Back again. Long. is there such a thing as a mediator who could help us?(122 Posts)
Background (different user name - can't work out how to change back)
Another crisis last night with dd, and she has gone to my mum's. She agreed to go after we called another family member (SIL) to help us get her to agree to leave.
My mum is happy to have her living there. If needs be MIL is also happy to have her living with her.
I don't want to go into a long explanation of what precipitated this particular shit storm, suffice to say that at one point yesterday the two other dc's and I ended up sitting in the car in the dark waiting for DH to come home and help, unable to go back into the house with dd.
Her behaviour is beyond anything I can describe in a coherent way.
She is insistent that she can do anything she likes in the house, (no matter how inconsiderate) and outside it, and that nobody has the right or the authority to stop her. And she exercises that right every day as a point of principle. This makes her impossible to live with.
She has a daily need to demonstrate to me that I have no authority in my home. As a survival strategy we have adapted to this over the past few years by withdrawing demands and not challenging most of her unpleasant behaviour. She does no school work at home at all, and no chores. She pretty much stays up to whatever o'clock she wants, even on a school night. We used to have some rules (such as no phone in her room at night, in her room at 10pm on a school night) but these have all gone by the by as she made life intolerable (shouting and waking the other dc's up late at night for example) for us when we tried to enforce them. If you'd asked me what we thought was the right response to challenging behaviour from a teen a few years ago I would have said 'firm and clearly defined boundaries, trying to reach a consensus together, consistency with sanctions and rewards', but honestly - this has been impossible. She simply won't do anything she doesn't want to do, and sanctions and rewards make no difference. They are meaningless to her.
She wants me to put boundaries in place - she sees them as important, and holds up as 'good parents' those she knows who are strict, and she constantly tells me I'm a shit mother because I have no control over her behaviour - but any boundaries I do put in place she instantly destroys by refusing steadfastly to comply with them.
Recently her behaviour has taken a new turn. She draws the other dc's into the conflict by deliberately upsetting them in front of me or setting them at odds with me - I feel she does this in a fairly cold and deliberate way. She likes to show me that she has control over their behaviour, and she does - because they're frightened of her, and not frightened of me. Last night she phoned Childline in front of ds and ds2 , and told them that she felt I was unable to care properly for him and his brother. That I was a terrible mother. Then stood there laughing at them while they cried in fear at the thought that someone might come and take them away.
As for my parenting skills - well up until dd reached adolescence I think I was a bit smug about not having any significant problems with my children. Never had major problems with toddler tantrums, all the children were happy and well-behaved and achieving highly at school (with the exception of ds2 who has ASD, poor support at school and has struggled a bit, but even he's done well consideration the challenges he faces). But 4 years on, and after a bout of depression caused by health anxiety and a bout of physical illness which went on for several years (still not 100% well), 4 years of daily aggression, non-compliance with basic family rules, and regular bouts character assassination by dd, I feel inadequate and a failure as a parent, and I feel that this is impacting very negatively on the day to day happiness of my other dc's.
I know that there is a consensus on this board that it's important to understand that it's NOT personal when a teen is acting up - that mothers end up as punch bags and scapegoats because they are the family member who is most likely to get in the way of a teen wanting to exercise autonomy, but I've come to believe that this is actually not the full story when it comes to dd's behaviour towards me. I actually feel her behaviour towards me is emotionally sadistic, controlling and a bit... compulsive. :-(
I don't know why she's doing it. She doesn't know why she's doing it. But the fall-out is harming this family and my other dc's.
Anyway, sorry to ramble, I want to know whether social services could intervene in a situation like this, to provide us with some support, and maybe a sort of family mediation service. We don't need foster care for dd because we have family who are willing and able to take her, but we do need help to get her there if she's refusing to go (she does this. Only got her to agree to go last night be involving SIL, but I feel bad about dumping all this on SIL who has enough responsibilities of her own).
Oh hang on, user name change back has worked. Hurrah!
