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Disastrous holiday with 15yr old teenage DD(64 Posts)
Hi, first time posting so please be gentle.
Quick background live with my partner of 6 years and my 2 DS from previous marriage (10 & 13). My partner has 2 girls (13 & 15) who live with their mum 40 miles away but they stay with us every other weekend and a couple of weeks during holidays. Kids all get along great, odd fall out but nothing major.
The 15 year old is really testing us though. She is desperate to be an adult and do all that it entails, drinking, smoking, sex. She's done them all. Now on the contraceptive implant (no serious boyfriend), drinks and has been smoking for a year. Stays out till 9.30pm during the week.
We've just come back from a 2 wk holiday to Turkey. She bought cigarettes from the shop in the hotel with money we had given her. Her dad found out (he gave up 2 months ago after being a smoker for 35 years) and he just lost it; he found them in her bag, she went mental, called him a 'fucking bastard', spat at him, he slapped her across the face and she tried to bite him and scratched him drawing blood. This was on the 1st day!
My DP apologised the next day for slapping her, she refused to have anything to do with him and ignored us both for 2 weeks. Neither girls got up until midday, didn't unpack, left clothes all over the floor. We sat around waiting whilst they got ready to go for our evening meal, even after having over 3 hours in which to do so. In the end we went into dinner with the boys and left the girls. They were inconsiderate, sullen and rude for 2 weeks.
I sat them down yesterday and said that they had spoilt our holiday, that their dad enjoys our 2 weeks together as its time he gets to spend with no interruptions. The 15 yr old didn't care, she didn't give a shit . They went without saying goodbye or thank you to me. They didn't say goodbye to their dad when he took them home. The 15 yr old is full of anger and has been for about 2 years now.
They don't want to come to our house anymore - which is fine as we don't want them here.
But of course my DP is devastated, he misses his kids everyday and the thought of not seeing them will be awful for him. His daughter has defriended him on facebook.
This has been brewing for a long time and is the tip of the iceberg; there has been lying and deception about money and piercings not to mention her having to take the morning after pill. Her mum also reported her to the police for hitting her just before Christmas.
Where do we go from here? Does he leave it and try and make the peace in a few weeks/months...never?
I know I am not their mother. But they are happy for me to take on a mother role when THEY want it.
They are happy for me to provide for them, support them, care for them - but I'm NOT allowed to speak to them when something upsets me??
Is that how it works? God they've got it good haven't they!
I`m a Step Parent and see no problem with you saying something really.
But,, and the big but here is that it seems as though your DP and his Ex have raised their children with a degree of aggression and now its beginning to bite them a bit. Its all very well demanding respect, but teenagers naturally push boundaries and a slap wont sort that out, just raise the tension. You say that your DP and his ex are both very verbal/physical people. His ex wife screams at the girls so they scream back at her. That is how they argue. there is no sitting down talking.
It seems as though they, your DP, EX and DDs could benefit from some family counselling, I would be looking at some form of therapy (Cahms maybe?) for the DD. It sounds like the tough parenting has gone wrong. Could they work together to sort their DD out?
On an aside, you say your DP pushes your DC away? how has that impacted on them? I would be worried how they feel about being stuck in the middle of all of this. Seeing him slap his dd and her being as aggressive must have been a little bit scary for them.
OneStepCloser - many thanks for your post. I think you've hit the nail on the head. All 4 of them are very aggressive and verbal, that's how they deal with arguments. Me, I'm much calmer and try and talk about things. I've also learnt to walk away now when my kids argue back. I lock myself in the bathroom.
Luckily we were in 2 separate rooms on holiday (me with my kids, DP with his) so my boys didn't see what happened, just the aftermath.
I too feel like I'm 'piggy in the middle' sometimes, constantly trying to keep the peace with everyone.
Think I may post over on the step-parenting board.
Aw louby, I feel for you. Being stuck in the middle of this must be difficult. Unfortunately, it has to be them (SDs parents who need to sort this, you cant, with the best will in the world) and on that I cant say I would know what to do apart from gently tell your DP that his and her parenting needs some outside help as do his DDsm but I can imagine that falling on deaf ears a bit.
