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Old 02-13-2012, 10:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello all,

I'm new to this forum, I've joined because I need some advice. I'm quite familiar with step-families, becoming a step-daughter when my dad got re-married almost 20 years ago, and a step-mother for about 10years. DH has a daughter from a previous marriage, and we have 2 daughters together. Beginning times were rough in both situations, more so, when I became the step-parent. I was young, had no children of my own, and didn't really understand the dynamics in a parent-child relationship from the 'parent' side. We have adapted quite well however, at least as far as I'm concerned.

 

What I need advice on is teenage attitude *insert groan here*. My step-mom warned me the teenage years would be tough (she met me when I was 12), but I'm finding I'm not sure how to deal with it. My SD is 14. The custody arrangement is quite casual. DH and BM have a friendly relationship which made this transition easier on all of us. So SD comes for the weekend basically whenever she wants (which has been fine until now). DH and I both work shift work which includes weekends.

 

SD was here this past weekend, and I ended up in tears after taking her home last night. I'm at my wits end. I'm tired of the attitude. A few years ago, SD and I ended up in a blowout during which I told her is she wanted to talk to her parents the way she did, it was between them, but she was NOT going to talk to me like that. Things were better until recently. It's nothing specific, just the little snide remarks. She had a friend here this weekend, which threw her show-off-ness into overdrive, DH was working. One night I was telling them a funny story about something she said to me when we had first met and she piped up and said 'that's because I hated you', in her teenage tone. I'm not sure if I'm being overly sensitive or if the fact that I found this disrespectful is legit. I get it. Don't think I don't. I was a step-child too. I didn't like my step-mom at first, who really does, but I would never look her in the eye and say 'I hated you'. However, I couldn't get into it with her, because in the heat of the moment, calling her on it infront of her friend is disrespectful. This is just one example. There have been several remarks like that against me over the last little while, and she's pushing me to a point where it's getting hard to like her. It seems they are always remarks that would be made towards someone that you didn't like. Unless I'm completely oblivious, I don't think she dislikes me.

 

I told DH last night I do not want her here anymore on weekends while he is working. This is going to really mess things up as sometimes he works as many as 5 weekends in a row before he has some off. It doesn't seem fair, but I don't know what else to do. DH asked me what I wanted to do. Here's where I need the advice. I know we need to talk about this. I know she needs to know that her disrespect is hurting our relationship, and me. But I'm not sure how to get it across. not sure what to say. DH suggested I write her a letter, but I find sometimes things are lost in translation, and she needs to opportunity to respond to what I say, or to ask for clarification, she's only 14. He also suggested he talk to her alone. While this sounds like a better option, I'm afraid he won't be able to articulate what the actual problem is...the problem isn't that she didn't like me when she was little, the problem wouldn't even be if she disliked me right now, she is entitled to her own feelings...the problem is that there are ways to deal with it without being disrespectful and hurtful. The other problem is she's severely stubborn. If she sees things one way, there is no getting her to see things from another side. We argued for 5 minutes this weekend because I asked her to make sure she cleans up after herself, she said she always does, I told her she needs to make sure she cleans her glasses up after she's finished with them, she insisted she does, insisted I was wrong, she always cleans up after herself, I got home after dropping her off, and found 5 dirty glasses scattered throughout the house from her and her friend. This whole situation is so frustrating.

 

I would appreciate any advice. I don't know what to do. This is my forever family and I need to make it work, but it's not going to work if we don't all feel valued.

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Old 02-13-2012, 12:52 PM
 
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One night I was telling them a funny story about something she said to me when we had first met and she piped up and said 'that's because I hated you', in her teenage tone. I'm not sure if I'm being overly sensitive or if the fact that I found this disrespectful is legit.

 

I can't presume to give you too much parenting advice, but just in terms of person-to-person interaction, I have found that letting something like that go unremarked on gives the power to the commenter.

 

You can drain the comment of its power by discussing the issue openly and gently.  Eg, (said gently), "How do you think it makes me feel to hear you say that?" 


