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#1 of 32 Old 10-03-2009, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello,

Our situation is such - I just remarried and the wife and I are perfect for each other. I have a son who is 21 and is his own person, extremely mature, doesn't talk to us much and minds his own business pretty much, he meditates/prays at home quite a few hours a day in a meditation room, and is working as a meditation instructor, living with us until he can afford to move out.

My wife's daughter is turning out to be quite a handful. She has lived alone with her mother for the last 4-5 years. She is 12, and just started her periods a few months ago. Her mother let her have her way and boss her around the entire time they were alone, and they moved their country of residence 3 times in the last 4-5 years, so the child did not have the chance to make any longer term friends, and therefore is very attached to her mother.

As for my relationship with her, I have made it clear and transparent that I am not trying to replace her father, and have told her she is free to call me by name if she wants, and so she does. I have been very mature with her, never trying too much to be a father or authority figure, treating her as a relative equal, befriending her and talking to her instead of berating her or fathering her.

With our new situation of living together, the child is kicking up hell. She wants everything her way, at all times, or she gets very loud and obnoxious. If choice of dining out is not hers, she refuses to go out or she says she will just sit in the car and not come out. She is 12 and we are in illinois, so we can't legally leave her at home, so if she doesn't want to go out none of us can go out. We usually choose to go out on the spur and can't organize a babysitter on such short notice

She is very bossy over her mother and cries and induces crying and throws tantrums everyday, every night, and every time its time to dine out. She induces crying whenever her mother wants a glass of wine and goes to the car and sits there.

Her entire behaviour and resistance to the living situation is also tied in to the fact that she hasn't seen her mother spend time with anyone other than her for awhile, and when i spend time with my wife she gets upset with her mother and with me, shouting screaming bawling insulting.

She is quite a pin-prick, and tries to prick people as much as possible. My son doesn't really talk to anyone, he is just very silent and introverted, and when he is meditating in his prayer room, she makes it a point to stomp loudly as she walks by. If I put a DND sign on my room when I am exceptionally tired and sleepy, she makes it a point to tear it up and thrown it on me while I am sleeping and stomp out.

She loves school and schoolwork, and she likes the strict, authoritarian teachers. She is not trouble when it comes to schoolwork at all, she does everything on her own and asks for help as she needs it. But her behavior with the family leaves alot to be desired. shes shy and quiet around strangers.

She has a good heart, a childs heart, somewhere deep inside, but as of now she is one obnoxious and highly confrontational little brat that is very hard to live with. We don't know what to do with her. She doesn't seem to be very conscious of the way she behaves either, and it is sometimes shocking - she keeps saying 'everything has to be your way!", "can you stop talking for ONCE?", "nobody likes your jokes", "shut up", "me me me me me me", when it is always and ever her that is talking, her that dominates all the conversation, her that needs to have everything her way, everything is DONE her way, yet she seems oblivious. what is the matter with her, what do we do with her??

As parents, things we would never consider are physical punishment, or psychological medication unless it is very severe like autism or seizures or something. Xanax and such medications are out of the question.

Any suggestions? Thanks
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#2 of 32 Old 10-03-2009, 05:42 PM
 
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Sounds like me and all of my friends and any girls I have ever met at 12. I think you are mostly going to just have to tolerate her behavior for the next 6 or so years. Hopefully someone else will have better advice. Good Luck

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#3 of 32 Old 10-03-2009, 06:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sounds like me and all of my friends and any girls I have ever met at 12. I think you are mostly going to just have to tolerate her behavior for the next 6 or so years. Hopefully someone else will have better advice. Good Luck
This bad? Obnoxious tantrums every day? These arn't isolated incidents, not even every other or every third day incidents, every single evening without fail is tantrum and noise and crying and fussing. Not a single time we have been able to dine out without tantrums and tears. Extremely bossy, mostly so because she has been allowed to be. My wife allowed things like these but I find them positively disgusting behavior, if were talking and my wife turns her head towards me for half a second to talk the child grabs her chin and makes her look at her again.

Somehow I don't believe that this is absolutely normal behavior, I have had cousin sisters and known a number of, though granted not hundreds, of children this age and none of them were this selfish, self centered, obnoxious and spoilt.
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#4 of 32 Old 10-03-2009, 06:56 PM
 
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To me, this sounds like a situation that requires family counseling, and also a change in the disciplinary structure at home.

