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At the end of my tether with SD age 8 - need support/advice

(132 Posts)
howtodowills Tue 01-Mar-16 10:27:53

Known DPs daughters (8 and 5) for over 2 yrs (as Dad's girlfriend) and DP moved into my place 8 months ago with me and DS (6)

Youngest "SD" has always been a lovely girl and accepted me fine. My DS has accepted the situation fine too. That's not to say neither of them have found things hard as they have but with love and support, and also discipline they have accepted their "new" set up fine.

Eldest "SD" hasn't. She has always been a "challenging child" apparently (say friends and family who knew her before parents split) but i am at the end of my tether with her. She has always been really jealous of me and her dad and I've tried to give them lots of time the 2 of them, lots of time him and his 2 DDS and tried to give her love and affection (as needed - she is a very "needy" child emotionally who asks for lots of cuddles.) The thing is she has gone from being ok but sad about her parents splitting to literally being a NIGHTMARE. She will turn up, lie, be rude, nasty and spiteful to try and "make daddy hate you" (her words to me). She will glare at me across the dinner table and undermine most things I say. I know her mother was very negative about me in the early days (i think through jealousy and hurt that her ex had found happiness with me) but i think she is past that now. the problem is it is getting so much worse with this girl. I have tried to support her in every way i can think of and am at the end of my tether now. She gets disciplined for her rudeness and wil be sent to her room for 5 mins time out (as all of our kids would for the same behaviour) but she will hit and kick DP, scream and shout in her room and throw things around and it's upsetting for the 2 younger kids. My DS hates that she makes his home angry and i really hate her coming. She's asked not to come anymore but DP says she has to as he doesn't want to not see her.

Whenever she does come she terrorises us all though and it is literally hell. DP works away during the week so we do like to see eachother at weekends and had been doing saturdays with "our own" kids and sundays all together, or vice versa but it's just awful. Every nice experience I try to make she ruins for everyone. I just don't know what to do anymore sad

Have even started wondering whether to jack it in with DP as I can't bear her making mine and DS life like this - as well as her poor Sister who hates all the anger

swingofthings Tue 01-Mar-16 11:30:58

Not all children are the same, some are easy, some are difficult, it is just very hard to give the same love and attention to the difficult one.

Your SD clearly has issues with anger to the point where this is having serious impact on everyone else. Is she expressing that same level of anger at her mum/school? If so, she probably needs some counselling support. If not, then maybe it might not be a bad thing is she doesn't visit for a little while and her dad sees her outside to try to get to the bottom of her anger coming to visit. He would of course have to make it clear that it is only temporary, but sometimes a break is what helps most in breaking a bad cycle.

Either way, it is not for you to manage but her dad.

Heavens2Betsy Tue 01-Mar-16 11:35:51

Her Dad should be dealing with this behaviour.
I don't get him making her come to you where she is clearly unhappy and angry just so he gets to see her. What about the rest of you? She shouldn't be allowed this much power over your household. If he can't discipline her and show her that her behaviour isn't acceptable then you will have to decide if you can put up with this long term or not.

howtodowills Tue 01-Mar-16 11:36:32

Thanks swing - he says he won't have a break from seeing her so if she wasn't to come here then he would take them away every other weekend (probably to family). I initially wanted this as needed the break but he convinced me it was crazy and we shouldn't let her stop us from spending time together.

He would have nowhere to take her on the midweek night she comes though and has said that "no" - he will not say she cannot come here... even though she wants that (and so do i!)

I agree her dad needs to manage it but he says I should be making suggestions and supporting him. I'm finding it hard though as I am the ONLY one who makes suggestions. I told him this morning to man up and stop leaving it all to me to fix.

She is having counselling. Since it started things have got worse. She LOVES having all the attention and i think has been indulged as "poor XX". The counselling is continuing

howtodowills Tue 01-Mar-16 11:39:42

*Her Dad should be dealing with this behaviour.
I don't get him making her come to you where she is clearly unhappy and angry just so he gets to see her. What about the rest of you? She shouldn't be allowed this much power over your household*


I have said that, what about me, DS and his other DD? But he just keeps saying "I don't want to turn my back on my daughter".... I think that's a bit overdramatic as we are just suggesting a short break while things are so awful for us all.

He does try and discipline her but there isn't a lot of discipline we can give. We've done no puddings and taking away her teddy at night (she doesn't care) we've done time out in room when she screams and kicks doors and upsets everyone with her anger, we've done stopping her from going to her club (when it falls on dad's wkend) but that doesn't help as she does it all over and over again.

What else can we do???

BoyGirlBoy3 Tue 01-Mar-16 11:45:56

You should feel sorry for her you know, if you don't, its because your energy is depleated, and you need a break from her. She is a little girl, who's mummy and daddy have split up, the child may never reconcile this.

