you...... making a lunch is not a big deal, but I'm thinking this is symbolic for you of the care and love that you feel like withholding right now because you feel your needs are not being met.

How old is DSD? I'm thinking 11 right?

I'm wondering how it would work if you gave DSD more input into what happens in your family. Are her feelings being heard? Can you and she talk about the camping trip and if she wants to go? And you can talk in advance about the things you want to do together and get her input and come up with ideas *together*? I'm thinking if she has more involvement, she'll do better, and she may very well feel like she doesn't "fit" in your family and you'd rather be with DH without her. Seriously, feeling unwanted sucks and I'm sure she's picking up on your feelings.

I think you are the adult, and for you to shut down and give up is really inappropriate, since you married your DH you made a commitment to him *and* his child. I would also look into working with her in partnership on the lunches and if you ask her to make her own lunch, then take her shopping and get her the things she likes for her lunches and be open to whatever kinds of foods she wants (I wouldn't say no much on that trip, get what I mean?)

She's a tween (I think) and this is going to set the stage for the whole teen years. Being moody is part of her reality, so try not to take it all so personally.

I think that as the adult, you have more of the responsibility to figure it out and go the extra mile because she's frankly still learning how to navigate relationships, she's suffered the loss of her parents being together, and she's probably feeling very stuck and trapped in a situation she has zero control over. So I'd try to give her a little space to have control over or at least input into how her life is with you and your DH. She's old enough to make a lot of choices. If you want to give her additional responsibilty, you should also give her additional freedom and withhold judgement on so many of the little things, give her space to develop her individual self. Different people like different things, and so she needs to be heard, and to feel supported as she experiments with developing her identity. She sounds like she is very much struggling with her identity in your family too and feels insecure about her status. If she's getting frequently disciplined and frequent negatives, then how can she feel like a valued family member? Doesn't she deserve to feel like she is loved and valued and not just an inconvenience to you and your DH? How much positive is she getting from both of you? I feel like you are out of balance and you are giving her lots of negative feedback and not many positives, praise or appreciation. I understand that you are having a hard time seeing anything positive right now, but again, I feel that as the adult, you make the first move, you give more. She needs to see an example of loving and giving modeled and she needs to see that consistently before she might feel safe to let down her guard and respond to it, especially if she doesn't trust you due to all the past stress.

HTH. I am not a stepmom or a stepkid but I think you truly need to re-commit, and it's an investment in your own future peace through the teen years.

Good luck!!!!
post #25 of 59
Two more thoughts. Love isn't about saying "I love you", it is about commitment and being there and being supportive and respectful even when things are rough. You know that.

Second, this person is going to be part of your life forever. Unless you are dreaming or giving the impression that once she reaches 18 it's over and you and DH are moving to Europe and she's on her own. That is not your reality. So, the work you put in now will help you for the rest of your lives. How do you want your relationship when she is an adult? How do you want your relationship when you might actually need her help when you are in old age and close to death? You really need to re-commit.
post #26 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laggie View Post
I don't *think* she is, but otoh this is a kid who will refuse to use the bathroom, while visibly doing the pee dance ("I don't have to go") and then have an accident 10 minutes later. I don't think it's hot enough for her to give herself sunstroke here though - I also think the day camp watches them pretty closely. Last time she wore the too-warm clothes (this is an ongoing thing) the day camp teachers had bought her a slushie. Although she still insisted, with bright red cheeks, that she wasn't hot.

I think I'll go on the camping trip... but with several books and an ipod.
Here's the thing -- so what? You want to tell her that she doesn't know how her body feels? That she is wrong. That she must not be capable of regulating her own temperature and that you need to take over?

I feel like saying "get a life". I know that's really harsh though. And I'm sorry for that. But really, let the girl wear the clothes and get off her back.

I feel like you are trying to make her fit into what you want and expect. You also need to let her have the freedom to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes without being a big "I told you so" jerk. If she wears the warmer clothes, she may feel she wants to wear the warmer clothes again rather than hear anything from you about "being right".