You can access family therapy via the NHS, with your first stop being your GP.
Family therapy through CAMHS has been shite.
She needs a mental health screening. Can you afford to go private? How is she in school?
There is another thread here on Teenagers by CouthyMow about a DD with almost exactly the same behaviour but a wrinkle or two in the form of having a shit GP and equally shit LEA unwilling to diagnose what are very obvious SNs and MH problems plus local shit SS that are not inclined to help at all, under any circumstances no matter how dire and no matter how much the younger children are suffering.
Will she behave properly at your dm's/mil's? Is anyone able to get through to her at all?
A few things that you probably don't want to hear and sorry if I come across as dogmatic:
From your OP on the second link, do you explain why she can't have McDonalds for breakfast? Or just say no? Much better to just say no. Ignore the details of what she asks for or yells about, completely. Say no and stop talking. You are adding fuel to the fire when you explain or engage with her on any topic or try to convince her of your pov. She wants conflict. It tells her all she thinks there is to know about herself. Don't hand that confirmation to her.
Also, you spent a lot of time explaining to MN that her room isn't as bad as all that. Is this what goes on in your head?
I never said that it was unreasonable for DD to complain about the state of her room. I do think its unreasonable though for her to use the state of her room as justification for treating me like the dirt on her shoe ESPECIALLY as both DH and I have acknowledged to her that the door, window pane and curtains need to be sorted but that we are overwhelmed with other chores and expenses at the moment.
Do you answer her when she attacks you, or try to explain, and end up arguing and fighting in circles? You have a choice to not engage, get the curtains hung, put a curtain on a tension rod across her door. Or tell her to do it herself if she complains about privacy. But engaging in circular arguments will get no results except to give her a rush and confirm what she thinks about herself and the relationship. Explaining things to her as if you owe her an explanation is fighting on her terms and according to her rules. She is running rings around both you and your DH here. You do not owe her an explanation of why things are not as she thinks they should be. Do not explain to her or try to reason with her. She is not in charge. You and DH are equally playing this wrong here.
When you take down her curtains and wash them after she has deliberately soiled them you are playing a mug's game. Let her wallow in her own grime and do not act the skivvy here. She has only contempt for you for her floor and shelves and wallpaper. The dynamic where you and her dad provide services and amenities for her and expect gratitude or civility in return is not working. How can you turn it around so that she earns the bedframe, earns the new floor, earns the curtains?
I also note that she gets more from DH in terms of money and treats. This has to stop. The two of you need to get on the same page about this. Do not let her see or sense any chink between you or give her any idea of playing you off against each other. You speak of this as if it is regrettable that you can't pander to her the way he can, like someone upset to be offering hot dogs to a raging lion instead of steak. Neither one of you should be giving her anything she doesn't earn. He definitely should not be taking her out on her own. He is setting her up, most likely unwittingly but partly in order to have an easy life, as your replacement or at least someone on a par with you where he is concerned. Hence her remark about you leaving and her staying. She does not respect him more for giving her more treats/money or taking her out occasionally. She does not respect you less because you don't do this. He is undermining you here, and dangerously.
I really feel my dd is engaging in a very weird power play with me - she is determined not to treat me like a mother and to show some deference, but she's DESPERATE for me to mother her. She's constantly trying to get me to do things for her - sort her washing out, give her lifts, find her shoes, prepare her snacks, and I'm afraid I've been so resentful of her lack of respect that my response has been 'do it yourself'. I feel like the only control I have left with her is over my own labour, so we're at dead-lock.
It's not weird, and what she wants from you is not mothering. She wants the kick of having a servant, of seeing someone doing menial things for her, cracking the whip and seeing you fall over yourself backwards to do what she wants. Somewhere along the line she has got hold of the idea that housework is servile and the person doing it is contemptworthy, along with the things that person provides -- she will wipe her hands on curtains therefore, and you will wash them. 'Do it yourself' is not a response to regret. But if you say 'Do it yourself' and then roll over and do it, you are losing to her. I suggest that by taking your DD out places your H is giving her the idea that she is the queen and you are the skivvy.
