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#1 of 20 Old 12-07-2010, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's been just over 2 weeks since my 11 year old DSD came to live with us full time. I expected that she would need a lot of attention, and I was willing to give it. However, she requires almost constant attention. If she is not the center of attention at any given moment, she is unhappy. She is jealous of her baby brother (if either my DH or I give him attention), jealous if my DH gives me attention, etc. I've been trying to give her the attention she needs, but I honestly don't see an end in sight. I know it's early still. However, the attention she needs is so great that both my DH and I are not doing well. I'm having anxiety and stomach problems, along with dropping weight like crazy. I don't have ANY time to myself. Neither does my DH. We want DSD to feel secure, but there really needs to be more of a balance. I've never seen a child her age require this amount of attention. DH and I feel like we're constantly expected to perform.

 

She manipulates the environment so that she is receiving all of the attention, even if it means dragging dinner out for over an hour so that DH won't have time to call her sister (who lives far away). One time I was talking to my DSD who doesn't live with us on the phone and DSD2 was so jealous that she made a big scene about needing some alone time at that moment because she was so sad. 

 

We're homeschooling her because we believe it's the best thing for her,  at least for this school year. But now I'm wondering if it's the best thing for me. I need a break, a serious break. I get absolutely no time to myself. DH used to come home from work and play with DS for a little while, but now he doesn't do that. He only spends time with DSD for the most part. I find the more attention we give her, the more she requires and the least happy she is. I just don't know what to do, anymore. All I know is that I have to start meeting my needs. I feel like I have nothing to give at this point. I've been completely drained and it's only been 2 weeks. My DH left work early yesterday and is home sick today. Yes, he's been hit with a couple bugs, but I feel this is strongly related to stress. I weigh 109 pounds, underweight for my height. There is nothing medical causing me to lose weight; my doctor attributes it to stress. I've never been underweight my entire life. Even as I type this, I have butterflies in my stomach. I am not well.

 

I want to have positive energy to give again. I want to have a little time to *connect* with my DH. I want to pay attention to my DS without feeling guilty. I want to do fun things with DSD, but not feel like I have to give her my full attention all the time. I know that sometimes the scales will tip in one family member's favor, but I really worry that this is too much and we're on a very unhealthy road. :-( I want to deal with it in a way that is loving and kind. I just need some kind of a balance. I'm feeling so overwhelmed here, out way over my head, and I don't know what to do.

 

Thanks for reading. I welcome advice or just hugs, but please no one tell me how wicked I am. I can't even put into words how much I do/will do for this child. I just can't give all of myself, all of my time and energy. :-(

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#2 of 20 Old 12-07-2010, 11:17 AM
 
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#3 of 20 Old 12-07-2010, 11:34 AM
 
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1) hug2.gif

 

2) You're not even remotely wicked.

 

3) I think you and your dh should consider putting her in school. I homeschool myself and I understand feeling that it's best for her, but if her constant need for attention is affecting the whole family so negatively, you need to find a way to get some downtime. This isn't good for you, your dh, your ds or your dsd.

 

4) I don't know the background, but is your dsd in therapy or anything? This level of attention hunger doesn't sound normal to me, and I'm wondering if there's a particular fear/need at the root of it. She needs to understand that you love her and she's important, but that doesn't mean getting every second of your time and energy 24/7. It just doesn't.


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#4 of 20 Old 12-10-2010, 10:35 AM
 
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I'm not a step mother, but what boundaries have you put in place?  Can you set aside time each day (doesn't have to be long) for you to have one on one time with her, and then the same for her and your DH?  Can you make clear that there are expectations of what needs to happen, and can she help with dinner/errands/baby stuff?

 

Giving her some (age appropriate, not tons) responsibilities, and laying out some clear boundaries and expectations for her behavior might help.  Also, things sound very very new - give her some time.  I would also consider putting her in school after the new year - but if its only 2-3weeks settling into a different home and lifestyle is challenging for anyone, and will be hard on everyone involved - try not to be too hard on yourself!!!  No feeling guilty either, that won't help any of you (even though thats easier said than done).

 

You didn't say how far she moved to live with you, but if it was very far (you said her sister lives far, but I don't know your backstory and I'm trying not to make assumptions) then she likely feels a bit lonely for some friends, which can be hard to make in a new place.  If you decide on putting her in school that might help some, and it might also give her more structure to her day (depending on your hs'ing style - I'm VERY unfamiliar with homeschooling).  Was she home schooled before coming to live with you?  If not, thats another huge adjustment.

