My 6 YO daughter vs. My husband...she's winning

demom23November 19, 2008

My 6YO bio daughter is bright, funny, and smart. My husband and I have been married for 9 months. Over the last 6 months, my daughter has taken to acting scared of my husband...she'll run out of the room if they are alone in the room together saying she thinks he's going to hit her. When I ask if he's ever hit her she says no. The other night when my husband came home from work - she ran knocking over her spaghetti on the carpet - this was the first and worst response in about 3 months. On top of this my daughter has started lying about everything...she cut a hole in her shirt and told me that she fell on a rock, even lying about something as trivial as whether she brushed her teeth.

Now, I admit that I used to be very laxed about her discipline the whole guilty single parent thing. But my husband and I have been on the same page about the need for appropriate punishment and consistency. But this last episode with the spaghetti has him freaking out...he says she's concerned that she will lie to somebody at school and get him in trouble. (she's lied on him before saying he smacked her in the face or squirted juice on her - only to tell me later she lied). We've been having some pretty intense discussions and tonight he texts me to tell me he's not coming home because he needs to do some thinking.

I'm feeling so much right now. Frustrated with my daughter's lying, worrying about the re-purcussions for my husband in a worse case the same time I am a little angry with my husband -feeling abandoned, feeling afraid, and feeling really alone in this...His common cry has been that this isn't normal, that he just wants peace. With him staying away again, I feel like my daughter who recently confessed that she just wants it to be me and her, will feel like she's won and that her strategy works. I understand my husband's fear too and wonder if the best way to give him peace is to separate or more likely divorce since he's concerned that he'll have to spend the his time at home on alert hoping she never falsely accuses him.

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Is your daughter in counseling? Where is her father? Does she see him? Have there been any significant changes in the last six months?

My first suggestion would be find a good therapist. My second suggestion is for you to spend more one on one time with her, she may feel your husband is a threat as my SD has gone through phases where she felt I was taking her dad away from her and now, feels her mom's BF is taking her mom away from her. Her counselor suggested special alone time. One of the things my SD's mom does that she doesn't realize upsets my SD is gushing & talking about her BF and their wedding plans. She wants SD to be as excited as she is but SD just wants to spend time with her mom & the more mom talks about BF, the more insecure SD becomes.

I can't blame your husband for worrying about false accusations, it's so easy for it to happen. But, I agree that him staying away is only going to make her think she's won. Besides, he and you should be working as a team and when she starts lying or acting out that way, she needs to be called on the behavior. Instead of making a big deal over her antics, I would calmly ignore the drama of her running away when he walks in the room, etc. and go get her. Have her sit down and explain herself in a calm, rational way and if she gets hysterical, then tell her you can't hear her or understand her when she's hysterical, and maybe have a time out until she calms down. In other words, don't give her drama or hysteria ANY attention, but when she is calm & listening, hold her accountable for her actions. Give her a chance to explain and listen to what she says. Once you figure out what she wants... my guess is your undivided attention, then explain to her the right way to go about it. I would tell her that while you know she wishes it were just you and her, that isn't the way it is. Then I would make arrangements to spend special time with her, without your husband.

I can relate to her cutting her shirt & saying she fell on a rock. She wants attention. My SD has told her mom that she fell off her bike (when I actually saw her throw herself on the ground to get scratches on her hands), has told her mom that she broke a finger when it wasn't even sprained, and today she told her mom that she was beat up at school, when she was the one that got in trouble for chasing a boy that teased her about her hair. She exaggerates and makes up injuries or events because her mom reacts with 'poor baby' and that's how sD gets her mom to pay attention to her. With her dad, he's told her if feels he isn't spending enough time with her and she wants to spend time with him, she has to tell him and he's always happy to arrange things with her but he is not going to pay attention to the drama.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 1:59AM
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I would first take DD to a counselor -- I would be concerned.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 6:53AM
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con't -- not every complaint by a child is made up -- if she is running away from him, I would be a little worried.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 8:52AM
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I would be concerned and suggest counseling, too, but I'd also try to get at the root of this some myself, with or without the counselor. If in fact she is lying (I will presume you know this for a fact), you've got to look for the underlying reasons, as well as what's propelling her "drama queen" behavior as an adaptive mechanism. If you & DH are too strict together as parents, it may be that she feels this is her only means of any 'power' or freedom of expression, and she is using these little outbursts as an expression of her will and as a sort of rebellion. It sounds like she sees her SF as some sort of threat to who she is as a person, which to some extent all parents with rules are! But it might just be that she is especially individualistic, and there's nothing wrong with that. She should be shown that a household with some structure and rules/consequences doesn't have to be a big foreboding threatening drag. (Go back and read some of Ceph's posts on this: she has a lot of structure/rules/consequences for her SS, but she's full of good humor about it and it obviously makes a huge difference in her family's life.) Once your daughter sees that SF *really* isn't an ogre, she will not feel a need to 'protect' or 'defend' or overly assert herself from any perceived negative 'threat'. The solution isn't to change any of your rules/consequences but simply to lighten the TONE of the way they're meted out and do some extra reassurance that you both love and care for her and that the rules are there to be ultimately helpful for her to be the best person she can be. Do some more joking and palling around as a family. Similarly, find a way to positively channel your daughter's obvious dramatic talents and impulses. She sounds like a passioante, expressive girl. Find ways that she can express herself creatively.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 9:03AM
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I would also be very concerned. Not to sound an alarm, but it is common for children to lie after confessing someone elses bad behavior, cover up for them so to speak. Especially if they don't feel like they are believed.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 9:44AM
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First: the lying. Six year olds commonly lie. My daughter lies about brushing her teeth, washing her hands, eating things (even with a tell-tale ring around her mouth). We emphasize the importance of the truth. I think it's a stage. In itself I wouldn't be too worried about it.