When we have an 'episode' both of us make it clear to her that her behaviour is unacceptable, and she is denied sleepovers, money to go out with friends etc. But then things go quiet for a while (usually because we have lowered demands to avoid continual conflict) then normal life resumes, and DH at this time will take her out and try to have a few hours with her which are not destroyed by anger and conflict. Usually they go to a film or out for a meal. I sometimes take dd out myself, but less so because I feel angry with her (because she is so much more difficult with me) and don't feel like doing it.
Mini, what is happening in your DD's head here is that you and her dad are coming crawling back to her and she is rewarding you with the pleasure of her company after she has got over her rage at you, and she seems to be succeeding in whipping you both back into shape. Things go quiet for a while because you back down and she walks all over the pair of you in many little ways and bigger ways. Then she goes out to dinner or a film with daddy. She scores!!
You and DH 'making it clear', etc., is all talk. She sees right through this blowing off of steam and sees you and DH as pathetic because you want a quiet life with minimum confrontation and conflict.
Did your family therapy not cover any of the power dynamics that are going on here between you, your DH and DD?
The lack of consistency?
The fact that you and DH are playing good cop / bad cop here and she is driving a juggernaut between you?
I've been reading your earlier posts and I do feel sorry that you are locked into an awful relationship with your daughter and hope that the suffering will soon diminish for you both.
However, I have to tell you as well that I feel angry and upset by the ways in which you ignored or were very critical (in some cases even abusive) of some people who tried their best to help you. What comes across to me is a wish to vent rather than learn. Maybe in your eyes venting alone is fine but you need not attack people who want to give their help. I feel sorry for anyone who reads your post and then, out of misplaced kindness, gives you their heartfelt, best ideas. I was tempted to do this until I saw how you had responded to some people in your earlier threads.
Nevertheless, I wish you all the best.
mathanxiety, I read the previous thread of the OP as well and saw someone making exactly the same points about the relationship of the OP and her DH. I would totally agree with your post and the previous poster.
But I also agree with farley45 that the OP gets very stroppy when someone is telling her that there is something - anything - she could do to improve her situation.
No doubt, the pity-party pals will soon show up...
I post simply in hopes of providing some insight and I hope what I say will be read that way. I can see that Mini is desperate, and I also think because of the abuse she is suffering she finds it hard to see much by way of a solution or even a signpost forward.
Abuse has the effect of making you think your options are limited or non-existent and I think Mini has reached that point.
Mini, no matter how invested you are in seeing your DH as a saint here, and no matter how alienating your DD's behaviour is and how attractive it may be to see her as the problem, I hope you will recognise the seduction that is taking place under your nose. Seduction is a very loaded word and I am sorry to use it mainly because I know it can get backs up like few others.
But 'sucking up' to DD on the part of DH by means of money, treats and outings for two for the sake of a quiet life doesn't really cover what is going on. For her part, she is 'manipulating' him, and again, that doesn't really cover what is happening. The effect of it all is what you have to look at in gauging what is going on -- here the effect is that you have a very angry child, a very confused child, and possibly a child scared of the power that has been handed to her -- scared because no child deep down wants to have the power to come between her parents in any way. In her turmoil she lashes out at everyone including teachers, and despite being scared of what she is doing she displays open contempt for one figure in her triangle, you, and ends up being treated and taken out for meals a deux by the other figure in the triangle, your DH.
It's not sexual seduction but emotional, and both your DH and your DD are engaged in it. It has to stop. Your DH has to take the lead in stopping it.
Ending it will require the establishment of a very clear boundary between you and DH on the one hand, and the DD on the other. Your relationship with DH has to be ringfenced. He has to reclaim you as his only partner and reject DD and her efforts to manipulate him. His quiet life has to come to a shuddering halt. The DD has been encouraged to believe she has a place that she in fact does not occupy in the family and with her dad. She now has to be put unequivocably in her place by her dad, and the family hierarchy and boundaries that are reset must be defended no matter what the cost in terms of noise or disruption or upset to DH or yourself.
