How do I stop fighting with DSD? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 05:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Somehow things always seem to escalate between me and DSD. She's here for July and I've been looking forward to her visit and planning things for months. Now that she's here, though, I find I have a short fuse.

This morning when I was trying to fix her hair before she goes to daycamp for the day and she says "My mom says my hair looks stupid when you do it like that and she told me to tell you." Nice. Her bangs are always in her eyes, they've been about to the middle of her nose for the past 2 years but she always says we can't cut her hair because she's "growing it out."

There's no way I'm taking her to daycare with her hair in her face like that, I think it looks trashy. Plus she rubs her eyes all day long because her hair is in them. It's ridiculous. I don't see any other 9 year old kids with their hair always in their face. And this has been going on since she was 7.

I wanted to tie it back with an elastic, so her bangs were all pulled back, the elastic would be at the back of her head. Her hair was like that at her mom's wedding (a week ago), I saw the photos. DSD didn't like that so we pulled it to the side with a barrette. Although last time it was "My mom says I look like I'm from the 50's with a stupid barrette in my hair."

Anyway. I always get pissed off by these conversations. Sometimes I tell her that I don't give a sh!t what her mom says. I know, really mature of me It's just so annoying when every time I ask her to do anything (like put her dishes in the dishwasher) she rolls her eyes and says "My MOM doesn't make me!"

You'd think that after 6 years I'd be over it, wouldn't you?

PS. I guess this is more of a vent than anything. I mean, I *know* better... I just lose it sometimes and say things I shouldn't. I think I need a pat response.

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#2 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 05:24 PM
 
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.

Stop doing her hair. She'll survive having her hair in her face, or she'll get annoyed at camp and have someone there fix it for her. But stop doing it for her. If she wants it done, her dad can do it.

As far as the other, you can just sort of mumble and smile "mmm hmmm, dishwasher, please." and then go about your business.

Does she feel welcome to talk about her mom in other ways, like what they do together or things like that? My DSD is here now, and we spend a lot of time talking about her mom and what they do and her sisters and things. It feels good and normal, since they are a huge part of her life.

I can't talk about my parents to or around each other (at least around my dad) and it is very weird sometimes if the siblings are all together at my dad's and we want to mention something that happened at my mom's, or with my mom we feel bad and he'll leave the room.

Just check and see if you are leaving room for her to talk freely about her mom (not as a way of being rude to you) or even bringing her mom up when you are having a nice time together and she's not being difficult.
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#3 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 05:40 PM
 
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I agree with PP. Stop doing her hair. When you are in a calm moment (to ensure you don't have any sarcasm in your tone), sit down with DSD, tell her that you were thinking about what she said this morning about her hair that you've realized that you've been treating her like a little girl and she is becoming a young lady. Tell her that you don't want to argue about her hair anymore and you should have recognized earlier that she is old enough to do her own hair now. Reassure her that you will always be happy to help her out or trim her hair when she asks for it. Then I'd take her out to "celebrate" her graduation by picking out some hair clips, ties, or ribbons for her to wear to camp. Then just put your faith in peer pressure that she will wear her hair in an acceptable manner eventually!
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#4 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 05:47 PM
 
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When DSD (4) tells me some rule (or lack threof) at her mom's, if I'm in a good mood I'll scoop her up and spin her around the room. "Where's Mommy? Do you see Mommy?" and she'll giggle and laugh a while and say "Mommy's not here!" and I'll laugh and say "Yes, that's right. Who are the parents here?" etc., and then we'll move on. She gets it. Nine is maybe too old for that, but maybe some variation, to lightly remind her she's not at her mom's?

Definitely resist the urge to say you don't give a shit what her mom says. Not productive, no matter how momentarily satisfying.

I usually try to turn annoying comments like that into a joke of some kind, or else I'll just say, "I know, I know." and keep her directed to do whatever it is she's supposed to.

When it gets to rudeness (like the hair thing), I'd say she's plenty old enough to know that's rude and unacceptable. Can she do her own hair yet?

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#5 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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But... she IS a little girl. She doesn't even brush her own hair, and she's certainly not coordinated enough to tie it back herself.

I know, though, I'm getting into power struggles with her which is stupid. I know better. I just don't know how to avoid getting angry.

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#6 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 06:07 PM
 
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But... she IS a little girl. She doesn't even brush her own hair, and she's certainly not coordinated enough to tie it back herself.

