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Major problem with stepdaughter

Posted by mami08 (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 12, 09 at 19:10

I have an 11 year old SD as well as a 6 year old SS. My husband and I have been married for 5 years and have a 1 year old son. The problems started about 1 year before my son was born. She is a manipulative liar, she is extremely mean to her younger brother (my SS, she hasn't gotten the courage to be mean to my son yet), she consistenly airs out my husband and my dirty laundry to her mother and grandmother, 95% of which are lies. My husband is working with me 100% on this but we are at our wits end. She has had DCFS called on us twice (both cases unfounded, my lawyer told me one more call and I have grounds for harrassment against her mom who coaches her to lie) and she continues to lie to her mother about things that do not go on in our home. I am fearful that she will harm my son out of jealousy, I am also fearful that her accusations will escalate into more vicious lies. She has stated that she wants everyone else out of the picture so that it is just her and her dad. My husband only sees his kids once a week and of course doesn't want to spend the whole time yelling at his daughter, but her lies and manipulation are out of control, we are walking on glass, what am I supposed to do????


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Major problem with stepdaughter

May be somewhat harsh but perhaps if she lies and manipulates to be with her Dad, not rewarding the behaviour will retrain her to stop. You could try not allowing a visit when she lies and tell her the reason, "It is not a good visit for Dad if he has to keep yelling at you the whole time. If you're going to tell your mother lies about what goes on here on your visits and be mean to your brother, then you don't get to visit". Miss one visit then tell her that if she misbehaves again she'll miss another visit. Keep it up until you have modified the behaviour.
Sounds harsh but as long as she keeps getting the payoff she wants her behaviour will not change. And if Dad is not enjoying the visits and SS is suffering, what's the point of continuing with the visits?


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RE: Major problem with stepdaughter

"Sounds harsh but as long as she keeps getting the payoff she wants her behaviour will not change. And if Dad is not enjoying the visits and SS is suffering, what's the point of continuing with the visits?"

Wow, that DOES sound harsh! And really, just a way of deferring the facing of issues indefinitely... what can really be gained from that kind of avoidance?

Before any 11 year olds just get kicked to the curb, has any counseling and/or parenting classes or books been tried?

The girl is showing very unhealthy ways of coping with a known stressor... and while that doesn't EXCUSE her destructive behavior, it does point to the need for her to learn more appropriate ways to channel her feelings as well as for the adults in her life to learn effective ways of reinforcing what is and what isn't acceptable behavior. I agree that taking away certain of SD's privileges will most likely be necessary to modify her behavior... but I don't agree that it's appropriate or beneficial to have the visitation with her father be the thing taken away. And again, it won't help anyone learn how to handle the situation within the actual situation, that is, when she is present.

It doesn't make you (or her) horrible because professional help is needed. Stepfamilies are one of those situations in which even the best people often need guidance from professionals. It doesn't mean you've failed, or that anyone or anything is beyond hope.


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RE: Major problem with stepdaughter

thank u both for the suggestions, but unfortunately we've been down both roads. SD mother has completely refused counseling (she has legal custody Sunday thru Friday) so without her permission, it won't happen (and get this, she is a master level social worker, yet she can't see the extreme need for intervention). Professional help is absolutely needed, but until she agrees to allow the kids to participate, it's a dead subject.

We toyed with the notion of suspending SD visits until her attitude changed, but when my hubby told his ex about the idea, she told him that if SD didn't come for a visit, she wouldn't allow SS to come either. There lies our dillemma. The strangest part is that his ex is aware of how badly SD treats SS (both her kids) and she said "it's none of my concern what the kids do when they are at your house", that was appalling to me.

I am absolutely not going to spend another dime of our money on legal fees to fight this monster, that crap ended long ago. I guess we will just keep trouble shooting. I am truly lucky to have my husband working with me instead of against me on this issue, luckily he is not blinded by his daughter's manipulation...he and I are in this for the same cause, to have a happy strong family despite the fact that it's blended.


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RE: Major problem with stepdaughter

No promises that it will work 100%, but another thing you could try is something along the lines of what cops are trained to do in disarming hostage-takers, etc. They do a series of things to basically calm the hostile party down, defuse the situationand prevent it from escalating. It doesn't always work, but soemtimes it does. And if it can work on some grown violent men with worldly experience, it surely seems possible that it can work on this little girl.
What that often comes down to is asking the person what their goals are with all the crap they're pulling. This is often a major first step b/c a lot of times being listened to is a major part of what they wanted in the first place, and the lack of which has driven them to the extreme behavior in the first place. Or at the very least, it's often a chance to reality-check their goals out loud to soemone to realize how unrealistic the goals are, or at least how faulty their methods are for achieving those goals. Then it's a back-and-forth negotiation to see if there's any reasonable way the party can get any of their goals met with minimum damage to others. i.e. "No, you can't have 10 million dollars, but we won't shoot you if you let the hostages go." Or in your case: "No, we can't just send SM to pasture, but we can figure out ways for us all to get along and be happy and get special time, etc. without you usng your little dial fingers to call DFCS."