Running away from your DH. That concerns me. How long did they know each other before you married? Where do you think she may be getting the "rules" for her behavior? (thinking if she says he slapped her he will get in trouble, etc) Does he tell her he loves her? Does he love her? Does she know that you are a family?

I tell my DD quite often to tell me if anyone hurts her. Anyone. And I mention names. I say, has grandma ever hurt you? And she giggles and says no (etc. with grandpa, dad, SF, uncle). It's a little game. But I make it silly and always start out with her favorites, like the dog and move on to ones I may have a little concern about. The last time we talked like this she said no to all of my questions, and I reiterated that she can and should always tell me if someone hurts her or touches her in a way she doesn't like. And she said, or I can tell SF, because he'd want to know too. And the way she said it brought tears to my eyes. Because I could tell she felt protected by him.

Sometimes DH and I switch off on "bad cop/good cop". I will be the bad guy so that he can be the good guy. Example, wants candy. We look at one another, and decide without talking. I say, no, I don't think you can have some candy tonight. Then DH says, I think she should, because of ______good behavior I noticed. And then I say, but she didn't eat all of her dinner, and he'll say, yes, but she did eat all of her vegis without complaining, and we did have a big lunch (or whatever, I'm just making this up as I go along, but it's pretty similar to our conversations. I bring up down points, he brings up good points). End result, I say, well DD, I wasn't going to let you have candy, but SF says thinks you should because you have behaved so well, so I'm going to agree with him. You can have the candy. Then he is seen as the "good guy" but we are still a team.

Yes, your DD could get your husband in big trouble by lying. And I can understand that fear. Keeping a journal to record what is going on would be very helpful if that ever happened. Having friends and family who know you well and can see your interactions and his interactions with her would also be helpful. But her lying that he hit her wouldn't stand up to much if there was not evidence (bruises, etc). I can understand the concern, BUT if, as a mother, with your DEEPEST gut instinct, you do not believe he is hurting her, there is no reason for divorce. Keep checking in with her to make sure she knows you will protect her above anything else. Because it is your job, it is the contract you signed with your maker upon taking on the job of mother. I don't know if you are religious, but I tell my DD that God and I have an agreement. I'm responsible for you, and I promised God I would be a good mommy, and make sure you eat healthy food, and are taken care of, and are a good person. It's in the mommy contract that you sign when you become a mommy. She knows I take being a mom very seriously. But I also tell her sometimes, when I don't know what to do, that this is her first time being a kid, and it's my first time being a mom. I tell her that she doesn't come with instructions, and we are figuring this out together.

I hope this gets better for you. It's difficult to be in the middle sometimes.

I attached a link from IVillage on lying.

Here is a link that might be useful: Six year olds and lying

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 10:44AM
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I would also be concerned and want to get her into counseling or play therapy.

I would keep an open mind at this point. Unfortunately, she may very well be telling the truth. I don't know how long you knew your DH before you got married but I would not *totally* discount what your DD is saying. I'm NOT saying her allegations ARE true but I think you probably do need to dig deeper.

That said, I know firsthand that children, particularly around this age, ARE smart enough to know what to make up to get people's attention. I have been in my SS's life since he was 2. About a year ago, he told his grandma and his BM that I "pinched his cheeks."

That was a total and complete untruth. I've NEVER done and WOULD NEVER do anything of the sort. EVER.

I was horrified and hurt when I heard what he had said and to be honest--I can see where your DH is coming from. In today's world, one really can't be too careful when it comes to accusations.

SS had a lot of issues regarding loyalty to his mom. His mom made it VERY clear to him from the time I came on the scene that she didn't like me, didn't want him to like me, and wanted me to go away. She did a lot of damage to SS's ability to form a relationship with me and it has been a lot of work to repair that.

He has been in counseling for about a year and things are SO MUCH BETTER. A few weeks ago, DH, BM and SS had a session all together and SS told his mom that he was "really starting to love me." Then he asked if it bothered her that he "loved another lady" and thank GOD she told him no, that it makes her happy that he has a good relationship with his stepmom.

Counseling does WONDERS. At least, it has in our situation.

I think the important thing to remember with kids this age is that a lie, while not "good," is not the horrible sin people make it out to be. Kids are not adults, and they aren't emotionally equipped to handle their feelings the way we can. A child usually lies out of---frustration, fear of getting in trouble, or to make his/her voice heard.

In SS's situation, I think he was just really conflicted about having a stepmom, wanting to please his BM, and made things up was a way of getting people to focus on his issues. Kids are NOT mature enough to say "hey, I need some help working through my feelings."

I believe kids that "act out" are trying to tell us something and often, it's not what it seems.

So--it may well be that your DD IS lying, but I still think you need to dig to the root of the problem and find out what is causing her to do so.