I know, though, I'm getting into power struggles with her which is stupid. I know better. I just don't know how to avoid getting angry.
She's 9. She's old enough not to be rude. And even if she's rude because she misses her mom and is mad her parents aren't together, you still don't have to continually subject yourself to her rudeness and get into a power struggle about it. If she is rude to you when you try to do her hair, she doesn't get her hair done. Or she can ask her dad to do it.
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#7 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 06:31 PM
 
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But... she IS a little girl. She doesn't even brush her own hair, and she's certainly not coordinated enough to tie it back herself.

I know, though, I'm getting into power struggles with her which is stupid. I know better. I just don't know how to avoid getting angry.
My dd just turned 8, hates having me do her hair. It's a very rare occasion when she'll allow me (or ask me) to do her hair.

Her hair sounds a lot like your DSD. She decided that she didn't like bangs last fall, and has been growing them out. The rest of her hair is slightly longer than shoulder length.

I bought her a wide tooth comb, and allowed her to pick out a brush (she picked out a pure bristle brush, she said it feels better on her head). I also bought some snap barrettes and headbands. A 8/9 year old is capable of using a headband.

She does her own hair now, which really means some days she combs it and that's it. Yeah she looks a little disheveled but she's happy. Yeah her bangs are always in her face, but she's happy. It's just one fight I'm not willing to take part in.

-Janna, independent mother of dd, Ms. Mattie Sky born on my 25th birthday, 06*23*2000. My Mama Feb.21,1938-Sept.10,2006
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#8 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 06:41 PM
 
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My step daughter is also 9, and throughout the years has made comments like that to me, and I usually get pissed off and either say nothing or just leave the room. Then when I've calmed down I will tell her that I'm doing my best for her and it hurts my feelings when she uses an attitude with me.
I too struggle with getting angry and reacting in the wrong way, but if I make an effort to talk about what I said and apologize if necessary, I think it all works out in the end.
My step daughter knows that I make mistakes and say the wrong things sometimes, but that I love her and I'm just trying to do my best.
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#9 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 07:11 PM
 
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But... she IS a little girl. She doesn't even brush her own hair, and she's certainly not coordinated enough to tie it back herself.
Uh, she's 9. Time to learn how to brush her own hair. She doesn't have to tie it back if she doesn't want tol.
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#10 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess it's something I'm a little OCD about. I can't stand seeing somebody with their hair in their face. And it's purposely cut so that it does that, her bangs have been exactly that length for 2 years. I just don't think it's appropriate for a little girl, I would expect it from a teenager. There is a calmer, gentler voice inside me whispering "let it go" but I'm not that enlightened I guess.

A trip to the store to pick out some hair accessories is a good idea though. I dunno... I dropped her off at daycamp today and all of the other girls had their hair tied back or their bangs cut short. I really don't think it's an abnormal expectation.

Anyway, this wasn't meant to be a thread about her hair... if it wasn't that, it would be something else. I'm just so reactive with DSD... I guess I set up this weird expectation that things will be perfect this time... and then they're far from it and I get upset. I'm just not good at being kind and gentle.

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#11 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 07:20 PM
 
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For the hair, try headbands. They're easy, hair gets out of her face, and you don't need to help her with them. DSD uses them all the time and loves them. There are some really cute ones.

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#12 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 07:25 PM
 
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At least you are starting to recognize that this is your issue, and has nothing to do with her. Maybe you could do some journaling around it (privately, not online), just kind of free writing about why you find it so difficult to be gentle and kind to her.

When you find yourself starting to get annoyed about things, just say to yourself "this is my issue, not hers. I am strong enough to let this go. things are exactly as they should be."

I bet once you work on this for a while, you will have a much improved relationship. And seeing a counselor can really help work through issues like this. I saw one for a few months at the beginning of the year when I was having issues with DSD. It really really helped.
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#13 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 07:44 PM
 
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You need to really pick your battles with her. What is it about her hair that is the real issue here? Is it that you think you will be preceived as uncaring or a bad SM is her hair is messy? You really won't come off that way as I have learned.

I mean, I have been there with DSD (9yo). I do not do her hair anymore at this point unless she specifically asks me to help her. I expect her to be pleasant to me if she wants my help. Period. She rarely asks me to help now. She can manage everything (washing, blow-drying, brushing, styling) on her own because I taught her how. Now, there is nothing to argue about with her. I just ask that she keeps it clean. It was hard to let go of wanting to control that at first, but now I find it to be a huge relief. I have two DD's (soon to be 3) of my own with lots of hair to take care of. One less kid to worry about is nice. I can't wait until they are all old enough.

