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children, access and manipulation

(16 Posts)
timelord92 Tue 14-Nov-17 15:07:02

My step-daughter for the 13 years that her dad has had her has been Tuesday and Thursday 7-9 and every other weekend from 2pm when he finishes work till Sunday at 6pm. This was due to her working hours. It has always been a very much ‘it’s my way or the highway’ attitude from her mother, otherwise he would get the standard response of ‘you’re not getting access to her if you don’t.

If she wanted to change a day and he refused, he would get told ‘why don’t you want her? Don’t you love her anymore’ or some other emotional blackmail. He always gave in to prevent his daughter becoming too influenced by this type of behaviour and I suppose for an easier life. However, by giving in to keep the peace, everything is always what the mother wants. We sometimes walk on egg shells thinking what the mother is going to do.

Now a few years ago my boyfriend put his foot down and her mother didn’t like it. She bad mouths him to her constantly, says things like ‘you don’t have to do what your father tells you to do because I’m your parental guardian. Obviously when I came on the scene it became even worse.

We have a 3-month old baby together now and after nearly a year of my step daughter not seeing her dad because of her mother’s emotional abuse she is luckily back visiting us. We’ve left it very much in her court when she visits and we’ve given her keys. When my boyfriend first started seeing her again he said he’d pick her up on Mondays straight after school as he is off Mondays so that she can spend more time with him, instead of on Tuesday for less hours. Her mother now that we have a baby is a lot more lenient and is letting her pick when she wants to come. She also stays Thursdays still from 6-9 but now stays every weekend from 2pm when her dad finishes work till Sunday evening after he finishes badminton. I used to play badminton with him but since I’ve had the baby I mind her while he still goes.

When he goes to badminton he gives his daughter an option of her being dropped off back at home on the way or staying till he gets back. She always chooses to stay. I don’t really see the benefit of this though as she isn’t seeing her dad for those three hours that he’s away. She stays in her room so she’s not interacting with the baby either. As soon as he gets in he then rushes out the door again because she has to be dropped off dead on 9 otherwise she gets shouted at by her mum. When I’ve said about her mum coming to get her he says he doesn’t want her anywhere near the house. Also, when he goes the baby is often asleep on him and she wakes up and cries when he has to hand her over to me to drop my step daughter off. I’m sure it will get easier in time but adjusting with the new baby has been a lot harder than I originally imagined.

During holidays as well, she is deciding how long she is staying so the usual hours go out the window. The last half term she told her dad that instead of going home Sunday she was staying till Tuesday. The problem is that my boyfriend is back in work Tuesdays so I’m looking after her too. Although I didn’t go out on that occasion I did think to myself ‘what if I had have wanted to do something that day’. I know I have a baby but I can take her to see family but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t hold the same appeal for my step daughter. I did mention to him that I will be going to visit family on the Tuesday so he’d have to let her know if she wanted to stay the night. His reply was that she wouldn’t mind. I’m not too sure whether he meant that she’d like to come with me or that she’d be alright in the house with me gone for hours. We have come to the conclusion that she would rather be in our house than be in her mums where she would be constantly moaned at.

Every morning too we keep our phones on silent to prevent the baby waking up and crying. Last Monday when we got up my boyfriend had received 4 missed calls from his daughter at half 7 in the morning. When we picked her up from school we asked her why she had rung. She said the buses were on strike and she needed a lift (She has a bus pass usually for school) when I asked her who had drove her in she replied that her mum had. I thought it a little strange that she was ringing us then when she lives with her mum and she was obviously there to take her, so after asking her she said her mum said she’d take her if her dad couldn’t. My boyfriend told her his phone was silent in the mornings because of the baby.

She asked about getting a lift to school on Wednesday too so we said it would be better if she stayed the night, so her dad can take her straight from ours. She said that she’d ask her mum. On one of the evenings she stayed at ours she was asleep and had to be woken up at 9 to go home. When I said you’d be better staying when you’re that tired, she said her mum wouldn’t let her. I find it weird that her mother won’t let her stay overnight on a school night when she has her uniform on her anyway.

We thought that would be the end of it but she did the same this Monday and when my boyfriend asked why she was ringing this time she said she had forgotten about the strike and had walked to the bus stop so she wanted him to take her. When he asked what was wrong with her mum taking her she said she didn’t want to ring her mum to come and get her cos she’d shout at her.

She’s rang early in the morning too because she’d left a school note here by mistake the day before. Instead of getting her mum to come over to pick it up or just going to school and asking for another copy she asked her dad to drive down with it. He then got asked by her if he could take her to school. The mum’s car was in the drive apparently. I think she’s taking the mickey myself.