This is one of the best parenting books I've ever read for dealing with these kind of issues, because it's targeted at liberal (ie non-Orthodox) Jewish parents, who very commonly don't spank, don't like to be autocratic, value their children highly etc. etc. All well and good, but without some built-in expectations about how each member of the family needs to restrain their yetzer hara (negative will, evil impulse - it's hard to translate but you get the idea), you can easily wind up with a tween who is dominating the household with their negative behavior, even while they are behaving beautifully in the more restrictive environment of school. You guys probably aren't Jewish, but the book might be worth a read anyhow if it's at your library. It might also be entitled "How Educated, Gentle, Loving Parents Raise Kids Who Act Like Jerks, And How To Correct The Problem Without Hitting Or Drugging Them."

In conjunction with counseling, I think that you and your wife need to discuss what kinds of consequences you are willing to enforce for bad behavior. TV and computer privileges are the obvious things that might be on the table. Defending your personal space is also a serious matter - grabbing her mother's chin, coming into your bedroom when you're asleep - her mother needs to call her out on these things.

I don't let my FIVE YEAR OLD AND THREE YEAR OLD interrupt us when we're talking, or go into a room where somebody is asleep and disturb them. And if they have a tantrum at the dinner table, then dinner is over for them and they are sent to their rooms. Sure, twelve year olds are sulky, but it sounds like this goes beyond that. Unless your dsd has a major undxed emotional disorder, she can most certainly learn the short list of 100% unacceptable behaviors and exercise the self-control to avoid them.

In fact, it might be a good idea for you and your wife to start by seeing a counselor together, to really drill down and make sure you agree on that short list. There is power in a united front! She's the disciplinarian, obviously, but she needs your support. Change of this kind is not easy.
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#5 of 32 Old 10-03-2009, 11:39 PM
 
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I'm wondering how the two of you dated and this issue never came up?
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#6 of 32 Old 10-04-2009, 04:21 AM
 
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Off the top of my head:
I'd take words like pin-prick and all negativity out of your personal vocabulary, whether you're saying the words inside your head or out loud. A negative and cold reaction to a child can be as damaging or more as physical punishment IME.

Shy and quiet around strangers is irrelevant from your point of view.

I'd be clearer about your expectations. If she stomps into your room when you're sleeping, put a lock on the door. If she offends you, quietly let her know- and then drop the subject. Don't hold grudges, ever. There are absolutely no circumstances under which I would allow a child under driving age to go off to the car to sulk, btw. NONE. It's too dangerous, and the car needs to be kept locked and the keys kept secure to stop that happening.

Playing internet psychologist, I'm guessing that her self-confidence could do with a boost. Give it a month for things to settle down, and in that month make an effort to pay her five small compliments a day and to try and have at least one conversation with her a day about what interests her, or share something that interests you.

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#7 of 32 Old 10-04-2009, 04:22 AM
 
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To me, this sounds like a situation that requires family counseling, and also a change in the disciplinary structure at home.

This is one of the best parenting books I've ever read for dealing with these kind of issues, because it's targeted at liberal (ie non-Orthodox) Jewish parents, who very commonly don't spank, don't like to be autocratic, value their children highly etc. etc. All well and good, but without some built-in expectations about how each member of the family needs to restrain their yetzer hara (negative will, evil impulse - it's hard to translate but you get the idea), you can easily wind up with a tween who is dominating the household with their negative behavior, even while they are behaving beautifully in the more restrictive environment of school. You guys probably aren't Jewish, but the book might be worth a read anyhow if it's at your library. It might also be entitled "How Educated, Gentle, Loving Parents Raise Kids Who Act Like Jerks, And How To Correct The Problem Without Hitting Or Drugging Them."

In conjunction with counseling, I think that you and your wife need to discuss what kinds of consequences you are willing to enforce for bad behavior. TV and computer privileges are the obvious things that might be on the table. Defending your personal space is also a serious matter - grabbing her mother's chin, coming into your bedroom when you're asleep - her mother needs to call her out on these things.

I don't let my FIVE YEAR OLD AND THREE YEAR OLD interrupt us when we're talking, or go into a room where somebody is asleep and disturb them. And if they have a tantrum at the dinner table, then dinner is over for them and they are sent to their rooms. Sure, twelve year olds are sulky, but it sounds like this goes beyond that. Unless your dsd has a major undxed emotional disorder, she can most certainly learn the short list of 100% unacceptable behaviors and exercise the self-control to avoid them.