I definitely agree that it could be a jealousy issue. She feels threatened by your DH and feels like he has "replaced" her in a way. Where is her bio-dad? could she be having issues regarding loyalty to him? Is he absent from her life, and suddenly having a male around is dredging up feelins about THAT?

It could be so many things.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 10:49AM
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What a distressing situation! First off, I'd do some real introspection to be 100% sure of what the truth is regarding your daughter's accusations and your husband's behavior. Be brutally honest -- Is there any possibility of any wrong-doing? Assuming there's not --

I'd have a one-on-one sit-down with DD and go over the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". Have her explain the story back to you so you can be sure she really understood it. Then draw the parallel to some of her claims about StepDad. Pick two that you know to be false, and explain to her that you care very much about keeping her safe, but that you can only trust her if she's honest with you. Be sure she totally gets it. Explain that while you know it's exciting to make up stories sometimes, she needs to be able to tell you honestly when she's making up a story and when it's real.

I totally agree that having StepDad stay away sends the message that she's winning, so StepDad needs to come back home and restake his claim.

Then I'd suggest that he go into Pied Piper mode. Not approach DD directly, but tempt her to choose to spend enjoyable time with him. Maybe announce that he's going into the kitchen for a bowl of ice cream. (Don't offer her one, but allow it if she joins him. Not a direct "You can have some if you sit with me", but a simple "Ice cream needs to stay in the kitchen." ) Or just sit in the TV room watching her favorite movie or cartoon. If she wants to watch it, she'll have to sit in the same room with him. (If there's multiple TVs, it may be time for one of them to 'break'.) Does she have any favorite activities? Maybe say that you're going to play mini-golf or go bowling, and give her the chance to ask to go along. Just like with a frightened or skittish animal -- be around, be safe, be tempting. But let her make the forward moves.

One other key point - Make sure that it's only Mom doing the discipline for now. Especially if discipline is a new thing for her, it needs to come from Mom. StepDad can enforce well-known rules if Mom's not around, but the less StepDad is 'the bad cop' for now, the easier it will be for her to accept him.

Counseling might feed the fire by providing even more attention (and serious attention) to DD's dramatics, so I'd hold off on it until you've tried more subtle approaches for a few weeks. But if these steps don't help, it would be worth a shot. There could be a serious reason for her actions.

Good luck, and let us know what happens.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 10:59AM
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"Then I'd suggest that he go into Pied Piper mode. "

Sweeby, that's genius!!!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 1:06PM
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Thanks so much for the responses...I agree with all of what's been said. I've got a counseling session scheduled for my daughter an am confident because of the strong bond before my DH, the relationship with her will be fine eventually.

I am more concerned with my DH's response. Immediately after the incident with the spaghetti, one of the first things he said was how he didn't have money to go anywhere and what would happen to all of his stuff. Coupled with him texting me the next day that he wasn't coming home, makes me think all he needed was any excuse to just go. He has been 100% closed to the idea that doing more things together as a family: like playing games or having family time will help my daughter get more comfortable with him - giving her a chance to see him as something other than a disciplinarian. Just to be clear he does not and has never spanked her - but he does tend to focus on repeatedly calling out what she does wrong. I've never asked him not to correct her - but to make sure that there was balance of praise as well when she did something right: Recently when I ask about the last time he'd said something positive to her or about her - he couldn't remember.

My gut tells me that he really just doesn't like her which breaks my heart. I honestly believe that if there was love or even just genuine concern there would be more willingness to try things that might help her and lay a better foundation for our family, rather than look for how he might leave. Last I heard from him, he said he needed to do some thinking. If at this point he's really got to think about whether to stay or go - I have a real concern about how he will deal with other crises/issues that are bound to come up in our marriage.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 3:13PM
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I am sorry for your problems, but I can not imagine a more serious issue than this -- forget about worrying about other issues that may come up.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 3:19PM
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1. how long did you date?
2. how did he treat your daughter before you got married?
3. whose house are you living in?
4. where is bio dad?
5. how old is DH?
6. does he have kids/does he want kids with you?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 3:23PM
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What about all of you going to family counseling? That way the therapist can work with the whole family (which this situation is affecting) You said you've only been married for 9 months and this has been going on for six, you said your discipline has been lacking because of guilt etc...She most likely is trying to get her power back and isn't used to a United front. When dynamics change in families, people especially children fight to get it back to what was normal for I said I would go to counseling as a family and work this thing through.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 3:24PM
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Sometimes it isnt the child's fault. If OP's DH cant remember the last time he said anything positive, that speaks volumens to me. Just like some people shouldnt be moms or stepmoms, some people shoulndt be dads or stepdads.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 4:09PM
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"He has been 100% closed to the idea that doing more things together as a family: like playing games or having family time will help my daughter get more comfortable with him - giving her a chance to see him as something other than a disciplinarian"

This bothers me and I don't think it's *normal.* I don't know how a man could marry a woman with a child and not expect to do family activities? What did he expect?

What was your dating/relationship like before you got married?
Did he have contact with your DD at all?

I'm not saying his feelings make him a horrible guy. It may well be that he's just a guy, with no kids of his own, no parenting experience, and he really just doesn't have a clue how to go from that to being in a "dad" role.

