Advice/perspectives desperately needed--Final Update Post 24 - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 12-18-2010, 05:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Final Update on Post 24. Support and hugs greatly appreciated. greensad.gif

 

Please read update on post 19.

 

I posted recently regarding some difficulties with my 11 year old DSD who came to live with us a month ago. Her behavioral problems at that time I found to be difficult but I could work through them with her. However, new things have come to light since then that are absolutely unacceptable to me, and that seriously cause me to wonder if this is the best home for DSD, that maybe she's better off with her mom.

 

This week I learned that DSD has been hurting her baby brother and that it's been ongoing since her summer visit. My DS is 10 1/2 months old. This past summer during her visit he was between 4 1/2 to 6  months old. I've also learned this week that I am pregnant and that soon I will have not 1, but 2 babies to protect from her. I am feeling so angry with myself because this past summer I noticed more bumps and bruises on him. One time the skin was off much of his finger and when I inquired to my DSDs (ages 11 and 13 at the time), neither of them could tell me what happened. I wanted them to be able to play with their brother, as they lived 1000 miles away and, basically, see him once a year. I didn't want to place restrictions on them. DH assured me that DS was just becoming more mobile and that's why there were more bumps and bruises. When I told him I thought DS was being intentionally hurt, he told me that I didn't know that, and he was honestly offended. I felt like a wicked stepmother for even suggesting it. I am angry with myself for not insisting at that time that they be in DH's or my presence every time they play with DS. DH has since apologized to me, but I told him that if I ever feel so strongly that any child of mine is being harmed (including DSD) that my intuition and the signs I actually see are enough proof for me to take protective measures. I absolutely have to prove nothing. No, I can't go about accusing people who may be innocent, but I can absolutely make decisions that keep my children safe. I feel that parents don't listen to their intuition enough, and now I, too, am guilty of that. I felt bullied by DH for having the suspicions I had about his younger daughter. He accused me of being unfair and thinking badly of her.I'm working through these emotions because I know I can't hold resentment against my DH.

 

DSD  moved in with us full time about a month ago, and the very first night she was here, DS got hurt in her presence. She lied to both DH and me about how it happened, and when she told the "truth" I still didn't believe her. I talked to her, the same way I did when DS was getting hurt over the summer, and said that sometimes accidents happen and if there's an accident, no one's in trouble. I just need to know what happened. DSD began coming to me when DS got hurt and telling me what happened, things like DS bumped his head on the coffee table and I began to have a bit more trust in her.  I will say that he has gotten hurt so much in her presence, that I stopped leaving her alone with him for the most part. One day this past week I was changing DS's diaper on my bed. I was telling DSD a funny story about the last time I was pregnant, something her dad did. I know she's very jealous of her brother and I was attempting to make her feel "included" in some of my basic interactions with him. DS was near the middle of the bed, closer to the headboard and wall. DSD was lying next to him. I assessed the situation quickly and decided that DS would be safe for the few seconds it took me to walk to the utility room and get a clean diaper cover. I was trying very hard to trust her and to help her feel that I trusted her, something we've been struggling with lately. When I returned she had already moved DS to the corner/edge of the bed where he  could fall and hit his head against the dresser. She was standing feet away from the bed and generally looking very nervous. I knew at that moment that she has absolutely been hurting him on purpose. She intentionally placed him in harm's way and I caught her. She acts FAST. I had a talk with her and told her I absolutely believe she placed him on the edge of the bed on purpose. She had a meltdown, but she did admit that, indeed, she had and that she's actually been hurting him since the summer. She says this is because she is jealous of him. In my mind, there is absolutely no acceptable reason for an 11 1/2 year old girl to hurt a baby. She didn't even feel guilty (at least that I could see) until I caught her and called her on it. It is so very concerning to me.

 

DH and I planned for me to homeschool DSD. We'll be moving to a bigger place within the next several months and didn't want to place DSD in a school system that is not the best, and didn't want to make her switch schools again. However, now that I know she has been hurting her brother, I am constantly on edge. I don't leave him in a room that I am not in, unless I am guarding the door to that room (say, during nap). I bring DS to the bathroom with me.I can't relax. I can't put DS down somewhere to happily play where he "should" be safe. for example, I can no longer exercise in the other room during his naps. I cannot put DS in the jumper where he would be safe so I can take a 5 minute shower. I feel like a prisoner in my own home. Anyhow, we made the decision to place DSD in public school after Christmas Break.  I need to feel my baby is safe at least some of the time, without my constantly being on guard. I do let DSD hold and play with DS--but only in my DH's or my presence. DSD knows she has lost this privilege.

