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Old 07-14-2008, 07:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am completely disengaging. No more making school lunches, no more getting library books, no more planning activities to do with SD, no more buying clothes for her, no more doing her laundry, no more special meals.

I am sick of constant complaining, whining, arguing and disrespect. I am not exaggerating when I say this child has never once said a positive word about anything. Makes insulting and disrespectful comments to her grandparents, has to be told repeatedly to do simple things like brush teeth, put on shoes (and often just refuses) and argues with everything. If I said the sky was blue, she would have to say it wasn't.

I'm sick of playing the opposites game, where whatever I say, SD does the exact opposite. She wins. The only thing she's going to hear from me, from now on, is "ask your father."

I am resigning as stepmother. I much prefer being a wife. Maybe I'm just not cut out to be a parent, I don't know. I honestly do not want to be within 50 feet of this kid right now and I don't know how I'm going to get through the next 2.5 weeks until this month is over.

Sorry for the rant - part of me hopes this will turn around but really it's been like this for 6 years and I'm finally accepting that it's pointless to pretend we can be a happy family. DH can deal with his daughter, I want nothing to do with her.

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Old 07-14-2008, 09:11 PM
 
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Have you made an appointment with a counselor yet? That can really help.
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Old 07-14-2008, 10:20 PM
 
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:39 AM
 
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Is is soooo stressful mama. I know btdt. . . more hugs.
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:19 PM
 
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I'm so sorry you're having trouble right now... sending you lots of loving evergy....

+ = (4/97) & (1/99) & (8/99) & (2/01), with , the prettiest pup this side of the Mississippi.
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Old 07-15-2008, 04:21 PM
 
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What does her father say to her about it?
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Old 07-15-2008, 04:53 PM
 
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I can totally sympathize with you! I have many ups and downs with my SD's and it seems the older they get the more complicated it becomes just as if they were your own children becoming pre-teens. My sister turned me onto this book. The Courage to be a Stepmom. Author is Sue Patton Thele I have just begun reading it but it is interesting and I am finding it helpful. One point she makes is that sometimes we will explode and it is okay because we will learn from it and move forward. Good Luck for you and me!
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Old 07-15-2008, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ugh. We just had a really crappy weekend. Well, actually it was a fun weekend that we planned - a visit to the grandparents, sailing, a show of local artists, a day at the beach... all ruined by constant whining and a bad case of the "I don't want to's" which by Sunday turned into the "you can't make me"s.

I just don't see the point of putting any effort into this relationship. It's obviously not appreciated or wanted.

DH feels I'm being "punitive" - I think I'm just being realistic. SD clearly does not want me to act parental towards her, so I won't. I'm sick of it. DH wants me to keep doing what I was before - making lunches, arranging playdates, etc. It's much easier for him that way.

The problem now is that DH talked to DSD and made her apologize to me. This was on our walk to daycamp... I told her she didn't have to apologize, that obviously she didn't want me to act like a parent to her so I'm not going to anymore. We'll talk more this afternoon, I need to make sure that she understands that I love her and I love her dad and I'm not going anywhere... but things aren't working the way they are so we need to change them.

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Old 07-15-2008, 06:44 PM
 
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I just wanted to say that it's okay not to act as a parent. *hugs*
Doesn't mean I won't make dsd lunches, or that I won't drop her off for her appointments, or that I won't help her with her homework. But I do leave the parenting to the parent, kwim?

** I don't pass on judgement on the things dsd does, unless she is actively searching for my opinion.
** I don't discipline her, and if I am uncomfortable with a situation I ask her dad to handle it, and remove myself from that conflict.
** When her dad is "having a talk" with her, I don't jump in. I won't leave the room, I might simply continue reading my book, I just won't "through oil onto the fire" if you will.
** If she is cranky and starts playing "the opposite" game, I catch on pretty quickly, and once again, simply allow her to declare that the sky is green today, and go on about my business, i.e. stop biting the bait.