"Will she behave properly at your dm's/mil's? Is anyone able to get through to her at all?"
Yes - she behaves properly (mostly) at my mum's and always at MIL's - but she only lasts a couple of weeks and then she comes home saying 'I can't do it any more'. She is very amenable to everyone except her immediate family and the teachers of subjects she is struggling with (or dislikes) at school. She has behaved appallingly to some of her teachers (shouting in the face of one teacher outside of the lesson, refusing to move when requested in class, walking out of lessons, constant arguing). Other teachers think she's delightful and she works hard in their lessons (but still does almost no work in their subject outside of class).
"However, I have to tell you as well that I feel angry and upset"
Sorry. I think I was on my knees and exasperated by repeated suggestions that dd's behaviour might be caused by sexual abuse (I'm pretty sure it isn't), or that she's on the spectrum (I'm pretty sure she isn't).
"Mini, no matter how invested you are in seeing your DH as a saint here, and no matter how alienating your DD's behaviour is and how attractive it may be to see her as the problem, I hope you will recognise the seduction that is taking place under your nose. Seduction is a very loaded word and I am sorry to use it mainly because I know it can get backs up like few others. "
Look - I don't think DH is 'a saint'. Just that he hasn't shouted or lost the plot over this as much as I have. Probably because she's not targeting him in the way she is me, and because he's not around her as much. He's just as devastated as I am about her behaviour. More so in many ways. I'm the one saying 'we need to understand what's going on here'. He's the one saying 'I just wish this would just stop, I've had enough'.
As for the going out thing - we try to take all our children out individually at times, as well as together as family. What we've not done is to stop doing this with dd - mainly because her behaviour has been challenging for so long - 3 years really - that it would be impossible to be punitive for that long. DH doesn't take dd out for meals or films weekly or even monthly. It's an occasional treat for her, as it is for all our children. DH does buy her clothes but not as a special treat - she has put on such a lot of weight in the past few years she has grown out of everything and we need to keep getting her more. DH is much better at the whole clothes thing than me - I'm rubbish at it. He gets her cheap and wearable stuff that she is prepared to put on. I have no interest in or instinct for fashion and always get it wrong.
We've done all the punitive stuff - taking her phone/lap-top for months and months. She has no phone contract, no regular pocket money, and only the bare minimum for clothes and make-up. It makes absolutely no difference to her behaviour.
DH's is concerned that if his relationship with her becomes distant and if he doesn't at least spend some time with her when they can have a laugh and have some enjoyment, that they will lose that last little bit of connection, and she'll bugger off to look for affection in the arms of someone who'll have her pregnant at 16. It's not unusual in her peer group. (the teenage pregnancy rate in the area we live in is 4 times the national average. dd has friends who have had pregnancies/babies at 15/16 and 17). But he doesn't undermine me. He doesn't reward her for being hateful to me, and he's clear that her behaviour is unacceptable. We are just trying to maintain some sort of a semblance of a happy family life in the face of dd's prolonged arsiness.
"Abuse has the effect of making you think your options are limited or non-existent"
I often feel like my head is about to explode or that I'm going to have a heart attack.
Or I shut down completely.
I have lost all ability to organise myself and confidence in my ability to do anything other than muddle through every day doing my work (part-time) in a half-arsed way, the housework in a half-arsed way. Everything half arsed really.
I'm feckin knackered.
She is targeting him in a different way from the way she is targeting you, but the way he treats her is affecting the way she is targeting you.
Somewhere along the line your DD has developed a problem, be it from some underlying MH issue that hasn't yet been diagnosed, or from getting the behaviour---->rewards/consequences progression upset or mixed up somewhere along the line, or maybe a combination of both. It may be of course that she is just a manipulative bully, maybe somewhat spoiled, but your H's attitude of wishing it will all stop, and trying to maintain a relationship with her that exists in complete denial of what she is doing to you, is contributing to what she is doing to you and she is taking the piss wrt him too.
