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Boundaries

(7 Posts)
SaintEyning Sun 26-Apr-15 19:33:37

DSD 2 lives with her mum (dsd1 lives with us FT and never sees her mum - they have the same mum) and comes to us for around 24h eow. Her behaviour when she is here is becoming increasingly worse, imo.

Last time she was here she swore at her dad in front of her grandmother and kicked up an almighty fuss about having to share a bed with DSD1 as grandmother had been using dsd2's room (she always does, it has been this way for years).

She then disobeyed and snapped at her grandmother when asked to tidy up after herself. I had to intervene as DP was out, which is incredibly rare as I prefer not to get involved. When she was told off for both of these incidents by her dad, she threatened to call her mum (and in fact did), asking to be collected as he was being so unfair to her.

This weekend she has deliberately made DP miss a train and thus an event that they had planned to attend together during the week - because she wanted to see her friends this afternoon and the trip would mean she could not do that. He called her on her behaviour and she swore at him again, this time in front of me and DS.

Once again, on being told off by a very upset DP, she called her mother and asked to be collected for the same reason as before. Her mother agreed to let her go and see her friends this afternoon. DP then intervened, took DSD shopping instead and effectively has allowed her - and this is just my opinion - to get away with threatening him, he has removed his authority and potentially set himself up for more of the same in the weeks to come.

I know he is terrified of her not coming at all (he was crying this morning when he was asking her to stay and go shopping instead of go to her mum's) and so is increasingly tolerating this behaviour - which he is much less tolerant of (though still allows a degree of it) from DSD1.

Is ther anything I can say to him to show that ultimately this is not going to lead to a healthy relationship for them? He is desperate for her to keep coming and maybe even spend a little more time here, but I can't help thinking that it's creating a pretty messy dynamic when she can swear, threaten and then get a reward. Ultimately it wasn't what she really wanted to do, but he's notoriously poor at consequences for bad behaviour and rationalised to me that she was being given an unpleasant experience (shopping? She's 13!) and not getting her way.

There have been many other incidents dating back a couple of years like this, but the frequency is picking up.

To note - DS was reading a book earlier (first time he has shown any interest in reading - he's 4 - and I said that i would get him another in the series when we went shopping - but only if he was a good boy and held on to the trolley nicely) - DP criticised me, saying he never had to bribe his kids to go round a supermarket. That's because he and his ex never took them - there were two of them! I don't have that choice when he is away shopping with dsd2 instead. And I felt I was just explaining the conditions of getting a book to DS, so he knew what to expect if he ran away in the supermarket.

Sorry for epic post, am sure many of you are in the same boat. I feel like I lost some respect for DP in how he handled that today. Like he could have properly given consequences and not been afraid of the outcome. Or maybe not, maybe he is in an invidious position that I can't imagine as DS lives with me 75% of the time - I haven't had to battle for his affection with his dad. yet... I am well aware that this may be in my future.

Thank you for reading this much - all pointers gratefully received and any links that I might share on how to build a bond with a NR child and still maintain a degree of parental authority would be so welcome.

thepurplehen Tue 28-Apr-15 12:48:37

Why doesn't DSD1 see her Mum? Has your DP encouraged her to see her Mum? It sounds like the parents are using the kids as pawns and are both terrified of losing the kids. It creates a lot of insecurity in the adults which then simply gets passed down to the kids.

We have a situation where DSS doesn't see us at all and DSD2 didn't want to see her Mum and live with us. We have always encouraged DSD2 to see her Mum and although it feels terribly unfair that we have enabled her and Mum to have a relationship, the ex wife has actively encouraged DSS to have nothing to do with his Dad despite it not being the best thing for kids to see both their parents, I feel we have done the right thing by DSD2 and she is growing into a lovely young lady.

My DP was terribly insecure about losing his kids. The best thing he did was take his ex to court having been frightened to do so for many years and contact with his youngest is now regular and consistent and he feels confident in that. He also feels confident that his DD will come back after seeing Mum and won't just dessert him. DSD1 also maintains regular contact and is now an adult. I also think although losing DSS has been incredibly hard for DP, he has realised that the earth hasn't stopped and that life goes on. I don't think it has been as devastating as he once thought, but of course, he still sees his other children, which helps massively.