It sounds like your relationship is extremely stressful. I would try to let go of as much as you can, and focus on being loving and supportive. You are having a power struggle, and sounds like you are over-engaged in that power struggle. Let it go. Deep breaths!!!!!! She will learn to be an adult and you don't need to instruct her, have some faith and trust and confidence that she is smart and given space, she will figure things out just fine. You just focus on being a good, positive and caring role model and not pick at her.

If her mom and dad are divorced, she probably has not witnessed a lot of good relationship skills and how to be loving and caring and respectful and all of that...... so it's more of you demonstrating that love and the golden rule. That golden rule is something to think about -- would you want someone to tell you to change your bangs? would you want someone to tell you that you really are hot when you're not? Try to treat her as you want to be treated, and show more understanding and patience when she is having a rough time.

If I were her, I would have trust issues with you, especially with the criticisms over these little things and your statement that you're not going to do anything for her and you're checking out. Have you basically told her in not so many words.. -- screw you, you are on your own, good luck with that you incapable little $&*#!

OK, it is going to take a lot of time and energy to build trust. But you can do it. Really you can. Have confidence in yourself, and in her that you will make it if you work together, and really that's more of you doing the up front work and leading by example.

Hugs. Seriously I'm so sorry you are hurting over this.
post #27 of 59
I think you're going through the same stuff I'm going through. It isn't the hair, it's the building up of the constant doing the opposite of what is asked. By the time you get to the hair or the lunch, it's become a case of My god, can you just do one stinking thing I ask without arguing?
I agree, let the hair go.

We're in the middle of adopting each other's kids, and we don't even have the other parents to deal with, his previous wife being deceased, and my ds's bio dad having signed off his rights, but our therapist told me to step back and let dh discipline dsd to avoid the power struggles.

Even though technically, I'm going to be 'mom.'

It doesn't matter what we're doing, she wants to modify it in some way. If I can't calmly redirect it, I'm taking the route of let's talk to your father about it later, then. He and I have already had a very long discussion about if this marriage is going to continue and we are a family we are on the same page and you will be backing me up mister. :

This has been our new game plan, and so far it's working. I won't say it isn't frustrating, because it is. But when you have a child who is used to playing parents against each other, you have to present a united front, and we weren't. Until I threatened to leave and told him how much he undermined me in front of our children he didn't realize how easy he was making it for them to play us, or how frustrated and angry I was.

Your dsd has 3 adults to play off against each other, and if even 1 of them is hostile or uncomfortable, it's even easier for her.
post #28 of 59
I tend to agree that your stepdaughter is in a tough position. I actually think she's 8 or 9 if I'm remembering correctly. A lot of the oppositional behavior you are describing is related to her age, not necessarily directed at you - though the situation compounds it and you may take more of the brunt. My daughter is 9 years old and much more capable of doing her own thing these days. You can see her fighting for her independence and it can express itself as oppositional behavior. I think teen years set in earlier these days My guess is that this is getting aggravated by what does seem a fairly high degree of control. Not to overblow the whole hair/bangs thing, but micro-managing hair styles would totally not fly with my daughter. And she's my daughter and we have a VERY close and loving relationship.

Add to that that your stepdaughter is away from her mom for the whole summer. My daughter gets stressed out spending more than 2 days with her dad away from me unfortunately. I can't imagine a whole summer. And I agree that she's probably wondering where she fits into the family. It also sounds like your husband/her father is not super-present and is content to unload a lot of the caretaking on to you. She may be suffering from a feeling of paternal neglect.

I think you're also in a tough position because in that situation I think it can be very easy for a kid to unload on the step-parent. I see this dynamic in my situation. My daughter can be incredibly difficult with everyone, but she tends to lash out at my partner (her stepdad) more easily. In this situation, it's really important to have a dual approach. He needs to go out of his way and be more flexible and meet her more than half-way. But I also need to back him up and explain to my daughter that it's not acceptable for her to take out whatever feelings she has on her stepdad. That that's just not how you treat other people - period. It doesn't always work (or even most of the time) but she's getting consistent messages of love AND boundaries. We are also working really hard on supporting her growing desire for autonomy in age-appropriate ways.