He has to stop sorting out her clothes for her. He is supplanting you in the role of mother here just as she is supplanting you as partner. She has contempt for you partly because of this sidelining of you as mother. All you do is the menial jobs and she is taking note.
No matter how exhausted or unsure of yourself you are, you need to summon the energy to reassert yourself here as mother and as the Chief Feminine Person and that means paying attention to fashion no matter how little interest you have in it.
Do a bit of research online about what is in or just ask your DH to scout around and tell you what to look at, without letting on to DD. Look through the clothes she already has for clues as to what she might wear. She and you should go out together and choose clothes. She is old enough to choose her own clothes. Having a parent of the opposite sex choose your clothes for you at 14 is a tad creepy imo and it underscores the extent to which she and her dad are a couple within the family. Go to the same shops he goes to. Dress well. Put on a bit of slap. Take DD with you and make sure she understands what she has to spend and that it is in her pocket and not yours. Be prepared for her to buy things purely to shock or defy you.
He really is undermining you, and showing you up as incompetent as a woman, and encouraging her contempt of you by taking over your role and letting her take over yours. The outings and treating and money over and above what you give has got to stop. He has to stop being a wimp. She is wiping the floor with both of you, and it is not going to stop her getting pregnant at 16, 15 or even at 14. Stop running scared of her, both of you.
Mini, how can you POSSIBLY assert that your dd has not been sexually abused. Nobody can know this for sure, one way or the other, let alone you with a daughter who shows so many signs of distress.
Obviously, I do not know why your daughter is the way she is but if you would just imagine for one minute that she had been sexually abused, wouldn't some of her behaviours make sense? The anger at you for not protecting her? The fact that such a pretty child has put on this enormous amount of fat - to ward off further advances?
Your certainty that this can't be possibly the case is a symptom in itself. Think about it!
I also agree with mathanxiety that the fact that your dh is buying her clothes is creepy. Traditionally, a man only ever buys clothes for a female as a romantic gift for a lover who he feels very sexual toward. How come that these dynamics get ignored in your family? Be careful with easy rationalisations - they may come easy but they may actually hide the truth.
I feel like mathanxiety that there is a very unhealthy dynamic between your dd and your dh.
Another behaviour that would make sense in the sexual abuse scenario is the contempt that your dd has for you for not being a 'good enough lover' for your dh. She knows 'he can do better'. How would a daughter know this? How come that she feels entitled to chose a sexual lover for her dad?
Just to make it clear, I do not pretend that I know what is going on in your family. I am just pointing out possible signs that rise suspicion in me.
"Having a parent of the opposite sex choose your clothes for you at 14 is a tad creepy imo"
I just don't agree. DH and I do what we do best when it comes to divvying up family roles. I'm a better driver, so I drive most of the time. He does a lot of the laundry and ironing, because he's better at it. I can't be arsed with sex stereotyping. That's not how our family works. There's nothing creepy about a man helping his female child shop for clothes. My 10 year old ds is also very into clothes and enjoys clothes shopping with his dad. My 8 year old couldn't care less. I couldn't care less.
"Mini, how can you POSSIBLY assert that your dd has not been sexually abused. Nobody can know this for sure, one way or the other, let alone you with a daughter who shows so many signs of distress."
None of us can know. I just don't think she is.
And I've been friends/going out with/married to DH for over 20 years and I've not witnessed anything in 2 decades that would give me a moment's doubt that he's completely trustworthy.
You know, I'm going to ask mn to delete this thread.
And fortunately I've now had some input from support services at dd's school, which will trigger some social services input too, which I welcome, as we're not coping on our own.
"that your dd has for you for not being a 'good enough lover' for your dh. She knows 'he can do better'. How would a daughter know this? How come that she feels entitled to chose a sexual lover for her dad?"