Me, DH, DD1 (5/2009) and DD2 (10/2011).
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Old 02-13-2012, 03:49 PM
 
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If she lived with you and your DH full time, would you consider it okay to say that she can't be home when her dad isn't? That's not an okay thing to say, it's her home too. It doesn't matter that she presumably has somewhere else to be. It's probably a better plan for you to decide that you're going to get groceries, go to the gym, go out for lunch with a friend, etc. on weekends she's around. You can take breaks from her when you need them. 

 

The example you gave of telling a story about when she was younger... could it be that she was embarrassed by that? My son is just 10 and I've already managed to put my foot in my mouth. They're trying to look all grown up and cool for their friend, cute stories of when they were little are in direct conflict with that! Of course, it's extra hard to stop myself at that moment, because seeing him act so big automatically makes the memories flood in... but no, it's time to just be The Snack Lady. Food at least, is appreciated.

 

Maybe reiterate some really clear house rules like cleaning up, no back talk and let her know that the consequences. If she gets mouthy when she has a friend over, maybe it's time for the friend to go home. I know calling DS to the other room for a quiet word gets him on the ball to reign in his friends when they get a little wild because he doesn't want me stepping in! Your situation is different, but the strategy might work anyway?


~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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Old 02-13-2012, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mummoth, are you a step-mom? Because the question about if she lived here full time, doesn't sound like something someone in the same position as myself, being disrespected by a child you love, but have no authority over would say. This was actually suggested to me by BM. She called in the middle of one of the arguments. She knows the attitude, she knows the drill. Her initial suggestion was to 'tell her to smarten the eff up'. She then suggested if the visits aren't enjoyable, she can stay home. Her exact words. We've discussed it. My issue was not with how to deal with visitation, my issue is how to bring it across to her in a way she can be receptive to. It's not a forever thing either. It's a until you can treat others with respect thing. Because it's like I said I can't deal with it...in the heat of the moment, she's going to respond differently to my reaction than she will to either of her bio parents reactions, not matter if we react the exact same or not.

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Old 02-13-2012, 08:09 PM
 
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I'm a bio-mom, my husband is step-dad to two of our kids, and they live with us full-time, so yes my situation is different from yours, maybe easier. My ex abandoned the kids, there's not another home for the kids to go to if DH decides he doesn't want to take care of them so they have to work out their differences... but in the long run, I think that's made their bond stronger. I have the expectation that they are respectful to DH, when they say something hurtful or are ungrateful, they get called on it and have to apologize to him. It gets spelled out to them exactly how much he does to make their lives good (and it's a lot) but they're kids, it'd pretty much developmentally appropriate for them to be brats sometimes.

 

If you truly have no authority over her, that's something you and your DH need to fix. You have the right to be treated with respect. You should have some say in what the house rules are, it's your home, after all! You should have the right to enforce whatever rules your DH and you have agreed to, and he should back you up on that. I might leave it up to her whether she comes over or not, but she needs to know that if you're the parent who's home, you're in charge. If she gives you more backtalk than she gives her dad, there can be a consequence for backtalk, too. But making her unwelcome isn't going to make your relationship with her better.


~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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Old 02-13-2012, 09:02 PM
 
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Hi Just Me. I read your post and I understand how you feel. I also think that your SD needs to know how you feel.  Her snide comment probably has more to do with her being a teenager than the fact that she is your SD... she's 14, she's showing off in front of a friend (because we all know how melodramatic teenage girls can be), and she's as self-absorbed as any other teenager out there.

 

My advice would be to talk to her alone (so that she doesn't feel ganged up on by you and your DH) and explain to her that her comment really hurt your feelings, made you cry, etc. She may not realize that her comment affected you so much, or she may have been too embarrassed/uncomfortable to come back later and apologize.  If you feel totally uncomfortable talking to her alone, you could do one day that you and DH are both home, and he could wait in another room just in case he needed to come in and mediate.

 

Most importantly, remember that she's 14.  That doesn't give her an excuse to go around saying mean things to anyone she feels like insulting, but we all know it happens. I would also explain to her that her behavior is making you consider the option of not allowing her to come over as much when DH isn't home (because she doesn't listen to you).  Good luck, stay calm, and be confident that you are being the best SM you can be!