In fact, it might be a good idea for you and your wife to start by seeing a counselor together, to really drill down and make sure you agree on that short list. There is power in a united front! She's the disciplinarian, obviously, but she needs your support. Change of this kind is not easy.


and I have to add- thank you for reaching out! Things may be tough now, but it sounds like you really do care about your dsd- which says a lot.. I hope your family life evens out a bit

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#8 of 32 Old 10-04-2009, 10:03 AM
 
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Well, if a child acted that badly in my house, esp. at that age, I would be saying, not just thinking, words a lot worse than pinprick. .. . I think you must have a lot of patience. She is really out to push your buttons, all the time, and I don't think that's normal adolescence. What does your wife think? Isn't she bothered by this? I would say that counselling was in order.
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#9 of 32 Old 10-04-2009, 10:22 AM
 
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Girls in puberty are often drama queens, even without major changes in their family life. Thanks to hormones, they simply cannot help the fact that even little, trivial things may seem to them either end-of-the-world terrible or euphorically wonderful. But certainly they CAN suppress their worst BEHAVIOR, when given clear boundaries as to what's acceptable and when they care about the consequences of behaving unacceptably. This is evident in the fact that she behaves well in school. So she is capable of behaving well (and does not need to be medicated!!) She needs you, but especially your wife, to walk the tightrope of setting limits about her behavior while still being loving and sensitive to the fact that she's having a hard time emotionally adjusting to this new family. It's the rudeness, destructiveness and stubborn refusal to comply with her mother's decisions (such as going in to a restaurant) that is a problem and must stop. Her upset FEELINGS over her life and her relationship with her mom changing - completely outside her control - are NOT bad. THAT is something for which she needs comfort and reassurance. It is very hard to comfort and reassure while disciplining, especially when your wife wasn't great at discipline to begin with!

I assume your wife did not spank her before, so if she begins receiving spankings now, she will rightfully associate that change with YOU. Considering how dramatic she already is, she is certain to feel abused. Then you would have created one more problem in your new family, not a solution. [I]The rest of what I originally posted about spanking I have been asked to remove. Allow me to clarify, I never meant to champion spanking children of any age. I was trying to point out that spanking a child who is already in puberty - especially if it is a new step-father spanking his already-resentful step-daughter - could be perceived as sexually inappropriate, adding a further dimension to the problems with spanking in general. I don't think it's constructive to pretend I'm unaware that there is more than one opinion about spanking. Indeed, the fact that the OP posed "physical punishment" as an option seemed to indicate that he's not entirely opposed to it, under certain circumstances. I was trying to stress how inappropriate it would be under these particular circumstances, without getting sidetracked into a debate on spanking in general. I apologize, in that I seem to have created that debate anyway!)

1- You and your wife must model the calmer, more rational behavior you want her to exhibit. No crying or yelling just because the child is upset.

2- Neither of you can continue to tolerate rudeness from her. She should not be allowed to think she's entitled to punish her mother for getting married, by being disgustingly rude to her. Nor should she think you will bend over backward to "befriend" her while she's telling you to shut up, etc. No one befriends someone who treats them like that. Depending on the severity of the rudeness, she needs to be sent to her room or have priveleges taken away. And she needs to be told, calmly and clearly, that if she's acting that way because she feels upset or angry, she can come talk to either of you about that. You CARE how she feels. But she is plenty old enough and smart enough to SAY what she feels. It is not OK for her to be rude, mean or disobedient. She would not want you guys to tell her to shut up, etc. Nor would she dream of saying such things to her teachers. She simply is not allowed to act like that. Her mother has raised her and deserves her respect. You have not earned her respect yet, but you deserve basic civility.

3- As far as eating out, since you cannot carry her into a restaurant or tie her to the chair, you must be adults, use more planning and hire someone to stay with her if she will not cooperate. Do not bring her leftovers. She can have a peanut butter sandwich if she chooses to stay home. When you get home, make sure you mention to her what a great time you had and how great the food was and that you missed her and sure hope she comes along next time. Just sound happy and genuine, not teasing or pleading. Convey that you will enjoy yourselves even if she refuses to, but anytime she wants to change her attitude she will be welcomed with open arms.

