a mutual disrespect

longgone_2000September 30, 2010

I am new here and to be honesst I am so glad I found this forum. I have been going insane with my thoughts and feelings about my SD for a long time. My story is a long one so I hope you can hold on for the details.

My husband and I have a pretty great relationship. We get along well and have a lot of the same interests. The problem lies with his daugher. I have a daughter who is 4 and lives with us full time. He has a daughter who is 10 and comes to our house every other weekend.

I have known my stepdaughter for about 2 years now. When I first met her I just thought she was shy and needed time to get to know me, now I know I was wrong. She ignores me. Completely ignores me unless she has to communicate with me or she wants something. She has no regard for respect in our house and does what ever she pleases. Every time a question is asked of her she just shrugs her shoulders and goes on her merry little way. She is spoiled, selfish, uncaring and an unlovable child.

I know that the last statement I made is harsh "unlovable child" but I am not the only one to say that. She has been around my friends and family and they have all commented to me (without my prompting) that she is a child who is not likeable, who thinks the world owes her everything and she will get it no matter the cost. Arrogant would be a good word.

She is 10 years old and cannot pick up after herself. She will make excuse after excuse to get out of any type of chore until she has to go home, then it's "oh, I have to leave to be back at my mom's house". So I have decided to not clean up after her. I will no longer pick up her room, I shut the door. I do not clean up her dishes off the table, her dad has to. She doesn't flush the toilet, turn off lights, or even use soap in the shower. We have gotten after her a few times about not using soap. We have tried to explain to her that it's important to use soap because she needs to get clean but she just doesn't care. She purposely finds ways around rules her dad had laid out so she can do what she wants. The thing that bugs me the most is that he doesn't see it!! He just lets her get away with it!

It doesn't help that her BM is a total B!tc#. I call her the welfare baby making factory. Her and her new husband can't afford what they currently have and they keep having babies. BM's mother pays for everything. And when I say everything I mean everything. SD just came to our house with an IPhone. A $400 IPhone. She wears designer clothers, goes on lots of lavish vacations and lives the life of a celebrity child. I guess I don't have a problem with what she has, what I have a problem with is the fact that her mother can't get her to school or get her homework done and she is rewarded for it. 1st Grade - Missed 34 days of school. 2nd Grade - Missed 42 days of school. I got involved when she was in 3rd grade last year and she only missed 14 days of school but now this year she has already missed 3. She says she has a headache and mom lets her stay home. Mom doesn't have enough room in the car to drive her to school so if she fakes being sick, she gets to stay home all day long. We have talked to lawyers, school counslers, social workers but they all tell us there is nothing we can do. As long as she is getting food, shelter and clothing she is being supported. Mom lets her stay up until 10 or 11 on school nights and they go on shopping trips at 9pm to walmart. Does this woman not know that she is hurting her child and other children. Ugh... I am so disgusted and get madder and madder as I type this! I just want to shake her and say, "what type of mother, no human being doesn't know how to get their child to school!" She is teaching her child that it is ok to skip out on responsibility when she doesn't feel like being responsible! What kind of job is she going to have if she calls into work 42 days a year because she doesn't feel like going to work...

So SD comes to our house with our 9pm bedtime and you eat what I made for dinner or you don't eat at all rules and she throws tantrums. Screaming, Kicking, Hitting, Crying you name it, she does it. She has made her father cry by telling him that she hates him and hates her life. What child says they hate their life?

We were trying to get her into a counsler but her mother refuses to let us use her medical insurance. Fine. We said we would pay for it ourselves, but the counsler said that without the mothers support there really wouldn't be anything she can do. Her mother thinks her child is perfect with no problems. Oh and no discipline.

Just to throw something else out there I have tried to spend time with just her and I. I took her to a Taylor Swift concert (she sat there the entire time in her chair sulking. She loves Taylor Swift, I think the problem was she went with me (14th row too)), I have brought her Shoping with me, we have gone swimming, out to movies (twilight 1 & 2), I went to Walmart at midnight to get her the copy of Twilight 2 and she didn't even say thank you!

I guess I am just at the end of my rope here. I think I do love this child. I have tried to move heaven and earth to do the things that would benefit her in the long term but at the end of the day I am just her "step-mother". I have no legal rights to her.

The stress is killing me. A huge part of me wants to just step away and say, "not my child, not my problem". But when I married her father I took that silent vow that said for better or worse. Meaning, him and his child. So what do I do?