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#14 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 08:00 PM
 
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I rememeber there was a time when dsd and I fought every.single.time. she was here. It was so draining, and depressing. I cried a lot. She yelled and cried a lot. And then I made a decision that changed our relationship into something much more meaningful and wonderful.

You have to decide that your reltionship with her is more important than your fascination with having hair a certain way, or her outfit a certain way, or something else your way. Here is my checklist... Before I choose to argue over something with dsd, I'll go through this checklist...

1. Will it matter in 5 years from now?
2. Would her dad want me to argue with her over it?
3. Would her mom want me to argue with her over it? (well.. I DID go through this one when DSD lived with her mom; now that she sees her mom once a month for an hour, if that, I by pass this question. But I would stick to it if mom is involved on a meaningful level.)

If you sift through those three questions never hitting a yes, then LET IT GO. It's not worth it. *hugs* No matter how hard it is, just let it go. Think about it, her loyalty to her parents will never beat her relationship with you (unless the parents are truly horrid, I guess). So the only thing you are achieving with your comments about her mom and hair, and whatnot is driving her a tiny bit futher and futher away from you. I don't think that's your goal, but it is what's happening, if you think about it. Just remind yourself often "what is my goal with this? Am I helping dsd to become a better person, or am I simply nagging her and driving her away?"

Don't argue, don't fix the hair, don't comment on her mom's choices. Your relationship with your stepkid will be so much better, you will love it, I promise you.

Oh and um.. regarding her mom... If you don't have something nice to say just choose not to say anything at all.

P.S. By the way, I can't stand my own mom commenting on my hair, according to her it's never right, and it drives me crazy

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#15 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 09:09 PM
 
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I think your issue is more with her mom than with her, although she may be baiting you. I'd ask her the question, how do you want your hair today? and then try to do what she wants. I think if she has her hair in her eyes and that's what she wants, she can have it her way and that it's her problem to deal with if she needs to push it back all the time. I'd work on problem solving and let her lead it. Leave her mother out of it and try not to dictate to her. I think she may be pushing on you because she is feeling like you are forcing her to do things, and she may be pushing back at your authority or pushing for more independence.
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#16 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 11:21 PM
 
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Oriole, I think you hit the nail on the head. I think that is the same thought process I go through, too. It just isn't worth it to fight over things that really don't matter in the long run.

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#17 of 28 Old 07-08-2008, 01:06 AM
 
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DSD and I have had our issues with regard to her hair. Her mom used to complain about the hair ties I use through DSD. DSD's mom uses these hair ties that fall out by the end of the day; here we use things that stay in all school day. My response was that we do different things at different houses.

DF prefers that she wear her hair up. If we are going somewhere (a family gathering, for example), he'll say actually that she needs to let me put it up. For school, she used to have to have it up a lot as requested by the gym teacher. For summer camp, where kids are pretty active, we'd probably put it up most of the time. If she had long bangs, she'd probably be in a headband and a ponytail, or bobby pins/barrettes and a pony tail. For DF, grooming is important. So if I am in charge of getting DSD ready for the day, I try to work within his standards - not her mom's standards. Bangs down to her nose wouldn't fly. But, then again, since DF is the one who gets DSD's hair cut, it will probably never be an issue.

I try to buy various hair pretties to make things more fun. Also, on days that we aren't leaving the house or aren't going someplace that it matters, I let her choose what we do.

At this point, it goes pretty smoothly. But, my DSD is 5. At 9, things will probably be different. Cupcake barrettes will probably have lost their appeal.

I'd take your DSD shopping for some things to put her hair back with. Make it a thing for you guys to do together. There is also the possibility that peer pressure will kick in, if all of the other girls at camp have their hair tied back.

It's hard to pick your battles. I am not good at it, and probably never will be.