I think it's okay to let her know your decision, just don't remove yourself from her to the point that you are not available. When I reached a breaking point with dsd, I wrote toher that I'm sorry for trying to be a parent in the past, that from now on I will simply be there if she needs me, and give her space when she doesn't. I reserve the right to be treated with respect, and will always support her dad's disciplinary decisions 100%. But I remove myself from further drama on any level. This might turn out into a great thing for the two of you if you do it right.

Don't get discouraged... *HUGS*

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Old 07-15-2008, 08:27 PM
 
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I don't know if it appllies in your situation, since I am not there, but I would encourage you to look into information regarding kids with attachment issues... I found information about children in the foster care system to be helpful when looking for information about kids with attachment issues, but it can definitely apply to children of divorce. While on the surface these children say and seem to demonstrate that they don't want your love or your support, or really anything to do with you, what they truly need is to know that you love them unconditionally and that they are worthy of that love.

Again, I don't know if it applies to your situation, but it might be worth reading about. It has honestly helped me in a pretty wide range of situations, just having a different "lens" to look through sometimes.

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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Old 07-15-2008, 08:52 PM
 
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I think it's okay to let her know your decision, just don't remove yourself from her to the point that you are not available. When I reached a breaking point with dsd, I wrote toher that I'm sorry for trying to be a parent in the past, that from now on I will simply be there if she needs me, and give her space when she doesn't. I reserve the right to be treated with respect, and will always support her dad's disciplinary decisions 100%. But I remove myself from further drama on any level. This might turn out into a great thing for the two of you if you do it right.
I did a very similar thing a few years ago with DSD when she was totally out of hand with me. Once she knew that I would not be treated poorly by her and showed her by simply walking away, she realized I meant it. Her behavior really started to turn around, and I began to do the things for her that I had stopped when I was not happy with the way she treated me.

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Old 07-16-2008, 10:38 AM
 
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Just wanted to give you some hugs... it is hard.

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Old 07-16-2008, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the hugs...

DH is obviously mad at me about this. Apparently expecting him to look after his child is unreasonable. Making lunches is too much of a challenge. If we had other kids and I was making lunches anyway, I would make hers too, but that's not the case.

I'm trying to decide whether I will go along on the camping trip planned for the end of the month (2 nights). Generally camping trips are filled with the joy of DSD refusing to participate in any activities or to help with anything, with the added pleasure of constant whining and complaining. Sound fun?

I'm pretty sure this isn't an attachment problem. She actually is fairly affectionate, she just goes out of her way to do the opposite of anything I say. Like this morning, after I told her it was going to be hot today like yesterday, she decided she wanted to wear jeans and a sweatshirt. Her daycamp teachers must think we're on crack.

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Old 07-16-2008, 04:18 PM
 
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hugs

Your doing a great job in a hard situation
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Old 07-16-2008, 09:10 PM
 
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Thanks for all the hugs...

DH is obviously mad at me about this. Apparently expecting him to look after his child is unreasonable. Making lunches is too much of a challenge. If we had other kids and I was making lunches anyway, I would make hers too, but that's not the case.

I'm trying to decide whether I will go along on the camping trip planned for the end of the month (2 nights). Generally camping trips are filled with the joy of DSD refusing to participate in any activities or to help with anything, with the added pleasure of constant whining and complaining. Sound fun?

I'm pretty sure this isn't an attachment problem. She actually is fairly affectionate, she just goes out of her way to do the opposite of anything I say. Like this morning, after I told her it was going to be hot today like yesterday, she decided she wanted to wear jeans and a sweatshirt. Her daycamp teachers must think we're on crack.
I know lots of kids who want to dress and do dress weather inappropriate. I bet her daycamp teachers are not shocked. Maybe pack some cooler clothes that you give to her daycamp teacher in case she complains about being hot.

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Old 07-16-2008, 10:53 PM
 
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Ugh. What a tough situation. I'm hoping that when you remove yourself, your dsd will realize what she has in you, what you do (or did) for her. And I hope you get a break, and that your dh appreciates what you do for his child.
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Old 07-17-2008, 02:20 PM
 
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I know lots of kids who want to dress and do dress weather inappropriate. I bet her daycamp teachers are not shocked. Maybe pack some cooler clothes that you give to her daycamp teacher in case she complains about being hot.
Yeah, and you just have to remember that she is only making herself suffer by trying to "get" at you. LOL Gotta love natural consequences.