She keeps messing her dad round with the times that he picks her up on Saturdays now too. He has always gone straight from work at 2pm to pick her up but recently she’s been saying for him to pick her up at half 2. When he asked why, she said her mum has to pick her up from her brother’s house (as she stays Friday night there) and she picks her up at 2. This means that my boyfriend is going home, waiting half an hour and then going back the same way he’d just finished work. He got fed up with it so said that she has to be ready for 2 otherwise her mother can drop her off. She said that sometimes her brother’s girlfriend drops her off and not her mum, so he said well she can drop you off here instead of at your mums. Then a different week she made up the excuse that her mother wants to spend time with her for the half an hour. Then one week he said he was on his way at 2 and she said could he give half an hour cos she was still asleep. He told her no. This weekend just gone she tried her luck again. When he said I’m not going home to come back out again she said I thought you didn’t finish work till half 2. I don’t have a clue what’s going on really.

We have always attributed everything to her mother’s controlling ways (even to the extent of what she can and can’t wear) however, I’m not too sure whether sometimes it’s my stepdaughter herself just trying to get what she wants from the more lenient parent.

Has anyone experienced this before? Could it be a little bit of jealousy perhaps because of the new baby?

The1975 Tue 14-Nov-17 15:39:11

Hard to say what's going on, but at 13, it sounds like the poor girl is constantly being shunted from one house to the next and doesn't know whether she's coming or going. And I think you're right, perhaps she doesn't want to be at home with her Mum if she's being shouted at and blamed for asking for lifts etc.

I feel for you as well, as when you've got a small baby having routines is one of the things that keeps you sane! But perhaps your SD is seeking more attention because of the baby and if she's made to feel unwelcome at her Mum's?

So my thoughts are, can you try and establish a better routine for your SD, even if that means swapping a few things around? On Saturdays, does she need to go home first, or can your DH pick her up from the brother's house.

Can she keep a set of uniform/clothes at your house, so she doesn't need to go home. And if she does want to stay because she's asleep, perhaps your DP phones her Mum and deals with any fallout?

Especially make it clear that you want her to come over and spend time with you all and perhaps include her in caring for her new sibling - if she wants to? But if you can agree on things a bit further in advance, then it makes life easier and everyone knows where they are.

Louw12345 Sun 19-Nov-17 22:03:23

To me it seems like she wants her dads attention. Not saying she doesn't have it but also probably seeing how far she can push it maybe? Especially with the baby here. You don't know what mums saying to her. Does she have mates?

She is 13 she has a voice it is very important she learns how to use it she should be allowed to stay with her dad in the week. Also she might enjoy being at yours not getting mithered/shouted at. Don't worry about her being her room teenagers do that. Just check on her every now and then. Also you can still go out just let her know the night before maybe and also explain the rules ie no one's allowed in the house etc.

Your partner is doing right by saying no. Plans should not be changed last minute. Does she not play badminton or maybe their is something they can do together?

RavingRoo Sun 19-Nov-17 22:14:13

She’s 13, you have a new baby, she’s trying to get her dad’s attention. It’s also evident that when he’s not around you don’t discipline / parent her, and at 13 that’s probably something she loves. If you live with her dad She needs to see you as someone other than just her dad’s gf (or her brother’s mum), and that means spending quality time with her and also calling stuff out gently when it happens. I bet most of the stuff she’s told her dad about her mum are lies - she just wants time with the push over parent. He has to learn how to be firmer.

timelord92 Mon 20-Nov-17 01:10:11

The1975 –

The only way I can see the routine changing for the better would be if my step daughter stayed overnight on the evenings that she currently stays rather than her having to go home it kind of feels at the minute like we are waiting for her to go home almost because we want to get ready for bed. It’s like we are waiting around for the time to come around. We have asked her to stay but as I said she just replies that her mother wouldn’t let her. However, she did stay the other night when we told her if she wanted a lift to school in the morning she would need to stay so her dad didn’t need to go out of his way to pick her up.

My boyfriend has actually said to her that he will pick her up straight from her brothers and bring her here and she said he couldn’t because it has to be her mum. God knows why!

I’ve also said to my boyfriend about her having some of her uniform here but according to my stepdaughter she only has one set of most of the school clothes and only extra pairs of t-shirts. When she brings items of hers from her own house such as her pj’s or clothes she’s had on she has to make sure that she takes them back home. One day she was asking what she had left behind. As I said to my boyfriend, what does it matter if she has left something? She’s back in a day or 2 anyway!

My boyfriend doesn’t have anything to do with her mother at all. I can’t see him giving her a ring to say she’s staying at his tonight.

