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Absolutely had it up to ^ here! How do you disengage?

(16 Posts)
messykitchen Sat 27-Oct-12 12:20:35

For what must be about the 100th time, DH has agreed one thing with me and then gone ahead and done another without speaking to me first.

To put you in the picture, DSD is IMO quite spoilt - both with material things and attention, from both her mother and father. Anyway, she broke a very expensive item (it belongs to her) that she had been told not to take outside, and it was going to cost a lot to get it fixed. Her reaction to this was "I'm not being funny, but if you've got children then you need to expect that they will break stuff" hmm She had also "stolen" money from DH by knowingly buying over £60 worth of apps and songs on his credit card. He asked my opinion and I said that she needed to pay it all back, but when he told her, she said that she wouldn't have any money left to spend on clothes which he said that he agreed with angry. Anyway after I expressed my opinion (something along the lines of tough shit), they resolved the issue and she paid off some of it and had some money left. DH took the item to be fixed and paid for it himself, but is going to ask her for half the money. Then her behaviour was quite bad - very ungrateful, rudeness etc, so DH asked my advice on what he should do. I suggested that it would be a good idea to not give her the item back until she had paid her half of the repair off. He agreed and no more was said.
Fast forward to today and he has told her that she can have the item today and she can pay him back as and when she has the money - this was all said and agreed when I was not there and I was only told afterwards.
I know she is his daughter, and he can pretty much do and say what he likes, but I am fed up of being asked for advice and help and spending time sitting discussing issues when he has no intention of following through with it or is manipulated into changing his mind. I feel that I have no trust and respect in him, because he always says one thing and then does another. It happens near enough all the time - he is the epitome of a Disney dad. It also makes it very difficult to parent our DS because he is treated so differently sad.

I could write pages and pages on all the different issues and incidents that have happened, but I won't bore you grin - suffice to say that this is the tip of the iceberg.

I have told DH that he can from now on do what he likes and not to ask me any advice on matters concerning DSD. I just don't know how far to take it though. I always help with homework, hair, problems, fixing things on the computer, making lunch, babysitting, etc, but I am really pissed off now and really don't want to have anything to do with any of it! I am also pregnant and concerned about my blood pressure so I think that is adding to the wish to "run away" from it all.

Has anyone on here "disengaged?" How far did you take it?

brdgrl Sat 27-Oct-12 12:43:45

Someone else will be along to help you with the disengagement stuff in a minute I hope!

I know she is his daughter, and he can pretty much do and say what he likes, but I am fed up of being asked for advice and help and spending time sitting discussing issues when he has no intention of following through with it or is manipulated into changing his mind.
Yep. I hear you - I put a lot of time, energy, and emotion I have put into dealing with DSCs and their needs, and for me, the bottom line is that if they all (DSCs and DH) want me to be involved when it suits them (eg, when I am dealing with their problems, fighting their corner, looking after their future needs and desires, doing nice things for them, meeting their immediate practical needs), they don't get to suddenly turn around and object when the very same standard results in a consequence they don't care for.

But one problem with disengagement is that it isn't true that she is his daughter, and he can pretty much do and say what he likes - you share a home and so there have to be limits on what your DH does independently, and there have to be rules which everyone in the home observes.

You have to be able to expect that those decisions which affect you directly will be jointly made and/or enforced.

Your DSD is spoilt. That is your business, since you are married. You can't completely disengage there, unless you have some fairly elaborate financial arrangements in place with your DH. (I'm talking here simply about the material and financial; her behaviour in your home is obviously your business too.) DH's financial situation is my financial situation. If he gives money to the DSCs, that's money that is no longer available to pay our rent, buy our groceries, and so on. So, no, he doesn't get to do as he pleases there. Rule in our house now is that if you break it, you pay for it. I'm not sure how old your DSD is, but it sounds as though she is old enough for that to apply to her as well.

messykitchen Sat 27-Oct-12 13:28:27

Thank you for the reply - it's helpful sometimes just to hear that someone is in a similar situation! Though I'm sorry to hear you are in the same boat.

She is 12, yet I often feel that she gets treated a lot younger than her years - everything is done for her (I refuse, which is met with eye rolling), but DH does a lot.

I completely agree with you re the material and financial, but I discuss this with DH til I'm blue in the face and he always tends to ignore my views. I just can't see a way around it all short of heading for the divorce courts!!

I really hate it when people say "Well you knew he had a child...." - because honestly, if I had had a crystal ball at the time then I really would have thought twice! It's impossible to know what will happen in the future and it is usually too late by the time you realise what it's really like!

humptydidit Sat 27-Oct-12 13:44:57

messykitchen I feel your pain too.