 

DSD requires so much attention that it is not humanly possible to give her all the attention she wants. It's only been a month and I feel like I have aged at least a year or two in that time. She lies on a daily basis and and does dishonest, deceitful things. I do not and cannot trust her. We plan to get her in therapy, but it will take time to get her in and much more time for her to work through her issues to a point where I feel safe. I'm afraid the situation is more than I can handle. I'm afraid she may be better off with her mom than DS is with DSD here. I'm also afraid for the baby I am carrying. :-( Deeply afraid. She does other things, like leave things out that DS could choke on or otherwise be very hurt by--like marbles or sharp adult scissors. I've told her many times she can't leave these things out with a baby in the house, but I continue to find them. Normally, I would think it's the age, but given her track record, I really wonder if she's leaving them out for the same reason she places him in harm's way, so that he will get hurt. I shouldn't have to wonder these things about anyone who is living in my home.

 

DSD's behavior is getting worse, not better. DH knows that if DSD hurts DS one more time, she is returning to live with her mother. I'm sure he doesn't like this, but he does know and believe that she has been hurting DS. DH is so sad. I am sad. I don't want to turn this child who so obviously needs love away, and I want to help her. However, it can't be at the expense of my DS's physical and emotional safety. I am pregnant now and I know that after the baby is born I won't be able to take them both to the bathroom with me all the time. I don't have faith that DSD will improve remarkably in that amount of time. I feel like I have to choose who to save, and I feel that (as heart-wrenching as it is) I have to save my babies. I have an absolute responsibility to keep my babies safe and to protect them ALL THE TIME from abuse. What DSD has been doing to DS is abuse.

 

I feel guilty.  I feel bad. I am a good person and a good stepmother. I am loving and kind. But I am not a saint. I can't be everything to everyone. I am so sorry DSD has these issues and likely very real hurts that have caused her to be this way. I want to help her work through things, but I can't sacrifice the safety of my babies. I'm really feeling that I don't want to wait for her to hurt DS again. I'm really asking myself what I have to give. I can't allow one child to drain me so very much so that I have little to nothing left over to give my babies, and I can't have that child harming my babies on top of everything else. I have no idea how long she would have to be in therapy in order to heal to a point where she is no longer a threat, but I sense it will be far longer than I can handle. I feel so torn.

 

Please offer perspectives and advice. Thanks. (Please no rude comments about the fact that I suspected and didn't act earlier. I already feel bad enough. DSD is a master manipulator and DH and I have had many arguments (in private) since she arrived. I, too, wanted to believe the best in her. I wanted to believe she wouldn't intentionally hurt her brother. It's no excuse. Unfortunately, there are no excuses.)

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#2 of 27 Old 12-18-2010, 05:38 AM
 
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oh mama hug2.gif I couldn't read and not respond - I have no advice, wanted to send some support. You sound like such a loving and caring mama to ALL your children and this sounds like such a difficult siutation. Hang in there, I'm sure someone will be along soon with some actual advice for you.

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#3 of 27 Old 12-18-2010, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks. I've found out that DSD has hurt DS far more often than I previously thought. She has the urge to hurt him often and acts on it every time. She takes advantage of every situation she possibly can to hurt him, including when we're driving in our small car.

 

I think the risks far outweigh the benefits. DH wants to give her one more chance. I'm terrified to give her another chance to hurt my baby. Since we restricted her from being alone with DS, her hostility is manifesting in different ways. Now she places dangerous things within his reach. I'm tired of thinking one step ahead of her. DH thinks sending her back will send the message that she is not wanted. I think keeping her here is clearly not in our son's (or future baby's) best interest. DH gave me a guilt trip about how sending her back is my idea, but he's willing to do it as long as I remember that I am the one who wants it. Of course, I don't want DSD to feel unwanted or unloved. I also don't want my babies to be abused. And I can't think of any way I can have her here with us and know that DS and future baby are completely safe. I'm currently so stressed I can barely eat. It is not good. I started this pregnancy out underweight at 109 pounds due to the direct stress of having DSD here with us. Now I know she has been harming my DS, my baby. She has been abusing my baby--hitting him and setting him down to fall off things--and, honestly, God only knows what else. She hurts him when we're in the same vehicle. I will be in the kitchen with her and she will place adult scissors on the very edge of the desk for DS to reach up and grab. I have to have eyes in the back of my head and it's impossible.

 

Even if DSD stayed here with us and started public school, I would still be alone with her 2-3 1/2 hours a day. I can't do it and feel at a loss.

 

Thanks to all who read this. I can't really call it a vent. I really wish I knew what to do. I actually gave DH the ultimatum that if he doesn't arrange for DSD to live with her mom, I will take son where I know he will be safe and stay for as long as I need to. I meant it.

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#4 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 06:55 AM
 
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Have you thought about therapy? Sounds like she has a lot she's trying to work thru too and doesn't have a place to do that.

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#5 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 07:10 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fairymom View Post

Have you thought about therapy? Sounds like she has a lot she's trying to work thru too and doesn't have a place to do that.



this. I don't have any experience with blended families; but what if 'sending her back' wasn't an option? In your post, the language is so strong... "master manipulator'... etc. Also, the feeling that you can't be alone with her for 3 hours a day. This can't be an easy situation for either of you, but she truly has no choice or outlet for her feelings. And she's a child. 