Change will not be quick, but if you and your wife discipline yourselves, in terms of how you respond to her, she will change in time.

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#10 of 32 Old 10-04-2009, 10:32 AM
 
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I'm wondering how the two of you dated and this issue never came up?
If the moving-in was fairly recent, then it may not have come up at all, or at least not in any concrete way.

Also, to the OP: I grew up in IL and was babysitting other people's children for money at age 12. IL has a sliding scale of responsibility--I know people believe 14 is the absolute minimum age to be left alone, but that's not true. For instance, Illinois law defines a neglected minor, in part, as “any minor under the age of 14 years whose parent or other person responsible for the minor’s welfare leaves the minor without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for the mental or physical health, safety or welfare of that minor.”
Juvenile Court Act, 705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(d)

You can download the "home alone guide" here: http://www.state.il.us/dcfs/docs/alone.doc. That's from the IL government. There are 15 factors the state uses to determine whether leaving a child home alone is unreasonable--ranging from the child's special needs and capabilities, to the time of day, and weather conditions, to whether the child was locked in a room(!) or left without food for a long period, etc.

The American Red Cross also offers babysitting classes, in IL, directed at 11-15 year olds.

So, while this isn't legal advice, it's also not absolutely illegal to leave a 12-year-old by herself for short periods (though your particular 12-year-old may or may not be capable of it)--at least, perhaps, for dinner during the early evening, if you stay local, bring your cell phone, and leave her something to eat. Perhaps a quick trial run--maybe 20 minutes to run to the store--might be a good idea.

Also: Put a lock on your bedroom door. This girl is 12, not 3--unless your bedroom contains the only emergency exit or the only bathroom in the house or something, there is no emergency in the world where she'd NEED access to your room immediately.

Good luck.

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#11 of 32 Old 10-04-2009, 11:11 PM
 
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Brian, it sounds like your son is old enough that he might like to get in a bit of a joke - especially if you or your wife talk to him about it in private first. When one of you has a place you want to go for dinner, bring the subject up, and when the girl starts going nuts, calmly ask the son if he has time to "babysit" so that the girl doesn't have to go where she doesn't want to be. Offer to bring him a take-out plate.

It'd be a tiny bit mean, and she might scream until she goes hoarse or makes herself sick, but she might start getting the message.

Also, PPs are correct, family counseling is a must, and that book sounds terrific. And if she's going to go into your room when you're asleep, swap that doorknob for one that locks!
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#12 of 32 Old 10-05-2009, 12:35 AM
 
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Jeannine, OP specifically said he would not consider physically punishing her.
TEh Blessings of a SKinned Knee is a really good book.
I like the idea of just hiring someone. Maybe it's the suddenness of your decisions to go out that rub her the wrong way. My 4 yr old is like that. Sometimes she hates spontaneity.
Still, counselling is in order, as is a big heart to heart with your wife.
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#13 of 32 Old 10-05-2009, 02:17 PM
 
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My heart goes out to you. Geez almighty, I'd have broken my own teeth from gritting them were I in your shoes.

Counseling, yep.
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#14 of 32 Old 10-05-2009, 03:15 PM
 
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Wow - such harsh responses. I wish people had taken the time to read and hear the daughter's situation.

She's moved COUNTRIES (not towns, whole countries) 3 times in the last 4-5 years. She hasn't had the experience of her mom dating or spending time with other people. She has no longer-term friends. Likely her mother is the only constant in her life and now suddenly she's gone from that to a dramatic new change with a new stepdad and older stepbrother and new house/home. AND she's going through puberty, which in itself is a dramatic life change even if you didn't have everything else going on.

What this family needs is NOT some new lay-down-the-law, no-tolerance discipline approach - especially if it is true that the mom had a more lax discipline style. They need to find a way to address the underlying issues that are causing this child to act badly. I am NOT saying be a doormat; I am saying that looking it as just a "behavior" question or being about her being a "pinprick" or "obnoxious" or anything else about her character won't get you very far. Try to empathize with her feelings and situation and work on that first. Build a relationship first - and go from there. It won't happen overnight.

Btw, you don't say how long you and the mom dated and how long you've been together. These would seem to be key pieces of information.
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#15 of 32 Old 10-05-2009, 05:17 PM
 
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Sorry, I say the daughter is acting like a spoiled brat, and she needs to be reminded she is BLESSED living in her situation. If my child acted like that my sweet husband would have never married me.