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Old 07-17-2008, 05:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, and you just have to remember that she is only making herself suffer by trying to "get" at you. LOL Gotta love natural consequences.
I know, I know... at least, my rational self knows this. Somehow I have a hard time keeping my irrational self from taking over though. Don't you hate it when you KNOW your reaction is stupid/immature/unproductive... but you do it anyway? Maybe that's just me. At least I'm aware of my issues, I guess. Eventually I'm sure that I'll learn to squelch these impulses.

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Old 07-17-2008, 06:34 PM
 
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I know lots of kids who want to dress and do dress weather inappropriate. I bet her daycamp teachers are not shocked. Maybe pack some cooler clothes that you give to her daycamp teacher in case she complains about being hot.

I do not know how old this child is but I would definately not pack her some cooler clothes. She will be hot and then she won't dress like that again. Regardless if she is defiant or just being like alot of kids. My 11 DSD still wears inappropriate clothing for the weather. (I did too when I was around that age) During her PE class which is outside and we live in Florida. (90 degrees most of the year.) She wears long sleeves under her t-shirt. Her friends were making fun of her because her face was so red and she stopped wearing it and put her hair in a pony tail which I asked her to do every PE day. Annoying yes but sometimes you have to let them figure it out on their own. Maybe if you do not go on the trip they will both miss your presence and maybe will accomodate you or get the ball rolling as far as you DH demanding her behavior to change and he realizing it really is not fair to you. Good Luck, Someone told me some days are just for breathing deep breathes nothing else, JUST BREATH!
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Old 07-17-2008, 06:56 PM
 
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One word of caution, the natural consequence of wearing the warmer clothes can backfire on you.

My dsd actually wore warm clothes to school, refused to drink the water we sent, and then sat in the sun during recess and lunch until she went to the hospital in an ambulance with heat stroke. She had untouched water bottles in her backpack, and had been wearing her pullover sweatshirt on top of her warm clothes all day! : (this happened a year and a half before she was diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder) I document like crazy because she does so many odd things I'm afraid people think we abuse her.

Is your dsd capable of going that far? We tried everything to get her to wear cooler clothes, but it was more important to her to make us look mean than it was to feel good. (if you think I'm nuts, read up on RAD) We thought we were giving her natural consequences by letting her wear the warm clothes, but in the end, she got lots of attention by riding in the ambulance and being fussed over at the hospital, and scaring the crap out of us, and we got stuck with a big bill. So who got punished? Within a couple of hours she felt fine and got to have all the popsicles she wanted. :

If you let her wear the warmer clothes, be sure to send cooler ones and inform her teacher. Or let your DH fight this battle.

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Old 07-17-2008, 07:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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One word of caution, the natural consequence of wearing the warmer clothes can backfire on you.

My dsd actually wore warm clothes to school, refused to drink the water we sent, and then sat in the sun during recess and lunch until she went to the hospital in an ambulance with heat stroke. ... Is your dsd capable of going that far?
I don't *think* she is, but otoh this is a kid who will refuse to use the bathroom, while visibly doing the pee dance ("I don't have to go") and then have an accident 10 minutes later. I don't think it's hot enough for her to give herself sunstroke here though - I also think the day camp watches them pretty closely. Last time she wore the too-warm clothes (this is an ongoing thing) the day camp teachers had bought her a slushie. Although she still insisted, with bright red cheeks, that she wasn't hot.

I think I'll go on the camping trip... but with several books and an ipod.

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Old 07-17-2008, 07:52 PM
 
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I don't *think* she is, but otoh this is a kid who will refuse to use the bathroom, while visibly doing the pee dance ("I don't have to go") and then have an accident 10 minutes later. I don't think it's hot enough for her to give herself sunstroke here though - I also think the day camp watches them pretty closely. Last time she wore the too-warm clothes (this is an ongoing thing) the day camp teachers had bought her a slushie. Although she still insisted, with bright red cheeks, that she wasn't hot.

