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Help! Step-daughter won't leave the house, worn out

(38 Posts)
decaffeinated Thu 31-Jul-08 16:48:58

Hi all,

Does anyone have any words of wisdom on getting through tough times with 7 yr old DSD?

She will not leave the house! I have a 4 month old son, and she comes to visit in the summer hols, and I have care of her. She can be really lovely, but some days (like today), she won't leave the house. I get my sanity from having a little walk, daily, but she won't go. For the past couple of days I've managed to wrap it up into a visit to the play park, but coz she doesn't have any mates in the UK (she lives in France), she gets bored. I can understand really, but there's only so much playing on playground toys that I want to do!

I haven't got the time or energy to argue with her, as it's so pointless. I have tried bribing; saying cheerily 'right then time to go'; offering something in return - there's nothing she wants enough to warrant a walk. She won't budge.

She's been in front of the tele almost all day, except for a break this avo to make some scones. She didn't eat her lunch as she was invited to come to the table at 12.15, 1.15, and 2pm but said she wanted to watch tele instead. I warned her that she couldn't have lunch if she didn't come to the table. She seems to have accepted that consequence without too much fuss so I'm pleased I stood my ground.

But I just want to cry! Thankfully my husband gets home in half an hour. Then he's taking her camping (Our tent's not big enough for the 4 of us, and we've not yet got round to buying a new 'family' tent), so he's off for the weekend and I feel really downtrodden.

On days like today, I just want to crawl into bed and cry. I'm out of energy and fed up, yet my 4 month old is grizzly too probably coz of my mood but also the heat!

Parenting can be hard some days!

jammi Thu 31-Jul-08 16:55:27

Message withdrawn

meemar Thu 31-Jul-08 16:58:15

Agree turn off the tv, it's making her lazy. A 7 year old should not be able to dictate if you go out or not. What if you had to go somewhere?

Anna8888 Thu 31-Jul-08 16:58:34

She's seven. You can (and indeed should) ration television, make her come to meals on time, go out to the shops with you, tidy her room. Does she have toys of her own at your house? Maybe you could go out shopping for some new things for her to play with. Buy Lego - you will be able to use it for your DS later.

Seeline Thu 31-Jul-08 16:59:01

How about the local library - ours has a book trail thing running through the summer where the children get badges and free dvd rentals and things for each set of books they read. She might meet some kids her own age there too. Are there any other local drop-in schemes that she might be interested in? My DS is never keen on going for a walk (also 7) but if we can make it into more of an expedition he can be encouraged eg nature trail, or spotting certain things on the way. Alternatively a scooter seems popular at the moment (and needn't be too expensive). Good luck!

BrownSuga Thu 31-Jul-08 16:59:40

Do you think she is mature enough to leave in the house for half an hour while you take the little one for a stroll around a few blocks? As in, I'm taking DC for a walk in 10minutes, if you're not ready, I'm going and then just go.

Or is it not worth the risk?

Countingthegreyhairs Thu 31-Jul-08 17:00:29

Sorry no clue about step-parenting but just wanted to post to say that sounds really, really tough ...particularly when you are trying so hard to do your best

I dunno ... talking off top of my head ... but do you think she has "control" issues ...? And the only power she feels she has is to be passive-agressive/resistant ...

Could you shock her in to cooperating by telling her you understand the difficulties in her life bla bla bla and as such she can do EXACTLY what she wants ....

A sort of reverse strategy ....

Or is that total utter madness???

Countingthegreyhairs Thu 31-Jul-08 17:01:52

meant to say.. obviously with long-term intention that that will bring her round to switching off television and joining in ...

aGalChangedHerName Thu 31-Jul-08 17:06:52

Not a step parent so probably not very useful.

My ds2 was like this and still is sometimes. I made him come with me when he was younger,i could not be stuck in all day,i had things to do and wanted fresh air etc.

What does your DP/DH say about it? I think if you are caring for her in place of your OH then she really has to do what you are asking her to do.