In a way its a type of regression to earlier age behaviour. Its a cry for help, from her, has her mother come to terms with the split? What were the circumstances?

howtodowills Tue 01-Mar-16 11:51:44

I used to feel sorry for her, really sorry for her. But whatever I do now she throws it back in my face with anger, rudeness etc. The only way she behaves well is when EVERYTHING revolves around her, and i mean EVERYTHING - and I am just not prepared to live like that.

Yes - Mum has come to terms with split now but said very damaging things to the kids and maybe still does - who knows? Circumstances were that my DP left her as he no longer loved her (background she was controlling and manipulative... just like her DD it turns out!)

She uses the split to get whatever she wants. Whenever she's called on her behaviour she justs shouts at us "i'm sad you know".... we've spent (together and separately) hours and hours talking with her, trying to help her etc etc but it doesn't work. She is just getting worse and worse.

I wish I had sympathy left for her - but I really don't.

swingofthings Tue 01-Mar-16 11:57:12

I agree her dad needs to manage it but he says I should be making suggestions and supporting him. I'm finding it hard though as I am the ONLY one who makes suggestions. I told him this morning to man up and stop leaving it all to me to fix.
What an easy cope out! You are absolutely right, stand to your ground, it is his responsibility and his only. Being supportive is you going along with his decisions as long as you've been consulted, not making them on his behalf.

His daughter is clearly in pain for whatever reasons. You are not her mum/dad, so of course you are going to focus on how it impacts on you and the rest of the family, however, her parents should be focusing on why she feels the way she does.

It's not uncommon to have one child who feels they are the one being left out. Not all children are comfortable in their own boots. Unfortunately, it often leads to a vicious circle because the more they feel left out, the more they seek attention inappropriately, and the more they do so, the less positive attention they get. That's why there needs to be a break in that cycle and if it means agreeing to her not coming for her normal visits, but instead him focusing on giving her more positive attention in less time, then maybe that could help. Clearly what he is doing now isn't.

howtodowills Tue 01-Mar-16 12:05:18

This is the problem swing.... He thinks we should be dealing with it as a team and I agree to an extent but I have a limited say... eg. I agree that she should have a break from coming here but he doesn't. so he gets what he wants as he is the parent. So how can I be supportive when I HATE his decision!

I really have focused on her - so much and for a while I think I was the only one truing to help her as her mum was so absorbed in herself she didn't see the damage she was doing her child and her dad was just in a world of denial.

We are completely in a vicious circle with her. The more she comes the more she behaves badly, the more she gets punished, the more she hates coming.... the more she gets punished the more she kicks off the more i hate her coming....

It is breaking me and I am feeling REALLY angry with DP for not taking control of the situation as her parent.

Greaterthanthesumoftheparts Tue 01-Mar-16 12:13:46


I understand where you're coming from but just reading your last post it's clear that the whole situation is clouded in negativity. I know it's hard but can you try to really overly focus on the positives. Ignore the rude comments, ignore the glaring at dinner and praise praise praise for any small good thing she does. Unfortunately if you want to break the cycle it has to be you (well really your DP together) because she is really too young to know how to do that. Could you have a love bomb weekend? She'll come expecting the usual negativity, if there isn't any maybe she might change her behaviour...

BoyGirlBoy3 Tue 01-Mar-16 12:14:17

I think it is very important indeed, that you have a break from her now. I think you need to strongly say that you have a break from her now, for 2 weeks minimum.

You need to spend that time, in your free time, relaxing, not worrying about the situation, maybe doing something to focus on, if you can't get the situation out of your mind.

I have to say, and this is not what I recommend, just what I would do, I would just let life revolve around her completely, on her weekends and eve. This assumes you have her every other weekend, and one eve in week. Save your lovely plans for the opposite weekends. This assumes that this would result in her behaviour improving. If it didn't then there is no point. Then try to enjoy your weekend with her and family, as much as you can.

howtodowills Tue 01-Mar-16 12:22:23

We tried the "lovebombing" and praising her for all the good things but I refuse to ignore the rudeness as i have 2 other (currently well behaved kids) sitting there who i don't want to think it is ok. She responds well to the positive praise but it doesn't stop her being rude - she literally only responds to everyone falling at her feet

I really try - as soon as she arrived last week i was trying to be nice and friendly and interested but as soon as she had the chance she started telling lies about something my DS had supposedly said (when i had overheard the whole conversation as unbeknown to her i was in the next room.)

Letting life revolve around her on wkends when she is here also means not letting her sis or my DS or me have a say in our weekends... we tried to give her more "say" in what she did here and it resulted in her creating a list of who would be doing what on each weekend and when me and my DS would be "allowed" to be there and when it was her and daddy time.... it made my blood boil.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Tue 01-Mar-16 13:20:54

It's tricky, as I see your DPs point, if she's allowed not to come, it heightens the drama and is giving her the power to dictate when she sees her Dad. That's a bad thing to learn at aged 8.

