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BM breaks our bedtime routine and undoes our progress

Ap1234's picture

My SO's daughter, 10, has ADD and a lot of anxiety and it has taken us a full year to wean her off of spending any part of the night needing our comfort. We got her a sound machine for ambient noise and previously we (my SO or I) would have to sit on the floor in her room until she falls asleep, or she would start the night falling next to us on the couch and we'd carry her to bed, etc. We worked really hard on meditation and techniques to help her fall asleep on her own. We got down to a pretty good routine of my s.o. just doing a bedtime story with her and she'd be good for the night. 

She's been asking to stay up with us or stay in our bed lately so in just chatting with her we learned that every time she goes to her mom's house, her mom either stays in her bed with her, sits next to her, or lets her sleep in her bed. 

I fully believe in making our daughter feel safe and I also have anxiety so I understand how tough it can be but I'm very frustrated with bm for not reinforcing the coping skills and self soothing. Maybe this is fine for bm because she only has her daughter 1-2 nights a week and only on days when they don't have to be up early the next morning, so it doesn't really affect her life too much, but we have her every school night, and if we try to get her to stay in her own bed anymore, she's inevitably up by 1 am or even sooner. We either have to spend an hour or more comforting her in her own bed with meditation and deep breathing or we have to just cave and let her sleep with us if we're too tired. If we tell her to go back to bed on her own the anxiety escalates because she feels abandoned.

This is happening almost every night now and it usually ends up falling on me to help her because her dad has to be up early for work and my work schedule is more relaxed. I am a little bit better at talking her through the meditation also so she sometimes prefers I do it anyway.

This was weird to me to begin with because as a child I was never welcome to sleep in my parents bed and they would never have agreed to soothe me like this - they would just tell me to read a book. Friends who have kids have told me it's not really that uncommon for kids this age to still spend part of the night with parents. 

The mom is also responsible for taking daughter to therapy appointments which she cannot keep on a regular schedule so she's not seeing the therapist regularly and we have no idea what mom tells the therapist. She's very territorial and insists that she needs to be the person handling those appointments. I'm thinking of seeing if my SO and I can join for a therapy session or talk to the Dr on the phone. I have no idea how bm could possibly be helpful in therapy seeing as how she doesn't even live with her daughter and doesn't even talk to her on the phone every day. Or if she does it's a very superficial conversation. 

BM is generally very disorganized and difficult to make plans with. Pretty absent from her daughter's life but has lots of opinions on how my SO and I should be handling things in our own house. Talks down to me like I don't understand how to handle a kid. I'm really at my wit's end with the nighttime anxiety - I want to be really clear that I'm not at my wit's end with our daughter! She's really trying and is disappointed in herself when she needs our help. I'm ridiculously frustrated with Mom for not helping. I feel like if she's not going to be present every day she needs to be supportive of our established routines, particularly given the special challenges with ADD and anxiety. 

My SO is also at his wit's end with it but he hasn't been able to address it with bm because she gets defensive. 


Harry's picture

He should be putting her to bed, not you.  He does not fix this so then he loses sleep over this.  Not you 

This is not going to get better until you make SO do something, 

elkclan's picture

If the kid is ADD and the mom appears a bit disorganised, there's probably something of ADD in mom as well. Asking her to be organised about bedtimes may be a struggle. I suspect I'm ADD and I just don't do routines very well. I completely understand why it's impacting you, but if I were BM I'd be like "Hey, it's only 1 or 2 nights a week, and on my time - why should you tell me what to do?"  

I completly understand your frustration, though. My ex is doing zero homework with our kid and I'm trying everything to get him to do just to do one or two assignments a week that I can't do - (I have BS 4 days a week , he has 3 - so it's not like I'm asking him to do it all on a single day EOWE or something).  All you can do is reinforce your routine at home. 

It's sucks she's being patronising about it and interfering - maybe you can just agree that what happens under each adult's roof is their own business. You can't expect to run stuff at her house without being vulnerable to the same. 

Aunt Agatha's picture

As Harry points out, she is not your daughter.  This is all on your DH.  This kid is overcoddled and you have bought into it, to the point of doing the parenting he needs to be doing.

Take a huge step back. Once your DH loses sleep because princess can’t fall asleep on her freaking own, this will get resolved.  As long as you are there to be inconvenienced instead of him, well you see where you are at.

Stop blaming the BM. This is on your DH. 

thinkthrice's picture

the three Ps




She should have been trained out of this at 10 MONTHS not 10 years old.

Classic guilty/non patenting by bioparents with a heaping helping of pity.  You can be sure the BM treats SD as a mini spouse/adult confidant which is a form of child abuse the courts DON'T recognize. 