Best of luck.
But teenagers won't see the care, support etc. They will expect it. But they will be angry at any perceived tellings off etc. it's not fair but its how it is.
This is for DP to sort out with their mother.
Sorry to say this but if their mothers relationship broke down why shouldn't they be concerned that yours will. Their stability would completely go then. I'm not saying that's what they expect but they may subconsciously expect you to leave too.
I'm a step parent and have never had any issue with telling DSD off, in the same way that I would tell off any child that was behaving badly in my presence.
It's a crappy age Lou. Raging hormones and teen anxieties. DSD is 18 this year and has been lovely for about 2 years, but between 14-16 she was horrible. Or at least that's how I saw her. She was never happy, always complaining, using me and her dad as a bank, pitting mum against dad and so on.
I had to detach. I was perfectly pleasant to her, polite and smiley even if I was raging inside and left all the 'nastiness' to DH. If he wanted her to do something and she wouldn't, I let him get on with it. I let him pick up after her, I let him give her cash, I let him 'parent'. I still did all the day to day stuff, and never treated her badly, but refused to get involved in the 'he said, she said, I hate you, I hate everything' that was going on at the same time.
I don't think that the girls not wanting to visit is that unusual either. We went from every other weekend, to once a month, to once every few months. Kids grow, they have their mates and their creature comforts that they don't want to leave behind. DH was upset at first but kept in touch with FB/Phone. They still have a relationship - OK not as close as I would want with DD, but good enough for them. DSD has the same relationship with her mum though, she sees her once a month or so, so maybe DSD is just very independant.
Chin up Lou, it won't necessarily last and if it does - you've done your best and that's all you need to focus on.
A 15 year old was sharing with her dad? No wonder she was feeling the rage. I'd also have been livid at that age if someone had gone down my bag (particularly if I had been found out doing something I shouldn't have!). And I think we've established the slap was completely unacceptable. She might have acted like a little madam, but I think she was provoked! And she has learned how to react to conflict from her parents and it sounds like the lesson included Eastenders style screaming matches and slaps.
you're not engaged, you're not their step-parent and legally you have nothing to do with them.
She is their step-parent, as she is in a civil partnership with the father. Marriage is not required. She does not have parental responsibility for the children, but she is not 'nothing to do with them', either.
The state does recognise both rights and responsibilities of unmarried stepparents, so you are wrong about this. (For instance, her income is included in any calculation of benefits or student grants. For another instance, she would be entitled to act in loco parentis when it comes to discipline of children.)
The stepmother in a family holiday situation as described, is clearly an adult authority figure, and has been granted that authority by the children's father.
OP, post on step-parenting board. And read some of the old threads there, you might find it helpful.
How is your relationship at the moment?
I don't think your DP was the slightest bit wrong to look through his child's bag. I do think he was wrong to hit her. Would he consider individual parenting classes or family counseling? To be blunt, I think you and he are both going to have a much harder time getting to grips with the issue as long as there is physical force involved. If for no other reason, it does make it tougher for others to understand.
As for the rest of it - I have been on a nightmare holiday with a 15 year-old stepdaughter - different sort of thing, no violence etc, but awful in its own way. It was the low point - 14 and 15 were the toughest years with her.
I always say this, but I don't think children and teens should have the option to refuse to visit a parent (short of court-ordered measures where there is a ruling that a parent is unfit, obviously). It makes it impossible for problems to be resolved and creates an artificial situation - in a 'together' family, there is no such opportunity, and teens just have to 'sulk through'. Like myself at that age, my DSCs have nowhere else to go, thank god - we couldn't have them stomping off if they didn't like how things were going.
And yes, louby - I think you're doing the best you can, frankly. Your DP needs to learn some other parenting strategies - you can support and encourage him in that, perhaps - but you should not have to put up with either his aggression or the kids' (and nor should your kids).
