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Stonewalling - how can a DC deal with it from a parent?

(35 Posts)
NotaDisneyMum Tue 18-Dec-12 18:51:02

What advice can my DP give his DD (15) to help her deal with her Mums stonewalling?

DSD is trying to sort out her post-16 choices, and her Mum (who she lives with) refuses to discuss it with her, or with DP - she has told them that DSD is going to have to do as she is told - but hasn't told them what that is!

What communication tips/strategies might help when it is the parent who is stonewalling the child? I'm all out of suggestions - and can see DSD aspirations drifting away with the constant effort required angry

exoticfruits Fri 21-Dec-12 19:18:10

That sounds as good a result as you could hope for. She needs to make the plans quickly before she has a change of tack!

NotaDisneyMum Fri 21-Dec-12 08:20:12

I know. Detach detach detach!

Actually, there's been progress in the last couple of days - since DP tried to discuss it with his ex, and told her that regardless of her involvement he was going to continue to support DSD, she (DSD mum) has changed her approach.

She's now telling DSD that there's no point in discussing it with her because she'll do what she wants to do with her Dads support anyway, so she's washing her hands of it and told DSD not to go running to her when it all goes wrong!

DSD seems to be more comfortable with the idea of proving her mum wrong, so is now a lot more determined to make it work grin

I'm sure there will be bumps ahead - but at least it's a start.

exoticfruits Fri 21-Dec-12 07:29:09

Pingu really has the only option- it is very frustrating, but true.

pinguthepenguin Thu 20-Dec-12 23:23:22

Disney, you've advised me yourself on plenty of occasions that when one parent is doing something you abhor, all you can do is counter the effects of it.
I've long since realised you were right- as much as it hurts to see it happening, if you can't change the behaviour, allyou can do is be there to be a buffer and equip her with skills to raise her self concept x

exoticfruits Thu 20-Dec-12 17:02:14

Izzy has it right. She is emotionally abusive and so successful that DSD won't see it. I know you want an alternative but I can't see one because she is backed into a corner- do as mum says or defy her. It takes a very strong 16yr old to do the second.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 20-Dec-12 12:57:01

No, nothing so forward thinking - there's not even an on-site school counsellor the DC's have to self-refer to a local charity-run service provided off-site, and DSD is not yet quite at the stage where she is ready to deceive her Mum by setting up something like that herself and not telling Mum about it - the retribution would be far worse that the current situation if Mum ever found out.

pinguthepenguin Thu 20-Dec-12 12:46:50

It a real shame for DSD.
The reason I ask about nurture centre is because a parents permission is not required for a referral there. DSD could get the support she needs to stand up for her choices there.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 20-Dec-12 12:42:55

pingu DSD has access to loads of careers advice; it's not that she needs. What she needs is for her Mum to show her enough respect to at least discuss the issue with her, even if she disagrees.

As far as the school are concerned, they won't engage in any direct contact with parents unless the parent initiates it; they have offered DSD limited emotional support and provided practical careers advice, but they can't/won't intervene on DSD behalf with her Mum, they have basically said that is DSD and DP's problem!

DSD Mum has admitted that her parenting style consists of yelling, nagging and bribing, and she blames DSD for that; DSD won't do as she is told, DSD doesn't appreciate how difficult her Mum's life is, DSD doesn't realise how much her Mum has sacrificed. That's not hearsay from DSD; DP's ex has told him this directly! It's her default position every time he tries to talk to her about anything to do with the DC's - "oh, woe is me, I'm a poor, struggling single mother" who had an affair and refused to end it when DP found out.

What child doesn't want their parents approval when making such a significant choice/decision? DSD Mums attitude is undermining her self-confidence, which is low anyway - if it wasn't, she would have rebelled long ago.

pinguthepenguin Thu 20-Dec-12 11:51:01

Does her school have a nurture centre? Your DP could ask for a referral there.
Also, job centres offer careers advice?

allnewtaketwo Thu 20-Dec-12 09:45:30

Izzy I think you have it right there. My DSS1 is very much conditioned to please his emotionally abusive mother (who uses similar techniques to those the OP mentions, as well as shouting, and he is 17 and towers over her physically).

