It's been a while - many changes - need advice

justnotmarthaJune 14, 2011

Hi all - I've been quiet for a while since not much was new. . . then everything changed and I didn't want to have to sit down and write it all out. BUT - I'm at a loss and I need you guys!

It will take forever to give my back story, which you 'oldies' all know. :) Short version - we've had custody of SD since she was 5, she's 16 now. Back and forth relationship with her mom who treated her like a GF and couldn't be counted on, which SD totally got. She called me her real mom, for all the day to day I was mom. She was as much my daughter as my two boys - probably more so. I always put her first so that she could never say I loved the boys more. I was always trying to overcompensate for all her mother's shortcomings. Her relationship with her mom was good when she was mad at us and mom would take her side (without questions or verification) and bad when SD didn't need her on her side.

So, here we go. Over Spring Break we discovered SD had been doing some serious sneaking and lying - involving a boy and booze - that we obviously didn't condone. Things had been leading up to this during the school year and relations were strained around her. The house seemed to revolve around her and her wants/drama/emotions. Anyway, we called her out on the lies, and during the arguing following she said she wanted to live with her mom and mom's latest BF. If you remember, she tried this a year ago when not getting her way and we said ok. She made it to the end of the block with her mom before she called crying and came home. Anyway, this time we called BM and she and her BF (we'll call him ABF for adult BF)came over to chat on a Friday. We discussed all the issues, decided SD didn't need to run off from the problems she created and that she would stay here 'til the end of the school year to lie in the bed she made. She would need to leave the BF and his group of friends he was in with and make some hard choices. If, at the end of the year she felt she needed a fresh, start she could go. SD went off with BM and ABF for a weekend at the beach with the plan to regroup Sunday. When they returned they started talking about SD leaving with them. We were confused as we'd already decided that wouldn't happen, but they apparently were planning it all weekend. They came back around to what we discussed Friday, all was decided, and they left.

Monday, SD was sweetness and light. . . until we enforced the consequences decided Sunday and she started in that she was moving and we couldn't stop her because her mom said they'd get an attorney. It was really the last straw. We've been doing the pitting parents against each other thing for years; having to worry about making consequences too hard or upsetting her too much because she'd run to BM and BM might try for custody. It's exhausting trying to parent that way. We spent two years getting full custody, we weren't going to go through it again because SD was, in truth, being a teen age brat. DH called BM the next day and said to come get SD. SD was a complete snot, said some hurtful things to us and left. She unfriended us on Facebook as soon as she got to her mom's and changed passwords to any accounts we had access to. She then started unfriending DH and I's family as well. We didn't hear from her for weeks. In the few conversations DH has had with her she's taken the complete victim mode - we forced her out, we don't want her as part of out family, we don't love her, etc. DH has tried to tell her each time that she drew a line in the sand with her words and actions, and she doesn't just get to jump across it when it suits her. If she wants to be part of our family she needs to act like it, and that starts with making amends to those she hurt. She's gone right back to victim role and nothing has been accomplished. She has been gone two months and initiated contact 6 times - 2 of them to ask if we would give her her phone back because the phone her mom got her isn't as nice.

So this brings us current as briefly as possible. Tonight, SD calls because she wants to see DH on Father's Day. DH reiterates the same thing - she hasn't taken responsibility for her actions or showed any remorse. So, she asks to talk to me. Mind you, I was her "BFF" - her words - until she left, then I've heard nothing from her in 2 months. I was very cut and dry with her, and pulled no punches. She tried the victim act, then the I've tried everything act, and I bought neither. She can't own that her pattern of lies and selfishness caused the change in our relationship with her - she brought about the downfall, not us. She will admit she acted immaturely when she left, but because she said sorry now I should forget everything else and fall to my knees thankful to hear from her. She doesn't think her actions were wrong, mind you. She just knows she needs to say sorry to get what she wants. She actually asked if she should have to say she's sorry to all our family members she's unfriended and ignored because she was mad at us. Then it was right back to victim again. I just said I'd had enough and gave the phone back to DH. There was nothing there to be accomplished, and the pity party got worse when she got her dad back. He told her that he didn't feel her 'trying' was anything close, her apology was emotionless and that he didn't feel she took ownership of any actions or changes over the past year. She said she was going to quit trying and he said that was her choice, he loved her, and goodbye.