But he needs to work through that if he's married to you and a stepdad to your DD!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 4:38PM
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Here's the thing...he has two kids a son and daughter 18 and 20 - who are ok kids. He raised them (sharing custody)very strict in a way I do not agree with: the language he uses is very harsh, his tone is hard -he claims he and his kids grew up around the hood so he has to use that style with them. My daughter is not used to that at all. Now he has calmed down some - not yelling/cussing in the house but the harsh attitude and non-verbal aggression is still there. His very presence can be a little intimidating if you don't know him.

Other info: I am wife #3 - which I only found out because of his sister, and he's 41. I admit that we didn't date very long - I did allow him to rush me in the relationship and the marriage. But I did delay us co-habitating even after we were married to ease the transition. Before we we married him and my daughter were fine..she read with him, they played dress-up on the computer, we did family games, chuck e cheese bringing along some of his family, they were fine. But after we got married - they both changed: he became overly critical, and my daughter became very territorial over me. Typical response from her - prior to my husband she has only been aware of one other dating relationship - so in her world it was just the two of us. My husband on the other hand - his response is not normal.

Added to this her bio dad is a no show...he won't call to talk to her and when I've called him - he mostly wants to talk to me about his life. I drove her 1.5 hours to see him around father's day and didn't hear from him until this week when he returned my call about a child support issue. When I asked if he wanted to speak to her he said no.

The house we live in -we've been here since April is in my name, in fact everything is in my name.

It's going on day 2 that he hasn't been home and hasn't called.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 8:23AM
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I think unless he is willing to do counseling, its over.

I would be concerned he neglected to tell you or lied about number of times married. He could say twice, but once was younger, rebound, anything to explain it, but he didnt.

He may be OK with older kids, not younger. As to shared custody, that means different things to different people. Could be shared legal custody and EOW. But it really doesnt matter. What I see is someone who doesnt want to be a SD now.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 8:46AM
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I wish you had eloborated from the start on what kind of man this is you are living with...tyrant comes to mind.
Your daughter is your first priority and protecting her from a harsh loud overly critical bully is first and foremost. I'm sorry if this offends you I really am, but the thought of a six year old child having to deal with this really bothers me. The thing is, at six, she has the wherewithal to know that she needs to protect herself from this guy. I'd make some necessary changes ASAP

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 8:58AM
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Sorry for raging in my last post demom...I think I'll go hang out in the menopause forum.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 9:07AM
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Cindy, I don't think you were raging at all. That was very good advice.

Demom, the additional information sends up a HUGE red flag to me. If he is a bully to your daughter in front of you, then there is no telling what he is doing when you are not around. And your daughter is a child, she is probably afraid that you won't believe her, and if you don't believe her she has to protect herself. Hence the lying about it not happening.

Its not territorial, its a reaction to a potentially violent situation (and bullies are not always physical, but it is still violent emotionally to their victim)

One of the classic signs of an abuser is rushing marriage and commitment. Please seek help asap and remove your daughter from this.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 9:16AM
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"One of the classic signs of an abuser is rushing marriage and commitment. Please seek help asap and remove your daughter from this."


    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 10:01AM
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I have nothing more to add (except thank goodness your assets are in your name).

These ladies said it all. Please listen to their advice.

*******"Your daughter is your first priority and protecting her from a harsh loud overly critical bully is first and foremost."********

*******"If he is a bully to your daughter in front of you, then there is no telling what he is doing when you are not around."*******

******"One of the classic signs of an abuser is rushing marriage and commitment. Please seek help asap and remove your daughter from this."********

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 10:08AM
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Its interesting how many stepmoms here at first assumed the problem was with 6year old. Lets all try to remember there are more than one side to a story.

As to OP, agree with above. She should consider herself lucky everything in her name and he moved out. She may still want counselor to help SD get though this, and going forward have open relationship with mom.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 10:24AM
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"Its interesting how many stepmoms here at first assumed the problem was with 6year old. Lets all try to remember there are more than one side to a story."

I don't think those assumptions had much to do with being a stepmom. I am a mother AND a stepmother and I was willing to give the SF the benefit of the doubt.

Thr OP did not provide us with ALL the information in her original post. I don't fault people for giving advice based on the FACTS they are GIVEN.

Only when OP gave us MORE information did people change their opinions.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 11:16AM
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Okay sorry kkny, I don't see where 'many stepmoms here at first assumed the problem was with 6 year old'. Only speaking for myself of course, my suggestion was counseling to help the child with the transition and the possibility that mom rushed into a relationship and the child feels, for lack of a better word, abandoned... if mom is more focused on her new husband.

The only thing said that might be construed as 'blaming' the child is saying she may be doing things to get attention, which many children do when a parent remarries. That's not an unusual response if the parent is not aware of their child's feelings and gets caught up in their relationship, etc.

I also agree that a lot of relevant information was left out of the original post. Has he left her? Or is he playing a game of "it's me or her"? Is he staying away because he has a real fear of being falsely accused of something or because he want out of the relationship or because he wants her to beg him back... if he wants her to beg him back, it's an abusive manipulation tactic that gives him more control/power because it makes her feel dependent on him. That's all speculation since we don't really know what kind of guy this is.