Sorry for the spelling errors, and gramatical errors and jumping all over the place. I just needed to throw it all out there in what ever order it came in.

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I'm sorry you're having this issue. It sounds very familiar...

I think this is a DH issue more than a SD issue. Where does he stand on all of this?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 3:25PM
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I think he just doesn't know what to do. He has only had her every other weekend since she was a baby. He had no idea of what his rights were until we got together. When we have talked about mine and her relationship he said that it's his fault because he introduced her to so many of his ex-girlfriends. When we moved in together she asked him, "When we have to move out do I get to take my new bunkbeds with us?"

There is a big part of me that feels bad about what SD has to go through (being a step child myself) but at the same time she needs to also respect that she lives in my home every other weekend and that there are rules and boundries that need to be followed.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 3:35PM
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I agree it's a DH issue, not necessarily a child issue. My situation has a lot of similarities, except SD lives with us & has for going on 4 years.

If dad is afraid to upset her so he lets her get away with everything, I'd tell him that if he doesn't get a handle on her now, he won't stand a chance when she's a teen. She won't hate him (though she may say she does) but kids want discipline & structure. In the long run, it's for her own good.

As for what the mom is doing, you will spin your wheels in mud & get nowhere. Been there, done that. I'm appalled by my SD's mom's actions... can't imagine any mother treating a child... THEIR child, like that. But, as a stepparent all you can do is shrug & say, "not my kid, not my problem" and continue doing so when they want something from you. That at least teaches them it's give & take, not just take when I want & the heck with you the rest of the time. It's been three years of hell with my SD11 & she just came to me a week ago & asked me if she can call me mom. Of course, I am hesitant & feel it's a manipulative move on her part... she just doesn't seem too sincere. But, I'll take it & in time, maybe it will become genuine. If not, I can still say I did all I could for the girl. I feel bad for her, she was given a raw deal in life... but I didn't have anything to do with creating the situation she is in so it's not my responsibility to fix it. If the parents are in denial, there isn't a thing a stepparent can do. I guess all you can do is try to convince your DH to step up & get more involved in his daughter, including discipline & structure. Let HIM tell her this is the way it is. He needs to work on building a parent/child relationship with her & not worry about being her friend or whether she is "happy" about the rules. No kid is happy about the rules, though some have no problem following them.

Also, medical coverage is on the child. If he has joint legal custody, there may be no way for her to stop him from getting the information from the insurance company. If she refuses to disclose the company, he can ask the court to make her turn over that info. He can also ask the court to order counseling & for the mother to participate. I'm not advocating a big court battle, but a simple motion to ask the court to get the ins. card or set up counseling would probably be seen as a concerned father... just stick to the issue for SD's best interest & don't get sucked into a fight over other stuff. Chances are, if dad asks for a counselor & mom says SD if fine, the court may want to hear an impartial counselor say SD is fine, since the court knows the problems associated with divorced parents.

AS for her ignoring you, I ignored my SD when she did that to me. It makes for a miserable time, but it's a part of a lesson "treat others how you want to be treated". My SD did that when she was 9-10... maybe it has to do with that age, though I haven't heard too many people here complain of that.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 4:49PM
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I think first Op needs to lose the 'she's an unlovable child' idea. Kid is what she has been brought up to be. It's not her, it's her upbringing. She may not be always likable, but she IS lovable...or at least to her parents who I will assume do indeed love that child.

This is a bit different than with Ima's SD as Ima has her SD as SD's main residency (except summers). OP and Dad see this child 4 whole days a month. Gotta be heck on a kid to go from living one way 26/27 days a month one way to living differently 4 other days.

Also this child has been introduced to GF after GF. No wonder she does not take OP seriously nor does she feel any need to adjust her poor behavior towards OP as to this child 'this one will be gone soon too'.

With all that said, I agree, OP has a big husband/daddy issue which needs to be addressed before much can be altered between SD and SM.

As far as "I hate you", "I hate my life"...I think 9/10 yr old girls kinda enter the drama princess mode about then. Always amazes me as to what ridiculous 'ideas' my own almost now 11 yr old comes up with. She's almost gotten over the 'you're the meanest mommy in the whole world' bit, but I still get 'you're ruining my life' now and then.