On the other hand, she can't be allowed to ruin everything. It's good your DP wants your input, harsh as it sounds this girl needs to see you both acting tough. Increase the consequences for bad behaviour, reward the good, and get DP to spend a lot of one to one time to give her attention and you all a break. It might not seem it bit it's early days yet. My youngest DSD was the grumpiest of them all at first but is now the nicest to us of all my DSCs

howtodowills Tue 01-Mar-16 13:41:32

thanks bananas

it sounds really silly but have you got any ideas for consequences?
we have done:

- taking fave teddy away at bedtime
- no bedtime story
- go to bed 10mins early
- no sweets/chocs/treats that weekend
- time in room, 5/10/15 mins
- missing favourite club (on dad's wkends) and none of those seem to work, she gets the "warning" that the punishment will come but she is so enraged by that point that she doesn't care.

I have thought about her not being allowed to come to nice things I have arranged for her (and other kids) eg. sports events/cinema/theatre/bday parties for friends but then someone has to stay with her which would be DP and she would be smug that she'd managed to split us up and stop us spending time together rather than be upset about the punishment.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Tue 01-Mar-16 14:29:44

Yes I have! I've had some very challenging kids myself! It does take time though, months sometimes if her behaviour has become a habit.

Perhaps she just needs immediate 'punishment'.

-I'd ask her to say sorry to the person that she was rude to - if she doesn't an immediate time out. No warning, being asked to say sorry is warning enough. If she kicks and screams, get your DP to stay by the door outside if she might hurt herself.
Otherwise, leave her until she calms down - no point in 10 minutes if she's still kicking off. Then get DP to go in, hug her and calm her. But she STILL needs to apologise to whoever she was rude to. Then she needs to clear up the mess with DPs help.
-Don't give her any options but to apologise. Even if she doesn't do it, just keep reinforcing that other people are affected by her behaviour and she needs to make some amends.

Maybe then she'll be calm enough for him to ask her more gently how she is. Is there anything that sparks off her behaviour in particular? Is she bubbling over with resentment? Get your DP to take her out for a walk or something, she might need some time to start settling her own feelings about her Dad and you.

Maybe he could go through scenarios like at school - what would she do if someone was rude to her there? How should people behave at school? At home? He could tell her that he does understand that it isn't easy for her. That doesn't excuse her behaviour. But that he as her Dad will always love her, always have time for her, no matter how much she kicks back.

Get your DP to talk to her beforehand about what we do when we are upset or angry. E.g. go off to a room to calm down.

Kids often kick off doubly when they are really consistently tackled about behaviour I find. I had a son who kicked off a lot! But now he often says he really appreciated just knowing where the line was.

Sorry - that probably sounded really waffly.

swingofthings Tue 01-Mar-16 14:30:53

I really feel for you as indeed, your DP is not dealing with the situation in a mature parental way.

Have you tried to speak to her when things are a bit less tense? I find her saying that she would want her dad to hate you quite significant. Have you asked her why she feels this way? (not that you should be taking on the role of her parent, let alone her counsellor).

I think until someone gets to the bottom of the reasons for her anger (justified or not), you won't be moving forward. What does the counsellor says about it?

I get the feeling that if the responsibility to make everything better was taken off your shoulders, things would be a bit more bearable for you. As it stands, you can't win and I feel your desperation and sense of being trapped.

howtodowills Tue 01-Mar-16 14:46:48

bananas - I like the idea of her going to her room till she calms down. She is always made to apologise but will often say it in a way that we know she doesn't mean it. Her sis has never done anything to apologise for and my DS rarely does and when he does he is so upset that he's hurt someone he does it genuinely. She is just missing that part that cares (although DP swears she is a lovely kid underneath it all.)

All the things you have suggested DP has done with her - ALL of them.

and swingofthings - yes I have often spoken to her - I've given HOURS of my time to her when i could have been having fun with DS and I haven't minded as I wanted to make things better but she doesn't appreciate any of it. She tells me that she's cross that daddy and me have eachother and mummy has no-one, she thinks daddy loves me more than her (we are both blue in the face from kind lovingly telling her this is not the case, even 5 yr old sis will repeat "we are daddy's girls and he loves us like his daughters and always will and he loves berries as a girlfriend and he can love us both lots, no-one more than the other" but she doesn't get it - or my suspicion is now that she just says it for attention. and that makes me feel angry at her.

She says (when calm) she doesn't like us being together and will do whatever it takes to split us up even if that includes lying and crying. She has told DP i've hit her in the past (never done anything like that) and then admits she is lying.