From the description of the father of the 6 year old, her judgment in choosing men is a problem (one I have also made so I'm trying not to be judgmental here). This guy does not sound much better by her own description and in light of that, I'd suggest to her... if he doesn't come back... to first be glad/relieved/happy. Then, maybe some counseling & soul searching to figure out why she chooses the wrong kind of guys and work on that. If she doesn't learn from mistakes, she's destined to repeat them and the only person that is innocent & suffering is her child.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 11:21AM
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Your first post said "my daughter has taken to acting scared of my husband". I interpreted that to mean she was ACTING scared, but wasn't -- that she was manipulating to get more attention. From your last post, it doesn't sound like she is ACTING, it sounds like she IS SCARED. And a big, loud, angry man - whether he hits or not - is scary to a young child. Rightfully so. Your daughter has the right to live without fear.

After reading your first post, I interpreted your husband's actions to mean he didn't want to upset or scare her any further, or to risk being accused of things he wasn't doing -- that he was trying to be a good father, but not sure how. Your second and third posts make it sound like he isn't committed to being a good father and has unrealistic expectations of what living in a family with a young child would be like. Young children require nurturing and tender care, not harsh discipline. They are inconvenient, time-consuming, demanding and expensive. It doesn't sound like this man wants to 'give' enough.

And concealing the number of previous marriages is a HUGE one with me!

Sorry - This guy sounds like a Big Mistake.
End it sooner, rather than later.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 12:06PM
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Agree wholeheartedly. I was responding at first as if this were typical child/SP drama rather than actual fear and dominance issues due to the information given by OP originally.

I don't think SM's here were jumping to SD's defense, but I think a lack of information made us all think it was more a kid issue (lying, "acting" scared, etc) than "an adult has issues" issue.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 12:44PM
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Thats right, OP kept giving more information, and one couldnt tell from the gitgo where the problem is. But I think it is one-sided to say things like, children lie, children want their life as it was. I think it is also true that adults arent perfect.

But at the end, I think OP will find the right path.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 12:59PM
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"But I think it is one-sided to say things like, children lie, children want their life as it was."

I think most people were listing those things as a POSSIBILITY of what was going on--not necessarily saying that was DEFINITELY the issue at hand.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 1:14PM
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But KK - Children do lie. They do want their lives to go on as they were. Not just StepKids, but BioKids too. And this OP was writing about her BioDaughter's actions, not her StepDaughter's. So less reason to suspect she was 'tilting' the story.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 1:14PM
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The OP's concern was about her DD lying, her prior lack of discipline, and her fear that her husband would be falsely accused, as well as feeling like he abandoned her. That's the information we got, and that's what we commented on. She didn't say she had concern because her DH has a harsh attitude and is intimidating and scary. She didn't say that she thought her daughter's behavior was normal and her husband's wasn't. She didn't say that he had lied about how many times he was married, ETC ETC ETC.

I think it's silly to accuse people of being one sided when we only got one side of the story, which portrayed this as an issue with a six year old not taking her mother's marriage well instead of mommy marrying a scary liar.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 2:22PM
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From her first posting

"The other night when my husband came home from work - she ran knocking over her spaghetti on the carpet "

This to me show signs of fear, not acting.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 4:10PM
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Thanks again to all the thoughts, advice, warnings, and sharing...I've thought that my husband is emotionally abusive for a while but end up steering away from it chalking it up to me being overly sensitive. I held back some of the info in my first post because I was honestly afraid that I was demonizing him. It's easy to list all the flaws when you are in crisis mode - I'm really hurt and most concerned with my daughter being ok - but I want to try and be logical and as objective as possible, so I don't continue to make bad decisions.

When I connect the dots of our relationship - I get the same picture that most of you see. But he doesn't see it - all he sees is that he's being victimized. And I've tried to talk to him about his behavior -that abuse isn't always physical- he doesn't see it and I end up feeling silly for feeling so hurt by the things he says and does.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 5:35PM
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Demom, you can't logic with an abuser. There is nothing wrong with their behavior, they are right you are wrong.

They will convince you that you are overly sensitive, not thinking clearly, and convince YOU that THEY are the victim. Which is what I think he is doing by leaving, he is trying to portray that you and your DD are not sensitive enough to him.

Can you talk to his sister? Friends of his? They might be able to shed more light on his past, but I think you already have an idea.

I think you're on the right track. There are domestic violence message boards on the net. I wish you luck.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 5:56PM
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"I've thought that my husband is emotionally abusive for a while"

Demom, do you know how hard it is to even let this thought into our minds? I suspect you do. You probably pushed it away countless times before even allowing yourself to give voice to the question. And honestly, having been in an emotionally abusive marriage, I've come to the conclusion that if you have to ask, deep down, you already know the answer. Wondering if your husband is emotionally abusive is just NOT something you do in a healthy marriage to a decent man!

"but [I] end up steering away from it chalking it up to me being overly sensitive."

That's how they make you feel. An abusive man always makes it your fault, whatever the type of abuse. And there's usually just enough truth in it to make it plausible. ex: He wouldn't have hit you except you made him so mad. You did make him mad, right? He wouldn't have left except you hurt his feelings. His feelings were hurt, weren't they? And he's the only one who can say who did it - you. He's sensitive in a good way; you're sensitive in an irrational way. See the differnece? (Him. You.)

The wives of Good Men don't feel this way. They don't ever wonder if their husbands are abusive and they don't wonder if they're crazy and they don't walk on eggshells.

I'm very sorry for the mess you're in, but urge you to get yourself out of the mess and stay out. Apologize to your daughter for bringing that man into your lives and fix the mistake. Show her your strength and determination and put this mess behind you.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 7:37PM
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Sweeby x 100.

