SD19 still needs assertiveness training....I'm disengaging
It's been a long time since I've visited this forum....over 3 years (around time that SD moved here). Fast forward 3+ years, and not much has changed. She still lacks any assertiveness when it comes to dealing with things with her mom/stepdad, and we still get whatever is acceptable to them.
Most recently, a situation or two have arisen, that I'm finding more unacceptable....maybe because she's 19 and still doesn't have a voice when it comes to perceived disappointment/disapproval from her mom.
SD19 is now a freshman in college. She is on a full-ride athletic/academic combo scholarship at a college in our state (a couple hours away). She's doing well academically and athletically, but still seems to be too much of a people pleaser. But all in all, it's going well.
About 6 weeks ago, she asked us when little sister (LS=BD9) would be finished with school and out for summer, because "I want to spend all the time I can with her this summer." I found this a little odd, but chalked it up to her realizing how fast time flies as you get older and wanting to be a positive influence in LS's life. So, we told her June 1. She was excited, and said "well, I'll go visit Mom right after finals, spend a month there, then come back here when LS gets out of school. She told us she wants to teach her how to play volleyball and rollerbleade....go bike riding, go to the library, shopping,etc. We talked about it for quite some time, and we told her that if she was serious, we'd cancel daycare for June and pay her instead. A win/win for everyone, we thought. She was excited that she'd be able to make money and do what she wanted to do with LS. So, plan finalized. She'd fly back on June 3, to be available to start her "summer job" June 4th.
Fast forward to last weekend. She came home for the weekend cuz she was "homesick". While here she started telling me that LS "eats too much candy, watches too much TV....doesn't need to stay up past 9, you need to _________." I thanked her for sharing her newfound child psychology, but "we're all set on the parenting side of life...been doing it for almost 25 years."
In the meantime, we hadn't gotten any flight info from her mom (she sends it to me, DH and SD), so asked her if she knew if her mom had booked flights yet....she didn't. I suggested that time was getting short, and maybe she should touch base with her if her plan was still to go to Mom's right after finals. The next day she told us that her mom was going to book her flights that day, and that she was going to return on June 10 (instead of June 3rd, which she had originally told us). I said, "that's not the return date you told me you wanted." She said, "well, I looked at my calendar, and I have like 10 weeks off, so it's more fair if I do 5 and 5." I reminded her that she committed to "work" and get paid for her work, and based on the dates she told us, we cancelled summer daycare. She said, "It's only a week; it's not that big of a deal." I told her, "It is a big deal. We took you at your word, and made plans based on what you said were your plans." She immediately turned to tears and accused me of putting her in the middle of her mother and me. I told her that this has NOTHING to do with me, except for the fact that YOU told ME you were taking care of LS for June (and getting paid big $$) to do so. I told her the "fair thing" is to be honest with everyone about what YOU want/plan, and to stop telling people what you think they want to hear. It's also not "fair" to no-show for work, when you are scheduled.
Earlier in the day she had complained that we didn't give her enough "respect" and "freedom", and that we don't treat her like the "adult I AM at 19." I took this moment to remind her that while she is 19, she is far from an adult. She can vote, buy cigarettes, get an abortion and if she gets arrested,the police wont call us--none of which really make you an adult. In our eyes, you are an adult when you are self-sufficient, pay your own bills, buy your own tampons,can book your own flights, schedule your college courses, etc....on your own. Until then, you are a 19 year-old who still behaves as a 16 year old. She was, of course, mad...and rightfully so. I wasn't trying to make her mad, but of course, as we all have experienced, sometimes the truth hurts. It was the perfect segue into bahving more like an adult to be treated more like an adult.
Of course, in an effort to take the focus off of her, she went into a long list of everything we do wrong...as humans, parents, husband & wife, etc. I interjected that this discussion is not about us, nor is it about her mothers behaviors, but really about SD's behaviors that will continue to negatively impact her life should they continue. She apologized for hurting my feelings, and said she certainly didn't intend to. I thanked her for apologizing, but my feelings are hurt.
I'm tired of being the go-to person for everything she wants/needs, and getting lies/half-truths in return. After thinking more about this situation, I've decided to "disengage" a little. I told her that "I don't want you to think that I'm making you choose your mother over me, because I'm not. In an effort to be sure that doesn't happen, I'm stepping back a little. I probably do too much for you, when you have 2 perfectly capable parents. So, for now, I'm just the lady married to your dad. You need to check with your mom and dad about things....everything actually." The next day she emailed ME a paper for one of her classes, and asked me to proof it for her and make ant comments/corrections/etc. I forwarded it to her dad, and let her know.
Honestly, this approach doesn't come naturally for me. I love her dearly, but clearly, her inability to be truthful with her mom is negatively impacting all of us.
In the meantime, I've rethought the whole idea of her caring for her sister this summer. Luckily, the daycare hadn't filled our spot yet. I've realized that her goal is just to "try out" her newfound child psychology. The last thing LS needs from her big sister (who she idolizes!), is a summers-worth of criticism. And actually, I don't need to hear what an awful mother I am for letting my kid eat Skittles. I've suggested that, since her main concern is assuring her mother's emotional well-being and happiness, maybe she should consider just staying put at her mom's for May AND June. Harsh, I know....but the alternative is a stress-filled summer at my house....not gonna do it, wouldn't be prudent.
I guess my vent is over. In reality, my whole reason for posting was to see if any other steps had any successes with disengaging a little and did it help your situation. I'd like to think that our relationship is solid enough to stand this test. Any thoughts?