Does it ever get easier?

music_teacherDecember 28, 2010

Everything about this situation seems impossible lately. My 10 yr old SD is with us full time now because her bm is having a difficult time dealing with a mental illness. The girl is very rude and quite spoiled. There are no consequences consistently followed through, no responsibility of any kind, and tears get her basically whatever she wants. My husband and I have been arguing quite a bit lately as the behaviour is getting out of control. She even called an aunt and told her the clothes her aunt gave her for Christmas were "hideous and she better have kept the receipt." My husband works shift work and there is a lot of time where I am on my own with her during the day or at night. He told her that if there are any problems, I will call him to find out what to do, basically taking away any credibility I might have. I'm almost at the point where I regret marrying him. This behaviour and the lack of dealing with it was not apparent until after we got married.

Is there any chance of this changing? Or am I basically in for 10 more years of this?

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Hello, music teacher! It seems that there is a lot of this going around - custodial Dads that dump a large portion of raising of their (ill-behaved) kids onto SM's, but try to curtail the SM's authority.

The good news is that, yes, there is a chance of it changing, but you've got to get DH on board. My suggestion is family counseling if you can, but if not, then try the DIY approach.

First make a list of a few behaviors of SD that drive you stark raving mad; maybe lying, not cleaning up after herself, whatever, and try to tackle those first. Sit down with DH sometime when you are both feeling fairly calm (not after a blow-up with SD; DH will be feeling defensive and will want to take "her side").

Then have The Conversation - the one where you explain that you have no intention on being a long-term unpaid babysitter with no authority, and if that is DH's goal that you will opt out and he can make alternative child care arrangements. If DH does not trust you to enforce agreed-upon rules than he has no business trusting you to watch his child at all. (Perhaps a bit more tactful phrasing would be helpful - perhaps not!)

Then try to work on some agreed-upon rules and penalties or consequences. It was much easier for DH to deal in the abstract, ahead of time, and agree that lying is wrong, for example, then at the actual moment of truth - he tended to wimp out and start making excuses for SS.

Now you've got some back-up, so to speak, and can gently remind DH that whatever consequences are being enforced are something that he agreed to. What you want is for DH to realize that you are only enforcing rules that he decided on, and thus breaking them is a violation of his authority.

Start small. If a few rules are consistently enforced and SD's behavior starts to improve at all, it will be much easier to work on additional changes at that time.

Remember that if DH is used to a mentally ill ex, one of his concerns may well be random, arbitrary "rules" from the ex. That's why it's so important that he decide on rules and consequences; and you are just enforcing them when he is not home to do so.

Also, I have found that DH was more likely to listen when I calmly explained why I was concerned about how certain behaviors would affect SS's future. To me it seems pretty obvious that (deliberate) lying, for example, is a very poor habit to form - but DH sometimes seemed to think that he'd just "grow out of" bad behaviors (like magic!) The thing with the presents from the aunt is a great example; that sort of behavior will undeniably adversely affect her (God know that'd be the last present I would be buying for her!)

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 9:45AM
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no, I don't think it gets any easier.

when kids are spoiled they will only get worse as they grow up. They don't get better, so your life will get harder. Your Sd is 10 and complains about bad gifts, my Sd is 29 and does the same. No, not getting better

also hoping they grow up and move out is not necessarily the case... they might not. SD 22 moved out this summer but already announced she wants to live with us attending medical school (didn't get in yet) because it is easier and cheaper, so she might be moving back in next year. So i am possibly in for like 8 years. LOL Unless as she moves in I move out. LOL

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 9:54AM
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I agree with Parent of One. Ask your DH what he would do with SD if he was a single parent. Then tell him to put that plan into action because if he doesn't want to act like the two of you are a team, then there's no reason for you to put yourself out to be taken advantage of.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 8:18PM
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Ask him to hire a babysitter since he only gives you as much authority as a babysitter... an unpaid one at that!

Personally, I would tell her that when daddy is at work, I'm the boss! PERIOD. If dad has a problem with it, he can stay home with her. (well, I would tell daddy that first & let him decide) but you have to have some authority if you are going to be the primary caregiver. Do not be their slave/doormat.

I agree with making a list and I always give my DH examples of situations that have nothing to do with the child, but examples of the unacceptable behavior... that way, he can agree the behavior is wrong & not feel like the child is being picked on or attacked.

and someone needs to tell that child (either the aunt or the dad would be better than you) that what she said about the gift was unacceptable. If my niece called to tell me that, I'd tell her "yeah I have the receipt" and proceed to use it to return the item & buy myself something I want. If nobody teaches that child enough tact when someone gives them a gift, it would be the last gift I ever give her. (as an aunt, there is no obligation to give a gift!)

    Bookmark   December 30, 2010 at 9:35PM
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