Brdgrl Lou's not in a civil partnership with the step daughters father. There's no such concept for a heterosexual relationship. Suggesting this title implies a degree of legal formality that doesn't exist.
There is no excuse for slapping a child even though she was wrong to assault her dad by spitting. Your dp is treading on very thin ice.
I have a dd who will be 15 next month she is a good kid but has her monuments like any teenager. I would never ever assault her.
I can guarantee op that if your dd was not your stepchild you would not have worded the op like you did.
littlebear, You're right - I shouldn't have used that term. But the point about the legal rights and responsibilities of unmarried partners living in the same household is the same.
it is now clear that these girls have been brought up in a house where there is regular screaming and occasional violence. They simply don't know any better. Teen girls can be quite horrible anyway but these two do seem to have an excuse.
if this is to be resolved and not go to a new generation (and the new generation won't be far away given how the girl is behaving) then all concerned need some training and counselling in how normal people behave.
good luck, OP. You'll need it.
It's a shame that some good advice has been all muddled up with a load of old toss as usual when the word "step" is mentioned. As a general rule of thumb if you have an issue with a stepchildren situation it's best to either post on the stepparent board, or (if it doesn't make telling the story impossible) just omit that you're talking about a step child. In this case it is obviously relevant so you couldn't have but I have posted in "teens" about curfews/ sleepovers/ punishments etc. in the past because I wanted sensible answers from other parents of teens rather than a load of judgemental, irrelevant wank. "Not legally her step children" - for crying out loud! What difference would it make if they were married? Does a woman gain some kind of mystical power on her wedding day that means she suddenly has a say in how her husbands children are raised? They wouldn't respect her anymore than they do if they got married, why would/should they?
Moving on... I agree with the poster who suggests some family counselling for Mum, Dad and children. These girls have never dealt with the breakdown of their parents marriage. You could say (like a poster above) that all children of separated parents are damaged and wont recover until well in to their twenties. But IMO that is defeatist and robs two young girls of a happy teenage life that they deserve and are capable of having. You had the right to state that you were disappointed with their behaviour on holiday as it was unacceptable. Just as a grandparent or aunt etc. would have had the right to do. But as for the whole massive issue of their anger and appalling behaviour in general, that will need to come from Mum and Dad. The girls are craving attention and to be heard which you (as seemingly the only adult in their lives who can be arsed to take a stance) have given them. But I'd imagine is that all that would have done is highlight that they're not getting it from where they want it i.e. mum and dad.
But you can't really control that, certainly you can't control what mum does.
So, you need to be very honest about your expectations on boundaries and consequences in regards to the time your stepchildren are with you (on holiday with you, in the family home, whilst out and about in restaurants and such) and basically find a way to enjoy your life while all of this is sorted out. I think you know it isn't how you want your life to be, and that it isn't something you want your children witnessing. But sadly we fall in love with these guys with no idea of what is in store for us so I'm guessing that you have made the decision to stick around?
So, what are the conditions (for want of a better word!) that will make it okay for you in your relationship? Maybe that he pursues family counselling? Maybe that he keeps in contact even when they push him away but doesn't offer rewards or incentives if they do visit?
My DD at 15 was the child from hell, she kicked of all the time, slapped me more than once, was one drama after another, if its any consolation she is nearly 17 now and is mainly ok. Things like smoking i just let go, she cant smoke at home but i know she smokes and I cant stop her if that's how she choses to spend her money that's her look out when she cant afford to go somewhere she wants to go with her friends. She was referred to cahms and did not like the doctors but school got her an excellent connexions consoler who has been wonderful and still sees her she loves him. Please don't give up on her, teenagers are selfish, when mine were that age we always went all inclusive and i just left them to it, they could do what they wanted there was always food if they didn't want to come out with us. Your partner really needs to apologies lots. he is the adult and what is he teaching her by assaulting her when he loses his temper.
teenagetantrums - thanks for your support.
We too always go All Inclusive, all 4 kids have lots of freedom on holiday our only rule is that we sit down and eat our evening meal together. In the past this has been adhered to but they really pushed it this year.