Get out NOW. Everything you mentioned are the hallmarks of an abuser. EVERYTHING. Do a Google search on "verbal abuse" "emotional abuse" and "domestic abuse". Go to the Patricia Evans website. Read, read, read. STOP rationalizing and letting him convince you that you and your daughter are the problem.

Find the phone numbers of his THREE ex wives. (Please note: THREE women went through the hell of divorce to get away from this guy. There is a reason, and you are currently seeing only the tip of the iceberg that will demolish you and your daughter if you stay. ) Ask these women why they split. Be perfectly honest of your situation and fears, and listen to what they have to say.

My ex is working on marriage #3. I hope that some day, sooner than later, she has the courage to call me. I would welcome to her move in with me if it meant sparing someone the pain that I went through.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 9:24PM
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No one is arguing with you that there is something going on with the daughter and that the husband seems abusive. But that has nothing to do with what we are talking about.

I simply disagree with you that the step-mothers were being one sided. I personally posted that it seemed a little strange, as did the majority of women BEFORE we heard all the weird stuff.

And, by the way, children knock down bowls of spagetti all the time. That in itself does not scream abuse. It is a warning sign, but added to the discipline issues could go in an entirely different direction.

Why are you so intent to fling mud at step moms? I'm a mom and a SM and this is the OP's daughter, not her stepdaughter. I think your logic is flawed.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 9:54PM
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Oh what an awful and sad situation! Agree with the others, cut your losses, end it and get your little girl and yourself some counseling. You need it too so next time you meet a guy like this you listen to your gut and recognize those red flags *before* you get into a relationship with them.

You are her protector, the one person in her life she feels she can run too. If you don't keep her safe who will?
What will happen to her if she grows up watching her mommy being abused like that? Your husband will only escalate his behaviors.

Don't beat yourself up over it, just do what needs to be done, take care of your daughter and yourself. Please be extra careful and safe, abusers tend to step it up when they sense their victim is leaving/done with the relationship.

And please keep us posted on how you are doing, I think we would all like to know you are keeping safe.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 10:15PM
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Demom: Has he contacted you about coming back home? Or hinted about returning?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 1:53PM
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of all the people here... one person I almost never hear say get out is sweeby ... she always has some very sound very helpful advice to help someone along the way...She stays out of the back and forth nonsense and offers wisdom time and time again... so if she is saying to get out... I have to think you need to get out!!!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 11:55PM
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Exactly. Sweeby had lived with a tyrannical man as well and if she says it's time to go, it's time.
Please, take this advise. Protect yourself and your daughter. Teach her the importance of trusting in yourself and your instincts. Show her how to stand up for herself.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 1:02AM
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Thanks again for the insight and support...I started doing some research on emotional abuse. While I am sure that my husband's behavior is abusive, I am not 100% confident that it's intentional...a lot of how he communicates and handles things is from how he was raised by his grandparents -they would yell and argue one day and be fine the next; kids spoke when spoken too - that kind of thing. He acknowledges that I shouldn't feel like I can't talk to him, and that he's been wrong for not listening, etc (he's acknowledged this a while ago)...and at the same time he just doesn't get it about emotional abuse or about the time and support needed for my daughter - he really believes as a kid that she should just snap out of it. He really believes that she is out to get him.

And I'm torn too because I have seen my daughter in action...about a month ago I was sick and she asked if we could carve a small pumpkin we had gotten at a festival the week before. I told her not right now and later invited her to watch a movie with me. When my husband came home from his son's football game - soaking wet, he came into our room to get a change of clothes. My daughter jumped out the bed and wanted to go back in her room. I told her to sit back down. My DH started to do the laundry. When he went to return my daughter's laundry basket to her room - (she was in our bedroom with me)- he saw the handle of a knife sticking out from under her pillow...

Lo and behold the little pumpkin was there too with some attempted carvings...for five minutes my daughter denied that it was her, she was crying and screaming at me that she didn't do it- all before she finally said she did it. This is the behavior that has my husband scared -he's coached and mentored kids for over 8 years where he grew up - he's afraid of being labeled and losing the ability to coach.

My husband did come back - we've been in separate rooms. He's still not feeling so well - high blood pressure (150 over 100, even with his medication. We were supposed to go to our regular counseling session on together on Tuesday - I've opted to go by myself this time. I re-engaged with my daughter's counselor this past Friday. She's concerned about the lying - my daughter said that it felt good to lie until she got caught - but we are not even sure if my daughter meant that or was just saying what we wanted to hear.

This whole thing is messy and I suspect it will be for a while.

Are there any men on this forum who can share some insight from my husband's perspective.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 9:50AM
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There are so many inconsistencies here -- I wish you would think harder. You say your DH coaches, etc, but somehow cant deal with your daughter. Maybe he wants you to himself -- I dont know. But your daughter is a child -- you owe her care. You seem to put your DH, and your concern about her lying way in front of any concern about her emotional abuse, even if unintentional.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 10:30AM
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Whether his abusive behavior is intentional or not, it IS abuse. YOU are subjecting your child to ABUSE. That makes you a poor parent. The reason your husband behaves this way is because "from how he was raised by his grandparents -they would yell and argue one day and be fine the next; kids spoke when spoken too" is not an excuse. His grandparents may have done the best they could and they or he may not have considered it abuse, it was just the way it was. Irregardless, he has grown up to repeat the abusive behavior and thought processes if he truly believes she should 'snap out of it'. Subjecting your daughter to his behavior, how can you be surprised when she starts acting out? She's learning how to be, from you and him.