 

Hang in there.  Things will even out eventually.

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#5 of 20 Old 12-10-2010, 01:21 PM
 
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What a tough situation! hug.gif

 

I agree with the PPs about considering putting her in school.  It sounds like she really needs attention, so it is possible that having something new to focus on would help.  She will most likely make friends, giving her more people to talk to.  Moving to a new place is tough, but keeping her home might make the transition even more difficult because she is isolated, and then you are her only source of attention/support.  If you decide to keep HSing, maybe look into some HS groups in your area and get involved with that?

 

I also think that things will get better with time.  It is hard to know without all of the backstory, but most things pass over time.  If she needs counseling, please consider doing that - it might make things move faster.

 

And take care of yourself, Mama!  If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.smile.gif


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#6 of 20 Old 12-10-2010, 04:17 PM
 
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Two weeks is a very short time. But I understand what you are saying about not wanting to set up a bad pattern. Maybe enroll her in school after Christmas break, and see if that helps? 

 

My older kids are reminded to pipe down/disengage/leave the room about twenty times a day. We don't have the blended dynamic going on, but we do have a homeschooler who deserves to work without distractions, a toddler who deserves to drift off to sleep in peace, and two parents who prefer adults-only evenings after 9 p.m. or so. Setting those boundaries is important, and you can't let an 11 y.o. manipulate you into, say, making your bedroom a public space or delaying a phone call to another child. "Get out, this is my room" and  "Be quiet, I am talking to your sister" are perfectly normal and OK things for a parent to say to a kid. It seems like you are afraid that she will have a meltdown if she's thwarted. Just let her melt down, and let her find out that 1) nothing changes and 2) you guys still love her and 3) her place in the family is still secure after she's pitched her fit. 

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#7 of 20 Old 12-10-2010, 04:21 PM
 
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I know just how you feel! My dsc have been abandoned by their mom, except for unreliable phone contact. My dsd, eight, is especially hit by this, and goes through periods where she won't let us out of her sight. Bedtime is a two hour ordeal with whining, crying, screaming, and pleas for one more book, anything to keep someone in the room with her (besides her little brother, who sleeps with her). It comes and goes. I don't know the story behind your dsd coming to live with you, but it sounds traumatic.

 

You HAVE to take care of yourself. First, no matter how hard it is, your dh should take the kids for an hour in the evening so you can get some down time. Then you can have them for him, too. There's no way you can deal with that kind of intensity without self care. It's like having a giant infant to care for, a high needs infant with pain issues. It really is that bad, and you have every right to treat it as that.

 

One idea that might further this process is to do some "couch days" with both kids. It sounds like you are at home all day with both kids, so this might be doable for you. Just pretend you have a couple of sick kids on your hands- get some movies or books, some yummy comfort foods, a no-spill water bottle, and a ton of blankets. A couple of days of continuous, relaxed, physical contact can really do wonders to help a kid feel grounded and safe.

 

I hope things ease up for you quickly! Sending some healing vibes your waygoodvibes.gif  Stay strong, mama!


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#8 of 20 Old 12-12-2010, 02:52 PM
 
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#9 of 20 Old 12-12-2010, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, thanks so much to everyone who responded! I did a couple of things this week. I was so absolutely burnt that I took a day and a half where I didn't interact a ton with DSD.  I made sure she had meals and what not, but I rested and took some much needed "me" time, where I considered the best way to move forward. I gave her some direction during this time. She works well from lists and actually prefers them. We're starting textbook schooling in January, but for now I started her doing "schooly" activities during school "blocks" of the day. I gave her a couple very simple (under 5 minutes) chores each day, plus general picking up after herself (throwing her trash away, putting things she uses away). After the day and a half, I spent more time with her, still having her do school activities, a couple chores, picking up after herself and some basic downtime. I did something with her each day, completed our paper doll elves advent calendar and hung it (This was about a week late because of everyone being so sick), read aloud together, etc. The difference was that I didn't spend ALL of my time with her or feel that I should, and as a result, the quality of the time we spend together has improved. We do an advent activity on a daily basis as a family. Tonight we finger painted Christmas Scene place mats, which we're going to cover with clear contact paper. I also journaled and/or exercised each day for self-care.

