So legally BM has primary custody, but in reality your step daughter lives with her dad and you, full time or most of the time? It might be helpful to try and have the court order changed to reflect the facts of her life. Then BM won't be able to play that card and use it to make decisions that aren't in her daugher's best interest. That would give your step daughter more stability and security.
It's important for you and her dad to know that you can't change her mom. If she's not committed, she isn't going to be. It seems like a lot of different people have tried to get the message through to her and she isn't having any of it. That the counselor is teaching your step daughter to detach a little bit it a really good thing. I struggle all the time with accepting that my ex just doesn't give a crap about the kids feelings, I can't wrap my brain around it, but it doesn't change the reality. It's probably a good idea for your husband and you to learn how to detach a bit yourselves, or you get caught giving an emoptional response. When she calously hurts her daughter, going into rage-mode doesn't help the situation. In that moment your stepdaughter needs a caring person to connect and empathise with her, not to engage with her mom. That can create a situation where she is going to jump to her mom's defense, when her focus should be on recognising that she was treated poorly and learning to cope with that.
I think your step daughter just needs to figure out that her mom isn't a reliable person. It's a harsh thing to learn about a parent, my kids are going through this too, with their bio dad. He was absent for 5 years and has been in and out for the last 3. Completely absent is a lot easier, once they're used to it, than the mixed messages they are getting now. I have to gently remind them that sometimes his actions don't match his words, so try and keep that in mind when he makes a promise. When they are doing the deluded, over the top "Daddy is the bestest rainbow farting unicorn riding candy coated super guy in the whole wide world" thing, they won't hear it, but at other moments, I think it can be helpful. When he lets them down, I encourage them to send him an email and tell him how he made them feel. I tell them don't do it for a reply, but it's good to let him know just so it's off your chest. Do not ever, ever elude to the fact that it's totally predictable that this is/was going to happen again, just present it like new info every time, and let her be the one to go "Duh!".
When they are able to hear it, empathize that it's hard to have a relationship with someone when it feels like they aren't doing their part. It doesn't get much harder than that. I tell them it's a good idea to be aware of how much energy they are investing in a relationship, and try and make it a conscious choice whether to give it more or less, based on what the otehr person is doing... that one goes for all relationships, so I tell them that when there's the same sort of imbalance going on in a friendship, not just where their father is concerned. This message is a lot easier to hear when it's a blanket statement about all her relationships, including your own with her.
Kids shouldn't have to have talks like this, but when they're stuck dealing with in anyhow, it's better for them to know that someone understands what they're going through.
Last edited by Mummoth; 11-15-2014 at 12:42 PM.
Reason: clarity, I hope!