My kids eat what we eat and they don't throw fits. This child needs to learn to respect you. PERIOD. She is 12 and she needs to learn she doesn't rule the roost, cause she will have a harder time when she is 18-21 trying to make it. Kids do not grow up overnight.

Maybe she does need counseling. But more than that she needs a grown up to stand up to her. Child means child. Sometimes they need tough love. Believe me I've been there. Single mom to two kids who ruled MY world. Boy have things changed and we are all happier

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#16 of 32 Old 10-05-2009, 05:57 PM
 
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I was also wondering how much one on one time have you spent with SD? Maybe take some time and ask what her favorite restaurant is. If it is ok, take her there, just you and her. Find time to talk about your insecurities and hers. (Mostly hers...she's the child). My DH takes my kids out and about like they were his, and does things they enjoy (like basketball, surfing, swimming, a movie) alot without me (baby can't go) So, there is an understanding..he does what I want...I do what he wants. Maybe this will help. If not...then ground her like she's never been grounded before. She'll eventually realize what she is missing!

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#17 of 32 Old 10-05-2009, 08:09 PM
 
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Jeannine, OP specifically said he would not consider physically punishing her.
Thank you for the clarification, Catina. Sometimes I am reading these quickly while entertaining a baby and packing lunches. I certainly missed that nuance and thought he said physical punishment was one of the options he and his new wife considered.

In any event, I have already edited my original post, as follows:

I assume your wife did not spank her before, so if she begins receiving spankings now, she will rightfully associate that change with YOU. Considering how dramatic she already is, she is certain to feel abused. Then you would have created one more problem in your new family, not a solution. The rest of what I originally posted about spanking I have been asked to remove. Allow me to clarify, I never meant to champion spanking children of any age. I was trying to point out that spanking a child who is already in puberty - especially if it is a new step-father spanking his already-resentful step-daughter - could be perceived as sexually inappropriate, adding a further dimension to the problems with spanking in general. I don't think it's constructive to pretend I'm unaware that there is more than one opinion about spanking. Indeed, the fact that the OP posed "physical punishment" as an option seemed to indicate that he's not entirely opposed to it, under certain circumstances. I was trying to stress how inappropriate it would be under these particular circumstances, without getting sidetracked into a debate on spanking in general. I apologize, in that I seem to have created that debate anyway!)

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#18 of 32 Old 10-05-2009, 10:35 PM
 
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Oh, I totally agree with you about spanking!
But OP did say that he and his wife would never consider it, so I do take him for his word there.
Thanks for the hug earlier!!
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#19 of 32 Old 10-05-2009, 11:14 PM
 
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What this family needs is NOT some new lay-down-the-law, no-tolerance discipline approach - especially if it is true that the mom had a more lax discipline style. They need to find a way to address the underlying issues that are causing this child to act badly. I am NOT saying be a doormat; I am saying that looking it as just a "behavior" question or being about her being a "pinprick" or "obnoxious" or anything else about her character won't get you very far. Try to empathize with her feelings and situation and work on that first. Build a relationship first - and go from there. It won't happen overnight.
It's one thing for a hurting teen girl to say, "You're not my dad and you never will be. I feel like you took my mom away from me. It makes me angry when you tell me what to do!" That's how she feels. It's not comfortable for anyone to hear it, but it's entirely understandable. In that case, the adults in her life should address it honestly and try to comfort her, not chastize her for hurting her step-dad's feelings.

But it's quite another thing for her to tell her mother, "Shut up! If you won't go to the restaurant I picked then I'm sitting in the car!" She knows that's not acceptable behavior - because she behaves better than that in school. So really, to have her mom and step-dad fawn over her after that would send the message that they don't think she's capable of behaving any better or of expressing herself more effectively and that they really don't care about her enough to have higher expectations of her.

Don't we all know adults who never learned how to appropriately express and deal with rage, grief, insecurity, fear, etc.? People who expect that their boy/girlfriends, spouses or children will indefinitely be their emotional punching bags and who then feel surprised, abandoned and unloved if they wind up driving those people away? Parents should strive to teach their children how to handle these things effectively - give their kids appropriate words to use and show their kids that loving arms are waiting for them, if they just say they're hurting...but that even when they're hurting, it's not OK for them to be rude and disobedient.