 

Her mood has improved significantly during the past couple of days, but she did get off to a rough start yesterday morning, showing DH a story she wrote using all of our names. In the story, she was irritated with her 10 month old brother, who was yelling at the dinner table, and I asked her to be patient with him because he is a baby. Her character then left the room, feeling sad and that no one ever stuck up for her. This is similar to things that have actually happened at our dinner table. DSD may have been talking when DS started babbling and DSD would become visibly annoyed or even speak a bit harshly to DS. DH would say something like, "DS is a baby. He doesn't know any better." I guess I don't really understand an 11 year old being mean to a baby, and I'm not willing to allow that in my home. The age difference is way too great. It's difficult for me to wrap my mind around how/why DSD would expect DH or me to stick up for her when she's picking on/being rude to a baby. For what it's worth, we would not let anyone pick on her or be mean to her. Anyway, DH talked with her regarding her story, and basically told her that he has to spend time with everybody here and he can't spend all of his time with her, that DS needs him and DH needs to spend some time with me, too. DSD tends toward regressive behavior, such as calling DH dada when she's feeling particularly jealous of her baby brother. Her baby brother says mama and dada. She seems starved for attention. Another thing she'll do is take over play with DS if she sees DH playing with DS. She comes over, takes over and becomes the center of attention because now DH is watching DSD play with DS. The only thing is DSD is with DS all day and DH is not. DH needs to play with DS and not be a spectator all the time.These are just a few of many examples.

 

Since we have started spending less time with her, her attitude has actually been better. Right now, for instance, DH is hanging out with DSD before bedtime. We did a family advent activity earlier and then DH played a video game online with a friend. (I've been encouraging him to do this lately, as downtime that he desperately needs.) Now she has her time with DH. Tomorrow I will do something special with her, but I will also require her to do things independently. I think this all feels even heavier to me right now because I am newly pregnant. I will need DSD to do simple things for herself, as I get very sick during pregnancy and will have my DS to take care of, too. Teaching DSD to pick up after herself is key.

 

Regarding school, I think that you all are right. The only thing is that our local school system is so absolutely horrible that I can't bear to send her. Plus, we'll need to move to a bigger place in a matter of months and we're not sure where that will be. We don't want to enroll her in one school and take her out to enroll her in another school. She's lived in one house all her life before coming to live with us, and that would be traumatic. Also, she's been the victim of bullying at her old school and she really needs to develop a healthy self-esteem. At least that is what I'm thinking. I'm also thinking that promising to homeschool her (which she is very excited about) and then retracting that promise could actually cause her to feel unloved. I have seen improvement this last week and I'm hoping to see more improvement. We are joining a homeschooling group and will be meeting biweekly to go bowling with them. I'm sure she'll make friends in that group. She also has a cousin who lives nearby and we hosted a sleepover this past weekend. I think structure and encouraging realistic expectations are key when it comes to helping her adjust. We will certainly consider putting her in public school next school year, though, once we've moved and all.

 

I found myself feeling negatively towards DSD, and then feeling horribly guilty for having negative feelings toward a child. This week I have spent a lot of time praying. Two things came to me. The first, a phrase I heard years ago, fake it until you make it. I figure if that can help with happiness or self-esteem, it can help me now with my current situation. I decided that even if I feel negatively at any moment, I'm going to fake it until I make it. I'm going to be positive and meet my own needs so that I have something real to give. Soon all will iron itself out. The second thing came to me in a dream and it's a partial Ghandi quote: Be the change you wish to see. I believe the actual quote is You must be the change you wish to see in the world. If I take care of myself and have positive energy to give, it will affect everyone in my home, but I must lead by example.

 

I know this is only the beginning and I have so much to learn, but this is where I am thus far in the journey.

 

I feel like I'm talking in circles right now. I'll try to respond to folks individually. Thanks again!

