Problems with Stepmother - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 12-29-2013, 09:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm not sure I'm posting this in the right place, but because it is a sort-of blended family issue I figured I'd start here and hope that someone could point me in the right direction. I've been stewing on what to say for a little while so I'll try to be as articulate as possible, but I apologize in advance if it gets confusing.


I'm not actually a mother - just a sibling who comes from a rather complicated blended family. I'm 21, so I'm out of a typical custody arrangement, but visitation is still held over my head as a threat until I'm out of college as my dad is paying for half of it. That's not actually the focal point of this though. My stepmom has been in my life since I was about a year and a half old. I have two younger half-sisters by her and my father who are 11 and 5 respectively.


My stepmother is raging alcoholic who is verbally abusive to both of my sisters (and myself and an elder full-sister) when she's around. This is on-and-off often. My father and her are married basically in name. I can't actually speak for my father but I know the only reason they're still together is because there is no way he could pay for another divorce and child support. I love my dad but he's not a very good father. He was there for most of the scheduled visits and such but... well... you have to take him for what he is and love him. I'm 21 though and grew up with a great mother and stepfather so that was never a problem for me.


Anyway. We spent Christmas at my fathers this year and I observed the following:


* 5 year old was dirty and hadn't bathed in a few days. She's potty trained but still has accidents occasionally and smelled like pee until I insisted she shower the next day. Stepmom insists the girls have sensitive skin and can only shower once a week. (As someone who has had allergic reactions to anything that isn't for sensitive skin I know that she's taking this to the extreme, but I digress). I helped her shower and she had no bruises, so I took that as a good sign.


* Later on the 5 year old asked me if she could ask santa for a new mother one who was 'nicer and didn't yell as much.'


* Both girls were at various points throughout Christmas Eve/Day cursed out heavily and told they were stupid/useless/etc. I won't bother repeating what cursing was said (I don't think I'm allowed to post profanity anyway?) But it was entirely inappropriate.


*On Christmas Day the 11 year old accidentally opened a small present that was intended for the 5 year old. My stepmother lunged forward and dragged her backwards by her hair while cursing at her.


Here are my problems:

I believe that my sisters are living in a somewhat verbally abusive/neglectful home. I'm not entirely sure what to do. I don't believe that they would be taken away, nor do I believe that this is the best option. I've talked to both my mother and my sister (who is a social worker) about this and no one really has any answers about what to do - if there is anything to do. So I'm turning to the internet. As I'm only their half-sister and a young college student at that, I really don't know what I could do for them. I know that technically my first step should be to go to my father. I can tell you now that the only things that would happen would be a defensive acknowledgement and a statement of things not being "that bad" and that she was just having "an off day." However, I grew up with her as my stepmother. I ran away from home once so I wouldn't have to see her. She was horrible to my sister and I as well, but we weren't 'her' kids so she couldn't touch us.


My other concern is the 11 year old specifically. She is very much like me in so many ways. I started self harming at 12 and was in and out of therapy for depression for many years after that. I have already made myself available to her as much as I can and she has both my email and phone number and knows that she can call at any time. I don't want to talk to her about the 'heavier' stuff because 1) I don't know how and 2) I don't want to put any ideas in her head. Also, that side of the family refuses to acknowledge any of the events in this paragraph and merely refer to my time in the hospital as 'my teen angst period.'


So... as I've written more and more I've realized this really isn't a 'blended' issue at all - except for my part in it as an older half sibling. Still, any advice or a point in the right direction would be helpful.



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#2 of 4 Old 12-30-2013, 07:48 AM
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That is a tough situation. I was apart of the system when I was younger and it is corrupt and unjust. However, when there is something going on they are usually the only way to get involved, at least legally, and can truly be a lifesaver for some kids. I think you should make that call and just begin the investigation if you seriously believe neglect and abuse, of any kind, is occurring. Just imagine having to grow up and deal with that for the first 18 years of your life. I wouldn't even confront your dad about it either.

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#3 of 4 Old 01-09-2014, 05:54 AM
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You were there for a witnessed abuse. I would also call for an investigation. Dragging a child by their hair? Abuse. A child smelling like pee and looking dirty? Neglect. Your father doesn't deserve these kids anymore then she does. You legally have something here. It's not just a "gut feeling". You have seen it first hand. Use it.

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#4 of 4 Old 01-10-2014, 03:53 PM
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If you choose to make a report, I suggest that you have an idea of what you are going to say. Avoid minimizing, exaggerating, and evaluative language -- state concrete examples of what happened. The way you've said things in your bullet points is good. I wouldn't talk about why you visit your dad unless you're asked. Basically you don't want to sound like a resentful step kid with an axe to grind. You will possibly be asked if there are firearms in the house, and do mention the drinking, because that's possibly the part that they will be most concerned about, especially if she is intoxicated as the only caregiver for the younger child. It varies greatly. In some locations, CPS is good about offering services, supporting families, and placing kids with relatives or friends if removal becomes necessary to keep kids safe -- in some areas, not.

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