I am embarking on the disengaging thing too... But i'm struggling a bit with the day to day reality of it. I'm lucky because we don't live together so I can have it very clear that in my house it is my rules. But it also gives me less clout when making decisions for our whole family because our finances etc and living spaces are ultimately separate.

The bit that I'm having trouble with is that I think that it's right that a wife/partner should support her husband/partner and be there to bounce ideas off, but there comes a point where it's taking the piss. This is clearly the point you have come to... Wtf is the point in sitting here discussing all the options and asking my opinion if you will only do what dsd wants at the end of the day!!!!

Not sure how mature it is, but have you tried a little light hearted sarcasm... I did and it really hit the spot. For example.... dp said to me "I'm always here for you" and I replied "yes, it;s your part time job", meaning I am not allowed his full attention as dsd won't allow it... He took it as a joke, but I can see that it hurt him a little bit.
Another time, dsd rang him up and demanded he came home to her. He apologised and said he had to leave, and I said "Don't worry about it, I@m used to it now", he asked what I meant, and I said "well, that;s the rule in your house, whatever dsd says goes"

I realise that this is not very mature, but it made him stop and think. I'm not about to start trying to manipulate him myself but I don't think it hurts him to know how I feel. And he has tried to turn it back on me before saying it's not his fault, I told him straight that the bottom line is that he is the only one who can change the situation. I think he needs to realise that he can stand up to her and have the confidence to do it.

Sorry, am rambling... That's the crux of it I think, is to be supportive but not to allow talk of dsd to take over every minute of every day.

glasscompletelybroken Sat 27-Oct-12 14:20:26

I used to give DH advice when asked on various issues with his dc's. He invariably ignored it in the end as we just do have very different parenting styles.

In the end I realised that he didn't actually want my advice - he was just talking through what he was actually going to do. Now if he asks my opinion I just ask him what he thinks, he tells me and I then say that I expect that is what he will do then and leave it at that! He will do what he thinks anyway and if I express my opinion just to have it ignored (again) it just makes me cross and resentful - so now I don't.

humptydidit Sat 27-Oct-12 15:23:55

glass yr right, that seems to be all they want to do, just think out their own ideas, which is of course what you should be able to do with your wife/partner, but it's fucking hard listening to it....

My tongue is bleeding from being bitten to stop myself from saying "why don't you just save yourslef the argument and give dsd/take dsd/make dsd/allow dsd (delete as appropriate) what she wants" grin

messykitchen Sun 28-Oct-12 11:15:14

humpty - I've tried all the sarcasm etc! It made me feel a bit better for a while, and things did change slightly, but I think I have almost come to the conclusion that DH will probably never change. Sometimes I wish he could see into his life as an outsider and see that asking your partner to go and sleep in another bed so you can sleep in the bed with your dd, or cutting short a family holiday so that dd can go home early, or spending over £300 on dd's Christmas and then saying that you can't afford to get much for your wife's birthday is just not on angry!!!!

We definitely have different parenting styles, but I just think it is affecting the relationship between each other a lot as I have so little respect for him and feel so angry with him a lot of the time.

I think like glass , I will just have to stop giving my opinion because it gets me so wound up. I think I will find it very difficult though....

colditz Sun 28-Oct-12 11:22:53


I wold be inclined, next time he asks for your advice, to give him the same response every time -"stop spoiling her, she is turning into an unpleasant person and its your fault. You're damaging your daughter and you don't listen when people tell you. She will lose friends if you don't start teaching her how to behave like a member of the human race"

colditz Sun 28-Oct-12 11:25:03

Or be very sarcastic.

Say "what do I think you should do? I think you should torture yourself for three days because you don't want her to feel the consequences of her actions, and then I think you should ensure that she doesn't, after all, by ignoring everything you have ever learned about how to raise a pleasant child. After all, it would be a shock to her system if you were to suddenly discipline her, she might even cry and we can't have that, can we?"

colditz Sun 28-Oct-12 11:26:49

I absolutely hate the Disney dad phenomenon. I think it's neglectful and lazy.

ClareMarriott Sun 28-Oct-12 14:10:35

Sorry, I may be very dense about this messykitchen but is the 12 year old DSD acting even more so the way she is normally because her parents are now divorced ? Are her parents reacting to this by trying to doing everything for her ? When did they split up ? Another thing that strikes me as odd, is the fact that you are dealing with homework, hair, problems, computer, lunch and babysitting . You must live blooming close to be able to do all this. Why are you saying yes to doing it especially as you are now expecting yourself ? Can't the DSD's mother deal with this ? If your DH is ignoring taking of any of your advice I'd say to him he can sort out his own daughter's problems with his former wife .

MsMadelineashton Sun 28-Oct-12 15:19:15

I assume if OP is doing those things that the dsd lives there a lot of the time. They need to work out a way of doing things as a family in their home. The ex wife may have completely different ideas to OP so not possible for the DH to simply sort out the problems with his ex wife.