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Her mood has improved significantly during the past couple of days, but she did get off to a rough start yesterday morning, showing DH a story she wrote using all of our names. In the story, she was irritated with her 10 month old brother, who was yelling at the dinner table, and I asked her to be patient with him because he is a baby. Her character then left the room, feeling sad and that no one ever stuck up for her. This is similar to things that have actually happened at our dinner table. DSD may have been talking when DS started babbling and DSD would become visibly annoyed or even speak a bit harshly to DS. DH would say something like, "DS is a baby. He doesn't know any better." I guess I don't really understand an 11 year old being mean to a baby, and I'm not willing to allow that in my home. The age difference is way too great. It's difficult for me to wrap my mind around how/why DSD would expect DH or me to stick up for her when she's picking on/being rude to a baby. For what it's worth, we would not let anyone pick on her or be mean to her. Anyway, DH talked with her regarding her story, and basically told her that he has to spend time with everybody here and he can't spend all of his time with her, that DS needs him and DH needs to spend some time with me, too. DSD tends toward regressive behavior, such as calling DH dada when she's feeling particularly jealous of her baby brother. Her baby brother says mama and dada. She seems starved for attention. Another thing she'll do is take over play with DS if she sees DH playing with DS. She comes over, takes over and becomes the center of attention because now DH is watching DSD play with DS. The only thing is DSD is with DS all day and DH is not. DH needs to play with DS and not be a spectator all the time.These are just a few of many examples.


It sounds like things are going MUCH better!  Thats great!  I'm sure things will continue to improve as she settles in!!

 

I wanted to ask about the baby thing - did she have a younger sibling at her mom's house?  If not, she's really not used to sharing the attention, and may not have much of an understanding about how baby's act, how they respond to stuff, and how much attention they need.  Even though your ds is only 10mo, if she's telling a story at the table, its perfectly ok to tell the baby, "Shh....DSD is telling us a story, lets listen!"  I wouldn't expect your ds to actually listen, or to 'obey' - but then your DSD will feel included, and like you want to listen to her too.  If DS keeps babbling, you can gently tell her that you'd love to hear her story, and you're sorry the baby is talking.  Then you can coach her on how to interact with the baby in a positive way.  It's not always intuitive, and she probably doesn't mean to be unkind to him - and as long as she isn't yelling at him, I really wouldn't worry about it.

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#11 of 20 Old 12-13-2010, 05:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Her mood has improved significantly during the past couple of days, but she did get off to a rough start yesterday morning, showing DH a story she wrote using all of our names. In the story, she was irritated with her 10 month old brother, who was yelling at the dinner table, and I asked her to be patient with him because he is a baby. Her character then left the room, feeling sad and that no one ever stuck up for her. This is similar to things that have actually happened at our dinner table. DSD may have been talking when DS started babbling and DSD would become visibly annoyed or even speak a bit harshly to DS. DH would say something like, "DS is a baby. He doesn't know any better." I guess I don't really understand an 11 year old being mean to a baby, and I'm not willing to allow that in my home. The age difference is way too great. It's difficult for me to wrap my mind around how/why DSD would expect DH or me to stick up for her when she's picking on/being rude to a baby. For what it's worth, we would not let anyone pick on her or be mean to her. Anyway, DH talked with her regarding her story, and basically told her that he has to spend time with everybody here and he can't spend all of his time with her, that DS needs him and DH needs to spend some time with me, too. DSD tends toward regressive behavior, such as calling DH dada when she's feeling particularly jealous of her baby brother. Her baby brother says mama and dada. She seems starved for attention. Another thing she'll do is take over play with DS if she sees DH playing with DS. She comes over, takes over and becomes the center of attention because now DH is watching DSD play with DS. The only thing is DSD is with DS all day and DH is not. DH needs to play with DS and not be a spectator all the time.These are just a few of many examples.


It sounds like things are going MUCH better!  Thats great!  I'm sure things will continue to improve as she settles in!!

 

I wanted to ask about the baby thing - did she have a younger sibling at her mom's house?  If not, she's really not used to sharing the attention, and may not have much of an understanding about how baby's act, how they respond to stuff, and how much attention they need.  Even though your ds is only 10mo, if she's telling a story at the table, its perfectly ok to tell the baby, "Shh....DSD is telling us a story, lets listen!"  I wouldn't expect your ds to actually listen, or to 'obey' - but then your DSD will feel included, and like you want to listen to her too.  If DS keeps babbling, you can gently tell her that you'd love to hear her story, and you're sorry the baby is talking.  Then you can coach her on how to interact with the baby in a positive way.  It's not always intuitive, and she probably doesn't mean to be unkind to him - and as long as she isn't yelling at him, I really wouldn't worry about it.