 

I would at least explore other options besides just sending her away. 

 

 

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#6 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 07:21 AM
 
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She needs to be in counseling, like yesterday, and it wouldn't hurt you and DH to go either.

 

If your husband doesn't want to "send her back" he needs to come up with alternative child care so she is never alone with your other children and someone who isn't you can be watching her at all times. If she's still doing this stuff after you confronted her, she may have some sort of compulsion to hurt the baby beyond jealousy, and regardless of her motives you can't be expected to drive yourself nuts trying to protect your other kids from her for hours, every day. 

 

Why did she leave her mom's? Was she being abused there? 

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#7 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 07:32 AM
 
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I think you see about getting her into therapy immediately.  I know you said you are moving soon, but even if you have to switch therapists getting her in immediately should be a priority.  I also think you are making the right decision to send her to public school in january - you need that time to make sure your ds is safe.

 

Is she going to visit her mother for x-mas?  That might give you a break, while not sending the "we're sending you back message"

 

I absolutely agree that you can't keep her in your home if she is going to intentionally hurt your ds, as you said another baby is coming soon, and you will not be able to keep an eye on everyone all the time - its impossible. 

 

I also think that your dh saying that you need to remember its your idea to send her back is mean.  I know its his dd, but its also his ds - he needs to protect them BOTH - and allowing his dd to intentionally hurt his ds is not in his dd's best interest either.  Might I recommend couples counseling for you and your dh to help you guys get through this??

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#8 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 07:37 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

 

 

I also think that your dh saying that you need to remember its your idea to send her back is mean.  I know its his dd, but its also his ds - he needs to protect them BOTH - and allowing his dd to intentionally hurt his ds is not in his dd's best interest either. 



That, too- especially since he doesn't seem to have any better ideas, it's really unfair of him to put this on you when it's his child that's abusing his younger child.

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#9 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 07:46 AM
 
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You need to protect your babies, mama.  You know this, you know you're doing what's right by setting boundaries.  You also are being realistic about how long it will take for therapy to make a difference in this girl's life.  It sounds like she has a serious behavioral disorder...it's not simply a matter of "give her another chance" or "she just needs love" or something else along those lines.  She constantly needs attention and she's taking out her hatred (of herself, no doubt) on a baby.  This is far from healthy, and it's unreasonable to expect yourself to be some kind of super mom...I honestly don't even think it's possible.  What she's communicating is not "love me", it's "I hate myself and I don't expect anyone to love me".  She knows she's draining you and her father, she knows that hurting a baby is very, very wrong, but the demons inside of her won't let her stop.  No amount of love and attention right now is going to magically change that.  She needs to have a professional help her address these demons that are running her life before she will be able to receive love.  It sounds like your DH feels guilty, which is why he can't accept the reality of the situation.  Making your feelings known about this as clearly as possible is all you can do and if he won't listen then you need to be proactive about this.  Moving to a safe place both for your DS and yourself is of the utmost importance right now hug2.gif

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#10 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 09:27 AM
 
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Forum crashing...my family is not blended, but I saw this on the new posts and after I read your post, I wanted to offer support and some gentle suggestions.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaKickyPants View Post

You sound like such a loving and caring mama to ALL your children and this sounds like such a difficult siutation.


 

yeahthat.gif



Quote:
Originally Posted by texmati View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by fairymom View Post

Have you thought about therapy? Sounds like she has a lot she's trying to work thru too and doesn't have a place to do that.



this. I don't have any experience with blended families; but what if 'sending her back' wasn't an option? In your post, the language is so strong... "master manipulator'... etc. Also, the feeling that you can't be alone with her for 3 hours a day. This can't be an easy situation for either of you, but she truly has no choice or outlet for her feelings. And she's a child. 

 

I would at least explore other options besides just sending her away. 

 

 

.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

I think you see about getting her into therapy immediately.  I know you said you are moving soon, but even if you have to switch therapists getting her in immediately should be a priority. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rainbow_mandala View Post

You need to protect your babies, mama.  You know this, you know you're doing what's right by setting boundaries.  You also are being realistic about how long it will take for therapy to make a difference in this girl's life.  It sounds like she has a serious behavioral disorder...it's not simply a matter of "give her another chance" or "she just needs love" or something else along those lines.  She constantly needs attention and she's taking out her hatred (of herself, no doubt) on a baby.  This is far from healthy, and it's unreasonable to expect yourself to be some kind of super mom...I honestly don't even think it's possible.  What she's communicating is not "love me", it's "I hate myself and I don't expect anyone to love me".  She knows she's draining you and her father, she knows that hurting a baby is very, very wrong, but the demons inside of her won't let her stop.  No amount of love and attention right now is going to magically change that.  She needs to have a professional help her address these demons that are running her life before she will be able to receive love.