SD will end up having 0% responsibility and 100% authority.   Nature abhors a vacuum and likes to even out therefore you will be assigned 100% responsibility and 0% authority..the exact OPPOSITE of what an adult/child relationship should be.

 She already has two (clueless) parents.  Its not your job to fix what they have abdicated.  Dad needs to step up and tell the BM to step off.

Now that SD has had a taste of adult authority, she will not easily give this up.   Here are some terms that will soon become second nature so you should research them:

Parental Alienation (Syndrome) or PAS- go to youtube and look up Dr. Craig Childress

Disengagement- this is when dad and the BM doesn't parent, and they don't want SM to parent skid either but want SM to take full responsibility for the consequences of such...basically they want SM to be in the trainwreck, although completely innocent, that THEY caused.

Chmmy's picture

I stopped having sex with my husband until he got it under control. SS12 is ADHD & SS11 is needy too. I told him if they continue to come in my room and waking me he will have to sleep in the guest room and they can go in there to bother him. Because i set consequences for DH he set consequences for the boys. If they wake us they go to bed earlier so they settle down easier. We took all tvs & electronics away at 7. Guess what they found a way to stay out of our room. BMs house they have no rules. They have internet & phones all night. The only rule is they do not bother her amd her husband in bed. Set your house rules and be consistent. Take things away from her until they are followed. If you saw my feral SSs 2 years ago you would never believe the things that have changed since I moved in. It was a struggle but its done.

Chmmy's picture

SS walked in on us having sex. I told DH thats it. If he cant keep them out then we are not having sex and DH can sleep with the skids in their room or go to guest room. I dont want that bed pissing, porn watching child in my room.

tog redux's picture

Kids do have anxiety at night that can require some intervention, but it should be on DH.  She's not "our daughter", she's DH's daughter, and he should handle it.

And I assume that DH is the custodial parent? Either way, he needs to tell BM either she gets the kid to the therapist regularly or he's taking over. There is no reason he can't meet with and talk to the therapist, it's absurd that he's leaving it all in BM's hands, and not even speaking to the therapist, when this issue affects you guys so much.

lieutenant_dad's picture

It's not really a coping mechanism if it has to be facilitated fully by someone else. You or your SO sitting in her room walking her through the meditation is just as "bad" for her coping as it is letting her sleep in the same bed as you or BM.

Get het guided meditation on tape that she can get up and play in the night. Her coming to you all isn't coping; coping is learning to sleep through the night AND being able to put herself back to sleep.

I'm also going to echo the others that she is your SO's child and he needs to handle this with her. So long as you give him a pass so he can sleep, your SD is going to require a crutch to sleep, and it will be you. I promise that after a month of your SO handling her every night that this will get sorted because he needs sleep and he'll see that this isn't entirely her ADD but also a manipulation tactic to get what she wants - attention.

I say this as someone who has been there and done that with a SK with insomnia (as in medically diagnosed, offered meds, did sleep study, etc). He just didn't want to be alone when she was awake, so he'd wake up other people. DH had to work with him to find a solution so that, when he couldn't sleep, he didn't wake up everyone in the house. The same has to happen here, and it needs to come from her father.

Overall, BM gets to parent how BM wants. You can't change that, so it does little good to get mad at her or expect her to change. Plus, she isn't doing anything different than what you do when you are tired, which is give in to SD.

This is one of those times when you REALLY need to back off on the "our daughter" part. BM and SO have the authority and responsibility to address this. Not you. You can help, but your help seems to be a hindrance. If BM wants to allow co-sleeping, so be it. SD still needs to learn to cope without you or SO or BM around. 

ESMOD's picture

Why is it the BM taking her to therapy when she only has her 1 or 2 days a week?  

At 10, she is old enough to be taking more responsibility for herself and her routine to go to bed... if it is consistent in your home.. 1-2 nights won't kill it all.. and if the girl becomes the one responsible.. it won't fall on BM to do anything anyway.

Your DH should be in charge of this.. but it's fine if you want to help... but I think the goal should be to getting her to independently go to bed at 10.. and not need to be led through a meditation etc..

DHsfamilyfromhell's picture

If DH is the custodial parent then DH should take her to Drs etc so he gets accurate information

Ap1234's picture

I really appreciate all the honesty here everybody. Truly I do. This all makes so much sense. I appreciate these takes so much because I feel like I often fall victim to the "well you don't have kids so you don't understand that this is just how kids are" thing andI do feel like that's not fair to me. Thank you all so much for these doses of reality here