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#18 of 28 Old 07-08-2008, 02:18 PM
 
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Hah. You should see my dd's hair it looks like it's swallowing her face when she does it. At 9 a girls hair is her own and I had quit making it an issue by 7 or 8. If my dd went to visit her dad and his girlfriend made a big controlling deal about her hair I would be pissed off but I wouldn't carry the battle through the kid. She can also be polite to you and I wouldn't rise to the bait anymore. All you need to do is pick a response and then use the same boring one for the next 9 years. ...like, different people have different rules or your mother is the boss at her house and we are the bosses here, or i'm sorry you feel that way but at our house we decide things. Don't vary the answer much and don't give an emotional response. it will stop upsetting you so much and believe me both sides go through similar things.
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#19 of 28 Old 07-08-2008, 02:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, okay... I did NOTHING about her hair this morning. Nothing. But today after daycamp we'll go to the store and look for hairbands or something. She made a friend at camp yesterday... a boy with hair in his face. lol.

We had quite an interesting conversation yesterday though, after DSD talked to her mom and her mom asked her to relay a custody-related message to DH. I told her not to worry about it, that her mom and dad would talk about it directly. She said "My mom said that I have to ask my dad because he always does the opposite of what she says."

Oh, lovely. SO hard not to rise to the bait. I just said that I don't think that's true. I really hate the constant, negative, my mom said this or that about you/your house/your car/ etc.

Oh geez. I just got this in my Daily OM message. Seems fitting:

Quote:
Most of us have probably come across the universal wisdom that the people who irritate us the most are expressing qualities that we ourselves have. This is why family members can be so vexing for so many of us-we see ourselves in them, and vice versa. This isn't always true, of course, but when it is, it's a real opportunity for growth if we can acknowledge it, because it is infinitely easier to change ourselves than it is to try to change another person, which is never a good idea.

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#20 of 28 Old 07-08-2008, 05:22 PM
 
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Okay, okay... I did NOTHING about her hair this morning. Nothing. But today after daycamp we'll go to the store and look for hairbands or something. She made a friend at camp yesterday... a boy with hair in his face. lol.
babysteps...
And never bite the bait of the sentences that start with "my mom says...".
This too shall pass... *hugs*

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#21 of 28 Old 07-08-2008, 05:22 PM
 
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Good job.

On the subject of the mother using the child as a mediator... Can you and your husband both come up with a sensitive and unified response to any "messages" your dsd has? Maybe just stop her before she gets the whole sentence out and say "sweetie, that's not your job your mom and dad can take care of that". Have your DH drop a civilized email to the mom stating that this will be the response to any attempts at mediation by dsd and then repeat repeat repeat, with no anger, as needed. It sounds like your poor dsd is in a tough spot and could use sympathy and to be let off the hook for this adult job.
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#22 of 28 Old 07-08-2008, 05:23 PM
 
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Hah. You should see my dd's hair it looks like it's swallowing her face when she does it. At 9 a girls hair is her own and I had quit making it an issue by 7 or 8. If my dd went to visit her dad and his girlfriend made a big controlling deal about her hair I would be pissed off but I wouldn't carry the battle through the kid. She can also be polite to you and I wouldn't rise to the bait anymore. All you need to do is pick a response and then use the same boring one for the next 9 years. ...like, different people have different rules or your mother is the boss at her house and we are the bosses here, or i'm sorry you feel that way but at our house we decide things. Don't vary the answer much and don't give an emotional response. it will stop upsetting you so much and believe me both sides go through similar things.
good post.

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#23 of 28 Old 07-08-2008, 11:11 PM
 
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We had quite an interesting conversation yesterday though, after DSD talked to her mom and her mom asked her to relay a custody-related message to DH. I told her not to worry about it, that her mom and dad would talk about it directly. She said "My mom said that I have to ask my dad because he always does the opposite of what she says."

Oh, lovely. SO hard not to rise to the bait. I just said that I don't think that's true. I really hate the constant, negative, my mom said this or that about you/your house/your car/ etc.

O
I wouldn't be mad at your DSD for this, because it sounds like her mom is using her to be a pain in your rear. It doesn't seem like DSD at age 9 wants to hurt you, but she's being fed these hurtful messages to pass on.

I would ignore, ignore, ignore, and don't blame DSD for the crap that's coming at you.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this. Deep breaths. And try to find positives about DSD, because this sounds like it's not about her, it's about the ex being mean and trying to make you miserable.
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#24 of 28 Old 07-09-2008, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, I don't think it's DSD's fault at all. I think it's an awful place for her to be in. I honestly can't believe that her mom would say stuff like that to her, I don't think she understands that it's stressful for DSD to hear that kind of thing. I mean, she seems like a great mom in general, but then I hear these awful comments and : wtf? I guess we all have our moments.