So. . . now what? I've honestly disconnected more than I thought I'd be able to. I'm more angry than anything, and some of that is still directed at her mom and what is happening there. (I have ways of knowing more than they think I know.) Most of it is at SD though - I feel used and abused. I feel like I wasted 10 years of my life and missed many moments with my boys because I was caught up in the drama that was SD. If I'm honest, quite a bit is because SD, for all my trying to role model a different way, turned out just like her mother and carries on all those traits I hate in her mom. Traits SD hated when they were working against her. Perhaps I feel I failed. Whatever the answer is there, I know I allowed it to happen, so there is anger directed at myself as well.

What it all comes down to is the future. What should DH and I do? Continue to stand our ground that SD get down off the cross (sorry if I offend) before she gets to come bounding back into our lives, and the lives of our boys? Let it go because she is a teenager and they are programmed to be selfish brats at this age? Either way carries much weight and a big message on where we stand as parents.

I feel a little lost.

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there should be wiggle room because she is a teenager and we all know what that is like but... to make it true and honest she should apologize in person to not only you and Dh but the boys as well... without excuses... that shows real remorse... and thinking beyond herself... I have read your threads for years and she is not stupid she knows what is going on and she knows what is right and what is wrong... she backed herself into a corner in a moment of teenage passion... now it is time to let her back out... it is frustrating and makes you want to strangle the girl but that is a parents burden... and you are the true parent not Bm... and she knows this that is why she asked to talk to you... she is searching for a hint of let me get out of this mess I made... and she made it so dont let her get out of it easy... but let her get out of it

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 2:26AM
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I am sorry you are going through must be tough. i would of course forgive, my DD acted out at 14, no boose or boyfriends but she was difficult, it passed. I know you are upset and angry, but your SD sounds like many other teenagers.

Unfriending on FB I wouldn't worry about, I hate FB.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 5:36AM
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She's entered what I call 'the brain dead years'...worse yet is she was boozing and under the influence of boys on top of it. Tough place for the kid to be.

I'm not saying kiss and make-up as if nothing happened, but I do think this child (yes she is still very much a young teen even if she thinks she's going on 30) needs you. She needs your love and guidence, even when she's being an #ss. Yeah, I get your hurt and disappointed (been there, done that myself) but I think you need to hold on to the thought the she is a teen, she does stupid things and she is not mature enough to make learn term life altering decisions (even though she believes she is).

She needs to stay connected to Dad/you/brothers. It's been too easy to spit in your face because she has another out (BM's house) hard as it seems right now, IMO you need to try and swallow the hurt and damage she has and is causing and keep that bond connected. She needs you in spite of herself and her foolish actions.

Ground rules though. Frank discussion that she can't keep playing games with people. She needs to know that the ol' one more straw can break the camel's back thing. She needs to know that boozing and BF's at her age are not acceptable and rather she realizes it or not decisions and actions she is making/doing right this minute can and will affect her perhaps for the rest of her life. Time for honest real deep feelings to come out and be discussed between SD and Dad/you...things you may usually not express in general convo or might be tended to bite your tongue on for fear of upsetting or being 'laughed' at. Lay it all out. Best time and place is when she's 'captive' audience and can't hang-up or walk away...she has to hear you out (but of course gets equal time and chance to speak her own thoughts and feelings too).

Good luck to you JNM.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 7:15AM
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First off -- You're such a good Mom JNM -- I know you will find the right thing to do if you follow your heart, listen to your good judgement, and TUNE OUT the what will BioMom do/say? voices. Those nasty little second-guess voices really sabotage our best parenting instincts and cause us to waver from our own values and either compromise when we shouldn't or hold stupidly-tough stands. My advice is to listen to your own voice and shut BioMom out of your head.

It sounds like SD tried to apologize, but that her apology didn't seem heart-felt enough to you? I get that. But consider for a moment how hard it was for SD to apologize. I really mean that as a question: Was it really hard for her to do, and that barely-acceptable apology is the best you're likely to get? Or was it a flip toss-off that required no effort and thus had no real meaning? (I have two sons, and for one, apologizing is excruciatingly difficult; so for him, any apology is a real effort. For the other, there's a real difference between a 'quick toss-off' apology and a deep, meaningful expression of contrition.) You know your SD. Even if her apology was less-than-satisfactory to you -- what did it mean to her?