I don't think she was thinking about finding someone who is a better shag. I think she was probably referring to finding someone who earned more and kept a cleaner house.
I think it's a mistake to think that any behaviour that might suggest trauma in a child has to be about sexual trauma. That was what the doctors thought about dd. It turned out later her trauma was about undiagnosed SN and the consequent fear that her body was unreliable and could let her down at any moment.
This is a female teenager whose clothes are being picked by her father, not a 10 year old boy or an 8 year old.
I think you should care more. You and your DD need to be able to have something you share. You don't get to know a teenage daughter or share her life much without involvement in her clothes choices (if only as a bystander who drove her to the shops and who trots around with her looking through racks). Basically if all you end up doing is menial tasks that a handyman, cleaner or maid could do, you are denying yourself the chance to get closer to your DD by opting out of fashion on the grounds that it isn't your comfort zone.
I think in any case she should be choosing her own clothes at 14, accompanied if at all possible by you. This is part of allowing her privacy/autonomy that is essential to allowing her to grow up. Having your DH choose clothes for her is both creepy and inappropriately maintaining her status as a child.
Who is her female role model if you are so uninterested in fashion, etc?
"You don't get to know a teenage daughter or share her life much without involvement in her clothes choices (if only as a bystander who drove her to the shops and who trots around with her looking through racks)."
Because buying clothes is everything there is to a teenage daughter?
Surely that is rather exaggerated?
Dd and I are very close. I never drive her anywhere because I can't drive, she hates having me round the shops because I am useless and boring when it comes to fashion. However, it is not everything there is to know about her and not the only way to be close to her. She loves clothes, yes- but it is not the sum total of her need of a female role model: she needs me and we can meet over all sorts of other things.
I might as well extrapolate from my own experience and say that a teenage girl who is unable to bond with her mother over Shakespeare monologues is missing out on the female role model she needs. Because that has been essential for dd and me.
You seem to say that clothes is the only and all-encompassing symbol of what it means to be female, so a daughter who doesn't bond with her mother over clothes lacks a female role model full stop. Seems a bit narrow to me- are you sure there isn't more to this being female lark?
I tend to take ds to football matches because I make a more intelligent and interested audience than dh. Is that creepy too? Does it mean he will grow up lacking in a male role model? Or what is the all-defining activity of the growing male?
I appreciate that the OP has serious problems with her daughter and her family dynamics and it may well be that coming together over any one activity (which could well be clothes shopping) would ease matters. But it's not the Holy Grail.
It may also be that, as you suggest, the OP needs to take the reins more firmly in her hand.
But to me, that would seem to be more about insisting that she has to be spoken to respectfully, getting her dh to back her up, making sure that she is shown that speaking disrespectfully to her mother loses her credibility with everybody in the household.
(Ds knows that it doesn't matter who goes with him to see the match: any attempt to speak disdainfully of his father won't impress anyone; it will only make him look like a baby.)
Note that I am definitely not saying that the Shakespeare monologue thing is at all normal.
What I am trying to say is, you can't pin everything down to one single activity: this is essential for girls and all girls must be like this.
Otoh what you do need to do is to be sensitive to your own child and not too hung up on your own ideas.
If there is a chance that your dd might need the clothes shopping bonding, OP, then your own feelings about not wanting to stereotype should take second place to that.
(just as my own relative lack of interest in football and films about murderous aliens becomes irrelevant when I see that this is something ds needs from me).
It's about being attuned, about being prepared to listen, about being prepared to see that your own way is not the only right way.
But it doesn't mean taking any crap, obviously.
It's not creepy. DH doesn't choose her clothes except for birthday/Christmas presents. He goes shopping with her. She chooses what she wants to wear. If you had read previous posts you'd see that nobody can make dd do anything she isn't happy with - including wearing clothes which she doesn't like or think are appropriate.
