How can I help my stepdaughter?(8 Posts)
I'm the stepmum to a mother of 3 children between the ages of 6 and 14. She is having a hard time coping with her divorce, looking after her kids and running the house. Unfortunately, she and ex cannot talk without arguing or actually fighting (physical) . There have been police, courts, restraining orders over the past couple of years and both parties are equally guilty. The two younger boys are caught up in this current nightmare. They did see their dad every weekend for an overnight stay and also he picked them up from school 2 days a week and returned them just before bedtime. It seemed to be working ok except when he did/didn't do or say the right thing. Access was withdrawn , followed by random turning up on his doorstep by her, with 2 crying children, demanding he take more responsibility. Then after a while things would go back to "normal" and then after a few weeks it all kicks off again. It has been like this for over a year. We live in the same street as her and the children and I often babysit or have them to stay overnight, sometimes several times a week. She constantly complains that she has to do it all on her own and accuses us of siding with her ex. We have had endless texting, sometimes through out the night, when the boys are with their dad, as she feels bereft without them and can't see a future for herself. She seems obsessed with needing to talk face to face with him and "just wants the truth", even though it always ends in disaster. Her dad gives her money every week as she has no income and refuses to claim benefits. This has caused rows between us, as we are both at retirement age but he feels he can't retire as he needs to support her. I know I probably sound like the wicked stepmother but I have actually been supportive of the whole family for 20 years and we used to get on really well. I looked after the eldest child nearly every day from when she was a few months old, even tho I had a full time job at the time, so mum could go back to work and did the same when the 2 youngest came along. We are at our wits end, to know how to help her. She refuses to "compromise" on child access for ex, insisting that he should not get his own way and dictate to her. He works full time btw so is limited somewhat, whereas she does not have a job. Sorry about the lengthy rant but does anyone have any suggestions?
Just to clarify a few things. Ex had requested 1 weekend off a month and was offered 2, which he accepted, then was blamed for not being more involved. Currently, the boys do not see him at all and haven't since just before Easter. SD has had the occasional meltdown over the past year and says he can have them full time. Within hours of them being there, she is banging on the door threatening him with the police. She has done this to us too with the older GD. I wish I knew what would make her happy. She insists that he has ruined her life and wants nothing more to do with him, yet is resentful that he has moved on. I do understand as I have been in the same situation but I was able to put it all behind me, tho I know not everyone can do that.
She sounds depressed, has she been to her GP?
she says she's not depressed just peed off. I offered to go to the GP with her but she refused. She says her GP told her she is "overwhelmed and undersupported" which actually sounds a bit like something she would tell the GP. She has told us that she feels suicidal at times and hopeless. I'm convinced she needs some medical help or councelling but she is adamant that she doesn't need it. The children sometimes come round saying she's been crying or shouting at them all day and they get all guilty and upset, especially the eldest. She sometimes seems more the mother to her siblings, which is completely horrible for her. We've tried talking, just listening, sympathising , it usually ends the same way - we don't understand, we're taking his side, etc. She lets resentment and bitterness colour her judgment and unfortunately the children are always going to be the losers in this.
have i come to the wrong place for advice? Can anyone point me to a more appropriate website maybe?
The children are suffering. Think of them .
Speak to the school
There may be some support they can offer. Encourage the oldest to talk to her teachers or counsellor.
Get her and the ex to talk in mediation and agree a parenting agreement.
Speak to her gp and raise the concerns.
Thanks for replying.
We had a meeting at the school with the school counsellors of all 3 GC, the 2 boy's teachers, SD and her ex, her family support worker, me and DH. We all thought we were there to to talk about access and the effects of the split on the kids. It was a complete farce. We (me, DH and her ex) were told before we went in, not to say anything negative or argue or interrupt or she would walk out. Basically we had to listen to a load of BS and couldn't speak out. I and her ex have spoken to schools and support workers privately but they can only act based on what she says. I even resorted to phoning social services but again, they can do all the checks but if she lies to them, they can't do anything. She won't go to mediation.
We may have turned a corner this w/end tho. I suggested some websites about shared parenting contracts and she's printed one out and filled it in with her wishes/conditions and I'm to pass it to ex for his input. It has helpful guidelines at the front about this being about the kids and not to let the past or personal feelings affect their decisions. She seems a lot more accepting of this advice, than when me and DH have been saying exactly this ourselves but hey ho. Looking through the contract, she has basically asked for the same arrangements that were already in place, which he had always complied with. The only difference seems to be that it is actually written down and they will sign to say that they will both stick to it and not change anything without written requests. Whether this will prevent her from stopping access on some perceived slight, as before, remains to be seen.
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