I think I'll go on the camping trip... but with several books and an ipod.
Yeah, you might want to be there to watch what happens. We have an extreme case and have learned to prepare for anything.

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Old 07-17-2008, 09:01 PM
 
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Is it possible this issue is more related to DH than DSD? An honest question. I mean, if he backed you up, would she get the message pretty quickly what's ok and what's not? Seems the issue is more about DH, to me, and he's pretty happy with the status quo and is working to maintain it while you and DSD are suffering (DSD is sufferering since she's going to such lengths to try to change the situation).

Resigning as step-mother might be a reasonable step if done with love and care. Would be curious to read updates on how that goes.

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Old 07-20-2008, 11:32 AM
 
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Thanks for all the hugs...

DH is obviously mad at me about this. Apparently expecting him to look after his child is unreasonable. Making lunches is too much of a challenge. If we had other kids and I was making lunches anyway, I would make hers too, but that's not the case.

I'm trying to decide whether I will go along on the camping trip planned for the end of the month (2 nights). Generally camping trips are filled with the joy of DSD refusing to participate in any activities or to help with anything, with the added pleasure of constant whining and complaining. Sound fun?

I'm pretty sure this isn't an attachment problem. She actually is fairly affectionate, she just goes out of her way to do the opposite of anything I say. Like this morning, after I told her it was going to be hot today like yesterday, she decided she wanted to wear jeans and a sweatshirt. Her daycamp teachers must think we're on crack.
I think you are being too controlling with her, and she is struggling to have some independence. Are you the person who hates the bangs?

The lunches sounds like a sticking point for you...... making a lunch is not a big deal, but I'm thinking this is symbolic for you of the care and love that you feel like withholding right now because you feel your needs are not being met.

How old is DSD? I'm thinking 11 right?

I'm wondering how it would work if you gave DSD more input into what happens in your family. Are her feelings being heard? Can you and she talk about the camping trip and if she wants to go? And you can talk in advance about the things you want to do together and get her input and come up with ideas *together*? I'm thinking if she has more involvement, she'll do better, and she may very well feel like she doesn't "fit" in your family and you'd rather be with DH without her. Seriously, feeling unwanted sucks and I'm sure she's picking up on your feelings.

I think you are the adult, and for you to shut down and give up is really inappropriate, since you married your DH you made a commitment to him *and* his child. I would also look into working with her in partnership on the lunches and if you ask her to make her own lunch, then take her shopping and get her the things she likes for her lunches and be open to whatever kinds of foods she wants (I wouldn't say no much on that trip, get what I mean?)

She's a tween (I think) and this is going to set the stage for the whole teen years. Being moody is part of her reality, so try not to take it all so personally.

I think that as the adult, you have more of the responsibility to figure it out and go the extra mile because she's frankly still learning how to navigate relationships, she's suffered the loss of her parents being together, and she's probably feeling very stuck and trapped in a situation she has zero control over. So I'd try to give her a little space to have control over or at least input into how her life is with you and your DH. She's old enough to make a lot of choices. If you want to give her additional responsibilty, you should also give her additional freedom and withhold judgement on so many of the little things, give her space to develop her individual self. Different people like different things, and so she needs to be heard, and to feel supported as she experiments with developing her identity. She sounds like she is very much struggling with her identity in your family too and feels insecure about her status. If she's getting frequently disciplined and frequent negatives, then how can she feel like a valued family member? Doesn't she deserve to feel like she is loved and valued and not just an inconvenience to you and your DH? How much positive is she getting from both of you? I feel like you are out of balance and you are giving her lots of negative feedback and not many positives, praise or appreciation. I understand that you are having a hard time seeing anything positive right now, but again, I feel that as the adult, you make the first move, you give more. She needs to see an example of loving and giving modeled and she needs to see that consistently before she might feel safe to let down her guard and respond to it, especially if she doesn't trust you due to all the past stress.

HTH. I am not a stepmom or a stepkid but I think you truly need to re-commit, and it's an investment in your own future peace through the teen years.