Thanks for the perspective. We actually do this. I'll say in a nice tone, "Bubby, sissy's talking right now..." But we can't physically stop him from babbling or even yelling at the table. And sometimes she needs to be able to share the spotlight. She's very, very jealous of her brother. She's a very jealous child in general, though, and I've always known her to be. She has an older sister (age 14) and a younger sister who is 9. She is used to sharing the attention, but not necessarily with such a young baby. DSD has snapped at DS before, and that's usually where DH or I will say that she needs to be patient, DS is only a baby, etc. Honestly, though, he doesn't get anywhere near the attention she has been getting. I realized I didn't actually explain the above very well. I was super tired last night. DH and DSD's conversation started with his reading her story and then talking about what she was trying to communicate and feeling. That's when jealousy came up. Really, she's jealous of DS ALL THE TIME, particularly anytime DH is holding DS or paying any attention to him. In the event DS is getting attention at the table, DSD will start talking to redirect the attention to herself. Right now she is so jealous of her brother that we don't feel comfortable leaving them in the same room for the most part because he has gotten "hurt" in her presence and she has lied about knowing how he got hurt. She also told me this past summer that she was afraid she'd be so jealous of her brother that she might hurt him. So it's a very unhealthy jealousy and one that honestly scares me. 

 

I guess that what I was trying to say with the quote above (but never quite got around to) is that DSD's morning started off rough because she and DH had this conversation that started about the story and led to the fact that he feels stretched so thin all the time and how unhealthy that is for him. He told her how much he loves her and how much he'll/we'll always love her, but that she needs to adjust her expectations if she is going to be happy here, that he/we can't give her attention all the time.

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#12 of 20 Old 12-13-2010, 05:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#13 of 20 Old 12-13-2010, 05:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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1) hug2.gif

 

2) You're not even remotely wicked.

 

3) I think you and your dh should consider putting her in school. I homeschool myself and I understand feeling that it's best for her, but if her constant need for attention is affecting the whole family so negatively, you need to find a way to get some downtime. This isn't good for you, your dh, your ds or your dsd.

 

4) I don't know the background, but is your dsd in therapy or anything? This level of attention hunger doesn't sound normal to me, and I'm wondering if there's a particular fear/need at the root of it. She needs to understand that you love her and she's important, but that doesn't mean getting every second of your time and energy 24/7. It just doesn't.

 

We're planning on getting her into therapy as soon as possible. We got a good recommendation from our doctor.  It could be a couple months before therapy starts, though. :-(

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#14 of 20 Old 12-13-2010, 05:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not a step mother, but what boundaries have you put in place?  Can you set aside time each day (doesn't have to be long) for you to have one on one time with her, and then the same for her and your DH?  Can you make clear that there are expectations of what needs to happen, and can she help with dinner/errands/baby stuff?

 

Giving her some (age appropriate, not tons) responsibilities, and laying out some clear boundaries and expectations for her behavior might help.  Also, things sound very very new - give her some time.  I would also consider putting her in school after the new year - but if its only 2-3weeks settling into a different home and lifestyle is challenging for anyone, and will be hard on everyone involved - try not to be too hard on yourself!!!  No feeling guilty either, that won't help any of you (even though thats easier said than done).

 

You didn't say how far she moved to live with you, but if it was very far (you said her sister lives far, but I don't know your backstory and I'm trying not to make assumptions) then she likely feels a bit lonely for some friends, which can be hard to make in a new place.  If you decide on putting her in school that might help some, and it might also give her more structure to her day (depending on your hs'ing style - I'm VERY unfamiliar with homeschooling).  Was she home schooled before coming to live with you?  If not, thats another huge adjustment.

 

Hang in there.  Things will even out eventually.


Thanks for the suggestion to install boundaries. That is exactly what we did and what proved to be absolutely helpful. Giving her age appropriate chores/expectations also helps, as well as very clear homeschooling time and activities. This also helps her to work more independently some of the time. The hardest part has been not feeling guilty, but I think I'm getting to that point.

 

She moved pretty far to live with us (about 1K miles), and I would expect the difficulty to be that she miss her mom and sisters horribly. She does miss them, but seems to be doing well regarding that. One of the reasons she came to live with us was that she didn't get enough attention at her mom's. I think this was, in part, because she requires a lot of attention and, in part, because her emotional needs really weren't being met. The stepdad (who has been in her life since she was a baby) is hardly ever home and not willing to be present in the home or to give up his hobbies to be there for his family.