Along these lines, I have found that people who resort to extreme negative behavior based on a sense of competition ---whether it's members of a stepfamily, or women in the office--- do so mainly for one or both of two reasons:

1. They believe that the party they are hostile to has the power to take away someone or something important to them, and that this is a real and present risk. (In the workplace: a coveted promotion or raise; in the stepfamily: relationship with the bio-parent/new spouse in common.)

2. They believe that their hostile action has the power to prevent the dreaded loss from occuring.

If the hostile party (or parties) can be convinced that neither is true or possible, the negative behavior will usually cease. Because there will be seen to be no payoff from it, nor any need for it in the first place. This is why a punishment wherein SD is denied a relationship with her father would backfire big time: because it proves #1 to be actually true, thus upping the ante and making #2 more of a tempting and likely possibility. The goal is to make it crystal-clear that there is nothing SD risks losing by having SM in the picture, that SM is not a hostile party, and that there is nothing SD has to gain from being a hostile party herself.

The more insight can be gleaned about what SD's goals are, the better. because stepfamilies are very complex, especially for the children in the middle of them, it's likely more than one goal, or even conflicted goals. Obviously she wants more attention from Dad, but she may also want approval from Mom (especially if Mom is in any way encouraging or rewarding her when she does the negative behaviors). She may also be testing the stepfamily situation out to see how stable it is, and comparing which of her two households wants her most. She may be feeling a profound sense of having no control over anything in her life, or being outnumbered, so she seeks to feel in control over her brother's feelings and by calling DFCS. In this case, she needs activities which are healthy little "domains" for her to feel some control over. She may simply be bored and in need of other outlets for her imagination and energy.

Any and all of these things are strong possibilites... the more you know what they are, the more discussions you have with her, the more constructive things she's given to do with her energy and the more the positive things are rewarded and the negative things are discouraged, the better are the chances of getting her to give up the negative behaviors.


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RE: Major problem with stepdaughter

so the solution is to ban misbehaving children from visits and not let them to the house until they behave? what about custodial parents, should we just kick our children out when they don't behave, or is it only allowed for noncustodial parents? unbelivable......then they are surprised stepkids never want to visit when they grow up...


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huh?

so the solution is to ban misbehaving children from visits and not let them to the house until they behave? what about custodial parents, should we just kick our children out when they don't behave, or is it only allowed for noncustodial parents? unbelivable......then they are surprised stepkids never want to visit when they grow up...


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RE: Major problem with stepdaughter

"She has stated that she wants everyone else out of the picture so that it is just her and her dad."

A motivated 11-year-old doesn't have to be coached to do the kinds of things you describe, & she's told you why she's doing it.

Dad has to handle this, & it's pretty simple;

Her machinations need to backfire on her.

Every time she tries to cut him from the herd, she needs to see that it drives him closer to you & your kids & her brother, & that it drives him *away* from her.

I wish you the best.


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RE: Major problem with stepdaughter

Serenity said - "If the hostile party (or parties) can be convinced that neither is true or possible, the negative behavior will usually cease. Because there will be seen to be no payoff from it, nor any need for it in the first place. This is why a punishment wherein SD is denied a relationship with her father would backfire big time: because it proves #1 to be actually true, thus upping the ante and making #2 more of a tempting and likely possibility. The goal is to make it crystal-clear that there is nothing SD risks losing by having SM in the picture, that SM is not a hostile party, and that there is nothing SD has to gain from being a hostile party herself."

I couldn't agree more! Good post, Serenity! And very insiteful! It never occurred to me to go this route with this post, although I would never have agreed to stop visits for any reason.

I did this with SD when she was about 8. BM had told her she wished DH and her had never gotten divorced. This caused SD to try to break us up because in her 8 year old mind I was the only thing standing in the way of her parents getting back together (even though BM was remarried and very pregnant at the time). I had a talk with her one day in her room and told her that I loved her father and that nothing she or DS did would break us up. I told her that her father loved me, too, and her and wants to spend time with both of us together. She got it and stopped trying to break us up.


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RE: Major problem with stepdaughter

mami08, try living with that 24/7. I feel for you. Professional help is no guarentee either. But, definitely keep documenting things. that is always your proof. Stick with natural consequences, they seem to have the best impact. Good luck..


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