Last year we allowed them a lie in until 10am and we had a pleasant adult only hour by the pool. This year that backfired on us. The boys were up at 9.30/10am but the girls just refused to get up; even an annoying 10 yr old couldn't get them out of bed lol. One day they rolled up at 1.30pm!
We now know we should have set up a consequence and should have said, yes a lie in is fine but if your backsides aren't on these sunbeds by 11am the towels will be removed and someone else can have them!
I am going to encourage my DP to send them both a card through the post with an apology to DSD15 and just a light hearted message in it. We need to be the grownups here and open up the communication, even if we're ignored.
That good he's doing something positive Lou. Just be sure it doesn't become sucking up. Unfortunately with the slap he's given them a lot of power as he is now the one in the wrong, if you know what I mean.
In regards to the lying in on holiday. Could that potentially be one of the battles you could decide not to pick? Does it matter? I know teenagers do need a hell of a lot of sleep! There's a thread on here about things parents of older kids wish they'd done differently and I think a few people mention allowing them to sleep. And maybe if they've slept a lot they'll be more pleasant at dinner? Just a thought as an aside - thinking of this as a teen issue for a moment rather than a step issue?
i am an ordinary person. Would not be surprised if me or DP ever loses our rag with outrageous behaviour & delivered a slap.
Teenagers on holiday is Hellish, I find. Rather but the way it tends to go. I wouldn't make an issue about lie-ins or clothes on floor. Otherwise I don't think you have any easy choices.
But why was their staying in bed an issue - they missed out and it didn't affect you surely. It's not as though you say you had trips planned etc that you then couldn't go on.
The rest isn't great but teenagers stay in bed; it's not worth worrying about that bit.
It just seems such a shame to sleep half the day away, when you're in a lovely place with the sun shining; they may as well have stayed at home. Why not sleep by the pool?
Do teenagers really need 13-14 hours of sleep every night? That's what they were getting!
I can't remember sleeping that long at that age.
Mind you I did discover from my DS13 that they spent half an hour putting make up on before they came down, to then jump in the pool! made me smile!
I did smile sometimes on our holiday!
Lou they sound like typical teenage girls/ teenagers. At that age Id get up at midday and go to bed at 2-3am. Apparently the growth hormone surges kick in during sleeptimes just like in pregnancy.
Snazzyenjoyingsummer makes a good point if your DP and his ex can provide a united front and he can support her in the problems she is obviously having with her girls, it will show the girls how much he values their well being (even if they protest at the time).
My DC have very ambivalent feelings towards my ex's new partner - to her credit she has understood this and has always allowed them plenty of space to do things on their own with their dad - maybe your DP should arrange some 1:1 time with each daughter.
My DD always says her dad's partner (of 5 years) "is nothing to me - I put up with her because dad loves her" - she is polite to her because his partner seems to understand the boundaries of their relationship. My DS seems to have a warmer relationship with her. I think the OP needs to understand that these girls make fluctuate between liking her and resenting her - she should back off and allow her DP the space and time to sort things out himself.
I would find it very sad if my ex's partner was "nothing" to our daughter. I suppose it depends on the amount of time spent with Dad but it's much nicer if they become very close. There are lots of times I can't be there because its dads contact time but our dd really benefits from having that "stand-in" mum figure.
They don't need to listen to you
What the fuck? YES they do. It is called RESPECT. Now I know that respect these days is as rare as hens teeth, but as children in her home, they should show the op some respect & that means listening to her & apologising for bad behaviour.
If you work on the fact that children don't have to listen to adult who aren't related to them, how do you expect them to listen to teachers, parents of their friends? I expect children who come into my house to listen to me about how things work in my house, if you think they don't need to listen to me, you are very WRONG!
Oh & as a child I was expected to listen to, have respect for & be disciplined by BOTH my step parents. Admittedly this was over 20yrs ago, so has respect really that much that children don't have to listen to adults?
Also, when my mother remarried again & her dh was only 7yr older than me, I was expected to listen to him too. Because I was still a child.
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