SD's behaviour at home ....(25 Posts)
Hi, not sure if this is the right forum to post this, but it's about behaviour so I hope so!
My stepdaughter is 12 and lives with her mum. There have been, and still are problems with her mum's drinking. However, that aside, my husband received a text from her mum last week asking him if he would speak to their daughter about her behaviour at home as apparently she's been very rude to her mum lately, including shoving her over. Now, clearly we were thinking this could be due to a multitude of things .. rebellion, particularly as mum has drinking problems, teenage angst to name but a few. Usually she is a very placid, good natured girl, and we never, ever see any behaviour like this from her. We have never even had a cross word with her and have never seen her in a mood when she's with us.
So, last night we sat her down for a chat, and it appears that the main problem is that she resents her mum's new boyfriend, who after seeing her mum for a couple of months, has moved in. She said she's jealous of him because her mum no longer makes time for her. We discussed with her that it's only natural her mum wants a fella, and that she should give it time. But, we have learnt today that she is actively rude to this chap, puts him down all the time at home and calls him stupid. He is, according to my SD's nan, a very nice chap, the best boyfriend mum has had for a long while (all previous boyfriends have beaten mum up, in front of SD). This man is apparently trying very hard to make an effort with SD, but to no avail.
Any ideas, advice welcome! We don't think we'll be able to do much, as what goes on in their household is for mum to deal with in all honesty, but we do think that there's possibly more going on than she's letting on because this behaviour is very out of character and she's not behaved like this with mum's previous boyfriends, even before they started being violent. You would think she would be happy for mum as she's found a decent chap, but it appears not.
tbh it sounds like you are all expecting a lot of this girl. She has had to put up with her mum's drinking, with violent step-fathers (plural by the sounds of it) and now she is expected to be grateful for yet another man in her mother's life, who moves in after only a few months, simply because he doesn't actually beat her mum up in front of her.
Why should she be grateful? Why should she not expect her mum to put her needs first for once and take time to get to know this new man before she risks their family life once more by letting him move in? Why should she trust her mum's taste in men? Why should she feel confident that this new one won't also turn out to be unreliable?
I can well see why this 12yo is angry; it is an age where many girls are angry anyway because of hormonal changes, but it sounds like she is expected by the whole family to be more mature than her own mum and not show her feelings, but to put her mum first. To be her mother's carer. Enough to make anyone angry imho.
I don't think there is a lot you can do except to listen to her and make sure your home is a space where she is allowed to act her age.
Oh we completely agree, and see it pretty much the same way as you do. We've asked her to try and make an effort because he seems to be, and have told her she shouldn't shove her mum. But, we've also told her we understand, and hope that she will feel able to open up to us more. You're absolutely right, she has been the adult for a very long time, and her mother the child, so the proverbial hasn't yet hit the fan. It will though, big time. This could be the start because for the first time in her life she's not afraid of her mum. Incidentally, the request for help with her from mum is the first, ever. She doesn't communicate with my husband, contact is via court order, and in the past the only texts mum ever sent him were abusive. The fact that mum approached my husband for help indicates that things could be worse than we know at the moment, which worries us.
To her, mum having a boyfriend = violence.
She can't just shrug off a lifetime's association.
Well done for being there for her BTW. Don't tell her what she should feel (happy for mum), just listen to her and validate her feelings.
Her feelings are valid, she just cannot express them appropriately.
Have you thought about counselling?
We have thought about counselling, and have spoken to professionals. Trouble is we live 20 miles away, and getting mum to agree to us taking her would be impossible. Mum is by nature selfish, let alone the drink etc. It's difficult because we want to do right by her but we can only do that once a fortnight when she comes over. She keeps a lot in, and getting her to open up is taking some doing!
Ask her if she wants to move in with you and her dad?
Hmm, we're holding out on that one for the moment. She feels very.protective of her mum, and wouldn't leave if we asked her now. But, she knows she could, and we think that one day, soon, she might.
It's a good job that she has you; some stability and sanity in her life. I hope she will move in with you one day, sounds like she needs it. Just be prepared- once she felt safe with you, you would probably see a lot of anger coming out, that's what damaged pre-teens are like.
It's very difficult for us, because we know how to put her first, but doubt her mother does simply because mum just thinks of herself and her needs. My SD had problems with this new fella before he moved in, which her mum was aware of, so why on earth did she move him in? Everyone is entitled to a relationship, but things must be taken slowly especially if the kids are struggling. Selflessness is not her forte though, and could well end up losing her her daughter.
Just keep her talking, OP. And be prepared for the fact that you might end up taking a lot of the anger this poor girl must feel.
