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DSD overheard last night (loudy) slating me and her visit on the mobile to friends. Advice please.

(14 Posts)
BOOareHaunting Mon 24-Oct-11 08:45:08

Hi, I am a regular poster who is posting this on behalf of my friend (at her request), re her DSD (12) Post written by friend and C&P here.

May be long sorry!

BACKGROUND: DH wasn't aware of his DD1 until she was 3yo and he got a CSA letter. Wasn't required to pay as self employed then and I was PG with our DD1 (his DD2). He asked for paternity test, positive, and the mum readily admits she did it on purpose to get a council house (which she still resides in with her DH and 2 other DD's).
We have DSD during school holidays and since she was 9yo she has often rang and requested the visits, length of time etc.
We have 2 DD's 6 & 7 yo.

So Saturday I go to collect her with my DD2 and my DD1 one stayed home with DH, DSD asked that I go as she wanted to talk to me about 'girls' stuff she couldn't/ didn't want to discuss with her mum/dad or SD.

She really wanted a Blackberry phone which we had got for her and didn't even recieve a thankyou when we gave it to her. We don't expect gratitude like it's a favour but simple manners should exist.

Sat evening we went bowling as a family, she spent the whole time texting her friends (pretty normal at this age I would think!) which caused my 2 DD's to get a little upset but they also need to understand she is beyond 'playing' now.
At home DD's went to bed whilst she stayed up with us to watch a film - we try to give her time without the LO around.
Yesterday we went shopping, she chose a few bits and I needed a few winter things for me. We also got her some extra credit for her phone (her mum tops it up and it has to last) because we know she'll contact her friends more when she's not with them.

So here's the problem bit. I went to my friends (the one who's MN I'm using!) for a coffee leaving DH with all the girls. Whilst I was gone his DD rang her cousin and was talking very loudly (in the garden) about how we treat her as a baby and expect her to be free babysitting and that's why we want her to visit. That we treat her as a slave and expect her to go to the shop because we can't be bothered. Re these points DSD asked if she and DD's could go to park earlier and the shop is 700m away and when I needed milk (mid cooking - whoops!) I asked if she minded going to the shop and said she could chose something for dessert and it was up to her what we had. My DD's wanted to go with her and DSD asked if she could take them.

After returning home and calming DD's who could also hear what their sister was saying, and putting DD's to bed we tried to talk to DSD and find out what was upsetting her, what she wanted changed, if she was missing her friends and did she want to go home earlier than planned? (DH back at work today so not around daytime). DSD just sat there playing on her phone, refusing to look at us and when I asked her to put it down and stop texting for a minute she replied (rudely) that she had no credit so wasn't texting.

So the outcome is that it wasn't resolved. She refused to tell us what was wrong, says she doesn't want to go home, doesn't deny (anymore!) what she said but will not tell us what we can do to make things better for her. sad

I know DSD feelings are the most important here but due to DH working hours I have done most of the day to day childcare with DSD on visits, I thought we had a great relationship, I took her on holiday with BOO and our DC's this summer because DH couldn't get time off, and I am feeling hurt.

Problem is I don't know how to solve this.

DSD won't be honest and DH is so hurt/ angry he says if she doesn't want to visit then she shouldn't.

<Sits back to be told she's a teen and this is all totally normal!>

brdgrl Mon 24-Oct-11 10:04:19

I'm not surprised you are feeling hurt. It sounds like a very difficult situation, and you have clearly been very accepting and tried very hard to make DSD happy. She's sort of throwing it in your face.

"I know DSD feelings are the most important here"
why? not being dense on purpose, but really - why? seems to me that DSD's feelings are important, but so are the feelings of the other kids and, yes, your feelings are important too!

So - I'd guess that DSD's behaviour might be fairly 'normal' under the circumstances (and she may be confused herself about her own mixture of feelings, plus keep in mind that teenagers will make family life and parents sound miserable to their friends even when not actually that unhappy!). But that does not mean you should encourage it, obviously.

It is reasonable to ask her to go to the shops, it is reasonable to expect her to spend time with the family and other kids, it is reasonable to have rules and expect her to be respectful, e.g. no texting eyc. Keep your resolve and just treat her reasonably no matter what she tries on.

(A blackberry for a twelve year old seems a bit much in my personal opinion, hope you don't mind my saying so, i know my 13 year-old DSS would like one but there is no you think maybe there is some over-compensating going on with DSD?)

theredhen Mon 24-Oct-11 10:23:08

Yes, DSD feelings are important, but not at the expense of everyone elses!

She is probably being a "normal" teenager. Which is fine as long as she is "parented normally" too. What you have said you have asked her to do is all normal stuff. Helping around the house, helping with siblings etc. You took her on holiday when you didn't have to. If you had left her with her Mum, there would have been cries of how you are leaving her out etc. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

My step kids have blackberries too and completely abuse the contract and ignore us whilst texting all the time. Again it's normal behaviour but if they're not picked up on it, they will carry on. Of course they will moan when they are stopped from texting, but you are teaching them right from wrong and surely that is the best thing for the child.