Lou12345

It does seem to me that she is trying to see how far she can push it. For instance, tonight we both had a badminton match so we dropped the baby off at my mothers and he asked my step daughter the usual question on a Sunday…do you want to go home on the way there or wait till we get back. We were quite shocked that she said she’d stay till we came back when 1) there was no one else in the house and 2) it meant she might not get back home till 10pm rather than the 9pm which she was usually shouted at for if she was 5 mins late. About an hour after dropping her back at home she rings her dad twice and texted about 20 times ‘Dad, Dad, ‘hello’ to ask if he could take her to school in the morning because the buses are on strike again. My boyfriend has now agreed to take her to school because he thinks she’d been shouted at that much that she doesn’t want to ask her mother to take her in the morning.

She doesn’t have any mates that live near her. She’s sometimes mentioned that she doesn’t go out because her friends live in our area but whenever she is here with us she never goes out either. She’s always going on about friends in school but I never hear of her having any sleep overs or anything. So I’d say no she doesn’t really have any friends.

Do you mean she should be saying to her mum that she is staying in her dads (not asking) if that is what she wants to do? She sounds like she won’t challenge her mum over anything. She said a few weeks ago that she had to wear a top her mum picked for her on her birthday last year even thou she didn’t like it. She told us as well that she can’t wait till she turns 16 because she can wear and do what she wants then.

She plays badminton at school in an after club but she won’t play with us for some reason. She has mentioned a few times that she wants him to take her swimming but he doesn’t seem to take her to do it. He took her the cinema just the two of them the other day but it’s not all the time.

RavingRoo

I thought it was attention but it only seems to happen when she has been around her mother. When she is staying with us she alternates between staying with us in the living room to being in her bedroom which is standard for a teenager. If she wanted attention wouldn’t she be not leaving his side in the house too? It is possible I suppose that her mother is making her feel second best when she isn’t with us which brings on the behavior.

I leave the discipline up to my boyfriend as I think it’s over stepping the mark with her not being my daughter. I did pull her up the other day when I didn’t like her tone of voice after being asked to put her dishes in the dishwasher before she was going home. On the way home my boyfriend thought he get a mouthful but instead she started crying and saying she hasn’t felt like seeing anyone that day because she left ugly. She apologized for her behavior too.

I’ve just been wondering that too whether she exaggerated what her mother has said or done as she has leant that she’ll get her own way.

swingofthings Mon 20-Nov-17 06:10:18

I don't see anything unusual in what you've written and the same thing I experience as a resident parent. As kids become teenager, you tend to swap the demands that comes with them not being independent enough with the demands on them becoming independent and expecting you to fit your life around their schedule.

She comes to her dad because her mum is probably expecting her to plan her schedule better and getting cross when she doesn't and then relies on her mum to sort it out for her. It's a balance between teaching them to be responsible for themselves, and being reasonable that they will still at time get it wrong. It sounds like her mum has high expectations of her starting to take responsibility for arranging things for herself. I can relate to that as I am the same. It's nothing to do with control but with teaching independence skills.

I don't get the issue about her being there when you want to go out. At 13, she should be able to stay home without you or her dad. You certainly shouldn't need to change your plans because she decides to be there at the last minute.

WhiteCat1704 Mon 20-Nov-17 07:58:15

Too much freedom..she is playing your dh against her mother and likely vice versa...it's not good that mother is being blamed for SD unreasonable behaviour..

Your boyfriend should be firmer with her. This behaviour is likely fuelled by jealousy of the new baby and you and frankly you shouldn't let a 13 year old call the shoots. Introduce structure and set days when she stays over - your babys routine should be a top priority now.

timelord92 Mon 20-Nov-17 08:09:37

Whitecat

How should we go about introducing structure? By saying what days and times she is staying.

For me personally it would be better that she stay overnight so that my boyfriend is not having to leave to drop her off and upsetting the baby in the process.

Magda72 Mon 20-Nov-17 09:42:34

Hi OP - I reiterate what Swing says. At 13 she should be developing some skills regarding how she organises herself but this will be very hard for her to do with all the coming & going. My 11 yr old packs up herself for going to her dads & packs up for coming back to me also. If something is forgotten it's forgotten & is left until next visit unless it's something major like a piece of sporting equipment - but that's happening less & less now.
That being said, for all your sakes your bf needs to lift the phone & contact his ex re establishing a routine. At 13 she's learning independence but can't just come & go as she or her mum pleases esp with a little baby in the mix, & it won't help with her organisational skills.
We have a rule here that if something happens on my time ex does not bail kids out & vice versa. So, if a lift is needed I do it or arrange an alternative without calling on ex or his partner. If kids are with ex & same happens he sorts it. Obviously we swap days if it's something major. This has worked really well for everyone inc the kids and everyone knows where they stand & can establish routines accordingly.
I can understand your bf not wanting to interact with his ex but in this case he needs to put on his big boy pants and sort it or all your heads will be melted.