I do do clothes stuff with her in that I listen to (and sometimes take) her suggestions as to things that might suit me. I also buy most of her make up and discuss skin care with her.
Seriously - please stop creating a narrative that doesn't exist. Her dad is not creepy. Her relationship with him isn't unduly emotionally intense. She doesn't see herself as a rival to me in my marriage. It was an interesting idea, but it's not a good fit with what is actually going on in our family.
I know it sounds exaggerated. I know clothes are not the only way to bond as mother and daughter. I have narrowed it down to clothes because the dad here has taken over that role and I think Mini should not have allowed that or allowed herself to stay in her fashion free comfort zone -- or any other comfort zone that leaves a gap between her and her DD, and this is my point. Mini stays too much in her own comfort zone. If there is a chance that your dd might need the clothes shopping bonding, OP, then your own feelings about not wanting to stereotype should take second place to that. -- I agree with this comment.
What do you do as a mother with or for DD that a cleaner, etc -- and her father -- could not do or does not do and where could her dad step back? I suggest the clothes element because I genuinely do feel that it is creepy for your DH to choose her clothes (and I note you have changed the story here from 'DH choosing clothes for her' to 'accompanying her shopping and she chooses her own clothes', while choosing her clothes is a Christmas/Bday thing) and also because I feel she may have lost confidence in you as a mother or parent thanks to deficiencies she may perceive in you in this area or an imbalance in the status of things both parents do with or for her. I know you have ideas about gender roles as parents and that's fine as far as it goes, but you as a mother and a woman need to have a significant role in your DD's life, and I do not know where you come in right now. I also think you need to think about DH giving her treats and money above what you do and the dinner out thing vs. you washing the curtains. There is status attached to these activities and gestures. You can't be blinded to that by PC ideas -- all parenting activities are not equal in status.
At the moment what you do is house caretaker stuff, and even so, DD's room has problems. Yes, she brought a lot of them on her room herself, but please do not dismiss loss of confidence in you as a mother figure and encroachment into that sphere by your DH as part of what she is angry about. You want to figure out what is making her angry, and please do not rule out your own tendency to stay in your own comfort zone and hand over chunks of your role to your DH, or accept being subtly pushed aside by him. I suggest you look long and hard perhaps with help from a third party at your relationship with DH.
What do you do beyond the clothes/make up thing to get into DD's life? What sustained points of contact do you have?
At the very least, you should tag along on shopping trips with your DD and DH.
How much advice does she give you about your own clothes and in what sort of tone of voice? Does she criticise what you wear?
Listening to her advice on clothes is a low status thing to do. It doesn't count as a leadership role for you. It is a role where you allow your DD to lead you, so it achieves an effect you should not be aiming for.
Somewhere along the line your DD has become attuned to power as an element in relationships and you need to look at your relationship with DH for clues as to where she picked up on that.
"and hand over chunks of your role to your DH, or accept being subtly pushed aside by him."
Chunks of my role?
Sorry - DH works up in town, and there's big Gap store near his office where he goes to buy sale stuff for the kids. He buys jeans and a few tops for all the dc's, because he can do it in his lunch hour. He's happy to do it. I'm happy for him to do it.
It's not creepy.
I buy her pants and bras.
I don't accept that my role as a mother is to talk about fashion with dd, or to try to guide her in relation to this issue. I wouldn't have a leg to stand on style wise as I don't dress well or have any interest in clothes. DH isn't himself particularly interested in fashion, but he dresses better than me and pays more attention to it because he works in a professional environment where people dress smartly.
"How much advice does she give you about your own clothes and in what sort of tone of voice? Does she criticise what you wear?"
Oddly enough this is the one thing she is not nasty to me about. (except she disapproves of me buying my clothes in charity shops). She wants me to wear more colour and pattern. She chooses presents for me with DH at Christmas and always chooses nice things. This year she chose me a beautiful Mulberry bag, which I use every day. She also bought me a purse with owls on it, which is lovely and which I use every day.
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