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#15 of 20 Old 12-13-2010, 05:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What a tough situation! hug.gif

 

I agree with the PPs about considering putting her in school.  It sounds like she really needs attention, so it is possible that having something new to focus on would help.  She will most likely make friends, giving her more people to talk to.  Moving to a new place is tough, but keeping her home might make the transition even more difficult because she is isolated, and then you are her only source of attention/support.  If you decide to keep HSing, maybe look into some HS groups in your area and get involved with that?

 

I also think that things will get better with time.  It is hard to know without all of the backstory, but most things pass over time.  If she needs counseling, please consider doing that - it might make things move faster.

 

And take care of yourself, Mama!  If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.smile.gif


Thanks for your response. I agree that no one's happy if Mama isn't happy. I've definitely started taking care of myself. I think teaching her realistic expectations is also key. Another thing we've started doing giving DS/each other attention even if she is visibly unhappy about it. She has to get used to this. I think I already mentioned that DH hung out with her for a while last night and they had a good time. Hopefully  over time, she'll learn that it's not an affront to her if someone else is getting another person's attention at any moment, that it will come back around to her.

 

I touched on the fact that we're getting her into therapy in response to another  post, but something else I'm having her do (that she likes to do, anyway) is to journal her feelings in a private journal. I told her that even if she's mad at her dad or me, it will be helpful to get her feelings out. I told her that sometimes when we hold our negative feelings inside we can become physically sick. This is important because her doctor from her old home thought she had anxiety and depression. She does seem to be getting better and we're trying to work with her to help her process her emotions.

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#16 of 20 Old 12-13-2010, 05:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Two weeks is a very short time. But I understand what you are saying about not wanting to set up a bad pattern. Maybe enroll her in school after Christmas break, and see if that helps? 

 

My older kids are reminded to pipe down/disengage/leave the room about twenty times a day. We don't have the blended dynamic going on, but we do have a homeschooler who deserves to work without distractions, a toddler who deserves to drift off to sleep in peace, and two parents who prefer adults-only evenings after 9 p.m. or so. Setting those boundaries is important, and you can't let an 11 y.o. manipulate you into, say, making your bedroom a public space or delaying a phone call to another child. "Get out, this is my room" and  "Be quiet, I am talking to your sister" are perfectly normal and OK things for a parent to say to a kid. It seems like you are afraid that she will have a meltdown if she's thwarted. Just let her melt down, and let her find out that 1) nothing changes and 2) you guys still love her and 3) her place in the family is still secure after she's pitched her fit. 

Thank you so much for this post! I think I needed to hear that setting boundaries is okay. I know that sounds crazy! But I needed to hear it, all the same. We actually gave her a bedtime, so that we could have breathing space period. That time is 9:00. We have her wind down and get ready for bed around 8. Sometimes she hangs out with us for a bit, sometimes she watches part of a movie, reads or draws. This also creates time for DH to call his other daughter (who lives 1K miles away). It provides structure. I think DSD needs to know what to expect.

 

Before reading your post, I felt guilty for not wanting DSD in my room at times, for wanting a little space. Of course, we invite her in at times because we want her to feel included and loved. Sometimes, though, I just need a break, a few minutes to myself. Feeling guilty about this doesn't help.

 

She's melted down a few times to tears and yelling. One time was when I caught her playing a video game during homeschooling time. She immediately started crying. I asked her why she was crying, told her she wasn't in trouble, that we were just talking. I explained the importance of respecting the blocks of time we designate for homeschooling, that she can play video games, just not during homeschooling time. She told me that I said, "You're standing there crying like a baby!" I had said nothing of the sort, spoke in a very even tone, etc. This is what she may have heard through her filter, but I repeated what I actually said. She then told me that I made her feel like I was picking on her. I told her that 1) I can't make her feel things and 2) that she needs to hold herself responsible for the choices she makes. It's not my fault that she chose to play a video game during homeschooling time. She doesn't like to accept responsibility and tends to misdirect blame at everyone else. I was kind but firm. I didn't allow her to control the situation by throwing a tantrum. I repeated the expectations. She was upset, but the day went on and ended up being a good day. 

 

I really think seeing us talk to her sister, spend time with her brother or each other will help her to feel secure over time. She'll learn that she's still loved and hasn't lost her place. I love your points 1, 2 & 3.