I feel for you, but I do think that you're being too hard on her and personalizing stuff that's much more developmental. As soon as you stop responding from a position of empathy and love, it's so easy to see kids who are dealing with age and life-related issues as just rotten brats and that just increases the spiral of disconnection. You're locked in a power battle and saying "i quit" is not exactly stepping away from the power struggle - it feels more like withholding. Which can be very damaging to a kid that age who's already suffered loss. I think you need to find ways to re-connect emotionally and let go of the struggle. I also think your husband needs to engage in the situation, realize that things aren't working for anyone and help to find a way forward together. I really hope you can work this out. Good luck to you. I feel strongly about this because I see my daughter in your description of your stepdaughter - and it would break my heart (and possibly our relationship) if my partner were to respond in this way.
post #29 of 59
Thread Starter 
Just for the record:

She's 9.
She has no memory of her parents ever being together.
I've been in her life since she was 3.

I dunno... I guess my instinctive default is to look at how I was raised, and I would have never been allowed to go around with hair in my face or to wear winter clothes on a hot day. I know that a lot of people here have a different approach but it's a huge shift in thinking for me. It's true, I am being kind of a jerk. But really this stuff is a small part of our interactions. Some days it just gets out of hand, but... in spite of all of the 'perfect moms' on here, I'm pretty sure everyone has those days.

DH is involved, but yes, he prefers to just coast and leave things up to me. Normally I'm the one who plans dinner, and buys groceries and makes sure DSD has clean clothes and sunscreen and a bathing suit and so on and so forth. And really there is no reason at all why he can't do these things. He *should* do them and I think that DSD would like it better if he would. And he is. Well, not the dinners. But he's certainly doing more and I don't think that's a bad thing.

And I did not say a word all last week about clothes or hair.

I think the position of stepmom is a catch-22. If you act like a mom, you get "You shouldn't be disciplining/parenting/etc this child, you're not the parent" and if you say "I'm not the parent, I'm not doing this stuff" then you're a heartless b!tch.
post #30 of 59
Laggie, BTDT.

It's difficult, but it truly makes a difference when I just shrug off the things like hair and clothes. The bigger stuff, well, DH and I have agreed in advance to be on the same page.

That part is important. If your dh is not going to back you up at all, I don't know if you can solve this problem. In your situation, as with mine, the hardest part is getting dh on board, and letting the small stuff slide.
post #31 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laggie View Post
I think the position of stepmom is a catch-22. If you act like a mom, you get "You shouldn't be disciplining/parenting/etc this child, you're not the parent" and if you say "I'm not the parent, I'm not doing this stuff" then you're a heartless b!tch.
I think for me, my definition of being a mom has very little to do with discipline at all, and a lot to do with loving and caring for children. I think my primary jobs are to love and to teach (and for me, teaching is a lot about setting an example, giving guidelines and then getting out of the way).

The difficulty I have with hearing you say you're giving up is that it's very unfair to your daughter. I feel like you made a commitment to her when you married, you knew what you were signing up for and the package included a little one to love and support. She didn't get to choose, but you did choose your DH and her. And, all kids are demanding, newborns are demanding, they demand love and care. But parents make sacrifices out of love.

I'm not a perfect parent and you're not a heartless bitch. You are going through a tough time and want to give up but that doesn't reap you any long term rewards.
post #32 of 59
Quote:
think for me, my definition of being a mom has very little to do with discipline at all, and a lot to do with loving and caring for children. I think my primary jobs are to love and to teach (and for me, teaching is a lot about setting an example, giving guidelines and then getting out of the way).

The difficulty I have with hearing you say you're giving up is that it's very unfair to your daughter. I feel like you made a commitment to her when you married, you knew what you were signing up for and the package included a little one to love and support. She didn't get to choose, but you did choose your DH and her. And, all kids are demanding, newborns are demanding, they demand love and care. But parents make sacrifices out of love.
Teaching and caring for children IS parenting. As a stepparent if 'we' do too much parenting/caring/teaching and not 'allow' the parents to do their job we are taking away from an important part of the bio parents relationship with their children. There is a fine line between doing too much and not at all. Laggie, it sounds like you have to do too much parenting for your sd. She is resisiting that of course! Because you are not the mama. It is not unfair to step back and allow dh to parent and have a relationship with his own child.