If you're on the fence, I'd be inclined to err on the side of getting her back home so she can be influenced by your good example rather than by BioMom's less-good examples.

And I absolutely agree with Justmetoo about the deep and meaningful conversations when she does come back. Time for a more grown-up level of conversation -- about many things. The one thing I would repeat over and over is some variation of the following: You know the difference between right and wrong, and as you grow up and spend more time away from your family, your character, your values and decision-making will be tested over and over. And we won't be there to tell you what to do. YOU will need to evaluate the situation and make your own decisions, then live with the consequences of those decisions for the rest of your life. And some of those consequences can be life and death. You HAVE good judgement -- use it wisely.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 10:19AM
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I left home when I was 17 because of a boy. Twice. The first time I went back home it was VERY hard for me to apologize and admit I was wrong. I think my Mom must have gotten the same apology you got. But I knew deep down that I was wrong and had messed up. I just couldn't admit/say it. The 2nd time I left I went 500 miles away so when I realized I messed up it wasn't so easy to come back. As I matured so did our relationship and we ended up working things out and becoming close again.

Science shows that until you reach almost age 20 the part of your brain that influances logic, impulse control and decision making is not fully formed. So I guess the bottom line is just deal with the hurtfullness and one day she will really feel regret about it and you'll get your heartfelt apology. She's just not capable of it right now.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 8:47PM
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Hi all - sorry for the delay.

We've had MANY serious, frank and 'grown-up' discussions about SD's choices with her, the direction those choices are taking her, the damage they are doing to her possibilities on so many levels. . . wasted breath. We've frankly discussed her manipulation between homes. We've discussed the hurt and damage she causes with her self centered behavior. None of them seem to matter.

So, update on the happenings. After our phone conversation I convinced DH to take her to lunch on Father's Day. He did, and then called to say she wanted to come to the house. . . not because she wanted to see us, but because she didn't want to go back to the house with her BM's BF and his daughter. I said sure, but I would leave. . . and I did. We said all of 4 words to each other during the time we were here together. . . she made no attempt at all. When BM came to pick her up she made a big show of jumping up and down and squealing "Mommy! I love you!" when she pulled up. It was rather pathetic. She was obviously upset we didn't all fall all over ourselves because she was home.

In all honestly, I don't really care about the apology. It's not going to change what happened, or how I feel. What I care about is her thinking an apology, or even acknowledgment, isn't needed. She just wants to brush it under the rug and not deal because she would need to admit to her role in everything. I'm not willing to let that happen.

Sweeby, I don't think her coming back here will happen. We are hearing things aren't great at BM's from BM's BF and parents of SD's friends, but SD rules the house and does pretty much anything she wants so BM doesn't have to deal with her. Here she has rules, parameters and expectations. She won't want to come back, I'm pretty certain. And as happy as the boys are without her here, it would be a difficult choice to bring her back as an even looser cannon. Her behavior was so much like her mother's before she left, I can't imagine what it will be like in a few more months.

DH hasn't heard from SD since Father's Day - no thanks for lunch or anything. Sadly, he hasn't felt a need to contact her, either.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 10:02PM
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This must be very upsetting. I am very sorry...I don't know how put it in words without sounding offensive plus it is hard to convey thoughts in here...My apologies if it sounds offensive, but I recall the whole story with SD.

"The house seemed to revolve around her and her wants/drama/emotions." i think it is one of the source of a problem here.

I think of myself as a good mother but sometimes I read in how children are such center of the universe for some families that nothing else matters, every word and every action of a child is analyzed and elevated and everything evolves around children up to extreme, I always think it is going to backfire. Meetings between exes to discuss consequences and behavior of kids, phone call back and forth over everything child did or said. It always seemed that everyone was trying to overcompensate for her mom being far from perfect. And yes SD was always put first but does she have to be first all the time? My SO raised self-centered kid (older SD), she is not trouble at all but she is self-centered, and he knows why, he raised her this way. He wishes he didn't.