It's a nasty mix - her mum is crap (let's be honest) but she's still her mum and she's been cast in a 'victim' role for her daughter because she's been physically hurt by the men in her life.
Only now is your SD starting to see that there's more to it than 'bad men hurting mummy'. No woman ever, ever asks a man to hurt her, but there are some who seem to attract the nutters and then 'provoke' them.
Perhaps you could have a word with the new boyfrind and check him out for yourself? If he is as 'nice' as advertised then he'll understand and he could do a lot to help. Just be wary of the fact that a 'nice' man may not stick with an alcoholic, possibly argumentative and abusive woman for very long, esp if he's getting grief from what could look like a junior model!
Thank you, you're so right and we're prepared for the inevitable fallout which is gonna happen just because of the alcoholism, let alone anything else. Our very understanding, wonderful GP is also on standby to help when the proverbial hits properly. My husband knows the new boyfriend from years back, and my husband is surprised that he has chosen to get involved with such a difficult angry aggressive person. We're surprised its lasted as long as it has (about 2-3) months! Apparently they've had one argument that my SD witnessed, and that was about mums drinking (boyfriend doesn't drink). Mum is apparently drinking daily still, but to a lesser amount, but is still constantly angry and stressed, so unless he's an absolute saint, can't see him putting up with it for much longer.
We will speak to her again at the weekend, see how things are going.
Well, I just wanted to update on this situation. Weekend before last SD broke down on us and said she has had enough at home, that she was fed up of mum's drinking, behaviour etc., fed up of being her carer, fed up of worrying about her and doesn't like the new bf. She said she wanted to live with us and have a better life. She said she wanted to be the child for a change, and not the adult. Anyway, when my husband took her home that evening, she said she was going to give her mother one more chance, and was going to issue an ultimatum to give up drinking, get rid of the boyfriend and get internet.
Then, last Friday, less than a week after the ultimatum (by the way, mum continued to drink throughout the week), there was an incident when mum and bf were drunk, they went to someone's house with SD and the bf assaulted a 15 year old girl, then assaulted SD's mum. He was arrested, there was a lot of drunken chaos. Next day he returned to SD's home after being held overnight in the cells (bear in mind he's an ex-con just out after serving 6 years in jail for drugs). He apparently tried to apologise to SD but she wasn't having it. That afternoon she called her nan (my hubbys mum, who lives in her home town) to come and get her out of there. She told her nan she wanted her to ring my hubby to come and get her and that she was moving out, couldn't cope etc., but nan wanted her to sleep on it just to be sure. Sunday she was still adamant so my MIL phoned us and we went straight over. SD was adamant, and so we brought her home with us.
Her mother hadn't contacted her at all until last night, and we did think she may change her mind as her mother is very good at emotional blackmail. But she held her ground, and very forcefully told her mum she has made her decision and doesn't want to go back there to live. She said this a dozen times at least, and kept on saying 'you're not hearing me mum. I WANT to stay here'. After half an hour of this, my husband decided to call time on the phone call as it was clear it wasn't going anywhere, so he did. SD wasn't upset or angry, but fine and happy afterwards and remains so. In fact, she's been exceedingly happy since we got her here.
Tomorrow she's having an induction day at our local secondary school, she's contacted all her friends in her home town to tell them she's moved (and she's told them why .. cos mum's alcoholic).
Good for her. What a very sensible girl and what a selfish, thoughtless mother she has. Clearly this bf was not actually that nice - ex-con/drugs would indicate that - and your SD was able to see him for what and who he really is. Clearly a better judge of people than her mother.
The legacy of having a mother who is unable to put your needs before her own is a lengthy one .. I have three adopted children born to birth mothers who were similarly unable to prioritise their children over their own needs. She's going to need your help and support and possibly that of a counsellor to help her come to terms with her loss - and possibly grieve for the loss of the mother she never really had. Other than you, of course!
She appears to be a credit to you and your husband. You sound like a really good step mum!!!!!
Thanks, she's a credit to herself to be honest! Mum has been addicted for 20 years now, firstly to heroin from the age of 15-20, then that was replaced with alcohol and prescription drugs, so she's never known an adult life free from addiction. She cannot cope with every day stuff, like paying bills or organising anything, is always late etc. She would never manage to hold down a job (unless it was in a bar) and even if she did she wouldn't be able to manage to pay rent/council tax. We always knew that one day SD would see these things, especially when at secondary school with so many other children of her own age to compare herself to. Plus, my husband and I both work, so she sees the differences in the 2 homes. The straw that broke the camels back finally was the incident last week, the final 'brawl' if you like (SD has witnessed her mother in many fights, not just DV but also fights with neighbours, members of the public etc), so it's not surprising she's had enough. She isn't showing any signs of distress over her decision, and at the moment isn't showing any sign of missing her mum. As soon as we notice anything untoward we will of course act immediately. I work in the NHS, GP Surgery, so can give her instant access to counselling should she need it.