DP hasn't spoken to her counsellor. he is crap at things like that. When I bring it up he says "don't start having a go at me, why can't you support me and not criticise me" but I think it's significant that he needs to be communicating with her counsellor. He says he can't as it's confidential but surely he'd be able to get some support from the counsellor???

howtodowills Tue 01-Mar-16 14:48:19

Eek, berry is my name they call me!! (won't explain why but i have just outed myself... oh well, most of my friends know i feel this way!)

jalopyjane Tue 01-Mar-16 15:01:29

I think taking away favourite teddy at bedtime and not allowing her a bedtime story are probably not a good idea ; bothh of these are nice calming bonding / security things. Could she lose screen time instead?

As a bonding activity and to reflect the fact she's older than the others, could you suggest her staying up to watch a film with you and DP once the younger two have gone to bed at the weekend?

howtodowills Tue 01-Mar-16 19:44:20

jalopy I have said the same to dp about the teddy but he thinks it's a good punishment. She doesn't really have screen time here as they tend to make believe play. She likes playing schools and one time her punishment was that she couldn't use the whiteboard for a weekend but she doesn't care. She just sits in the kitchen and scowls. She'd do it the whole weekend - v. Stubborn.

As for having her up to watch a film... NO WAY!!!! by 7pm I am done with her and need my time with DP as we can barely talk when she's there she kicks off so much. Also that sort of thing I feel should be a treat so it wouldn't seem fair on the other two who are good as gold that they go to bed at 7:30 and she stays up.

I'm so done in by it, I'm so tense in my own home, I'm constantly walking on eggshells wondering when she will kick off... I hate her coming here, I really do.

Wdigin2this Tue 01-Mar-16 20:54:02

OMGoodness, that sounds soooo hard Howto, and it is exactly why I consciously avoided any man with young DC. I'm sorry I have no words of advice, but I truly hope that something works for you all soon! Also, the poster who blasted me on another thread may like to read your post, and maybe understand what I was getting at!!!!

OnceMoreIntoTheBleach Tue 01-Mar-16 21:15:03

Howto I empathise totally with everything you've said.

There's only so much a person can take/give we are only human, and when someone is causing so much grief that it's upsetting your own life and DCs, then you have to say enough is enough. You can't make the attention seeker the priority. It does them no favours, IMO.

It struck a chord with me when you said that she keeps saying she's upset over the situation just to get attention. My 'DSS' I'm sure does this, because he knows my DP will always cave if he thinks his bad behaviour is a symptom of DSS's upset over his parents splitting up (despite the fact it happened 5 years ago and DSS has no memory of them being together).

No bother that my DCs have similar trauma (older and more recent split) and still manage to remember their manners and respect! It seems DSS is exempt from behaving in an acceptable way because he's sensitive and everyone around him is too scared to pull him up properly on his behaviour because he will get upset.

I think it's important to separate behaviour from feelings, IYSWIM. No matter what your life experiences, there's no excuse for rudeness. I think that is the starting point from which the rest can build. Without that, it's a losing battle. thanks

howtodowills Wed 02-Mar-16 07:19:30

oncemore we do always say to her that it's ok to feel angry and upset but it's not ok to be rude and tell lies. She just screams "but I'm upset". We have told her really calmly that it's up to her whether she has a nice time at ours or not - we will make sure that is possible but ultimately she chooses if she gets on with it and has fun or not. She just screams that it's up to us to make her happy... Which I don't think it is. It really is a nightmare. DP used to give her more slack because "she's hurting" but I have managed to reign that in a bit by explaining that him moving in with us has been tricky for ALL of us in some way and she shouldn't be allowed to use that as a reason to behave awfully. My DS found it really hard "sharing mum" in the beginning but we managed it in a normal way and he is ok. She just doesn't work the same way.

I really appreciate all the messages. I feel really alone with it in RL as none of my friends are "stepmums".

wdigin - if I had my time again I would avoid men with daughters! Having read and learnt so much over the past couple of years it really does seem to be a minefield. Having said that the little DD is fantastic and has been through all the same things (although probably used less by mum as a "best friend" / "crutch".

Cococo1 Wed 02-Mar-16 07:33:37

Sounds hideous, and also sounds like you have done what you can. Sometimes you can't find a solution but just have to endure so I would switch the focus from her to yourself and what you need to stay sane.

I'd drop the idea of family time entirely and go out in smaller units - dp and dsd1, dp and dsd1 and 2, you and ds, you and ds and dsd2 etc. Go for what works and forget about the way things 'should' be. Tell dp that he has to take girls away for the next weekend so you get a break, and go out the next weds with your ds. Just do that and then try time in the house together in a low-key way. It will still be hideous but it will be less often.

And tell your dp that he's an idiot for taking the bedtime toy away!

Wdigin2this Wed 02-Mar-16 20:16:08

I totally agree with Coco, you've done your best and it's now time to think of yourself and your own DC! I also think it was a mistake to take away the bedtime toy!

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