How to get dh to finally parent dsd (17)?(14 Posts)
I've asked for advice here on and off for about a year and always appreciate the feedback.
A bit of background, been together 5 yrs, married 4. Not OW, not even close! Have ds, dsd and dss, all teenagers now.
I was never happy with dcs manners, basically they'd act far superior to everyone around them (including grandparents) and to this day have problems saying please and thank you.
Fortunately dss, perhaps because he was still relatively young, has adapted to our lifestyle pretty well (all I ask for is respecting others, no matter if its me or the milkman) and lives with us 50:50 now. I won't lie and say I'd love to have him full time, its been quite stressful so far and things are fine
as good as they'll ever get and on an even keel.
Dsd, recently turned 17 and the oldest of our three, has tried very hard over the years to get rid of me. Her behaviour has been rude, entitled, veering from koala bear attachment to dad to tantrums and lies, trying to show dad that he must pick her over me and nothing short of leaving me will satisfy her.
Thankfully our couple counseling has shown dh that he must treat his dd as a child and not substitute partner (as both he and ex had done before and after divorce) and any small gesture of his had immediate positive results (dd seemed much happier and secure when he consciously parented her).
Unfortunately, either the actual work of parenting is too much for dh and his dd picks up on this, or her mum is still being poisonous despite having a new partner for some years now, or dsd simply won't accept her role as dd and not mini wife. As our partnership is stronger now she rarely visits, doesn't answer calls and when she does is exceptionally rude to dh.
She has always enjoyed a lot of freedom so it's not her "being a teenager".
I actually get on well with her when she's not in a mood, better than dh does. But she can't use emotional blackmail on me...
How can dh communicate best with her to signal fatherly commitment? He has never pulled her up on rudeness to me or anyone else, and although he's brought this upon himself I feel sorry for him, see him as ineffectual and would like to help.
Are you still having counselling? Could you go back if not?
I'd suggest talking about it there. I feel sorry for him somehow, maybe he fears if he challenges her, she'll leave him completely.
Sounds like a monster was created somewhere along the line by the partnerfication of this girl. I do think he needs to ignore all bad behaviour, only react to good, but challenge her on verbal disrespect.
Even if he can't actually say much past 'don't speak to me like that', he can calmly say 'if you insist on being rude/speaking to me like that, I will have to hang up and continue to do so until you speak to me as you know you should'
I'd also suggest that you tell her she has no right to be rude to you or anyone in your circle. You've got that right.
No-one should put up with rudeness from anyone, for any reason tbh.
She has always enjoyed a lot of freedom so it's not her "being a teenager".
Well it is, actually. It's her being a teenager combined with the complication of parents separating and the long reaching implications of that combined again with the fact that neither parent has set proper boundaries.
I'd agree with a return to couples counselling or even family counselling would be worth a shot - she's got something to say, she's entitled to say it.
I'd also agree that you need to set boundaries for yourself if she's being rude to you. That isn't DH's job.
I think you need to leave him to it. He has to want to parent her and put the effort in. It's hard especially if you feel you're already very close to losing your child if they're rude and don't engage with you.
I do think its dp job to expect her to be polite to you. He should pull her on it. As he doesn't, it's up to you.
Ultimately though if he's not parenting her and not communicating with you then he may well find you refuse to have anything to do with her when she's an adult.
Could you say that to him? Is he prepared for that to happen?
I agree with hen. It's not your job to provide parenting instructions for him, rather to support him. He does sound ineffectual and I know because I could have written your post myself.
But he isn't going to have a personality transplant... Some people just don't ever "get" parenting. I think a lot of these guys didn't stand a chance of being a good dad because of the way their ex's dominated and society has taught us that "mother knows best"
The partnerfication is very odd isn't it.. I always remember Dh's ex telling me "ooh you'll love valentines day with MrPurplebear, he always made such a fuss of me and dd. He'd get us both a card and take us for dinner "
Wtf?? Like having a wife and a mini little wife. Dsd was most put out when DH took just me for dinner on valentines day.
Thank you all so much for your responses. You are all right.
I should leave dh to do the parenting, even if he's not a natural and yes, the mum is a very domineering person in general, so he never really learned to try anything on his own.