Sounds to me like you are doing all the right things. Don't be emotionally blackmailed.

hester Mon 24-Oct-11 10:37:44

I've never been a step-parent so I don't have informed advice to give.

I do remember being a teenager, though. And I have to say I would consider it entirely normal that a teenager would do that, without even really meaning it. She's probably found that talking about a horrid stepmother is an easy sympathy ploy (and one that's given lots of cultural backing, let's face it) and is enjoying spinning a little drama to get attention. I'm not saying that IS what is happening, just that it is entirely possible. And that she is now feeling highly embarrassed at being caught out, and that is why you're not getting much out of her.

Saying it's normal doesn't mean I think it's acceptable, and I think you can and should have words with her about it. But then let it go - don't feed the drama - and certainly don't decide that this means she is deeply unhappy or that your relationship has all been a sham. At least not in the absence of other evidence.

piprabbit Mon 24-Oct-11 11:00:07

I think she was showing off to her friends - teenagers are good at indulging in competitive misery. She is probably a bit embarrassed to have been confronted about her conversation - I suspect she isn't giving you any answers because she doesn't actually have any.

It does sound as though both you and your DH pussyfoot around your DSD when she visits. It seems as though you are overthinking her behaviour, analyzing what she says and does, trying to anticipate her reactions and artificially smooth her way through life.

Being a teenager is a pretty emotional, intense and dramatic time for lots of children. They need parents who can neutralise the angst and navel-gazing instead of joining in and inflating the situation. Your DH's reaction (saying that maybe his DD shouldn't visit anymore if not happy) is quite extreme - and also gives your DSD the message that she is only welcome if she is happy and grateful.

There are some really excellent video clips on about parenting teenagers - you and your DH might like to dip in and see what you can find. I'm thinking particularly of the ones on listening, hormones and keeping communication open.

BOOareHaunting Mon 24-Oct-11 11:05:51

Just read friend replies.

She has an update:

The Blackberry phone was not new (although unused), a family members but given a work phone so didn't need it. We bought it from them and then bought a cheap PAYG to get the SIMcard. Turns out there was no need as DSD's current sim is the same network!

So yesterday when I gave her the phone I gave it to her with the SIM. I didn't explain about the phone (didn't want to to think she wasn't 'worth' a brand new very expensive one).

I had to activate the SIM which apparently came with £15 credit - I didn't know this. So about an hour later I ask her if DD1 could have her old SIM as DD1 had asked if she could use DH old phone to text DSD when she goes home as she misses her. DH old phone is also on same network as DSD's as is mine!

Still with me? So DSD says she can't really as it's her SD and she shouldn't without asking (fair enough and glad she has the sense to tell me). She then mentioned that her SIM was the same network as the one I'd given her.

I asked DSD if would would use her old SIM then and give DD1 the new one and explained about the texting - she did this, seemingy hapy, without any argument
and was grateful or seemed it when I offered to put £10 on her phone for her.

So this morning I ring DSD's mum to chat about what happened last night and see if she has any suggestions and ask what DSD would do at home so I could try and create a similar environment and have the same rules. These questions got replied with 'um and erm'. Unusual as we have always got on well.
So DSD mum said DSD had rung her yesterday from the park saying I had 'taken' her new SIM card away as DD1 had a 'massive paddy' when DSD wouldn't give her her old SIM. That is not true! DD1 wasn't even there when I spoke to her (well there but off playing) and I had simply told I'd look into a SIM for her to text DSD. Apparently DSD had already text all her friends the new number (she hadn't told me this!).

So I spoke to DSD and have told her she needs to be honest with me (and her Mum!) about things - that we can't help her if she isn't. DSD then said she felt it unfair that DD1 got £15 credit (that's when I found out about the auto credit) and she only got £10. But checking the new SIM DD1 has there's only £5 left so DSD has used £10 of that as well as all her £10. As it was due to the situation of SIM swapping I am going to put £10 more on for her (she thought texts were free on new SIM and they are on her old (current one)).

I am not happy that she lied at all and she knows this and I'm grudgingly putting the extra £10 on because I think DSD needs to learn that her sisters will get things like she does, and her visits aren't all about what we'll give her. Also DSD does tend to get more anyway because she has 2 families giving her stuff. I hate all this materialism and want DSD to realise we love her and will be there for her and what we can/ can't afford at any given time will not affect this.

As it stands DSD has her new phone with her old SIM and DD1 has DH's old brick phone to text DSD when she goes home again.

UC Mon 24-Oct-11 13:57:19

I think DSD is trying to manipulate you, and it's working. If I were you (and your DH), I would have totally ignored the telephone conversation, and I mean totally ignored. The most I might have said was not to have the conversation so loudly so that it upset your DDs - if there is something wrong, she should bring it up quietly and with you and DH on your own.

If your DDs heard and were upset by it, I'd have just said that DSD was just showing off to her friends, and to ignore what she said.