I'm an adult and sometimes I wish I could take my frustrations out in my car by driving 100 miles/hour and squealing my tires a bit - I'm sure that would feel very cathartic! But of course I can't risk hurting other people or break the law just because I'm in pain. And childhood is not too early to begin learning that basic lesson.

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#20 of 32 Old 10-06-2009, 12:07 AM
 
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QUOTE: "Don't we all know adults who never learned how to appropriately express and deal with rage, grief, insecurity, fear, etc.? "

Yes, and most of them were kids whose parents tried to deny their feelings or responded to negative emotions with punishment. Very few were actually just indulged or spoiled.

QUOTE: "It's one thing for a hurting teen girl to say, "You're not my dad and you never will be. I feel like you took my mom away from me. It makes me angry when you tell me what to do!" That's how she feels. It's not comfortable for anyone to hear it, but it's entirely understandable. In that case, the adults in her life should address it honestly and try to comfort her, not chastize her for hurting her step-dad's feelings. "

Clearly she does not have the emotional vocabulary to express those feelings. She may not even be able to consciously name them. It's the job of the adults in her life to help her identify and learn appropriate ways to deal with her feelings.

QUOTE: "Sorry, I say the daughter is acting like a spoiled brat, and she needs to be reminded she is BLESSED living in her situation. If my child acted like that my sweet husband would have never married me. "

Blessed? How is that exactly? Her parents don't live together; her mom became her world and now she has to share her and live with someone who is a stranger to her and who thinks she's a spoiled brat. I don't see it. She may have a potentially great stepdad and home life, but blessed is going a bit far.

Really, I feel the need to again point out that this is supposed to be an attachment parenting board. The heart of that, imo, is empathy and connection with children. But too often that seems to go missing. We actually don't know the child's behavior; we know her new stepdad's perception of it. People's willingness to start calling a 12 year old obnoxious, spoiled, a brat, etc is really distressing to me.
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#21 of 32 Old 10-06-2009, 03:41 AM
 
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Yes, and most of them were kids whose parents tried to deny their feelings or responded to negative emotions with punishment. Very few were actually just indulged or spoiled...
Absolutely correct.

OP, I'm going to be blunt; your attitude towards this girl is terrible. It sounds like you treat her well but your thoughts are so negative. Do you really think things are going to get better by labeling her a brat, even in your own mind? She is 12. You are an adult.

Get into marriage counseling. Read books about child development. Read books about positive discipline, but let her mother take care of that. Most children are not "very silent" and I wonder if your expectations are out of line.
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#22 of 32 Old 10-06-2009, 08:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by bronxmom View Post
Clearly she does not have the emotional vocabulary to express those feelings. She may not even be able to consciously name them. It's the job of the adults in her life to help her identify and learn appropriate ways to deal with her feelings.
Exactly! Well-said. Hand-in-hand with teaching her that vocabulary and guiding her in how to express angry feelings in a way that gets her the comfort and reassurance she needs is teaching her that she does not have a right to hurt others when she feels bad.

You said earlier you weren't advocating being a doormat, but aren't you being a doormat if your 12-year-old daughter tells you to shut up and you feel obliged to hug her and give her excuses why it was OK for her to say that, instead of telling her she may not talk to you like that?

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Originally Posted by bronxmom View Post
this is supposed to be an attachment parenting board. The heart of that, imo, is empathy and connection with children.
I do not think it is empathetic at all to raise children to believe they are entitled to behave in ways that will drive people other than their parents away. You can absolutely be connected to and sensitive and responsive to your child without abdicating your parental responsibility to teach them to be considerate of others.

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Originally Posted by bronxmom View Post
We actually don't know the child's behavior; we know her new stepdad's perception of it.
Of course that is true. Just as when women write in saying their husbands or ex husbands have abused them and they are justified in seeking supervised visitation...we aren't hearing the man's POV, so we don't know for sure that the woman isn't just a manipulative liar. (Those women exist!) I think we have to respond to what we read here with the basic assumption that our fellow board-members are telling the truth, to the best of their ability. If they're not, then they know the advice they receive is based on untruths...even if we will never know.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
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#23 of 32 Old 10-06-2009, 10:16 AM
 
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What Jennine said.