 

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hug2.gif

 

I know just how you feel! My dsc have been abandoned by their mom, except for unreliable phone contact. My dsd, eight, is especially hit by this, and goes through periods where she won't let us out of her sight. Bedtime is a two hour ordeal with whining, crying, screaming, and pleas for one more book, anything to keep someone in the room with her (besides her little brother, who sleeps with her). It comes and goes. I don't know the story behind your dsd coming to live with you, but it sounds traumatic.

 

You HAVE to take care of yourself. First, no matter how hard it is, your dh should take the kids for an hour in the evening so you can get some down time. Then you can have them for him, too. There's no way you can deal with that kind of intensity without self care. It's like having a giant infant to care for, a high needs infant with pain issues. It really is that bad, and you have every right to treat it as that.

 

One idea that might further this process is to do some "couch days" with both kids. It sounds like you are at home all day with both kids, so this might be doable for you. Just pretend you have a couple of sick kids on your hands- get some movies or books, some yummy comfort foods, a no-spill water bottle, and a ton of blankets. A couple of days of continuous, relaxed, physical contact can really do wonders to help a kid feel grounded and safe.

 

I hope things ease up for you quickly! Sending some healing vibes your waygoodvibes.gif  Stay strong, mama!

Your post was so helpful to me. This is EXACTLY what it feels like "a giant infant with pain issues." I'm seriously doing everything I can for her. I think part of the problem is that she was not attachment parented when she was a baby/young child. DH thinks this is why his older daughter is emotionally distant and his younger daughter is excessively clingy. We're an AP home, and she's learning the difference. But we just can't make up for the things she didn't have up to this point. I'm not sure if that makes sense. I'm really hoping we can help her to feel more secure in a way that is age appropriate. Obviously giving her attention 24/7 is not age appropriate or remotely feasible. So I'm trying to find the balance and let her know how deeply special she is and very much we love her. I'm trying to bring her to a place where she feels secure in her attachments, even though her needs weren't exactly met in her early life. I know this will be a long haul. And although I know all of these things, it can still be extremely overwhelming at times, so I need to remember to cut myself some slack. :-)

 

I really like your idea of couch days. I think I will have one of those with DSD and DS this week. She likes the Sound of Music and I haven't seen it since I was a kid. :-) I'll try to incorporate such days every once in a while.
 

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Hugs!  You are doing a ton of work! Not wicked at all. We live with DP's 11 year old too, and I know what you mean about attention. In fact last week I made her go to school when she was going to stay home for no reason- because I can't even handle One extra day- those school days are precious. To be honest, I think you are a hugely generous person, but it sounds like right now a monster has been created! Get that girl in school (is it too hard in the middle of the year?) I actually don't think it is healthy to be the center of attention all the time and not have a social structure like school that makes kids learn to get along with and help each other. I agree with PP's that two weeks is not much and it is definitely going to get better. For us this has been a huge year of setting up dynamics as it's our first time living all together. It has taken a few months (and going) to get the dynamics ironed out. Make sure you are getting lots of breaks and take alone time. If you keep going at the rate you are something is going to really suffer, maybe all of you. I just learned about a book I have not purchased yet but it is called Boundaries with Children.  HTH and stay well .


Thanks, I'll look into that book. I think boundaries will be crucial to not only my wellbeing but to everyone's wellbeing in our home.

 

I responded in another post about public school and how awful our local school system is, plus the fact that we'll be moving to a bigger place and would have to put her in one school and take her out only to put her in another school. It does seem more feasible for next year, though, especially since I am pregnant and due sometime in August. DS will be about 18 months and I know at that time with a toddler and newborn, I will really  need the space. I'm just afraid that it would be more harmful to her than helpful at this point. I'm also afraid if we were to send her to public school now after promising her homeschool for this year, it might damage her faith in us and/or cause her to feel unloved.

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I'm not a step mother, but what boundaries have you put in place?  Can you set aside time each day (doesn't have to be long) for you to have one on one time with her, and then the same for her and your DH?  Can you make clear that there are expectations of what needs to happen, and can she help with dinner/errands/baby stuff?

 

Giving her some (age appropriate, not tons) responsibilities, and laying out some clear boundaries and expectations for her behavior might help.  Also, things sound very very new - give her some time.  I would also consider putting her in school after the new year - but if its only 2-3weeks settling into a different home and lifestyle is challenging for anyone, and will be hard on everyone involved - try not to be too hard on yourself!!!  No feeling guilty either, that won't help any of you (even though thats easier said than done).