I personally think that some people ( children or adults) have a more passive personality and that they lack either the will or ability to stand up to bullies. I do not know however how to help a child in that situation who resides with the bully.

I guess it help a bit NADM that the daughter knows her mother is trying to stop her doing what she wants ( is this the case?). In my DSS1 case, she has conditioned him so well to please her that he would not even think about what he wants. He even lacks the notion that he can have wants that are separate to hers. She speaks, and he does. Thinking or wanting doesn't come into it. He's at a total loss when she's not around to think for him.

As for your question, you're right, people find it hard to get past the notion that a mother could be so cruel. It goes so far against how we believe that mothers do what's best for the child. Do attention focuses on that unfortunately rather than the situation the child is in. Yet read the 'stately homes' thread and there are do many adults who have been damaged by their patents in this way. Would anyone have listened to them as a child, or would the cruelty have been to hard to believe?

Izzyschangelingisarriving Thu 20-Dec-12 08:02:46

Because no one know what to do when a parent behaves like this - relying on a child to defy and emotionallying abusive parent - when said child is conditioned to please the parent - is an incredibly difficult thing.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 20-Dec-12 07:58:07

exotic I'm desperately seeking an alternative, I know.

I'm not sure I can believe that DPs ex is the only mother ever to behave like this, so how come when a spouse is stonewalled the advice is a lot more comprehensive than 'leave the bastard' - but when it comes to DCs, that seems to be the only option?

exoticfruits Thu 20-Dec-12 07:43:00

Unfortunately DSD has a straight choice- she does what she wants to do or she keeps her mother happy. It is easy to say do the first- I suspect she will keep her mother happy- but it is short sighted of the mother because it will damage the relationship ( which doesn't sound too healthy anyway). I don't see what can be done if the mother won't budge because it is only the 2choices.

NotaDisneyMum Thu 20-Dec-12 07:39:00

exotic He has!

They are supportive of DSD, but won't make contact with her - they encouraged DSD to suggest her Mum called them, but she just won't!

exoticfruits Thu 20-Dec-12 07:35:08

I can see it is a very difficult one.Could DP not go to the school and discuss the problem as a start?

NotaDisneyMum Thu 20-Dec-12 07:17:57

It's just so SAD hmm

There is a wealth of advice and support on MN and all over the Internet to help women (and men) whose partners use stonewalling as a way of manipulation and control - but nothing to help when those same people use the same technique on their DCs.

Yes, if DSD really wants to 'follow her dream' then she'll have to defy her mum (and grandmother), and risk rejection - but what a hell of a thing to have to face at 15! It's hard as an adult to deal with parental disapproval; it must be far more difficult as a teen.

I'm not sure weird or absurd are the words I'd use - no matter how bewildering it is for observers, it's the impact on DSD that is the issue, but DP is struggling to find suitable support because the focus seems to be on the unusual nature of DSD Mums behaviour rather than the impact.

There definitely seems to be a lack of information and advice for DCs in this situation - there is lots of advice for partners and even managers are who are faced with this, but its not really transferable to a parent/child relationship, because that link cannot be terminated in the same way as other relationships.

theredhen Thu 20-Dec-12 06:08:44

You can't make her mum not stonewall her. I suspect she feels she's losing control and she's not ready for that. I suspect she had her own timeline for that and dsd is not playing ball. Is this a recent change of plan for dsd? Boarding at age 16 is probably not what mum was expecting.

I think this is just a lesson that all kids have to learn, that they're parents aren't perfect, aren't always on "their side" and don't always make the right decisions.

It's not nice for dsd but its a part of the detaching process.