 

I agree with the PPs about therapy. I gently urge you to have her see a crisis counselor or psychiatrist immediately (today, if possible) and to consider asking about an in-patient program (at least at first). I bolded what rainbow_mandala said above as I too had a similar thought...that she may have a lot of self-hatred. Further, if that's the case, she may not be a danger only to others, she may also be a danger to herself. She could be inflicting harm on herself already (or thinking about doing so) and/or may be suicidal. (FWIW, I have personal experience with two children in somewhat similar situations; PM me if you'd like.) If you aren't sure where to start, you can go to an emergency room, call her pediatrician (if she has one), or call a local crisis hotline for a referral.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View PostMight I recommend couples counseling for you and your dh to help you guys get through this??
Quote:
Originally Posted by lynsage View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

 

 

I also think that your dh saying that you need to remember its your idea to send her back is mean.  I know its his dd, but its also his ds - he needs to protect them BOTH - and allowing his dd to intentionally hurt his ds is not in his dd's best interest either. 



That, too- especially since he doesn't seem to have any better ideas, it's really unfair of him to put this on you when it's his child that's abusing his younger child.



I agree with the PPs that individual or couples counseling for you and your DH might be very beneficial. This is a painful and difficult situation for both of you and some support and the opportunity to work with a counselor with expertise in this area might help you work together to support each other and all of your children. If you speak with crisis counselor or psychiatrist, they will likely be able to make a referral for you and your DH as well. You can also reach out to your primary care physician (if you have one), your midwife or OB (if you have one), or a local crisis hotline.



Quote:
Originally Posted by rainbow_mandala View Post

Moving to a safe place both for your DS and yourself is of the utmost importance right now hug2.gif

 

yeahthat.gif I just wanted to add my support. I will thinking of you and your DS, as well as your DH and DSD, and hoping that you can all move to a safe place (even if it means separating some family members temporarily). Your DS is so lucky to have you as his mama and you are absolutely right to protect him first and foremost. Your DSD is also so lucky to have you as her parent and you are doing the right thing by taking her actions so seriously.

 

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#11 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you to absolutely everyone who shared your perspectives. I'll try to respond to each person and to give an update.

 

fairymom & texmati, I did mention therapy in my original post and that we absolutely plan to get her in therapy as soon as possible. I know my original post is very long and that part may be easy to miss. In the interim, there is also the possibility for her to get some counseling at her school. She will be starting public school on the 3rd of January. I know in my last post I was feeling it would be better for her to live with her mom, so this is part of the update I will post after responding to everybody who took the time to share thoughtful responses.

 

texmati, thank you for your post. I agree at this point that other options are preferable to sending her away.

 

lynsage, there is no real abuse that we know of. That is not to say that none has happened. The only abuse that I *know* of is mild emotional neglect on the part of the stepdad. I say mild because as it has been explained to me, it sounds mild. However, that does not mean that DSD considers it to be mild and it's really her feelings that matter. I don't know if that makes sense. I suspect very strongly that there are things we absolutely don't know about.

 

Super~Single~Mama, she's not going to her mom's for Christmas. She actually won't be seeing her mom until the summer. I'm working to give her a happy, healthy Christmas here, though. The sad truth is that if she continues physically harming DS and I feel that DH and I can't protect DS or the baby that I am carrying from DSD, she really can't live with us. I've been going back and forth, trying to think of everything and trying to come from a loving place for all involved, including DH and DSD, and I'm willing to hang in there for a while longer, to make a number of changes and see how the situation improves over time. I've come to this perspective after lots and lots of prayer and talking with an older and wiser friend who has grandchildren DSDs age, who is very familiar with the local school system and programs/available resources to help DSD. Thanks for understanding my dilemma of wanting desperately to protect my babies from abuse. Also, regarding counseling for DH and me, we plan to meet with our religious elders for guidance.

 

Super~Single~Mama & lynsage, I do feel that it was wrong of DH to say that to me. I also know that this is so very difficult for him and is absolutely breaking his heart. Hopefully, things will work out for the better.

 

rainbow_mandala, thanks for recognizing how very difficult this is for me. It is heart wrenching. I have a very real fear for my DS, as well as the baby I am carrying. DH and I laid things out for her. She knows she has 0 chances at this point and that if she hurts her brother one more time, she is absolutely returning to live with her mom. It has to be that way. I have done some serious soul searching regarding this. I have decided to try some new and different approaches/changes and see how they work. So she knows that she absolutely cannot hurt her brother if she wants to continue living with us and that it is very much within her control. She makes the choice. She also knows that she is to leave nothing out (like the scissors on the edge of the desk) that is dangerous to her brother. I'm taking some deep breaths and proceeding cautiously with eyes wide open. 