Why should having divorced parents mean that the child is behaving in a spoilt and inconsiderate manner!? It's not the divorce that's the problem in itself, it's the Disney parenting.

I tried to disengage a lot but never really managed it I'm afraid so no advice sad but another hand to hold x

NotaDisneyMum Sun 28-Oct-12 15:35:58

I disengage sometimes when necessary - and that does mean that I only do things for my DSS that I want to do - its not my job to care for him and I'll do it willingly only when it is acknowledged and appreciated, not when it is expected and taken for granted.

I have refused to be left in sole charge of DSS when he's been disregarding me, i have told DP that I won't deal with DSS first thing in the morning (DSS needs step by step directions for the most simple of tasks) so DP has to get up too, DP is responsible for DSS washing, ironing etc and if DP is busy, it is never assumed that I will do school pickup, ferry to clubs etc. - although I will do it, if it is something that I want to do - and when DSS is behaving respectfully and naturally, and DP appreciates the support I give, then I often do want to. But when DSS is being rude and obstructive and DP is expecting me to put up with it, then I'm less likely to want to get involved wink

MsMadelineashton Sun 28-Oct-12 16:13:09

Doing things when you want to results in doing them without any expectation of getting anything in return, which is really the way forward when you're a step parent. Doing things when you don't want to usually means that you do it with conditions - I.e you expect gratitude, thanks, a favour in return etc. which kind of puts your happiness in the other persons hands - not good.

I found this more with buying things for dsd than doing things. I had to stop myself from buying things for her unless I could do it because I truly wanted to and there were no conditions attached.

messykitchen Mon 29-Oct-12 09:27:38

Thanks colditz - good responses! I must admit I have tried to tell him these things - he knows I think she is spoilt, and even when listening to one of my very fair friends, who told him he was basically being trampled all over, he still goes ahead with his own plans. You can literally sit and talk to him until you are blue in the face, explaining why the things he does are going to bite him in the behind, but it goes in one ear and out the other. I've even sometimes found myself threatening him and giving him ultimatums, which I hate, and is absolutely not me, but that is what I am driven to.

ClareMarriott - they were never married so not divorced, but they split up when dsd was 18 months old so it's been a long time!! I met her when she was 4, so I've been in her life a long time. We don't live particularly close - I've just always helped with things like that when she is here (every second weekend and half the holidays). I've sat for hours helping her set up things on one of her two laptops hmm, or comforting her when she has been having problems at her mums house, etc, etc. I have done all this out of the kindness of my heart, but after a while of getting absolutely no thanks or recognition, you begin to wonder why you bother.

MsMadelineashton - "Why should having divorced parents mean that the child is behaving in a spoilt and inconsiderate manner!? It's not the divorce that's the problem in itself, it's the Disney parenting." - You've hit the nail on the head. My parents divorced when I was quite young and I was never treated any differently to any of my friends. Another thing that grates with me is that DH's parents completely overcompensate for the fact that DSD is from a "broken home". They take her out and buy her a shed load of clothes, take her to the cinema, treat lunches etc. None of their other grandchildren get the same treatment which I think is so unfair. Sometimes I feel like screaming at the whole lot of them.

Notadisneymum - I am the same. DH has in the past agreed to have DSD for some extra time, even if he is at work, because he has just assumed that I will look after her. When I explained to him that I don't like being taken for granted, he gets really angry and can't understand why I won't help him out. Therefore I now refuse to do any childcare. I agree with you completely - it's bad enough when your biological children are being rude and disrespectful!!

anklebitersmum Tue 30-Oct-12 09:23:45

House rules. DH and I still get cross with each other over SC parenting (on both sides) but when we amalgamated the households and had joint DD1 we agreed on what we described to the boys as "house rules".

That way it wasn't one rule for one and one for another it was one rule for all in our house. This also prevented the 'my child, my rules, even in your house' routine from the ex (again on both sides but more on his ).

I am assuming from the post that DSD is somewhat older than DS. Same in our house but we still apply the same rulings-and most importantly we are absolute once a parental desicion has been made (even when if we hiss heatedly about it to each other later nothing changes as far as the DC's are concerned).

If the pair of you discussed and agreed a plan of action then your DH should be sticking to it regardless of the size of the tantrum on the child's part. To be fair, even if one of us makes a decision that's how it stays and as far as DC's are concerned we are always in agreement (even when we're not wink )

Disengaging however tempting isn't something you can do if you want to make the family work as a family when it's all together.
I'd have a conversation with hubby and tell him he's being duped by a 12yr old and that I will not have 'divide and conquer' and 'two sets of rules' in my house and in short that it's not only damaging the children it's damaging your marriage. See what he says.

and please don't think I think I know it all..I'm more than aware I so don't grin

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