Good luck!!!!
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Old 07-20-2008, 11:39 AM
 
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Two more thoughts. Love isn't about saying "I love you", it is about commitment and being there and being supportive and respectful even when things are rough. You know that.

Second, this person is going to be part of your life forever. Unless you are dreaming or giving the impression that once she reaches 18 it's over and you and DH are moving to Europe and she's on her own. That is not your reality. So, the work you put in now will help you for the rest of your lives. How do you want your relationship when she is an adult? How do you want your relationship when you might actually need her help when you are in old age and close to death? You really need to re-commit.
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Old 07-20-2008, 11:46 AM
 
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I don't *think* she is, but otoh this is a kid who will refuse to use the bathroom, while visibly doing the pee dance ("I don't have to go") and then have an accident 10 minutes later. I don't think it's hot enough for her to give herself sunstroke here though - I also think the day camp watches them pretty closely. Last time she wore the too-warm clothes (this is an ongoing thing) the day camp teachers had bought her a slushie. Although she still insisted, with bright red cheeks, that she wasn't hot.

I think I'll go on the camping trip... but with several books and an ipod.
Here's the thing -- so what? You want to tell her that she doesn't know how her body feels? That she is wrong. That she must not be capable of regulating her own temperature and that you need to take over?

I feel like saying "get a life". I know that's really harsh though. And I'm sorry for that. But really, let the girl wear the clothes and get off her back.

I feel like you are trying to make her fit into what you want and expect. You also need to let her have the freedom to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes without being a big "I told you so" jerk. If she wears the warmer clothes, she may feel she wants to wear the warmer clothes again rather than hear anything from you about "being right".

It sounds like your relationship is extremely stressful. I would try to let go of as much as you can, and focus on being loving and supportive. You are having a power struggle, and sounds like you are over-engaged in that power struggle. Let it go. Deep breaths!!!!!! She will learn to be an adult and you don't need to instruct her, have some faith and trust and confidence that she is smart and given space, she will figure things out just fine. You just focus on being a good, positive and caring role model and not pick at her.

If her mom and dad are divorced, she probably has not witnessed a lot of good relationship skills and how to be loving and caring and respectful and all of that...... so it's more of you demonstrating that love and the golden rule. That golden rule is something to think about -- would you want someone to tell you to change your bangs? would you want someone to tell you that you really are hot when you're not? Try to treat her as you want to be treated, and show more understanding and patience when she is having a rough time.

If I were her, I would have trust issues with you, especially with the criticisms over these little things and your statement that you're not going to do anything for her and you're checking out. Have you basically told her in not so many words.. -- screw you, you are on your own, good luck with that you incapable little $&*#!

OK, it is going to take a lot of time and energy to build trust. But you can do it. Really you can. Have confidence in yourself, and in her that you will make it if you work together, and really that's more of you doing the up front work and leading by example.

Hugs. Seriously I'm so sorry you are hurting over this.
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Old 07-20-2008, 05:20 PM
 
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I think you're going through the same stuff I'm going through. It isn't the hair, it's the building up of the constant doing the opposite of what is asked. By the time you get to the hair or the lunch, it's become a case of My god, can you just do one stinking thing I ask without arguing?
I agree, let the hair go.

We're in the middle of adopting each other's kids, and we don't even have the other parents to deal with, his previous wife being deceased, and my ds's bio dad having signed off his rights, but our therapist told me to step back and let dh discipline dsd to avoid the power struggles.

Even though technically, I'm going to be 'mom.'

It doesn't matter what we're doing, she wants to modify it in some way. If I can't calmly redirect it, I'm taking the route of let's talk to your father about it later, then. He and I have already had a very long discussion about if this marriage is going to continue and we are a family we are on the same page and you will be backing me up mister. :

This has been our new game plan, and so far it's working. I won't say it isn't frustrating, because it is. But when you have a child who is used to playing parents against each other, you have to present a united front, and we weren't. Until I threatened to leave and told him how much he undermined me in front of our children he didn't realize how easy he was making it for them to play us, or how frustrated and angry I was.

Your dsd has 3 adults to play off against each other, and if even 1 of them is hostile or uncomfortable, it's even easier for her.