Freckle Thu 31-Jul-08 17:08:21

Remove the fuse from the television plug so she can't just plug it back in. Tell her that, when you go out, she has to come too. End of. Get your dh to reinforce it.

2rebecca Thu 31-Jul-08 18:01:56

If you wouldn't let your daughter get away with this then you shouldn't let your stepdaughter. Children need boundaries, controlling adults isn't good for them. She needs to be treated like the child she is. So no "would you like a walk" and more "we are going for a walk"
I wouldn't let any child watch TV for hours.
It can be difficult acting as a parent when you aren't one, and when you don't want a child to dislike you, but that's what you have to do.

LooptheLoop Thu 31-Jul-08 18:19:05

Hiya

Blimey that sounds tough. No wonder you're frazzled especially as you're trying so hard to do the right things for her.

Just a though - but have you tried disengaging? Is there anyone else who can watch her for half an hour while you get a tiny bit of space for yourself and switch off?

I'm not suggesting you just leave her in front of the TV every day (before I get flamed!) but I do feel stepping back occasionally can be a step parent's sanity line!

Sounds like you're doing a fantastic job if it's any consolation!

Blandmum Thu 31-Jul-08 18:24:53

Turn the TV off. remove the plug if you have to

Repeat the mantra, 'I'm the adult'

My (non step) kids would sit in front of the box all day given the chance. But we go out

decaffeinated Thu 31-Jul-08 20:56:46

Hiya all, thanks for your messages - it's great to have some support, and you've all made some really good points.

DH and DSD have gone off camping now, and 4 month is in bed. At last some space!

I know I ought really to have just turned off the TV. I think my main problem today has just been feeling too tired and weak to sit with her and amuse her with a whole raft of exciting activities in place of it.

Most of the time I manage to engage her with something arty, or cooking or something instead if she's refusing to leave the house.

My DH said I ought to have called him really - this is our usual strategy when she's being really naughty. I should have done, looking back on the day, but he's also so stressed and knackered at the moment I just wanted to give him the space to be able to have a day at work without playing peacemaker to the temporarily warring women in his life!

So it's my own fault really for not calling the cavalry.

I do try to see myself as a caregiver, rather than get too tied up in all the emotional battles which can come with step parenting, something which usually works when I'm not on my knees with tiredness.

We made an agreement some time ago that we're friends, and I'm looking after her as an adult carer, and not trying to be her mum, which does seem to help somewhat.

Anyway, she got a bit of a telling off from her dad when he got home, eventually came out for a walk (we all went as a family), ate the lunch she had refused earlier, and thanked me for getting her bag packed and ready for their camping trip, so it's all okay in the end.

There's a whole load of other stuff going on in the background regarding her starting a new school, something which I think she's feeling upset about so I can't blame her for being difficult, really. She's had a pretty unsettled life for one so young really.

Here's to tomorrow, and a fresh day! I'm off for a nice cold Corona and lime from the fridge!

BrownSuga Thu 31-Jul-08 23:49:21

Sounds like a good end to the day. Enjoy your beer and your weekend!

2rebecca Fri 01-Aug-08 11:47:25

Glad its sorted. My stepdaughter now only visits for a fortnight in the summer and her dad takes that fortnight off to be with her. He's off camping with her. It's good for them to spend time together.
I was off with my kids earlier as unfortunately work holiday rotas and negotiating with exes re holidays often means all the kids aren't here together so husband and I have split summer holidays.

decaffeinated Fri 01-Aug-08 20:35:53

Thanks BrownSuga!

2rebeccas,

That sounds like a good arrangement, and I can see ours morphing to something similar before too long. Perhaps 2 weeks with us as a family, then 1 or 2 weeks with her grandparents with DH popping in to see her after work and before her bedtime. I wouldn't mind if they wanted some exclusive father / daughter time either.

I also wondered whether we might start taking our hols in S.France and picking her up, so she doesn't have a trip over here to contend with and it's us going to visit her rather than the other way round. It's pretty boring for her here as she doesn't have any mates. Perhaps shorter, higher quality bursts of time would be better all round.