 

You didn't say how far she moved to live with you, but if it was very far (you said her sister lives far, but I don't know your backstory and I'm trying not to make assumptions) then she likely feels a bit lonely for some friends, which can be hard to make in a new place.  If you decide on putting her in school that might help some, and it might also give her more structure to her day (depending on your hs'ing style - I'm VERY unfamiliar with homeschooling).  Was she home schooled before coming to live with you?  If not, thats another huge adjustment.

 

Hang in there.  Things will even out eventually.


Thanks for the suggestion to install boundaries. That is exactly what we did and what proved to be absolutely helpful. Giving her age appropriate chores/expectations also helps, as well as very clear homeschooling time and activities. This also helps her to work more independently some of the time. The hardest part has been not feeling guilty, but I think I'm getting to that point.

 

She moved pretty far to live with us (about 1K miles), and I would expect the difficulty to be that she miss her mom and sisters horribly. She does miss them, but seems to be doing well regarding that. One of the reasons she came to live with us was that she didn't get enough attention at her mom's. I think this was, in part, because she requires a lot of attention and, in part, because her emotional needs really weren't being met. The stepdad (who has been in her life since she was a baby) is hardly ever home and not willing to be present in the home or to give up his hobbies to be there for his family.


Thats pretty far, so I would give the adjustment period a solid 2months before worrying - but definitely work towards how you want things during that time, just know that such a big, huge adjustment will take LOTS of time (maybe even more than 2months).

 

As far as missing her mom and other siblings, she may not tell you thats whats wrong if it is - she might feel like she shouldn't miss them, or that she doesn't want her dad to be upset that she misses them.  Have you helped her hang up some pictures of her siblings and mom in her room (I don't know what your set-up is, but that could also be a decorating her room/bonding experience for you and her, or for her and your dh).  Make sure she knows that its OK to miss them (you may have already had this chat), and that if thats whats wrong she can always talk to you about it - but again, set boundaries.  If she's mad at her baby brother and then wants to divert the attention to missing her far away family (sorry, didn't know how to word that!) then you can make sure she knows that not acceptable.

 

And, set boundaries as far as how she can treat the baby.  Everyone yells occasionally, but be sure to teach her how to interact with a baby - it's far from intuitive sometimes.  She will learn, but babies are so intense and she probably barely remembers when her sister was a baby, if she remembers it at all.  Invite her to help with the baby too - distracting him while you do diapers (if he's wiggly like my ds is anyway!), having her get him a sippy when he's thirsty, make sure she gets time to play with him (supervised of course since she's not always so great with him yet) and teach her how to play with him - showing her the toys he really likes, showing her the books he likes to look at, music he likes to listen to, stuff like that.  When you get him gifts for his b-day or other holiday ask her opinion and what she thinks he would like, ask her to help you pick out books for him at the library, etc.  You can set boundaries, but also teach her how to have a baby brother - she has no idea!  It's totally new to her.  When he interrupts her at the dinner table, once he stops babbling make sure to ask about her story, or ask about it while she helps you with dishes or whatever.  She probably wants more than anything to fit in in your home, and to fit in with your family - the more you can help her see that she does fit in, include her in your family life, and reassure her that you are listening to her, the more secure she will feel, and the more independent she will become.   It will take lots and lots of time - the fact that things have improved quickly is a good sign - but be ready for the regressions.

 

As for the jealousy, I really have no advice!  Good luck!!!

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I will come back to read all the replies you've received, they'll probably be useful for me too!  My DSD is just turning 12 & there is a lot of back & forth about her coming to live with us.  Every year has some ups and some major downs (jeez, every weekend does!).  I understand exactly what you mean about needing attention.  DSD is with us every weekend and she misses her friends when she is here (this is a generalizing understatement).    We just went through a solid month - 2 months of misery every weekend.  I could barely look at her, much less talk to her.  Like you I love her very, very much but it was all I could do to keep myself in check with how she was acting.  She started therapy this past summer and we were given parenting advice and told to expect it to get worse before better.  Oh boy did it!  I think we're now seeing a faint glimmer of light way down the tunnel ;)  Anyway, all that to say, it takes time, don't lose hope.  :hug

 

Also, I just read the book Liberated Parents, Liberated Children, or something like that.  I thought it was awesome.


Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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