"She knows that's not acceptable behavior - because she behaves better than that in school. So really, to have her mom and step-dad fawn over her after that would send the message that they don't think she's capable of behaving any better or of expressing herself more effectively and that they really don't care about her enough to have higher expectations of her."

If you truly love a child, if you truly respect them and acknowledge their innate potential, if you are committed to doing the hard work of parenting (or stepparenting) them well and helping them develop into functional adults, then you DO NOT let them treat you in ways that will cause OTHER PEOPLE to decline to form close relationships with them. Charity may begin at home, but so does self-control and the move away from the utter self-centeredness of toddlerhood.

Counseling. Counseling. Three cheers for counseling!!! Everybody beat the drum for counseling!!!
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#24 of 32 Old 10-06-2009, 02:08 PM
 
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OP did not state that he expected the girl to be "very silent"--he used those words to describe his meditating son. I certainly didn't get the impression that he expected a 12 yr old girl to be a very silent meditator!!
In fact, I got the impression of someone who cared a lot, but was understandably rattled by what seems to be me to be pretty extreme behaviour.
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#25 of 32 Old 10-06-2009, 04:23 PM
 
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She has a step-dad who cares enough to come to an AP board to get advice on how to handle the situation. I do think she is blessed because she has food, shelter and a loving family. 12 is not far from 13, 14, 15, etc. Taking responsibility and acting a bit self-less on her part is not too much to ask for her age. (i.e. going out to dinner with parents and not complaining (like a brat

I'm a  Christian, homeschooling, kinda crunchy mama to 3, lucky step-mom to 1 and expecting a new firecracker in Julysaynovax.gifhomeschool.gifh20homebirth.gifcd.gifsewmachine.gif
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#26 of 32 Old 10-06-2009, 05:13 PM
 
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I would appreciate it if we could avoid calling children spoiled, obnoxious or brats on this board.

My point about only knowing the stepdad's perception is not that he is lying but that perception is very important. For example, it seems to him that she throws a fit every time they want to go out for a meal. Fair enough. What's his definition of a fit? That she wants to go sit in the car and doesn't want to participate? Annoying but not exactly a tantrum. Does she lie down on the floor and kick and scream? Then yes, clearly there's a problem. We just don't know what constitutes a tantrum to the OP.

How often do they eat out? Sounds like a lot and without any foreplanning/warning. (And I say this as someone who all too often drags my kid to restaurants she doesn't want to go to) If they go to a place that's more adult-oriented perhaps it's alienating and more of a chore for the child. Perhaps she really wants to be at home. Perhaps a solution would be to eat out less frequently and hire a sitter. In other words, perhaps the child has legitimate grievances. Perhaps she expresses them poorly. I agree she should be helped to express them more appropriately - but her concerns/grievances/issues should be addressed immediately nonetheless.

The quickness with which people are willing to label this child (and 12 is still very, very far from an adult) a brat based on very little information is truly disturbing.
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#27 of 32 Old 10-07-2009, 02:02 AM
 
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I would appreciate it if we could avoid calling children spoiled, obnoxious or brats on this board...The quickness with which people are willing to label this child (and 12 is still very, very far from an adult) a brat based on very little information is truly disturbing.
Thank you so much for saying this.

When my teen went through a rough patch, his behavior at school did not change. He didn't feel safe enough at school to let his sorrow and frustrations come out. It's not just toddlers who do that.

I believe we would still be in that negative place if we had not found a therapist who supported AP for teenagers. We stopped thinking in terms of "fixing" our child and instead focused on where the pain was coming from. We stopped judging and started listening. Once we were out of the most painful part, life naturally fell back into place.

By the way, I never said the OP wanted a "silent" SD. I was pointing out that most children/teens would not be described as "mostly silent" and perhaps he needs to make sure he's not judging SD but what was normal with his S.
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#28 of 32 Old 10-07-2009, 02:51 AM
 
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I was your step daughter! My mom was a single parent. I was asocial, so the person to whom I was closest was my mom. When she remarried, my behavior at school was perfection. Honor roll, etc.

My behavior at home - I took EVERYTHING out on my step dad. And pretty much made his life a living hell.

What did he do?

Well, nothing. When I did something inappropriate, he just said "you know, that hurts my feelings, maybe we could talk about how we could make it better." This was his line for pretty much everything I ever did or said to him. My behavior passed after a year. Mainly due to his amazing patience and kindness. He never lost his temper, never lost his patience. And this was an incredible feat - the man was truly the best step dad anyone could wish for.