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Old 07-21-2008, 12:44 AM
 
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I tend to agree that your stepdaughter is in a tough position. I actually think she's 8 or 9 if I'm remembering correctly. A lot of the oppositional behavior you are describing is related to her age, not necessarily directed at you - though the situation compounds it and you may take more of the brunt. My daughter is 9 years old and much more capable of doing her own thing these days. You can see her fighting for her independence and it can express itself as oppositional behavior. I think teen years set in earlier these days My guess is that this is getting aggravated by what does seem a fairly high degree of control. Not to overblow the whole hair/bangs thing, but micro-managing hair styles would totally not fly with my daughter. And she's my daughter and we have a VERY close and loving relationship.

Add to that that your stepdaughter is away from her mom for the whole summer. My daughter gets stressed out spending more than 2 days with her dad away from me unfortunately. I can't imagine a whole summer. And I agree that she's probably wondering where she fits into the family. It also sounds like your husband/her father is not super-present and is content to unload a lot of the caretaking on to you. She may be suffering from a feeling of paternal neglect.

I think you're also in a tough position because in that situation I think it can be very easy for a kid to unload on the step-parent. I see this dynamic in my situation. My daughter can be incredibly difficult with everyone, but she tends to lash out at my partner (her stepdad) more easily. In this situation, it's really important to have a dual approach. He needs to go out of his way and be more flexible and meet her more than half-way. But I also need to back him up and explain to my daughter that it's not acceptable for her to take out whatever feelings she has on her stepdad. That that's just not how you treat other people - period. It doesn't always work (or even most of the time) but she's getting consistent messages of love AND boundaries. We are also working really hard on supporting her growing desire for autonomy in age-appropriate ways.

I feel for you, but I do think that you're being too hard on her and personalizing stuff that's much more developmental. As soon as you stop responding from a position of empathy and love, it's so easy to see kids who are dealing with age and life-related issues as just rotten brats and that just increases the spiral of disconnection. You're locked in a power battle and saying "i quit" is not exactly stepping away from the power struggle - it feels more like withholding. Which can be very damaging to a kid that age who's already suffered loss. I think you need to find ways to re-connect emotionally and let go of the struggle. I also think your husband needs to engage in the situation, realize that things aren't working for anyone and help to find a way forward together. I really hope you can work this out. Good luck to you. I feel strongly about this because I see my daughter in your description of your stepdaughter - and it would break my heart (and possibly our relationship) if my partner were to respond in this way.
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Old 07-21-2008, 04:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just for the record:

She's 9.
She has no memory of her parents ever being together.
I've been in her life since she was 3.

I dunno... I guess my instinctive default is to look at how I was raised, and I would have never been allowed to go around with hair in my face or to wear winter clothes on a hot day. I know that a lot of people here have a different approach but it's a huge shift in thinking for me. It's true, I am being kind of a jerk. But really this stuff is a small part of our interactions. Some days it just gets out of hand, but... in spite of all of the 'perfect moms' on here, I'm pretty sure everyone has those days.

DH is involved, but yes, he prefers to just coast and leave things up to me. Normally I'm the one who plans dinner, and buys groceries and makes sure DSD has clean clothes and sunscreen and a bathing suit and so on and so forth. And really there is no reason at all why he can't do these things. He *should* do them and I think that DSD would like it better if he would. And he is. Well, not the dinners. But he's certainly doing more and I don't think that's a bad thing.

And I did not say a word all last week about clothes or hair.

I think the position of stepmom is a catch-22. If you act like a mom, you get "You shouldn't be disciplining/parenting/etc this child, you're not the parent" and if you say "I'm not the parent, I'm not doing this stuff" then you're a heartless b!tch.

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Old 07-21-2008, 06:08 PM
 
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Laggie, BTDT.

It's difficult, but it truly makes a difference when I just shrug off the things like hair and clothes. The bigger stuff, well, DH and I have agreed in advance to be on the same page.

That part is important. If your dh is not going to back you up at all, I don't know if you can solve this problem. In your situation, as with mine, the hardest part is getting dh on board, and letting the small stuff slide.

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