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Old 02-14-2012, 09:28 AM
 
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I totally agree with Mambera.  There's a big difference between you responding to her rudeness, by behaving just as badly (e.g., "So, you hated me back then?  Well, at the time I thought you were fat and bratty.") and saying something like Mambera suggested, which is a natural reaction to the way she chose to behave.  It would embarrass her - but only because her chosen behavior was embarrassing.

 

As far as the picking up after herself...You didn't know that teens always know more than you do?  In fact, they know everything.  You didn't know everything, when you were 14?  I'm pretty sure I did!  

 

So if she's stubborn, it's useless to discuss such a subject with her, when it's not an immediate issue.  In fact, by doing so, you lose face with her.  She will not back down and admit she's wrong and you have nothing to point to - that she's left laying around - to prove you're right.  Much better to wait until her friends leave and she heads off to her room (i.e., give her every opportunity to pick up after herself without being told), then smile and say, "I know you 'always' pick up 'everything' you use, but your dad and I don't consider dirty glasses 'picked up' until they're in the dishwasher."

> If she says, "I was GOING to pick them up!", just say, "Oh, great!  I love it when you clean up after yourself.  Thanks." and let her.  Winning the argument isn't the important thing.  Having her take her own dishes to the sink is.  

> If she ignores you, be assertive and tell her she needs to take care of it before she goes to her room or does anything else.  

> If she still ignores you, then it's time to involve your DH.  But if it gets to that point, there needs to be some balance - some natural consequence.  You're not her parent, but you are one of the adults in the home.  Surely, there are things you do for her - that she likes - even though you're not her parent.  (Taking her shopping?)  You can't be expected to do those things, as long as your DH's intervention is required, to get her to cooperate with even simple, reasonable requests from you.

 

But keep things in perspective.  Leaving out dirty glasses is minor.  My God, with 3 teenage sons and a toddler, I often look around my house and feel like everyone leaves things where they drop and concludes, "It's OK.  Jeannine will pick it up for me!"  But of course, it's not any sort of intentional disrespect, at all.  Once your SD and her friend were done with their glasses, they thought about something else and forgot about the glasses.  It's that simple.  Repeatedly making her go back and pick up after herself, when she forgets (instead of sighing and doing it for her) will - OVER TIME - improve her habits.  One conversation will not.

 

If this is your forever family, you can't send your SD away whenever she's inconvenient, just like we can't do that with our bio kids.  You ban your stepkids from being in your home without their bio parent, if they're dangerous.  If you do it for any lesser reason, then you are communicating that your DH's house is not really a home for his daughter.  It's your home and she's only welcome there when you're pleased with her, or when you don't have to interact with her because her dad's home.  

 

I DO sympathize with your feelings, but you have to learn how to handle the teenager whose life you chose to marry into; not narrow the scope of when you have to be around her.


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Old 02-14-2012, 09:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Its Just Me View Post

Mummoth, are you a step-mom? Because the question about if she lived here full time, doesn't sound like something someone in the same position as myself, being disrespected by a child you love, but have no authority over would say. This was actually suggested to me by BM. She called in the middle of one of the arguments. She knows the attitude, she knows the drill. Her initial suggestion was to 'tell her to smarten the eff up'. She then suggested if the visits aren't enjoyable, she can stay home. Her exact words. We've discussed it. My issue was not with how to deal with visitation, my issue is how to bring it across to her in a way she can be receptive to. It's not a forever thing either. It's a until you can treat others with respect thing. Because it's like I said I can't deal with it...in the heat of the moment, she's going to respond differently to my reaction than she will to either of her bio parents reactions, not matter if we react the exact same or not.


I can almost guarantee that your SD's mother does not think of you and your DH's home as SD's home.  Mom thinks only her home is a home to SD and your house (Dad's house) is a place SD only visits - a place it's not necessary for her to go ("if the visits aren't enjoyable").

 

As a good parent, this is not how your DH should think.  As his wife, it's not how you should think.  I'm not saying Mom has bad motives or is trying to sabotage anything.  I'm just saying her advice is not something you should follow.

 


One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
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Old 02-16-2012, 03:12 PM
 
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I agree with what Jeanine has so eloquently said. I also think that if you just tell her she can't come any more you are preventing her from being able to learn different behavior. She needs to be in the situation she is struggling with and get whatever support it is she needs to behave differently.


Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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