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#12 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 10:33 AM
 
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Therapy, definitley. I feel bad for this little girl. I would hate knowing that if I made one wrong move I could be sent to live somewhere else. Especially at such a young age, how does this comprehend in her mind? I have an 11 year old boy and a 15 month child. They both live full time with me and my 11 year old has put the baby up on a bunk bed to play with her and then left her there alone and walked away. Not on purpose though. In his little world he just spaced out and walked away. He has fallen with the baby, dropped the baby, play wrestled with her and hurt her...his concept of what could hurt the baby is very skewed due to his age and development and it is never on purpose. I know him, he just doesn't get it. However I have an 8 year old daughter who is extremely motherly, careful and cautious with the baby. I would trust her with the baby over my son any day. But I don't let that on to my son. In his mind he is the bestest and most trusting brother in the world. He is far more careless and hurts the baby often. But i'm not going to send him away. We are parents here and the love is unconditional. If your baby grows up to be aggressive and hurts other kids will you send him away? These are our kids and we have to move mountains to get them help if they clearly need it. I believe that developmentally kids are all over the place and some 11 year olds are amazing with kids and others aren't. Your step daughter is in the unique position of being shifted among homes and this seems to be having a negative impact on her emotional well being. Why not get her intensive therapy help asap and let her know she is just a part of that family as your baby?

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#13 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 10:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Therapy, definitley. I feel bad for this little girl. I would hate knowing that if I made one wrong move I could be sent to live somewhere else. Especially at such a young age, how does this comprehend in her mind? I have an 11 year old boy and a 15 month child. They both live full time with me and my 11 year old has put the baby up on a bunk bed to play with her and then left her there alone and walked away. Not on purpose though. In his little world he just spaced out and walked away. He has fallen with the baby, dropped the baby, play wrestled with her and hurt her...his concept of what could hurt the baby is very skewed due to his age and development and it is never on purpose. I know him, he just doesn't get it. However I have an 8 year old daughter who is extremely motherly, careful and cautious with the baby. I would trust her with the baby over my son any day. But I don't let that on to my son. In his mind he is the bestest and most trusting brother in the world. He is far more careless and hurts the baby often. But i'm not going to send him away. We are parents here and the love is unconditional. If your baby grows up to be aggressive and hurts other kids will you send him away? These are our kids and we have to move mountains to get them help if they clearly need it. I believe that developmentally kids are all over the place and some 11 year olds are amazing with kids and others aren't. Your step daughter is in the unique position of being shifted among homes and this seems to be having a negative impact on her emotional well being. Why not get her intensive therapy help asap and let her know she is just a part of that family as your baby?


I hear what you're saying and thanks for sharing your perspective. The difference here is that my DSD has admitted that she intentionally hurts her baby brother, that she has hit him (on multiple occasions) until he cries and she has admitted that she intentionally sets him places so that he will fall and get hurt. It's very different from real accidents where a child's intentions are good. As for how it affects her to know that she needs to return to her mom's for making one wrong move, I'm sure that would be very hurtful to her. But she also has to understand that the choice is hers to make. She can choose not to hurt her brother. Continuing to harm her brother is the ONLY thing that would cause her to return to her mom's, the ONLY thing. Unfortunately, it is a very important thing and not something I'm willing to risk. DSD absolutely HAS to know what is at stake here. If we don't tell her the consequences of this very destructive and highly dangerous action and then send her back to her mom's, that would be more unfair than telling her beforehand what the consequence will be and working alongside her lovingly to keep that from happening. We're working with her and we're working hard to be able to keep her here with us. But DS and future baby have to be safe.

 

And for what it's worth, when I thought DSD was "accidentally" hurting her brother, I was not considering sending her back to her mom's. I even let her play alone with him until recently, even though he was getting hurt in her presence. Purposely and accidentally hurting a baby are two very different things. 

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HappyHappyMommy, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. I will respond to your post as soon as I am able to, but I'm out of time right now. 

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Therapy, definitley. I feel bad for this little girl. I would hate knowing that if I made one wrong move I could be sent to live somewhere else. Especially at such a young age, how does this comprehend in her mind? I have an 11 year old boy and a 15 month child. They both live full time with me and my 11 year old has put the baby up on a bunk bed to play with her and then left her there alone and walked away. Not on purpose though. In his little world he just spaced out and walked away. He has fallen with the baby, dropped the baby, play wrestled with her and hurt her...his concept of what could hurt the baby is very skewed due to his age and development and it is never on purpose. I know him, he just doesn't get it. However I have an 8 year old daughter who is extremely motherly, careful and cautious with the baby. I would trust her with the baby over my son any day. But I don't let that on to my son. In his mind he is the bestest and most trusting brother in the world. He is far more careless and hurts the baby often. But i'm not going to send him away. We are parents here and the love is unconditional. If your baby grows up to be aggressive and hurts other kids will you send him away? These are our kids and we have to move mountains to get them help if they clearly need it. I believe that developmentally kids are all over the place and some 11 year olds are amazing with kids and others aren't. Your step daughter is in the unique position of being shifted among homes and this seems to be having a negative impact on her emotional well being. Why not get her intensive therapy help asap and let her know she is just a part of that family as your baby?