I don't say anything to dsd when she's rude or aggressive. She likes to copy her mums dominating ways, so for me personally it's best to detach immediately and just let the silence speak for itself. She's not a psycho so the sudden awkwardness does affect her. As she's only ever rude for an audience the collective silence is actually quite effective at times...
We are still in counseling, and although I had thought it best to just drop the matter and move on, maybe its worth mentioning again that she's still a teenager and needs dh guidance. I do detect dh getting a bit annoyed with me when I broach the subject, however, and feel he wants me to ignore her behaviour and yet have all the answers! Probably best to ask professional advice on this one, as I'm not responsible for her, dh is.
Thanks again, you have all highlighted aspects I'm aware of but unsure how to act on.
I think you should say something to her if she's rude. As you would anyone else.
perhaps you ought to consider a few sessions of counselling on your own to discuss your thoughts and feelings about this and to try to bolster your self confidence a bit.
MN is great for sounding out stuff eh? hope you feel a bit better than you did!
Thanks, Hissy, I do.
The funny thing is, I'm a teacher to teens and am pretty good at disciplining them when needed. I suppose I don't want to be faced with the same deal at home. And I know that dh would never, ever back me up -- he'd just as soon hide in the toilet-- and she's only ever rude in front of him/ to him.
I'm very proud of ds, I've always taught him to be polite to everybody and get positive feedback from his teachers, neighbours etc. but I've spent years doing that.
Dh can now see the difference and is big enough to acknowledge my bigger parental input. Hopefully he will be motivated one day to implement some rules himself.
She is being a teenager though, the rude behaviour is one thing but not visiting, not phoning, that's typical for 17 really. It's not "as your partnership is stronger now", it's as she's 17 now. You need to separate out the behaviour due to bad parenting and a divorce and due to being a teenager. You also need to separate out treating her as the child of your husband (and your stepchild) and treating her as a child. Has this been confused? Has it been more like, "she's not your wife she's your little girl" instead of "she's not your wife she's your daughter"? In a year she'll fully be an adult but you're dismissing that and saying it's not to do with her age. I know you're a teacher but it's not the same.
The main problem is your husband's weak personality - allowing himself to be dominated by absolutely anyone - but I think you know that. If he won't engage with the counselling I don't think there's much you can do there.
You see it quite correctly rinabean. Dh is weak, dsd is a teenager who requires a parent with a spine, and both of them make it clear to me that my input is not required.
I'm a very hands on parent to ds and do not have great difficulty relating to dss, and dh is very encouraging there regarding my telling him off for relatively inconsequential things. But at 13, my role in dss life is quite limited.
Dsd has always been a different matter. She insisted at 12, when I met her, to be treated like an adult, a bit difficult though considering her rather immature ways. Dh has always stood aside or let her walk all,over him. I've never tired of telling him his responsibility towards her as his daughter, to make sure she grows up feeling loved and secure. And I don't believe that is the feeling one gets when the parent fawns and simpers.
Both her parents chose to be her BFF to get out of the harder parenting role.
I do understand that older teens prefer to see their peers to their parents, but my ds will call or text his dad when plans change, gives him thoughtful gifts and is very loving also to his stepmum. But then again I've raised him to be respectful to adults. Ds has no discernible hang ups re dh either.
At this stage I've pretty much detached emotionally from my dsc, I wish the whole situation wouldn't bother me so to require detachment, but it does. Please forgive me any hint of smugness or pride, but it's almost like grieving over "the one that got away"! I'm a popular teacher because I can make my students feel valued and comfortable around me. My ds tells me his friends think I'm really, really nice for a mum. As far as I can tell I don't turn into a medusa when the dsc are around, so I'm baffled at their aloof reaction to me. But hey ho...
But dh can't of course shrug his shoulders in disbelief. He needs to step up, especially with his dd, but doesn't know how. And as I don't have any impact on them, I know of no magic formula to help either.
If you remember the Harry Enfield sketch, Kevin goes upstairs the day before his 13th birthday and comes down an angry teenager.
Similarly, ime, the selfish teenager disappears at early 20s and comes back a considerate (certainly much more so than as a teenager) and interesting adult. When she is performing for a new love in her life rather than her DF, things will really change. So don't give up OP.
Then after 30 they come downstairs with a kindly but slightly condescending attitude (as poor old mum is a getting on a bit now) which I am still getting used to
Doozie, you're brilliant!! I will not give up
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