PoppyPrincess Thu 20-Dec-12 01:01:10

And exactly what is her mother going to do if she doesn't go along with her choices? Will she throw her out? Refuse to support her? All because she wants to decide her own career path for herself?!
This sounds like an absurd thing to say!
I don't really enjoy my job and I envy people who love their jobs, I would love my kids to have jobs they love. Love your job = love your life.
Yes of course every mother has aspirations for their kids to turn in to brain surgeons, stock brokers etc but above anything else we want out kids to be happy.
I think DSD should make her own mind up and tell her mum if she won't support her choices she'll move in with dad

pinguthepenguin Thu 20-Dec-12 00:56:57

No no Disney you misunderstand me I think. I don't think mums are incapable of emotional abuse ( far from it), I was/am just perplexed at the idea of stonewalling someone- your child, regardless of parental gender. It's just....^weird^. I mean...isn't it?

NotaDisneyMum Thu 20-Dec-12 00:26:05

I just don't see why mum would stonewall her dd over this? It's weird

Unfortunately, this is the attitude that many people respond with when they hear about an emotionally abusive mother. They just can't get their head around the fact that not all Mums put their Dc's first and assume that he has got an axe to grind.
Imagine how my DP feels when that is the reaction he gets every time he tries to seek help and support for his DD sad

NotaDisneyMum Thu 20-Dec-12 00:17:22

pingu Yes, she is stonewalling both DSD and DP about the same issue - she said "I refuse to discuss it and I've told DSD the same" to DP on the phone when he called her yesterday after she had ignored several emails asking to discuss it by phone or in person.

DP and DSD have been in touch with Connexions - they are being wound down here and they only advise about Apprenticeships now; and that's not what DSD is interested in as there are none in the field she wants to pursue.

Oh, and it's not underwater basket weaving. Her mum is pissed off because DSD wants to leave home and study at a specialist college where they provide supervised/managed boarding for 16/17 year olds; it's one of the best in the UK. I understand her worry, and I'm sure I'd be the same if it was my DD - but I definitely don't understand her reaction which imo, is abusive and very damaging.

pinguthepenguin Wed 19-Dec-12 23:12:52


Get your DP to ring connexions and ask for an appt with dd. They are brilliant.

Also, I'd ask the question that another poster asked earlier, are you sure dd is telling the truth? I just don't see why mik would stonewall her dd over this? It's weird, I mean, if mum was pissed off cos your dsd wanted to study underwater basket-weaving I would understand that. But what is it that dd wants to study that mum won't discuss?
I always understood 'stonewalling' to be literally blanking someone. Is that what jar mum is doing?

NotaDisneyMum Wed 19-Dec-12 22:34:32

exotic Which bit?

Financially supporting DSD will significantly impact on my own DD and myself, so it is difficult having to stand on the sidelines and wait passively for that decision to be made by others. As a family, we're living below the poverty line at the moment, so every extra meal, bus fare, book we have to buy means other things have to be stretched a little thinner - but it will only stretch so far!

As for DSD living with us, and working for me; I have no idea if it will be a bad thing or not!
Until three months ago, she had refused to acknowledge my existence for over 2 years, and since then, I've spent no more than a few hours with her when she is prepared to defy her mum and comes to visit for dinner. I don't know her, and while all this is going on, I can't really spend a lot of time with her because because her time with DP is spent with the two of them trying to sort out her future - which I can't be a part of until it actually happens!

exoticfruits Wed 19-Dec-12 22:09:53

Would that be so bad?

NotaDisneyMum Wed 19-Dec-12 22:04:24

I've been really disappointed with the lack of support from her school over the last 3 years; they have a very hands off approach and consider that any contact with parents should be parent-led, and ANY information about the student should only be disclosed with the students express permission.

DSD Mum can be a bit of an ostrich, and avoids issues she isn't comfortable with by ignoring them - and it certainly seems to work, as people tend to give up, and either drop her as a friend, or let her have her own way, rather than keep battling to engage with her.

I'm having to work really hard to stay detached from this issue - the outcome will have a HUGE impact on me personally. If DSD decides to defy her Mum, then she will be living here, and I've committed to financially supporting her, including giving her a job, if she does get a place on the course that she wants to do.

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