Slowtrain2dawn Mon 20-Nov-17 20:24:04

She sounds unhappy, confused and therefore understandably disorganised. I don’t think it’s fair that her father will not communicate with her mother. She has been stuck in the middle surely? They could communicate via short emails . Decide the best routine with her, then communicate this to the mother, to check there are no (genuine) problems. Support her to manage that routine. Make sure she has all necessary clothes and pjs to stay overnight ( buy them if necessary). I think she needs a lot of support at 13 to manage this back and forth arrangement. She needs structure and boundaries that both parents support. If her mother is shouting at her as much as she says she could benefit from any local adolescent counselling/listening service. Does her dad speak to the school? I wonder what their experience of her is, could tell you a lot.

Ilovetolurk Tue 21-Nov-17 06:37:17

Hi OP you have some good advice above

I would reiterate that my ds13 sounds similar to your DSD, likes to hang in his room, wants to do things at the last minute usually to do with scheduling something with his friends and can be quite inflexible about that

Your OH should speak to ex to facilitate these changing circs and help out DSD who comes over as being in the middle

Also you do sound a bit precious about the baby it won’t do any harm to have the routine changed now and again or bsby woken up. People with more than one child juggle these sort of logistics all the time. Sounds like DSD really loves baby which is great, in a few years you will have a ready made babysitter

Biglettuce Tue 21-Nov-17 09:18:24

We’ve left it very much in her court when she visits and we’ve given her keys. I think there lies your problem. I’ve said it on another post, loose arrangements put it all on the child who isn’t really mature enough to think through the best contact arrangements in an adult way. Of course they are going to manipulate the situation.

Draw up a schedule in advance, one that suits you, suits Ex, suits step daughter. It might take a while! But you’ll get there. Better than this conflict.

Aliosa Tue 21-Nov-17 09:28:33

Far too much blame on the mother. First she wasn’t letting DD come now she doesn’t seem to care?

DD has no structure just “come when you want” = “we don’t care when/if you come”

Phone/bus stuff is normal teenage stuff

You don’t have to stay in with a 13 year old

She doesn’t need to come out of her room and play with the baby (they’re boring to teenagers)

timelord92 Tue 21-Nov-17 12:28:39

Swingofthings

I understand what you’re saying but surely when parents have separated it’s the parent who has her that day to be responsible for anything that might come up. If we couldn’t pick her up for some reason we would get a family member to pick her up. We wouldn’t ask her mother because she would have been with us.

With her staying here when I’m going out I don’t understand why she wants to as 1) she’s coming here to visit her dad who is not here as he is in work and 2) if I’m going out for most of the day she’d be on her own whereas in her own house her mother would be with her for most of the day where she would have some company. Also, she isn’t very good at making things for herself. She’s said that her mother won’t let her cook anything in her house so she doesn’t know how to use the oven or anything. We’ve said next time we make a dinner we’ll get her to help us so that if we were out she could make herself something to eat. Although maybe she likes the idea of having some peace and quiet in our house.

Magda72

It is not only our house that she is coming and going in either. One day a week she goes straight from school to her nans (my boyfriend’s mum), then when my boyfriend comes home he will pick her up and take her to ours then take her home for 9. Another day in the week she stays overnight in her brother’s house even though it is only a one bed flat that he shares with his girlfriend. I’m assuming she sleeps on the couch when she stays. I don’t like all the comings and goings myself so god knows what she thinks about it all.

When I approach my boyfriend about changing things like for example her staying overnight rather than staying till 9 he will say I’ll ask her, when really he should be asking her mum because the poor girl is having to ask her mum herself. She is being put in the middle. Then there is the issue with her brother too. We don’t have a great relationship with him at the minute and the communication we have had has come through her too, which again is putting her in the middle of that situation as well.

Slowtrain2dawn

Her mum won’t speak to him either, and when she has in the past it was always to start an argument. I’ve heard from numerous people that she can’t be reasoned with. But it’s better for my boyfriend to have to deal with her than his daughter seeing as he did have another child to her.

I think my boyfriend’s reasoning to having her here as much as she wants is because her mother has got quite a destructive and negative personality because of how she grew up and he feels bad/guilty that his daughter is being brought up in that environment too and so if she’s in ours as much as possible she’s not in that environment. I’ve heard the same reasoning from everyone in my boyfriend’s family.