Of course the child does not 'hate' her BM and Dad and you're the lady who might poof and makes her eat stuff she does not want to and ....horror...expects her to keep herself clean and her things picked up. Evil SM, she'll show you...temper fit, cry, "I hate my life".

So what's up with BM refusing insurance for counseling? Is her goal to run Dad off and make him/you stop inteferring in her life. Surprised the schools have not lowered the boom on BM for this child's attendance record. Does the child's school have an inschool counselor? Lots do.

Sad as it sounds, the 'not my kid, not my problem' may have to be the way it is until Dad can work on some of the issues. Maybe it's time Dad request additional vistations and spends more time with the child, sets houserules that he expects followed blah blah.

If you can't get DH to step up and take control of what's been going on you might as well just beat your head against the wall.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 5:22PM
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If you can't get DH to step up and take control of what's been going on you might as well just beat your head against the wall.
Thats it in a nutshell...and if DH won't take control..then I would start making plans to be busy with my own 4 YO every other weekend..let DH deal with SD

STOP trying so hard..I know, I have made the same mistake..the shopping, swimming, concerts..all nice but she will, in all probablity, never appreciate anything you do.

Not sure how to link yet, but there is an excellent article titled "The Disengaging Step-Mom Should You Do It?"
Google and you should be able to find it...disengaging saved my sanity, basic premise is take a step back, stop trying to parent your SC, let the biological parents deal with their own children.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 7:31PM
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"She has made her father cry by telling him that she hates him and hates her life. What child says they hate their life?"

My 11yo SS says that sort of thing often... He has severe ADHD and bipolar disorder.
Any chance that what appears as being a manipulative/spoiled/uncaring child is actually some form of social disorder?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 2:21AM
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Hi Longgone and welcome! I totally agree with other posters that what's going on is not uncommon, and that your emotional reaction is pretty normal, as well. Being a new stepfamily is a volatile situation at the best, epecially at the beginning and especially if the new stepparent follows on the heels of several others who have occupied that role. Not to overcriticize your hubby, but a lot of men (and some women) just don't think that one through, ha!

Four quick things to remember that might help:

1. Give it time. It takes a long time for the stepfamily to root, so don't judge what's happening now as how things will always be. Sounds like your SD has been through a lot--not the least of which is that she has been given far too much power for a child her age, which is actually quite a burden for a kid and will not serve her well in life. She is probably on some level envious of your child, who has structure.

2. Do not feel bad AT ALL about backing off for the time being. Your SD is not ready to accept you yet, and the more you push, the more she will lash out at you. Just be there in the background, Dad's wife who in time will seem to be more permanent than the other mother figures whom she was allowed to bond with and then poof, they were gone.

3. Do not feel bad AT ALL about letting your husband handle the parenting of SD. Right now that is best for her, and it's just a headache for you to have to handle it. Plus, if the messes and problems she makes miraculously disappear (that would be you doing the miracles), he will not have an accurate picture of the problem. And, you will hate him, ha. And if you need another reason, think of the message it sends to your daughter that you have to do all the menial work because you are a female.

4. This is the hardest one: try not to badmouth BM if you can help it. Even if DH does it himself. On some level, he himself may feel attacked by your criticism--after all, he did reproduce with her, maybe even marry her? (Sorry, I might have forgotten your whole story, it's Friday!) Just listen. And come here to complain and vent, ha!

If you can let some of the problem not be yours, you are much more likely to retain your affection for DH and vice versa, and, most importantly, it will mean less drama for your own little girl.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 3:29PM
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If the mother is so neglectful why isn't dad asking for custody? rather than criticizing someone else's parenting why isn't he doing the parenting. I see my neighbor kids more 4 times a month. Why is dad so uninvolved?

I never understand moms/dads who almost never see their kids and are hands off yet complain how custodial parent is abusive and neglectful. If my child missed 34 days of school she certainly would not live full time somewhere. I feel terrible for this child, her mom is just horrible and dad is uninvolved and not interested in child's welfare. Poor girl.

I do agree that there is nothing you can do if mom/dad do nothing.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 12:15PM
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"If the mother is so neglectful why isn't dad asking for custody?" I was wondering that, plus in our school district if a child missed 34 days of school not only would they automatically fail, but the parents would long since have been hauled into court for allowing truancy.

Longgone, I too agree that unfortunately if neither mom nor dad is going to do anything, there is not a lot you can do to change this situation.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 12:46PM
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