I'm sorry but it sounds too much like you are sugar coating things but you know all the truths. We don't. We can give an opinion based on the info you give us, but at the end of the day, it's your daughter's life that is at stake. She is acting out, either from being exposed to your abusive husband or possibly other things that she's been through in her six years. She is your responsibility and she needs to be your priority. Your husband should be in some very intensive counseling and dealing with his own issues. It's nice that he coaches and mentors but he needs to deal with is own demons first. I'd be concerned about a guy that can't handle one kid, being a mentor to others.

As for seeing your daughter in action. How the hell did she get a knife? Who wasn't supervising her? All I can say is i hope it wasn't a sharp knife and if she is able to get the sharp knives, they should be put somewhere she can't reach them. That is scary. I hope you aren't using the pumpkin incident as an example of your daughter's out of control lying. That is a problem but it's not an unusual lie for a child her age. She broke a rule and feared getting in trouble, that's normal. If she had made up a lie to get someone else in trouble, if she were lying about everything or her lies were unusual, I'd be more concerned about the lying.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 11:02AM
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How does he interact with the children he has been coaching for 8 years??

Is he two different people?

If he can change his ways to deal with other people's children he can change his ways to deal with a child he lives with.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 11:12AM
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"I started doing some research on emotional abuse. While I am sure that my husband's behavior is abusive, I am not 100% confident that it's intentional."

That makes sense. So he's not deliberately trying to hurt you - he's just repeating patterns from his past. That makes perfect sense, and you're probably right about that. His own upbringing is undoubtedly why he behaves the way he does, and he's relating to your daughter the only way he knows how -- how he was raised.

But Demom, just because there's a reason for his behavior doesn't make the behavior OK. There's always a reason for every behavior! Thieves steal because they want the money more than they fear the consequences. There's something in their backgrounds that makes them believe it's OK if you don't get caught, or that it's justifiable if you 'need' the item or that they were dealt an unfair hand and were only evening things out - or some other 'reason'. But they're still stealing, and it's still wrong. Having a reason doesn't make it OK.

So now you understand the reason. Does that make your daughter feel any less scared? Does his behavior no longer hurt you? Your daughter?

Mt first husband, the emotionally abusive one, had reasons for his behavior too. His mother died when he was young, leaving him with a father who was emotionally distant and demanding. They were poor living in a rich neighborhood, and a minority to boot, which left him feeling inferior on many levels. He had to run the family's finances as a child because his father barely spoke English. No wonder he was a control freak! He was trying desparately to hold everything together. So there were some very good reasons for his behavior. And none of them were 'his fault'. And that rationale kept me in that marriage for 10 years. I was understanding, helpful, tolerant, forgiving and ultimately, beaten so far down into the ground emotionally that I spent my life walking on eggshells and lost all joy and confidence. I didn't even know how miserable I was until I got free!

Why did I finally leave? I saw what his behavior was doing to our young son. I finally realized what my son was seeing every day, and what he would learn to consider 'normal'. I had a moment of horrifying clarity during which I realized that my darling little boy would grow up to identify with either his mother, the down-trodden, or his father, the abuser. Which did I want him to become? Did I want him to be the harsh, contemptous critic I had come to dread? Or the doormat I had lost all respect for?

So I got my butt into counseling, and that wise woman helped me realize that for me, it didn't matter why he was abusive -- it was the simple fact of the abuse that did the damage. That understanding the WHY of it might help HIM change his behavior - if he wanted to and was capable of it - but that it did NOTHING for me or for my child. And that for me, understanding had insidiously morphed into excusing the behavior, and that I had a problem that needed solving. I knew the way he was. I knew how he behaved. I knew why. (So what!? Irrelevent!) And by staying, I was allowing him to continue.

Demom, DON'T make the same mistake I did - of excusing the behavior and rationalizing it because you understand its roots and sympathize with his pain. Your understanding doesn't help the behavior change! It enables the abuse to continue!

If HE can see the root causes of his behavior and wants to work to understand them and change, then that's great -- let him get himself into counseling and start to really work at it. When and if he shows signs of real, meaningful progress, maybe you could consider giving him another chance.

But don't enable him to continue as is or with empty promises of 'trying harder'.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 11:16AM
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    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 12:12PM
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    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 11:03AM
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i totally disagree with those who say that nromally 6-year-olds lie. no they don't. i have met plenty of 6-year-olds, in my family and outside the family, normally children that young do not lie. it is not normal for 6-year-olds to lie, there is not enough in their lives to lie about. what is there to lie about... unless....there are scared of adults. this kid is scared. of your DH. whatever the reasons, you should stay by your kid not this man, who is nobody to you. she is your child.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 12:43PM
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FD, yes, they do. I disagree. My DD is scared to tell the truth sometimes. Because she is afraid of getting in trouble. And no, I don't abuse her.

I explain that lying will get her more in trouble than telling the truth.

She also lies when she thinks she can get away with something...

Did you wash your hands? Yes. (lie, wants to see if she can get away with it. Punishment? Ohhhhh she has to go wash her hands... explaination of why we wash hands)

To say she's scared of adults because of that kind of lie is not logical. Kids test the waters. That's all my DD is doing.