When you married you didn't know how hard it was going to be. You signed up for a dh and his daughter. (I'm just making this up here. That's how it was for me anyway . . ) You probably walked in thinking how wonderful he has a daughter how much fun are we going to have. Then reality set in.

Love for ones own children and someone elses' children is different. The love is there but not the same . . . Sacrifice for one's own children is very different than sacrifice for others children.

Saying things like 'daughter' and 'mom' when the biology isn't there just makes it difficult because we are not 'the mom'.

back to our regular programming. . .
post #33 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by anitaj71 View Post
Teaching and caring for children IS parenting. As a stepparent if 'we' do too much parenting/caring/teaching and not 'allow' the parents to do their job we are taking away from an important part of the bio parents relationship with their children. There is a fine line between doing too much and not at all. Laggie, it sounds like you have to do too much parenting for your sd. She is resisiting that of course! Because you are not the mama. It is not unfair to step back and allow dh to parent and have a relationship with his own child.

When you married you didn't know how hard it was going to be. You signed up for a dh and his daughter. (I'm just making this up here. That's how it was for me anyway . . ) You probably walked in thinking how wonderful he has a daughter how much fun are we going to have. Then reality set in.

Love for ones own children and someone elses' children is different. The love is there but not the same . . . Sacrifice for one's own children is very different than sacrifice for others children.

Saying things like 'daughter' and 'mom' when the biology isn't there just makes it difficult because we are not 'the mom'.

back to our regular programming. . .
OK, maybe I don't understand, but in adopted families, the biology isn't there but the commitment is. So I don't think biology is what makes a family or a parent-child relationship. I think that attitude has a ton to do with it, and whether someone sees the situation and overall everyday ilfe as positive or negative. A 6 year relationship is a long time for people to be close
post #34 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by KBecks View Post
OK, maybe I don't understand, but in adopted families, the biology isn't there but the commitment is. So I don't think biology is what makes a family or a parent-child relationship. I think that attitude has a ton to do with it, and whether someone sees the situation and overall everyday ilfe as positive or negative. A 6 year relationship is a long time for people to be close
lol Good luck with the argument that Step-parents are like adoptive parents.... I brought that up once on this board and received an earful about how untrue it is because the children already have two bio-parents in their lives and as step-parents we should just be on the side lines.

Spend more time reading here and you will understand that there is no winning when you are a step-parent... everything you do will be wrong, even with the best intentions.
post #35 of 59
Perhaps I'm an optimist but I don't see why step parents can't be like adoptive parents. I don't see why a stepchild can't be able to say, I have two parents and one or two step parents -- and they are all loving, supportive, and care about me. I'm so lucky!

I do see it as attitude related. I think there is a lot of stress between the estranged adults as being a major issue, but kids are there to be loved and supported unconditionally.

And I wonder what the "regular programming is" and it sounds like a lot of venting. OK, venting is healthy to a degree, but overall negative attitudes hurt families and people -- a lot.

Lastly to spin it positive, I think it's more important to focus on what you are in a relationship, and not what you're not. If you are not the parent, then, define what you are and focus on what you can do and give and offer to the family team rather on what you can't or won't.
post #36 of 59
KBecks, thank you for saying all you are saying.

I am not a stepmom, but I am a stepchild.

I had one stepmom in my life who was so great. She did not try to be a mom to me, but she was a great friend. Possibly the most important influence in my life for good. She was with my dad from when I was 5 to when I was 13. She was so patient. Never lost her temper, even though I tried her patience as best as I could a few times.

She was so fun. She just genuinely loved being with me. She wasn't like other controling people in my life, who would hand me a schedule and say, "this is what we are doing," but she was totally relaxed and laid back and we would sit and doodle with markers or take a walk and sing songs together. Just "boring" stuff. My grandma was always trying to take me to concerts and ballet shows and science museums and other educational cultural experiences and activities. Blah. Yep I complained and dragged my feet. Why do people think kids get no say in these "outings"? And then it's the kid who has the bad attitude.