There is a HUGE difference between being careless/forgetful/playing too rough and intentionally hurting a baby!!

 

If this weren't a blended family, and this was happening, there would still be tough choices to make.

 

It is an all around sad situation, and the stepdaughter needs help wherever she lives.

 

 

 

 

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#16 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 11:48 AM
 
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I went back and looked at some of your older posts. First, let me say that I am so impressed with the amount of love and deep caring you show for your stepdaughters. I read the posts where you were expressing concern about how violent they were with each other due to jealousy when they visited you this summer. That was a huge red flag to me that possibly either DSD1 has been attacking DSD2 for a long time and using "jealousy" as an excuse or that one or both of these girls is being physically abused by someone else.

 

I really admire your compassion for your DSDs and I hope this can all be worked out for your family.

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.

 

lynsage, there is no real abuse that we know of. That is not to say that none has happened. The only abuse that I *know* of is mild emotional neglect on the part of the stepdad. I say mild because as it has been explained to me, it sounds mild. However, that does not mean that DSD considers it to be mild and it's really her feelings that matter. I don't know if that makes sense. I suspect very strongly that there are things we absolutely don't know about.

 

 

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#17 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 12:06 PM
 
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This is a terrible situation, and I sympathize.

 

If this were my toddler being hurt, I would be gone. Not "gone" as in divorced, but gone as in "DS and I are spending the holidays with my mom. When your daughter is resettled with her mother or with another relative or in a special school or in any other place that is not our son's home, we'll be back."

 

Your responsibility is to protect your very young children. Nothing else is even on the table until they are safe in their home. If you can't have a safe home with your DH, then the awful painful truth is that you must make a safe home elsewhere. The choices you make now are going to shape their entire childhoods, so choose their well-being over the well-being of your stepdaughter NOW. Look that choice in the eye and know it, and help her in whatever way you can over the years that doesn't result in a battered toddler. 

 

You didn't break this kid, and you can't fix her without an unacceptable cost to your biokids. If you had no small children, I'd be giving you very different advice. 

 

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I went back and looked at some of your older posts. First, let me say that I am so impressed with the amount of love and deep caring you show for your stepdaughters. I read the posts where you were expressing concern about how violent they were with each other due to jealousy when they visited you this summer. That was a huge red flag to me that possibly either DSD1 has been attacking DSD2 for a long time and using "jealousy" as an excuse or that one or both of these girls is being physically abused by someone else.

 

I really admire your compassion for your DSDs and I hope this can all be worked out for your family.

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.

 

lynsage, there is no real abuse that we know of. That is not to say that none has happened. The only abuse that I *know* of is mild emotional neglect on the part of the stepdad. I say mild because as it has been explained to me, it sounds mild. However, that does not mean that DSD considers it to be mild and it's really her feelings that matter. I don't know if that makes sense. I suspect very strongly that there are things we absolutely don't know about.

 

 



Thank you. I agree with you about the red flags. I just can't say there was definite abuse at this time. This is one of the reasons we're putting DSD in therapy ASAP.

 

Things aren't always easy, but I definitely try my best.

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Update:

 

I came here to post initially because I recognized I was so deeply immersed in the emotional complexity of the situation that I was afraid it prevented me from seeing the big picture clearly. I put myself out there and I've received some very helpful advice. Some of my words may have seemed harsh. To that I can only say that I am a mom who has recently learned my baby has been abused. The abuser was a child I love dearly. I felt confused and conflicted. I didn't know what to do. The bit about DSD being a master manipulator (or anything I shared regarding her) is not to slam her in any way. I wrote it during an emotional moment to show the magnitude of the situation. DSD does a great deal of manipulating people. Getting her needs met in direct ways is something we're working with her on. But she has tried to play DH and me against each other. She absolutely has very good qualities. But they're not the ones I'm seeking advice on dealing with. Her good qualities don't frighten me and cause me to feel DS is unsafe in our home. Her good qualities are very, very good, though. She's bright, creative, imaginative and can be very helpful. When she's in a good mood, she has a lot of enthusiasm. When she plays well with DS, she really plays well with him. We love her very much (and we tell her this frequently).

 

I spoke with an older and wiser friend this morning who has granddaughters DSD's age. She is very familiar with our school system and told me DSD will be going to a very good school. (I had been very concerned about putting DSD in a bad school system.) She gave some very helpful advice and helped me to see how putting DSD in public school may really help our situation because DSD will have her own turf, so to speak, a life separate from our family. There are also resources, such as support groups for girls about handling social anxiety, anxious feelings, self esteem issues, etc. She will be able to meet with the school counselor even before she starts regular counseling. We'll be having the school test her to see if she will need extra help anywhere or special considerations. My intuition is that DSD will need the most help and support emotionally. DH and I already have a recommendation from our family doctor for a very good child psychologist. We also have the name of a man at DSD's new school who will be able to help us to make sure DSD's needs will be met at school. The time apart will mean that I can relax for a portion of the day without worrying about my baby's safety. It will also mean that I will have more to give DSD, because I will be able to fill the well.