I make sure she has pj’s for overnight and ive bought her clothes for here too. The only thing she may need is uniform here but I think it’s better if we just buy extra rather than taking some of her mums as then it will be dragged back and forth.

I’ve asked for advice a few times on this forum and it has been mentioned a few times about taking her for some counselling but my boyfriend thinks she doesn’t need it. I did think too about if we did decide it was a good idea how we would actually go about it because I know if we mention it to her she would say no and be asking why she would need to go to something like that. Plus then she’d tell her mum and we’d have her saying there’s nothing wrong with her daughter.

I never thought of that before of asking the school. Unfortunately, he is in no communication with the school he only knows what she tells him. There is an online school portal that parents can sign up for to know what’s happening with their children but only her mum has access to it and when I asked him if he wanted to and his response was if you want to. I’m getting the impression that he leaves all that kind of stuff up to her mother he’s been on one parents evening in the 3 years we’ve been together. I’d want to be a bit more involved myself. I wonder if it would be a good idea to go in and ask her form tutor what her experience is of her, whether she sees that she’s unhappy at all.

Ilovetolurk

It should be my boyfriend dealing directly with his ex over visitation and I’ve lost count how many times I’ve said that to him but since I’ve been with him (3 years) everything has gone through my step daughter. So it means that if she has to be brought back early or later than the usual time then she is having to tell her and receive the back lash, whereas if we were going to be late and he told her mum she would know herself rather than asking her daughter for the information.

Yes if we had more children then I would have to adjust with the different dynamics in the house but the dynamics with there being step children in the mix make it different in that there are three parents in this situation rather than two. She could help out and pick her up now and again too.

Biglettuce

In hindsight your right we have given her too much freedom with the keys (which she hasn’t used) and that she can stay till she’s ready. The reason she has to be back at 9 is because her mother has set that boundary. I reckon if she turned round and said I don’t want to go back till 11 he’d happily let her stay till then. It happened on Sunday actually when we were late getting back and instead of saying we’ll drop you off on the way she was given an option which meant she was dropped off at 10.

Aliosa

There is some blame on the mother but to be honest it’s both of their faults. They are both so caught up in their own dramas that they can’t parent properly because they don’t want to communicate with each other.

We are only hearing a one-sided view from my step daughter and we don’t know what is getting said at her house. I know what it sounds like but you can’t do right from doing wrong.
A while ago, she told us her mother (about 2 years ago) had said to her it was her choice whether she went to her dads or not. Then a few weeks after she said her mother had tried to stop her staying at ours (it was the summer holidays and she was staying sometimes 5 nights a week with every weekend) but she’d reminded her she said it was her choice. Then a few months passed and she said it was going back to every other weekend because her mum had put her foot down and told her she was her mother and she does as she’s told. There are conflicting messages given there. However, although my boyfriend doesn’t force her to do something he doesn’t tell her she can’t do it either, which now looking at the advice from these posts has got me thinking its nearly or just as bad as what her mother is doing.

Now that I’ve looked at it properly it’s almost like there’s pushing and pulling from both of her parents rather than working together.

There is a structure there as she comes every Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday but the times where she has to be home by 9. My boyfriend tho if we have to go somewhere will say ‘what do you want to do?’ instead of taking her home as her mother might want her ready for bed or something.

Slowtrain2dawn Tue 21-Nov-17 18:56:05

From your update I can see that you have a really good grasp on the situation and it’s so good that you are taking on board all the suggestions... but as you say this is actually her parents responsibility and you can only make suggestions to your partner and carry on being the great step mum you are. It’s very tough on the child if they can’t communicate, and hard on you to pick up the pieces, when you have a baby too. In my area there is a youth counselling service that young people can access themselves, you could give her the number if there’s one near you and say that sometimes it’s hard being a teenager, leave it up to her, plus letting her know she can always talk to you.

jaimelannistersgoldenhand Wed 22-Nov-17 09:16:10

I understand what you’re saying but surely when parents have separated it’s the parent who has her that day to be responsible for anything that might come up. If we couldn’t pick her up for some reason we would get a family member to pick her up. We wouldn’t ask her mother because she would have been with us.

Some parents would prefer to be the first one asked to be back up in an emergency. You read on here quite often how a parent is always palming off a child to other babysitters when the other parent is ready and willing. (I’m not saying that you or the mum palm off the child btw)

It seems that the dd doesn’t want to be making decisions about contact and needs her parents to step up and talk to each other regardless of ill feeling. If dsd is like my kids then she can end up overthinking things and worried about parental feelings. The parents should come up with a schedule to relieve dad’s mental load.

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