Thank goodness for my stepmom. She and my dad are no longer together but we still have a very special relationship and that is the kind of mom I try to be today. This woman never once disciplined me. But you know what? She didn't need to. She always treated me with respect. My feelings and preferences were always valid to her. She was so sweet and genuinely accepting and patient that I couldn't help but fall in love with her.

I think it's sad that the OP has been with this girl since she was 3 and has yet to build a loving relationship with her. I think the OP is missing out. I think counseling might help her get past her control and expectation issues so that she could really begin to enjoy the time she has left with her step daughter. The 8-11-year-old years are SO magical and special and just FUN, but NO ONE likes feeling stifled, controled, or resented.
post #37 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KBecks View Post
Perhaps I'm an optimist but I don't see why step parents can't be like adoptive parents.
Um... step parenting and adoptive parenting have virtually nothing in common. I don't think that anyone has any idea how difficult this is until they are immersed in it. There is a reason why all of the books out there on the topic have at least a passing mention of the advice to stay the heck away from men with kids. Usually it's in the "words of wisdom from experienced stepmothers" section.

Maybe after you spend hours researching daycamps for your stepkid, take 1.5 hours off your workday to drive her to the best one in town (which you paid for), and then have her scream "She's NOT my MOM" when you go to pick her up, you'll have an inkling of what it's like. How about all the work of being a parent but with none of the love or appreciation? Sound fun?

As for what I want our relationship to be like, I'm pretty happy with being dad's wife. The stepmom thing mostly consists of me trying to do nice things for DSD and then feeling hurt when she doesn't appreciate it. Maybe that's motherhood, but I didn't sign up for being walked all over.
post #38 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laggie View Post
As for what I want our relationship to be like, I'm pretty happy with being dad's wife. The stepmom thing mostly consists of me trying to do nice things for DSD and then feeling hurt when she doesn't appreciate it. Maybe that's motherhood, but I didn't sign up for being walked all over.
I confess to having read your original post and then skimming the rest, so forgive me if I repeat, but to me, you should be dad's wife then. Sounds like dad should not expect you to do or be more than your comfortable with, and when he does, the resentment you feel is picked up on by your step-kid.

I have a friend who included her dsc in the wedding ceremony--as in exchanged rings and all. It creeped me out. The kid hates her years later, and she resents the heck out of the role she assumed she needed to take to solidify her bond to the husband. Bleh . ..
post #39 of 59
But what I don't understand is.... what are the qualities of the dad's wife relationship? So, if you describe your relationship to someone as "I'm her sister", that doesn't describe what the relationship is. You can have sisters that have wonderful relationships and sisters that never see or speak to each other.

So what is your goal for the feeling of this relationship?
post #40 of 59
Well, my dd is 5 and she's my bio daughter, and i can't say that i feel appreciated. I mean, granted she's 5...but i think expecting gratitude and appreciation from kids is a set up. Some do it and it's awesome, some don't until years later.

I'm a step kid, on both sides, and i second the be there, don't parent approach. I don't know if my step-mom *loves* me, but i didn't really need her to. She didn't come into my life until i was in high school and i was pretty cool with her, but i'm thankful she didn't try and parent me. She's rather irritating as a person and if she had tried to mother me, it would have been unbearable. I have a great mom, i didn't need another one. I might have liked someone a bit cooler, easier to be around though.

As a kid, i definitely picked up on the fact that she was always trying to win my approval though, and i would watch out for that. Even now as an adult, i'm aware that she isn't super comfortable around me... she gets offended easy...tries to impress etc...

I suspect that your dsd is aware that you are hungering for appreciation and gratitude. That could be driving her away. So, give up expectations. Give her the room to come to you. Be yourself... do what you need to do, even if it's some traditional "parent" roles like making lunch, etc.. but don't expect anything back. If she says "thanks" one day, then say "your welcome" and smile. Then let it go. Maybe she'll say it again, maybe she won't. If this relationship- between you and her dad- is to stay, then so is she. Having a strained relationship into her later teen and adult years is not worth it.

good luck. i appreciate what a hard job you have.
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