 

DH and I have had numerous, very productive talks with DSD about the magnitude of things and what they all mean. We have explained to her lovingly and firmly that we love her so very much and want nothing more than her to continue to live with us, that she has so many good qualities. However, she absolutely cannot hurt babies. She knows that if she continues doing so, she will have to live with her mom. She also knows that we are working with her to help her as much as possible. In my frantic posts, I think this is the part that didn't come through. I've talked with DSD about what she's feeling before, during and after hurting her brother. I've had her start an affirmation journal where she records negative feelings or thoughts and then converts them to positive feelings or thoughts. For example, "Dad and stepmom only love my baby brother" would turn to "Dad and stepmom love me very much and spend lots of special time with me."  We've also talked about directly communicating her feelings. If she is jealous because DH or I are focusing on her brother for a moment, she can ask us to spend time with just her soon, to look at something or talk about something, that even if we can't give her our undivided attention right at that moment, we will make it a priority to give her our attention very soon. These are some of the ways we've been working with DSD to process her emotions and to make different choices. We talked about how emotions are not bad. They're just emotions. It's what we do with them that matters. I've modeled handling emotions constructively, etc. 

 

I feel better about DSD not hurting DS, anymore, because we have talked to her so extensively and she seems to understand the magnitude of the situation. She says she wants to live with us. We asked her that, just in case she was acting out because she did want to be sent to her mom's to live. This, for the record, is the ONLY time she has ever switched homes, so there hasn't ever been a back and forth, no one wants her, type of situation. Her mother does want her, but DSD decided she wanted to live with us, and her mom wanted her to be happy. That is why she has come to live with us. We were so happy to have her come to join our family full time. We're willing to go to great lengths to ensure her well-being. However, that can't include DS's physical harm. DSD made a poster about stopping child abuse, and said that she made the poster because she is not going to abuse her baby brother, anymore. We still won't leave her in a room alone with DS, but we will continue to allow her to play with him. Mostly, we want to encourage her by telling her what she is doing right, how nicely she sometimes plays with her brother, etc. She and DH spent time alone today and I will be taking DSD out for a coffee date soon. We like to write together at the coffee shop (and she's sure to have my undivided attention). I still welcome advice on meeting her needs, especially if anyone has dealt with this particular issue before, an older child intentionally harming a baby or younger child.

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Super~Single~Mama, she's not going to her mom's for Christmas. She actually won't be seeing her mom until the summer. I'm working to give her a happy, healthy Christmas here, though. The sad truth is that if she continues physically harming DS and I feel that DH and I can't protect DS or the baby that I am carrying from DSD, she really can't live with us. I've been going back and forth, trying to think of everything and trying to come from a loving place for all involved, including DH and DSD, and I'm willing to hang in there for a while longer, to make a number of changes and see how the situation improves over time. I've come to this perspective after lots and lots of prayer and talking with an older and wiser friend who has grandchildren DSDs age, who is very familiar with the local school system and programs/available resources to help DSD. Thanks for understanding my dilemma of wanting desperately to protect my babies from abuse. Also, regarding counseling for DH and me, we plan to meet with our religious elders for guidance.



I really didn't mean to insinuate that you aren't going to give her a great x-mas.  I was just suggesting that if she went to her mom's it would give YOU a break, and give you and your dh time to kind of re-group and determine what to do, while at the same time, not sending her away on negative terms - kind of as a win-win situation for everyone involved.

 

I know that its too late to make plans now, so I won't push that.  I think you're doing a great job, and keeping a much cooler head about this than most people would.

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#21 of 27 Old 12-19-2010, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you. I didn't think you meant that. It's just that sending her home for Christmas isn't possible for wither party financially at this point. Thank you so much for your thoughts. They've been so helpful.

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Super~Single~Mama, she's not going to her mom's for Christmas. She actually won't be seeing her mom until the summer. I'm working to give her a happy, healthy Christmas here, though. The sad truth is that if she continues physically harming DS and I feel that DH and I can't protect DS or the baby that I am carrying from DSD, she really can't live with us. I've been going back and forth, trying to think of everything and trying to come from a loving place for all involved, including DH and DSD, and I'm willing to hang in there for a while longer, to make a number of changes and see how the situation improves over time. I've come to this perspective after lots and lots of prayer and talking with an older and wiser friend who has grandchildren DSDs age, who is very familiar with the local school system and programs/available resources to help DSD. Thanks for understanding my dilemma of wanting desperately to protect my babies from abuse. Also, regarding counseling for DH and me, we plan to meet with our religious elders for guidance.



