children taking advantage of conflict - Mothering Forums
Blended and Step Family Parenting > children taking advantage of conflict
stressedstepmom's Avatar stressedstepmom 05:41 AM 01-07-2006
I'm at my wits end with these kids.

They are using the conflict between their parents to their advantage and getting away with it. If they don't like what they are told to do here, they go tell their mom elaborate stories about how they are suffering over here in hopes that she will cause so much problems that we alter our situation here.

For example: We are still involved in a custody dispute and going to mediation next week. My husband (and his ex) are both afraid to properly discipline the children because they are afraid of what the children might say to the mediator.

The teachers told us that they wanted my stepson to go to study hall because he was falling behind. He was also purposely keeping stuff off his agenda because he didn't want to do it at home. We told him to go to study hall and get his agenda signed so that we know everything was written down. He went to his mother and said I made him do this because I hated him and I wanted to punish and embarass him. His mother threw a fit. He went as far as to bring the vice-principal into the mix, which was a mistake on his part. She was a stepmother and knew exactly what he was doing. She backed us up and he had to do it. His mother was furious.

My stepdaughter is telling us that she is afraid to tell her mom that she wants to do a certain activity at my house because her mom doesn't want her doing anything with us. She says her mom & stepdad get real mean. She then tells her mom that she only does this activity at my house because she's afraid to tell me no because I get real mean. When we confront her on what she tells her mom, she denies it and says she never told her mom that. I'm sure she tells her mom the same thing.

We could get these kids in the same room with the parents & stepparents and let it all out, but two things can happen. The kids can stick to what they've told us, then their mom will say they are only saying it because they are afraid of us. They can stick to what they told her, then we'll say it's because they're afraid of her. They could admit to what they've been doing to us, but I know that will never happen. They won't admit to anything, even if it's right in front of them. They'll just tell another lie.

I'm sooooo fed up. I sure wish the mediator can see through all this and see that these kids are working the system and mom is falling for it.

Something else is that it's becomming increasingly hard for me to be affectionate to these kids because of all the aweful things they've said to me. I find myself staying in my bedroom or leaving my home when they are here. Tongiht I was walking down the hallway and my stepdaughter hugged me. I felt wierd.

I hear so many people say that they are just 10 & 12 and I shouldn't blame them too much, but they are old enough to know what they are doing. I know they are not mature enough to appreciate the long term consequences, but they reap the short term.

This is a no win situation and I just have to wait it out, I guess.

Katt2005's Avatar Katt2005 02:46 AM 01-08-2006
((HUGS)) That is a really sticky situation. Maybe bring this up with the mediator and suggest therapy for the family as a unit and just the children. They may think that is a good idea, and it may help with the custody arrangement, that you are looking in the childrens best interest. I sure hope something good happens soon. That has to be nerve racking, especially with the mediation coming. I'm so sorry you feel like that in your own home. Good luck next week and keep us updated. Oh and its nice to hear from you again.
koofie's Avatar koofie 01:45 PM 01-08-2006

stressedstepmom's Avatar stressedstepmom 02:49 PM 01-08-2006
One has been in thereapy for 3 years. He told his friend that he knows what to say and what not to say to a therapist. He says why tell them something they can't fix.

The other started therapy recently because she said it's not fair that he has a therapist and she doesn't. She says they play games and she doesn't have to talk about anything if she doesn't want to.

We went to "parents" therapy for 6 months last year with no positive results. The therapist wouldn't touch on the root of the problems, instead he gave advice to deal with specific incidences that were the result of the ongoing anamosity. He refused to let my husband or his ex-wfie discuss anything that happended before the first day they started seeing him. I feel that if they can resolve certain issues, then they can move forward.

My husband and I brought the childrne in for "family" therapy and showed this therapist what was happening. He just said his children do the same thing in his home and we need to ignore it. So his diagnosis was always to just ignore something and it might go away.
Katt2005's Avatar Katt2005 04:18 PM 01-08-2006
WOW!! What help they were! : I'm praying for ya! Hopefully the mediator can suggest something.
MommyMine's Avatar MommyMine 10:12 PM 01-08-2006
I think the only thing you can do is do what is right in your home and try your best to pretend the other home doesn't exist and document all you can so if you have to justify your actions in court you can. Try to have third parties involved if you have to dicipline so they can testify.

This is my most hated part of living in step. Honest to gosh it is. I think you do hold the skids accountable for the things they do to play the middle like talk trash about the other house. I think you have to do that...but others might disagree.
stressedstepmom's Avatar stressedstepmom 03:17 AM 01-09-2006
It's nice to know I'm not alone.

I do have emails from his teachers with the same concerns I have. Also, I have emails from mom totally disagreeing with our methods and emails from the teachers complimenting our methods. That should help.

Yesteday I had a great chance to point out his way of pushing blame on anyone else to save himself. We heard a huge commotion going on in a bedroom. My son was going to shoot stepson & stepson's friend with a small water gun. They started screaming and laughing and trying to shut the bedroom door. My husband rushed out of our room to stop it. He then tried to open the door and stepson kept pushing it shut which really upset my husband. He finally opened it still laughing.

We got on to all three because they could have damaged the door or the dresser next to it. My son & the friend put their heads down in shame. Stepson wasn't going down with them. He right away started sounding as if he were so afraid of my son and he wasn't having fun. I said I heard him laughing and he pointed his finger at his friend and said, "It wasn't me it was him, I was trying to get them to stop." He has a distinct high pitch sound (like a girl screaming) when he's playing and having fun. That sound echoed through the house. He continued to deny it.

We sent the friend home & grounded stepson for his behavior after the fact. He felt he was wrongly punished. We later explained that this is exactly what he does with his mother. He quickly blames me or his sister for anything that he gets in trouble for and won't take responsibility for his own actions. We explained that his stepbrother and friend didn't deny anything, instead they sat quietly waiting for the lecture. We explained how he was quick to sell out his best friend and stepbrother to save himself.

Of course, he said he understood and would work on it, but later he did other things and blamed his little sister for making him do it.

I don't think this is typical behavior for a boy in Jr. High. I have 30 nieces & nephews and raise my son as well. By the time they got into Jr. High, they started to be more responsible.
flapjack's Avatar flapjack 07:27 AM 01-09-2006
Sorry- quick response, but I am SURE the mediator has heard all of this before, ad infinitum. Your stepson won't be the only guy who does this, and the mediator will be wise to this.
I'd still keep trying to find the positives in him- I know he's not helping you much, but it must be so hard parenting a child you don't get on with.