Most experts agree that lying is a natural, normal, even important part of brain and social development.

Here is a link that might be useful: The truth about lying

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 1:21PM
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I have to be honest and say that I am scared for you and your little girl. I would be worried that soon enough he will snap and lose it on one of you (physically). It is your life, do as you wish, but do not forget that you are a mom first and are responsible for the people you bring into your daughter's life. You said you feel that he is not trying to be abusive, but does it really matter? I mean maybe if you did not already have a child you could work through some of the issues that he has, but given the fact that you have a little one, who seems to be emotionally distressed, do you really want to take the time to help him overcome his issues? The fact that he concealed a marriage, to me, is very odd if not disturbing. It is a very good thing that everything is in your name. Take your life with your daughter back and kick his a@@ to the curb and change your locks!! Good luck and please listen to those around you and your instincts. If it walks like a duck......

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 4:08PM
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of course kids sometimes lie, but I don't consider regualr lies normal at this age. I really don't. occasional lie maybe, but on a regular basis? no, not normal.

there is not enough in their lives to hide. grades? no. went out late? no. went to the movies wiht a boy mom does not approve? no. spent lunch money on something else? no. what to lie about?

now like you said yourself unless they are afraid to get in trouble for something minor. at this age they can only have minor issues. i cannot think of what kind of trouble they can get at 6.

this little girl is scared. little children should not be scared. that's my opinion. lying might be important but at this age constant lying is not normal.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 5:57PM
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The child being scared is so so so more important than the lying. OP get your priorities straight. Tell this guy to move out, deal with this problems, and you might reconsider him if he learns how to deal with children.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 8:58PM
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yep - what KK said. Lying is a natural part of growing up. Being scared of mom's husband is not.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 10:06PM
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Agreeing with KKNY and JustnotMartha --

The lying is small potatoes.
The 'living scared' is big stuff.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 11:22AM
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We are separating and filing for divorce.

Sad I wasted so much time and energy in this brief marriage and relationship. Sadder that I opened the door for my daughter to be exposed to him. It's pathetic that he refuses to be responsible for any of this - he text me yesterday to say that what hurts him the most is that he has to start his life all over again because of a six year old.

he's agreed to leave the house and won't request anything, to take everything he's come in with, and to sign to all of this in a separation agreement, and that he will not contest the divorce.

I am so angry right now that I am numb. My daughter and I will continue counseling and I've joined a divorce support group.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 12:04PM
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Demom, I'm happy and sad for you. Happy you have made a decision, one that seems to be the best solution, and sad that you and your daughter now have to pick up the pieces.

This has not been a waste of time. What a valuable lesson in such a short amount of time!! You really are lucky to have such clarity in your life. I envy that ability.

Best wishes to you and your daughter. Take care, and please keep us updated.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 12:09PM
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That's probably good news, Demom, but I know you're hurting and I'm sorry for your pain.

But you are doing the right thing, and while your daughter may be too young to understand it now, someday she will really respect you for it.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 1:14PM
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Demon, I am sad for you and your daughter, but you have done the right thing. As to him saying he is sorry he has to start his life all over -- what a pity party response -- you were married less than one year and had no children togethor.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 1:33PM
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Demom . . . I'm proud of you. You've taken a huge step in securing happiness for your child, and yourself.

As for Mr. Poor Me - blow off the attempted guilt trip. You can see him now for what he is. Good riddance.

Please, keep us posted. We're all here if you need us.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 2:26AM
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Based on what you've said here, I think you've made the right decision. It concerns me that his reaction is to blame the child and focus on how it affects 'him'. Classic abuser behavior. I'm even a little concerned that his reaction will change from cooperative to hostile when he realizes that tactic won't work. If I were you, I'd set up a strong support system. I have a feeling you are going to need it.

I also agree with silver, it's not a waste of time to learn such a valuable lesson. When I left my ex at 29, I spent years feeling sorry for myself because I wasted my 20's in a crappy situation. But, the worse part wasn't the time I wasted, it was that my kids were in that crappy situation for 7 years and you can thank your lucky stars you figured it out in less than a year. Your daughter is young and you can spend some time in counseling and might even think about working on your parenting skills too. Before, you said you were lax in discipline, so now might be a good time to shift your focus on improving things in your life. When I was a single parent, I was also too lax and inconsistent. It's so easy to parent out of guilt too. My kids were pre-teens when I began to force myself to be consistent and push the guilt to the back of my head and it's been tough. I still struggle with guilt because they know how to make me feel guilty.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 9:27AM
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Silver was absolutely right about it NOT being a waste of time.
That is, if you truly LEARN from this experience and don't make the same mistake again.

I spent 10 years(!) in my own first marriage trying to make it work. And while the 'wasted time' thought certainly occured to me, if I'm being truthful, it genuinely took me that long to figure it out and get to the point where I'd truly appreciate the wonderful man I have now. That unhappy first marriage was really the whole reason I'm so happy in my second -- 14 years and still honeymooning.

So remember, the time was only wasted if you forget what you learned.
If you use it to better your life, it will have been the best (though hardest) investment you could have made.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 9:52AM
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Nothing is a waste if you've come out learning a life experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
You did the right thing.
Take care of yourself andyour daughter.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 5:24AM
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