She does keep inviting us to stay with her and her mum, step-dad etc, at their house, bless, but whilst I think I could cope with a day trip, I have to be honest and say I don't fancy staying overnight all that much.

Her mum can be a little overbearing and although we have the odd conversation and are always polite to each other, I can't imagine a cosy family evening with everyone together, least of all, all getting up in the morning and having breakfast! I have to say though, I sometimes wish it could happen! It would make trips over there a hell of a lot cheaper.

I think the thing I have found difficult when we've met up in the past is that her mum has taken on the matriarch role, and starts bossing her husband, my husband, and her children, around. And I have felt a bit excluded!

Are there any ex wives out there who can shed light on how she might feel in the situation, and why she is like that?

It feels like she's dominating the situation, and it makes me feel uncomfortable, but I don't imagine that she feels entirely comfortable, and I wonder whether she's over compensating and getting it a bit wrong.

I often wonder whether I should bring it up (with her), but because we rarely see each other it never seems to be the right time. And how do you tell someone they're upsetting you without offending them, or sounding like a wet blanket? Or is it just human?

2rebecca Sat 02-Aug-08 12:23:01

I tend to avoid being with my husband's ex. We can be civil to each other for short periods on the phone or if we meet each other but wouldn't choose to be in each others company. My ex wouldn't want to be in the same room as my husband.
If my stepkids lived some distance away I would get a holiday cottage rather than stay with them.
Generally we prefer having the kids here as we can relax more and do what we want and not conform to someone else's routine.
We find that amusing them isn't that difficult but then the parent always takes time off.

youcannotbeserious Sat 02-Aug-08 20:07:04

I'm with 2Rebecca - we are civil and polite to each other but it goes no further.

She (DH's ex) has been to my house, but I wouldn't ever go into hers... it's not an issue for us, cos she'd never invite me!!!

I think being an Ex has as many issues as being a step-parent, IYSWIM... There's a whole raft of boundaries that if you overstep you are a bit weird but stay too far back and it can seem you are trying to interfere with contact....

It is important that, if you are going to be left in charge of the DSD that you have control. You shouldn't have to phone your DH - There should be an implicit understanding that if you've been left in charge then you are in charge.

I've hd the 'you're not my mum' line a few times, but I just say 'fair enough, but your mum and dad have left me in charge and therefore I AM in charge!!

Dynamicnanny Mon 04-Aug-08 18:02:29

RE meals she needs to be sat at th etable with the rest of the family if she doesn't want to eat she doesn't eat and will have to wiat until the next meal

RE TV sit down and let her choose 3 programmes she likes that she is able to sit and watch and then the tv goes off have you got parental control on the tv? Or have half an hour after lunch.

RE routine you need to be getting out and about even if its a walk down to the shops,
how about

7 get up
730 breakfast
8 get dressed - quiet play ie barbies/sylvanian families
9.30 trip to the shop/library/swimming pool/friends of yours
1130 home - quiet play/help you with prepare lunch/computer time
12 lunch time
1 tv for half an hour
1.30 garden time - or a local walk, trip to the zoo, bike ride, hose riding lesson, outside time
3.30 snack time
5 Tea time
6 Bath, pjs on, share some stories
7 bed

decaffeinated Mon 04-Aug-08 19:22:36

Hiya,

Thanks for the messages, YCBS I see what you mean, and totally agree that there are just as many issues for the ex. And I shall remember that line.

2rebecca, I think the holiday cottage is a much easier solution, if more costly.

Dynamicnanny, routine works well!

Well, today we have had a very successful day! We worked out a plan for the day, and kept referring back to it, together. It seemed to work well.

We nearly had a stand-off after her tele time, but I was strong and simply turned it off today. She shouted and sulked and said she wasn't coming out to the park, but I told her we were going, said 'pop your shoes and socks on, we're off to the park' cheerily, and on repeat, and began getting my son, his pram and some snacks ready.