We also went on a step parenting workshop with Lisa Doodson, which was very helpful and I would suggest relationship counselling too.

Your DP needs to realise that you are a family unit and that you have a right to a say in your own home and that he needs to have some understanding of where you are coming from. You both need to understand each other, it doesn't sound like DP is seeing your postition at all? It really can't be "yours and mine" if you're all living together. I think some men choose to "pick fault" with your kids to try and even up the score when they know that their kids behaviour is often directly caused by their disney tendencies!

In my opinion it's very hard to bond with a difficult teenager when you don't have a biological bond. I've had this with DSD1. I think you need a very thick skin and the ability to detach but also understand that her behaviour is probably due to a lot of factors.

SaintEyning Tue 28-Apr-15 13:16:48

Thank you for posting, thepurplehen. The step parenting workshop sounds like a good idea and I will suggest it.

DSD1 has a very difficult relationship with her mother and on the recommendation of social services, school welfare officer, CAHMS and private counsellors, eating disorder team, mediator and teachers (phew, think that's everyone!) has only very very limited and in public contact with her mother. It has been a long road and essentially she is 'safer' here (their words). So it's not a case of being encouraged to see her mother as that would be like encouraging her to seek out harm. DP never has stopped or stops her from having contact - it just has to be very carefully managed.

DP admitted yesterday that he is not handling the behaviour well at all because of his fear of upsetting DSD2. I have said now that I think his criticism of my parenting was a projection of his own terrible decision making at the weekend and he has agreed - not under any pressure, I must stress.

He sees that what he is doing is making his life harder and harder and if DSD2 keeps being enabled then she is going to turn into a master manipulator. Her contact is court ordered right now - when she is at the end of this school year she has indicated she may come to us more - but I don't want that hope of more time to be used to torture DP or threaten him more than he is already.

He had a sort of epiphany last night and I think he wants to put the foot down more and see what happens.

I am also a stepdaughter and my stepdad did not even try to have any sort of relationship with me and my brother until we were ready - which I am very grateful for as I would have resented him and my mother even more than I did already (affair - not the case for me and DP, he was 2 years divorced when we met). So I am doing the same non-invasive thing with DSD2. DSD1 and I are good pals (most of the time!!) so it's just a case of wait and see.

Any info on the benefits of maintaining normal levels of discipline vs fear of losing contact would be really grneat as DP is very open to reading about this stuff and wants to address it now.

Thank you flowers

thepurplehen Tue 28-Apr-15 13:23:46

I've certainly read articles in the past about how children need firm boundaries to feel truly loved and secure but I can't remember where I read them.

KeriSummers27 Tue 28-Apr-15 17:22:37

OK, so I'm not a parent or step parent, but two of my sisters have step children and I am a step child myself.
This is probably quite obvious, but I reckon the reason that she's playing up more than the other step daughter is because she's not as close to both you and your DH. I had a step dad and step mum and I was a very well behaved child as I saw my parents equally - 1 week with dad, 1 week with mum. This worked as my mum lived ten minutes away from my dad. It also helped that they remained amicable after they split.
Is there any way that your DP can talk to the mother of his kids about her behavior? It sounds like she's quite relaxed about her daughter's behavior. This could be a reason why she's so rude to your DP, as she's so used to getting her own way, that she reacts more than other kids when she doesn't.
I hope I helped!
Good luck.

SaintEyning Tue 28-Apr-15 21:29:58

Thanks, keri. DP and his ex haven't spoken in over 2 years other than through solicitors regarding contact arrangements. Food for thought regarding the outsider status, definitely. DSD1, DS, DP and I are together most of the time (when we're not at work or school!) so very likely DSD2 feels left out. Maybe DP can talk to her about that, but it won't change unless/until she comes here more....

Eustasiavye Fri 01-May-15 19:17:33

This sounds like a nightmare.

I do believe you and dp should stand your ground as dsd2 behaviour is not acceptable.

I know it must grate when he says how well behaved his dcs were too. It pisses me off if people with badly behaved or low achieving children critise my dcs.

I'm sorry I don't have any advice.

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