At the moment we are taking it one day at a time, but are so happy to be able to care for her, which is exactly how it should be.
Thought I would update you all. Since my stepdaughter came to live with us, 7 weeks ago now, she hasn't seen her mum. Mum has promised 4 times now to come and see her, but each time has cancelled at the last minute, various excuses ranging from an emergency doctors appt to my stepdaughter's little brother being sick immediately prior to getting the bus (this was last Saturday, but then we found out that mum was in the park where they live with the little boy and her bf, so clearly he wasn't ill). She's mostly shrugging it off, but it's getting harder and harder for her to do so, and we think she's starting to internalise it. Just don't know what to do. Our GP has sent us details of appropriate counselling services for her, but she says she doesn't need counselling. However, the constant let downs must be getting to her. Not only does mum not visit, but doesn't phone often, and doesn't reply to texts either, despite my SD sending her mum texts pleading with her to reply. My SD has even got quite angry with her mum via text, telling her off for not visiting or texting or phoning.
Just don't know what to do, short of going to get mum and physically dragging her to see her daughter. But, that would be a mistake as now mum is the absent parent she has to learn to make the effort to see her child, and we don't want to set an unrealistic precedent. Besides, she lives 20 miles away.
Well, I thought people might like to know that my husband and I were awarded residence of my stepdaughter last Thursday!!!! We went to Court, her mum didn't show up, and the Judge granted it there and then! We were surprised, as it was a Directions Hearing, but he said he had enough information from CAFCASS and Social Services, and us to be able to decide that she is better off with us. So, we now have residence, and as joint applicants I have parental responsibility too, giving me the same rights as her natural parents. It's wonderful, we are elated, and so is she. She was so excited when she came home from school that day that she hugged us both so much we could hardly breathe!!
So, she's been with us now for 10 weeks. Mum has been to see her once, 2 weeks ago, for 3 hours. Contact from mum has been minimal, and she last phoned my stepdaughter 8 days ago. We are trying our best to encourage her to come and visit (my stepdaughter cannot visit mum at her address because of the violent boyfriend, and CAFCASS also advised against this), but sadly we cannot force it. So, each week she promises she will visit, my stepdaughter builds her hopes up, and her mum lets her down by not showing up. Sometimes she'll phone with an excuse as to why she can't come (doctors appointments, other appointments, SD's little brother being ill, the cat being ill), sometimes she just doesn't show and we don't hear from her for days. So, the problem I last posted about still exists.
What we have decided, and have told mum by text, is that we are putting a stop to her making arrangements/promises to visit, as it's not fair on the child to keep on being let down so heavily. We have said she is welcome to come over on spec, ie no arrangements/promises, and text when she's arrived, but that we cannot guarantee SD will be free to see her. As it is, we've kept every Saturday free for the past 10 weeks in case her mother does decide to show as promised, but we simply cannot continue allowing her unreliability to impinge on our family life. SD has had to turn down offers of trips, days out with friends because she's thought her mother is visiting, and it's not fair anymore. So far we haven't heard anything from mum except a vile text telling us we have no right to tell her she cannot arrange to visit, so we've advised her to apply to the Courts for a contact order, which we will uphold (the Courts would probably, under the circumstances, order supervised contact, or at the most alternate Saturday contact which would at least give us every other Saturday free, without obligation to her), but whether she'll bother to do that we shall just have to wait and see.
So, good news in that my precious stepdaughter is now safely and legally where she should be, but not so good news in that her mother still isn't bothering with her.
NikNox, well done.
Your SD knows she is wanted by you and your DH- this won't take the pain of her mother rejecting her away, but it means that it may not swallow her up.
You have done a very, very good thing
Good luck to you and your family.
Thank you. She does seem very happy for the most part, although yesterday she was quite low after her mum failed to show up. She gets angry with mum, and sent her a text simply saying 'why have you let me down again', which her mother responded to 8 hours later saying she felt panicky and promising, faithfully, a phone call today and a visit next Saturday. SD read the text, put her phone down and said she couldn't be bothered to reply. Rejection is hard though, it must be affecting her, so if anyone has any tips they would be gratefully received :-)
Just let her feel what she feels would be my advice- wanting to protect her from the hurt sometimes makes people 'smother' a child's feelings IYSWIM; letting her know that whatever she is feeling; anger, sadness, whatever, is the right feeling and that she is right to feel them.