Some children are self-centered because they are raised to be. She will come around when she is grown up, but she does not need to be on pedestal. Let her be. It is OK for her to live with mom. Maybe she feels guilty she complained to you about mom so much, maybe she feels upset she was lectured how not to be like her mom. Maybe she is tired of rules and expectations and too much pressure to be good. Maybe she needs to rebel.

This is all awfully sad, but she is 16, it is not the end of the world, well she fell out of grace with dad. Give her time, then dad could call and chat not about apologies, but just talk. Over the years I've been mad at my dad and vice versa like 2000 times and we are intact family. It will be fine.

I understand how you feel though. It hurts. DD gave me so much grey hair at that age, she threatened to run away from home when she was that age. It was bad, and every parent i talked to, always had it bad at some point. I know it is going to get better. But do not let her to manipulate you, she already knows how to manipulate everyone because she is the center of the universe. She deserves love but she does nto need to be the center of the world.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 10:24AM
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Oh JNM this sounds very hard :-(

I can understand why you can't move past it, for now anyway. When you give so much to a person, and they poo all over it, it comes to a point where you've just had enough. It's not that you don't want to reach out/try again/make the effort/put the energy in/etc etc; it's just that you can't anymore. Right? I really understand that and there's nothing wrong with it, don't feel guilty or bad about it!

The apology that your SD should give you is a big deal to me; when you do something wrong and you know it, you should apologise. No need to tiptoe around SD and let it slide, why would she have a different set of rules apply to her? Because there's bigger fish to fry? Because of BM? No way. SD knows she's wrong, she'll need to make it right. A heartfelt apology is a good start, and essential if you ask me.

My SD15 cannot apologise either, she has never apologised for anything, ever. Over the past year she's done the wrong thing by us several times; loving it when we run around for her, and running back to BM's whenever she doesn't get her way. I haven't posted much about it, because what is there to say about it..really. As long as BM encourages this behavior (this is our situation) SD will not see the need to change. She can run away from problems, go there if something doesn't suit overhere, no need to own up, apologise, nothing. When she comes back she pretends all is good again, just because time has passed. And by the way; we should be thankful for her visit..

One of the biggest reasons that FDH and BM got divorced is because they were never able to work anything out. Any problem they had remained unresolved, so stuff piled up which created bigger problems. BM is not capable of looking at her own behavior, the part she might own in a problem, nothing is ever her fault and an apology is something she only wishes to receive, not give. (This has a lot to do with mental disorder). It was her way or the highway, and that is just not realistic.

SD15 seems to adopt the same attitude, maybe because of BM's example, maybe because of situation (2 homes to play out against eachother). Not to say it's all because of BM though, because SD knows very well that BM's behavior is completely unacceptable, selfish and self-destructive. We have also had plenty meaningful conversations just like you guys. SD's understanding of the dynamics even impressed us, but she still continues to behave this way. Therefore we know that she 'owns' it, blaming BM is not going to fly, just like it doesn't with your SD.

I'm also at a point where I find it hard to keep going. I want to stay engaged and make the effort, try and talk with SD's, be there for them, guide them, poor energy into all of it, and I too cannot seem to give it at the moment.

I've given this a lot of thought because I don't want to give the skids the wrong message. There's a big difference between a bit of disengaging and 'turning your back on them' and I don't want them to misunderstand what's happening here. It's not that I don't care anymore, it's that I don't agree with what they are doing. I cannot change it, I cannot force SD15 to apologise or to behave different, but I can choose my own response to that. So I've decided I do what I normally do (as in tasks around the house) but I keep to myself and I'm not running around anymore.

It's simple; I don't owe them anything. If they make an effort to treat us better, I'll go above and beyond for them as well. If not, then I will perform my daily tasks as normal, but nothing more. I don't walk around angry, I just do my own thing and I'm not getting very involved in things they do. They come, they go, that's it.

I used to put up with a lot more when they were younger; they were manipulated by BM, they did not understand, I had to try and be the bigger person and suck it up for their sake. But not anymore; now they are old enough, they need to own their own choices and they need to realise that a relationship goes both ways. If they don't invest, then I'm not going to be in it anymore either.

I wonder if your SD will be back, I can see where you're coming from when you say you don't think so. How are your boys doing now that SD is out of the house? You gave the impression that they aren't affected by it too much, not in a negative way anyway?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 12:38AM
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