I really didn't mean to insinuate that you aren't going to give her a great x-mas.  I was just suggesting that if she went to her mom's it would give YOU a break, and give you and your dh time to kind of re-group and determine what to do, while at the same time, not sending her away on negative terms - kind of as a win-win situation for everyone involved.

 

I know that its too late to make plans now, so I won't push that.  I think you're doing a great job, and keeping a much cooler head about this than most people would.



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I'm glad that you are feeling better about the situation. 

 

I still can't advocate for keeping a child this troubled in a home with two much younger children. But if it's your path, then I hope very much that your faith in your DSD is borne out and the abuse is over. hug2.gif

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Thank you. I didn't think you meant that. It's just that sending her home for Christmas isn't possible for wither party financially at this point. Thank you so much for your thoughts. They've been so helpful.

 


 

Consider it as an option later though perhaps, as a break for you and your family while she visits her family (don't tell her that its a break - just a visit to her mom's earlier than expected). 

 

I hope things start getting much much better!

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This is a terrible situation, and I sympathize.

 

If this were my toddler being hurt, I would be gone. Not "gone" as in divorced, but gone as in "DS and I are spending the holidays with my mom. When your daughter is resettled with her mother or with another relative or in a special school or in any other place that is not our son's home, we'll be back."

 

Your responsibility is to protect your very young children. Nothing else is even on the table until they are safe in their home. If you can't have a safe home with your DH, then the awful painful truth is that you must make a safe home elsewhere. The choices you make now are going to shape their entire childhoods, so choose their well-being over the well-being of your stepdaughter NOW. Look that choice in the eye and know it, and help her in whatever way you can over the years that doesn't result in a battered toddler. 

 

You didn't break this kid, and you can't fix her without an unacceptable cost to your biokids. If you had no small children, I'd be giving you very different advice. 

 

hug2.gif


Ultimately, after months of trying, this is the advice I had to take. Thank you, Smithie. I think I knew in my heart that you were right all along, but I had to try.

 

We got DSD in therapy with a really good therapist, who was upfront with us that the healing DSD needs to do will be slow going and will likely take more time than we have with a young toddler and a baby coming so soon. Since mid-December we have not left DSD in a room alone with DS. I cannot express the anxiety and stress this has placed on me, but I willingly put myself in that position in the hopes of helping DSD and keeping her here with us, while keeping DS safe.

 

A couple weeks ago, DSD (who turns 12 in a couple weeks) began to try to hurt DS in our presence, so even being in the same room with them wouldn't keep him safe. She would wait for us to turn our backs for a second and act in that second. I witnessed her go to set him down and let him go inches from the floor with a little shove in the direction of the nearby stove so that he would smash his face on the corner of it. Later that night DH was in the kitchen with DSD and 14 month old DS. DSD was setting the table. DH turned around and DS was playing with a butter knife in his high chair. DH asked DSD where he got it. At first she said he must have reached and grabbed it form the table. DH told her there was no way DS could reach the table. At that point, she said she just wasn't thinking. We decided that we can't wait to see if she'll give him a steak knife next time. When it became clear to us that we couldn't keep DS safe in our home, even being in the same room with DSD and DS, we had to send her to live with her mom. This is the most difficult decision either of us has ever had to make. It's not for lack of trying on our part. Nor is it due to a lack of love for DSD. What it boils down to is that DS and future baby deserve to grow up in a home free from abuse.

 

DSD flew back to her mom's last Sunday. We explained things to her as lovingly as we could. She knows that after more therapy, when she is older and our children here are older, we can discuss trying again. DH took a day off work to spend with DSD. We threw her a Going Away party. Now we're attempting to advocate for her from a distance. DH is recommending DSD continue therapy. It's a sad, sad time for us and is especially devastating for DH, but we are on the same page and both feel that we cannot safely keep her here. 

 

Thanks to all who gave advice, so that I could try to see it from all sides and try to do the right thing. Ultimately, I feel we've come to the right decision, the only decision we can come to with small children to protect in our home. This is such an emotional time for us. Thanks for the support.

 

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hug2.gif

 

Thank YOU for being such a brave mom and stepmom, and trying to so hard to do the best you can for all the children God has placed in your path. 

 

(Despite my tough talk back in December, I would probably have done exactly what you did. My DH is my life partner if he had a kid from previous relationship, that kid would have a strong strong claim on me.) 

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I'm so sorry that you've had to face this heart-wrenching decision, but you've done the right thing and your children (all of your children) are lucky to have such a clear-headed and loving mother who would do anything that it takes to protect them. Wishing you all the best for you and your family. hug2.gif

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hug.gif  I'm very impressed that you tried as hard as you did.  I'm also really sorry it didn't work out as you all had hoped, and also happy that you and your DH are on the same page.  I hope you can advocate for her from a distance, and that her behavior improves. 

 

You did your best, and in the end, thats all you can do.

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