Whereas in the situation you describe, DSD has successfully made herself the centre of everyone's attention. I think she wanted a response, and she got one! Sounds like she is trying to manipulate the situation... If you get on well with her mum, then speak to her, and agree that neither of you will tolerate being manipulated like this - and let DSD know that.

Also if I were you, I wouldn't be giving DSD any special benefits when she visits - any more than you'd give your own DDs. It does sound as though you pander to her a bit. I'm quite surprised that you took the approach of asking her what was wrong, what was she unhappy about etc., rather than saying that the way she'd brought up a complaint was inappropriate. When you say:

"DSD just sat there playing on her phone, refusing to look at us and when I asked her to put it down and stop texting for a minute she replied (rudely) that she had no credit so wasn't texting.

So the outcome is that it wasn't resolved. She refused to tell us what was wrong, says she doesn't want to go home, doesn't deny (anymore!) what she said but will not tell us what we can do to make things better for her",

it sounds to me like a girl who had done something rather silly, made stuff up, and actually is perhaps a little embarrassed. I'd put money on there not actually being anything wrong! I remember totally over-reacting as a teenager, emotions all over the shop.

My DSSs have sometimes done this to us - complained to their mum about how horrible it is at our house - always immediately following one of them being told off for something! Luckily their mum and I get on extremely well and can laugh it off.

Blu Mon 24-Oct-11 14:07:59

Honestly, I think you are over thinking this and over-reacting to it.
You obviously treat her really well, she obviously enjoys coming to you, but she is a tweenager. I can remember that period really well - they can thrive on over-dramatisation, the world being against them, need huge dramas to discuss with friends, are still v immature...

I would just carry on being as nice as you generally are and stop trying so hard. there IS no problem, so you can't make it better.

Ignkore it, smile to yourselves, roll your eyes, and if you hear it, say 'oi less of the slavedriver, please, and be careful what you wish for!'

UC Mon 24-Oct-11 14:51:52

Blu said what I meant!!! In a much more succinct fashion!!!

Just ignore, rise above it and detach, detach, detach.

BOOareHaunting Mon 24-Oct-11 14:52:25

We probably are over reacting. DSD is the oldest in both families so get's to be the trial run twice! Her other sisters are 8 & 6 so she is used to children my DD's age and probably doesn't do anything differently then or be expected to 'watch them' any more or less. If she wants to take my DD's to the park she has to watch them - however today I said no (threat of rain so good excuse) and told my 2 to go outside and play if they wanted and DSD would join them if she choses. It took 2 minutes for her to go outside! Babysitter my arse!

We are off out now to a free play event in a local park so DD's will have kids their age to play with and hopefully DSD will meet some teens to chat you. She may make some friends to hang out with when she next visits. I'm fine with this if it doesn't impact on our plans which is exactly what I'm like with my DD's.

And thanks - in future I will concentrate more on asking DSD to spout off to her friends quietly (and no so the whole street can hear) and not necessaarily on what she's saying.

One thing her mum did say this morning is she's sure DSD has told her friends her mum makes her do all the housework and get up with her sisters at the weekend while she lies in (mum says it's not true!). I did laugh and say she had told me that too. grin

OMG (as DSD would say) I am having my first foray into the world of parenting a teen. shock

petaluma Mon 24-Oct-11 15:01:37

She sounds like a classic teenager trying to overdramatise everything. It's like dealing with a toddler- the more attention you pay to this type of behaviour, the more she's likely to keep it up. Pick your battles, ignore everything else and keep telling her you love her. Good luck.

UC Mon 24-Oct-11 15:22:32

See, she does it to her mum too. Sounds as though you have a v reasonable mum to talk to there - hang onto that. DSD knows what will wind you up the most and does it. She knows what will wind her mum up most and does that too.

I do think our children who have 2 homes have double the opportunity to pit one parent against the other, and 1 home against the other, usually to get a result they want. And let's be honest, if I was a teenager with 2 homes, I'd try it on too...

If they were all your children, you wouldn't think it was unfair to ask the 12 yo to watch the younger 2 if she took them to the park. Try not to let the fact that they are step siblings cloud your view.

Have a lovely afternoon at the park!

BOOareHaunting Mon 24-Oct-11 16:45:37

They're half siblings. DSD shares my DD's dad (DH) her other 2 sisters Mum.

Thanks all, have had a better afternoon and normal communication has resumed!

Earlier she was telling a friend from home about how her SD is giving her money to clothes shop on Thursday (kept following me into other rooms whilst saying this!) and asking her friend to join her (hint hint me thinks after this thread - perhaps wanting me to offer her clothes/money as well) but all she got from me was 'that's nice, do you have any idea what you want to buy? we could look online later when DD's are asleep'.
Hopefully this will be something nice we can do together.

Peachy Mon 24-Oct-11 16:56:44

I am with Hester tbh: sounds a lot like many teenagers I know regardless of the relationship with their famillies. I know it's ahrd but don't l;et it get to you.

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