Just as I was ready to go out of the door, she said 'are you going to the park?', to which I replied, yes, and she asked how long I was going for, and when I said an hour said 'Yippee!!" and ran upstairs to get her shoes and socks on.

Obviously a bit of routine helps, so I"m just about to make another plan for tomorrow (we're going to record her singing High School Musical, as well as a walk), and I hope we can manage another good day.

2rebecca Mon 04-Aug-08 21:27:41

Sounds as though you are doing a great job. Does her dad have any time off whilst she's with you?

youcannotbeserious Mon 04-Aug-08 22:48:11

Glad you had a better day.

Hope tomorrow is equally successful - but remember kids will test you regardless of whether they are step kids or not!!! grin

decaffeinated Wed 06-Aug-08 21:17:17

Wise words there YCBS.

2rebecca, yes, in the month she's been here he's had a full week off, and then works 7.30-5 Mon-Thursday and I share care with her grandparents. He would normally have a bit more time available, but we went on our honeymoon at the beginning of the year so it didn't leave many days off. Next year will be easier in that respect, although DH & ExW haven't yet made the arrangements for her visits yet.

We have had a mixed couple of days, with yet more battles of her not wanting to go out, but I have stuck to my guns, and today when she wouldn't leave to go for lunch at her grandparents I left the house and got the car all loaded up before I heard the pitter patter of her feet running up the street to catch up with me! Other times she has been really sweet so it's ups and downs.

Today she hit me - I could see she was really angry, my goodness she pummelled my bum! And all because when she pulled a rude face at me, I pulled the same face back at her, and laughed. You live and learn, and maybe that was a bit insensitive of me, but sometimes it would be nice if we could lighten the atmosphere a little!

She got a telling off (from me), but continued being rude! I really have to try hard to keep my cool and not get drawn into her style of arguing.

This time (as pretty much always) after about 10 mins of ignoring each other, we're making friends, and it's all okay again.

I think the realities of her going home in 3 days are starting to hit a bit now (they always do around this time), and they make things all the more difficult for her.

I feel bloody knackered again, and it's 9.13pm, and my DH is still putting her to bed as she's upset about the whole situation (her mum n dad not being together). I'd just like some time with him to snuggle up on the sofa, and not have to deal with another battle!

Again, tomorrow's another day. Roll on more positive moments, even if only fleeting.

decaffeinated Wed 06-Aug-08 21:17:18

Wise words there YCBS.

2rebecca, yes, in the month she's been here he's had a full week off, and then works 7.30-5 Mon-Thursday and I share care with her grandparents. He would normally have a bit more time available, but we went on our honeymoon at the beginning of the year so it didn't leave many days off. Next year will be easier in that respect, although DH & ExW haven't yet made the arrangements for her visits yet.

We have had a mixed couple of days, with yet more battles of her not wanting to go out, but I have stuck to my guns, and today when she wouldn't leave to go for lunch at her grandparents I left the house and got the car all loaded up before I heard the pitter patter of her feet running up the street to catch up with me! Other times she has been really sweet so it's ups and downs.

Today she hit me - I could see she was really angry, my goodness she pummelled my bum! And all because when she pulled a rude face at me, I pulled the same face back at her, and laughed. You live and learn, and maybe that was a bit insensitive of me, but sometimes it would be nice if we could lighten the atmosphere a little!

She got a telling off (from me), but continued being rude! I really have to try hard to keep my cool and not get drawn into her style of arguing.

This time (as pretty much always) after about 10 mins of ignoring each other, we're making friends, and it's all okay again.

I think the realities of her going home in 3 days are starting to hit a bit now (they always do around this time), and they make things all the more difficult for her.

I feel bloody knackered again, and it's 9.13pm, and my DH is still putting her to bed as she's upset about the whole situation (her mum n dad not being together). I'd just like some time with him to snuggle up on the sofa, and not have to deal with another battle!

Again, tomorrow's another day. Roll on more positive moments, even if only fleeting.

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