By loving her and letting her know she is loved, you are sending her the message that it's not her fault, that she is worth loving. Keep doing it
Makes sense, and its what we are doing. She loves her mum, despite her faults, but is fast losing respect for her. She has started dissing her mum lately and ss tell her she must respect her mum (with gritted teeth, not noticeable to her!) but she says that respect has to be earned, which of course is true!
Don't tell her how to feel, she's had a lifetime of that. It sounds simple but it isn't.
When SD is saying things like her mother is not good enough or doesn't give a toss about her you are naturally going to want to either agree or disagree. It's so hard but try not to. Try to say neutral things like "that sounds like it's hard for you" or "you have a right to your own point of view". Even if it does sound a bit American-self-help-ish.
The SW should not be telling her off for having an opinion. I would agree that if the child is behaving badly, gratuitous name calling of Mum, or swearing, then a telling off is justified, but it's important to remember the little girl has feelings and doesn't have other language to express them.
She's going to have to be taught how to use english to express her feelings clearly and without lowering herself to her mothers level. Like saying "I am really, really angry with my mother" rather than "my mother is a worthless drunk". You can teach her that.
I don't think it's wise to push counselling on her. I'm not a counsellor, but I've done some of the training. Counselling is just a safe neutral space to express yourself in. From that description counselling doesn't sound like the sort of thing that makes powerful positive changes, but actually that's all most upset people need most of the time. To be heard and to be understood.
By giving her neutral responses rather than affirming or denying her feelings and by teaching her how to really use words to get her point over, you will be complimenting the safety she already feels in your care and that, for now, is plenty enough.
Let her know counselling is always an option weeks, months or years from now, if she wants it then.
Hi Saffron, firstly it wasn't the SW that told her off, it was my husband (I mistyped as I was typing my reply on my HTC!), and he didn't tell her off exactly, just said she must respect her mum.
It is difficult, because right now she is so angry with her mum, stand offish and aloof, but then who can blame her? She said to me yesterday that she thinks her mum is a 'psycho' because of her chaotic lifestyle and drinking, and I didn't actually respond to that because I didn't know what to say. Because mum is barely managing to contact her (it's now been 11 days since she last spoke to her mum on the phone, despite texts from mum promising she'll ring 'the next day') she is, I think, trying to detach herself from her mum, because if she thinks too hard about how her mum seems to be rejecting her it will break her heart.
I had a phone call from the SW on Monday, as they are doing a Core Assessment on SD's little brother because of the obvious concerns there, and she is coming to see SD this afternoon at 4pm. I'll go round to the neighbours and leave them to it of course, and when I told SD she was coming, she said that she will tell them the truth for the first time ever (there has been much SS involvement since 2004, and SD has been interviewed many times), because in previous interviews her mum has insisted on being present and therefore SD has felt under pressure to lie for her mum and tell whatever SW it was that everything is okay at home, when it never has been okay at home and still isn't. She doesn't seem to be feeling nervous about it, quite the opposite in fact, almost like she's looking forward to it! Maybe she sees this as her opportunity to tell Social Services that all is not well at mum's, never has been and she is extremely worried about her brother. We shall see.
For the most part, we are just encouraging her to say what she wants and feel what she wants to feel. Poor kid, must be such a mixed bag of emotions for her, but at least she has stability and normality now.
Hi everyone, well the interview with social services went well. I wasn't there, but she said afterwards that she told the sw everything, the truth, for the very first time. What happens next I don't know and we won't be given any info as its about her brother, so not our business of course. We just hope they do right by him.
Her mum managed to visit on Saturday, for just 2 hours this time, so that's a total of 5 hours in 11 weeks. Even though theres buses back every half hour, she has to apparently get the 1pm one. Our guess is that she's craving alcohol too much by then as she probably doesn't drink on her visit. Shame because her effort isn't really much of an effort, and my stepdaughter really does seem to be disengaged from her mum. There's been no contact from mum since, no texts or calls, so this evening my husband suggested she gives her mum a ring and handed her his phone. She refused, just said she can't be bothered to call her mum, very casually, and stated she had nothing to say to her anyway. We are trying both ends if you like to encourage contact between them, but its not working so we're giving up. I think we have to accept that mum would make the effort if she really wanted to, and that her severe lack of effort is driving her daughter further and further away from her. It's sad to have to accept that, and I find it particularly hard as a mum myself. I've always believed that the bond between a mother and her child is so strong that nothing could stand in the way of it, but it would appear that not all mothers feel it. Her loss.
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