On the plus side, I'm walking DSD to and from daycamp every day so that gives us time to have little conversations about stuff like this. I know that DSD finds it upsetting that her dad and mom don't get along very well... so I think we need to talk a little bit about how sometimes people who used to love each other can find it hard to communicate with each other. And that we all love her and we're doing our best. blah blah etc etc.

And on the plus side, biomom and I have been emailing a bit back and forth. It's painfully pleasant, but I'm very happy about it. I wouldn't bring up any issues, that would be up to DH, but at least I can ask her about things like food allergies and what she should bring to our house, scheduling etc. Which is SO much better because otherwise it's like a game of telephone from me to DH to her and back.

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#25 of 28 Old 07-09-2008, 02:43 PM
 
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And on the plus side, biomom and I have been emailing a bit back and forth. It's painfully pleasant, but I'm very happy about it. I wouldn't bring up any issues, that would be up to DH, but at least I can ask her about things like food allergies and what she should bring to our house, scheduling etc. Which is SO much better because otherwise it's like a game of telephone from me to DH to her and back.
Be cautious with this. I was in this position for years, and it came back to bite me. What ended up happening is that all communication shut down between DH and the ex and issues were not being dealt with. Neither one wanted to talk to the other. It eventually blew up with all of us. Be sure your DH is still keeping clear communication with her.

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#26 of 28 Old 07-09-2008, 05:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ma_vie_en_rose View Post
Be cautious with this. I was in this position for years, and it came back to bite me. What ended up happening is that all communication shut down between DH and the ex and issues were not being dealt with. Neither one wanted to talk to the other. It eventually blew up with all of us. Be sure your DH is still keeping clear communication with her.
We email too, and it's so much nicer than nagging DH to ask the questions and such and then nagging him to find out what the answer was. But I know what you mean -- we do have to be careful of this, as DH is all too happy to forget she exists and let me deal with her. Usually it's an improvement for us, but to make sure it doesn't go too far the other way, I do make sure to hand him the phone when she calls (if it's not for the kids at the appointed kid-call time) and if anything big comes up, I bug him to deal with it (or sometimes I just figure he can remember or forget on his own and I don't do a thing). It's a fine line, but so far we're ok.

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#27 of 28 Old 07-09-2008, 09:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Laggie View Post

On the plus side, I'm walking DSD to and from daycamp every day so that gives us time to have little conversations about stuff like this. I know that DSD finds it upsetting that her dad and mom don't get along very well... so I think we need to talk a little bit about how sometimes people who used to love each other can find it hard to communicate with each other. And that we all love her and we're doing our best. blah blah etc etc.
I don't know if it's useful to have a lot of talks with DSD about this since it is stressful already, if anything if your goal is to ease the pressure on her, that's great. I hope you're also able to have conversations that are just about fun things and what she thinks about various stuff, like her activities and interests and friends, etc.

Anyway, I'm just interested in your thread, and passing through. Have a good summer!
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#28 of 28 Old 07-10-2008, 09:11 AM
 
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We email too, and it's so much nicer than nagging DH to ask the questions and such and then nagging him to find out what the answer was. But I know what you mean -- we do have to be careful of this, as DH is all too happy to forget she exists and let me deal with her.
I'm a stepmom to my DH's kids and a biomom to kids who have a stepmom too. I regularly email with my kids stepmom and while it sometimes nags at me that I'm blatently letting XH off the hook by doing so, it's logistically so much simpler because XH is such a scatter-brain. It works well for the three of us and most importantly, the kids' needs get met much more efficiently. There's also the pleasant fact that I really LIKE my daughters' stepmom, which makes things much easier.

Now, on the other side, my step-kids' biomom would never, in a million years, have an email conversation with me. Most of the time she behaves as if I don't exist. I recently emailed her pictures of a show her daughter was in because she wasn't able to leave work to attend. Nothing contentious - just "Here are some pics of [DSD's] show. She did great!" The next thing I know, the phone is ringing and she's on the phone, yelling at DH for allowing me to contact her.

Oh well, that's the way the cookie crumbles. It's crazy how I can have such a good relationship with one woman and such a crappy one with the other.

+ = (4/97) & (1/99) & (8/99) & (2/01), with , the prettiest pup this side of the Mississippi.
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