I am so grateful to him. If he was ever angry, I never saw it. He really made huge attempts to open communication with me, to share with me, to give me options. If I didn't want to go out to eat (I also did the "I'll sit in the car bit"), he would pick me up take out on the way home. Or he'd compromise on restaurant options.

So, my advice - either do family counseling or learn to cultivate patience. With patience and kindness, this will pass. But, as long as you have a negative outlook on your wife's child, as long as you view her as a brat, problem, etc., then the issues will continue. Understand that her actions are nothing against you personally. She is 12 years old, has moved countries many times, and now her living situation AND her relationship with her mom is changing dramatically. Of course she is going to push back and probably use you as her punching bag for awhile. She's 12 - she's not going to handle these transitions as an adult or as your son does.

Let her know how it makes you feel, but do understand where she is coming from and cultivate patience.

I'm really surprised by some of the responses on this thread. Children are not brats who are acting out for no reason at all. This girl is going through some major changes ... she doesn't need negativity, but understanding and patience.

First special delivery - April 2010 :
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#29 of 32 Old 10-07-2009, 07:37 AM
 
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Just found an article at Attachment Parenting International about step parenting teenagers that looks helpful!

http://www.attachmentparenting.org/s...artdivorce.php

Take the time to heal from your marriage before you move on with someone else. Make a list of all the qualities you would like in a new partner and then work on growing that way yourself. ~mandib50
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#30 of 32 Old 10-08-2009, 11:05 AM
 
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Dear Brian54,

There has been a lot of good advice given here.

I specifically loved Sailor's comments about how his own step-father handled his bad behavior. I do this with my own step-children AND children. I don't let them verbally abuse me. When they say or do something hurtful, I gently tell them that they've hurt my feelings. All of our children have good hearts and they're all defenseless in the face of learning that they've hurt someone.

I do not punish my step-children, nor do I insist that DH does. I just keep on doing my thing with them: I model the kind of behavior I would like to see from them and I'm never shy about letting them know how their words/actions effect me (positive AND negative).

That said, I do sometimes punish my own children when their behavior is particularly hurtful or inappropriate. For example, my DD (10 and learning the meaning of "hormone") recently called her sister an as*hole. I consider myself an AP parent, but in my world, calling your sister an as*hole warrants a consequence. DD knows better. She was just being mean for the sake of being mean. She's not 3. She's old enough and skilled enough to be able to be expected to handle a difficult situation in a more appropriate manner. And we have a zero tolerance policy for cruelty in our home.

I've digressed, but what I really wanted to do by posting to this thread was to validate YOUR feelings as the stepparent.

OP, it's okay and appropriate to be confused, jealous, angry, at your wits end, and downright pissed over being mistreated. You came here and you asked for support. And I think that's okay. I also think it's okay for you to think your step-daughter is acting like a spoiled brat. I don't think it's okay for you to act that way toward her, but if you feel that way, I think you're entitled to have a community in which you can safely talk about your experience as a step-parent.

This is me giving you support. It's really hard to be a step-parent. It can be lonely and frustrating. You can't be expected to muster the same feelings for your stepchild that you have for your biological children. If you ever achieve that, then I applaud you. But don't let anyone tell you that you're a bad step-parent if you don't love your step-children the same way you love your own children.

The transition to a blended family can be as stressful on the adults as it is on the children. And just as the children need an outlet for the feelings they encounter through that transition, so do the adults.

You're a good person. You care about your stepdaughter. I can see that. Don't take to heart the criticism of some of the poster's here regarding how you feel. You're entitled to your feelings too!

You can support your step-daughter by allowing her to be angry, by helping her to find more appropriate ways to express her anger, by letting her know when her words/behaviors hurt you, by modeling the kind of behavior you want to see in her, by reaching out to her in her calmer moments and trying to be her friend, by asking her from time to time how she's feeling and then just listening when she responds, and by continuing to love her mom.

This is getting long, but let me just say one more thing: you are not ruining her life, no matter what she says. You are not responsible for her pain. It can be very easy for step-parents to internalize their step-children's pain by convincing themselves that "maybe if I hadn't married her mom, she would be a happier person."

Be gentle with yourself and give yourself the permission to feel pain and anger, too.

It's really okay.

I promise.


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