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Life is Good! ~ Now Let's Talk About the Elephant in the Room

ChamomileTea4Me's picture

Things have been going pretty good around the house, but last night we ended up addressing the 'elephant in the room'.  There's so much more to the evening, but I won't hash it all out here.  I've been processing it all this morning and looking to Brene Brown for a bit of clarity and inspiration.

“It’s not about ‘what can I accomplish?’ but ‘what do I want to accomplish?’ Paradigm shift.”

~ Brene Brown

MR. ED and I got into a tough conversation about SD17 last night.  Her path continues of failing grades, drug use, outrageous social media posting, disregard for house rules, and general avoidance of anything and everyone around here.  She refuses to even speak a word to the poor puppy.  What the hell is THAT about?  Seriously, he's 10 pounds of teddy-bear-esque ADORABLENESS!  MR. ED is frustrated, admittedly afraid to come down on her hard and push her farther down the rabbit hole of self-destruction.  I'm disengaged for the most part (work in progress...old habits die hard!) but still irritated with her sulking, toxic energy and total disregard for house rules.  He admitted he's scared she'll quit school and leave if he lays down more consequences. I told him, "Well...she has you by the balls then, doesn't she?"  That led to me asking him, "Have you just given up on actually parenting her resigning yourself to just provide a roof, a bed, and food in the fridge?  You know I think you should 've done this and that before it got to this point, but I get it...she's now adamant about 'cutting off her own nose to spite her face', so I'm not even trying to judge you at this point.  I believe in therapy, but I recognize that it only works if you are willing to work it.  She's obviously not a willing party and almost a legal adult.  I just want to know what it is that you want to accomplish here.  I just want to be on the same page so we can all get through this in one piece."  He said he hasn't given up on her, but just does know where to go from here.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”

~ Brene Brown

So, we talked about some options he had and I tried to give him the "you have more leverage than you are using" pep talk, but told him in the end...your daughter, your call.  I did ask him for 3 things that directly pertain to the household:  #1.  He lay down CLEAR consequences for EVER finding illegal drugs in this house again.  #2.  After months of giving her the opportunity to clean up after herself, he enforce the "NO FOOD/DRINK IN BEDROOMS" rule.  It's not fair to the boys because they follow this rule, he's setting a bad precedent with the younger ones about consequences, and its foul for any room in this house to have piles of food trash or sticky drinks spilled on the floor.  #3.  SD17 clean up her bathroom (trash/toilet/sink area) every 2 weeks before the boys come to visit.  They shouldn't have to use a nasty bathroom, clean up her mess, or use ours in avoidance of their own.  I told him I will not clean that toilet again and if it got nasty like it was, then he'd have to do it himself.

MR. ED thankfully agreed to all 3.  He had a talk with SD17 and told her if he finds drugs, food, or drinks other than water in her room again, she is losing her phone permanently.  He told her she is responsible for cleaning the bathroom before her brothers' visit and that if it is not done by that Friday, she will not be allowed to go to work or leave the house until it is done.  MR. ED told her that he doesn't know if it's her work hours, drugs, or something else that has her failing at school, but she needs to get it together or she will have to quit her job and/or go to a substance abuse program.  She had told him that she intends to graduate early next year, so he reminded her that if that is really what she wants to do she has to pass her classes.  Basically, he told her if she wants to graduate asap and get out on her own she's gotta get your head out of her bum and actually work for it.  No one is holding her back from being "grown" but herself.

This morning...her room was clean with all food, drink, visible pods and paraphernalia in the trash.  I only know what he said based on what he told me because I stay as far away from those conversations as possible these days, but whatever it seems to have given her a jolt.  These phones,'s a self-destructive teenager's life-line.  If it were my DS, I would've taken that thing away long ago.  No phone, no easy access to drugs/vapes/alcohol/social media attention and no money to buy all the bad stuff.  I just hope the fear of having it all taken away permanently is enough to make a change and keep him from ever having to actually follow through on that threat.  She's a stubborn one, so I'm not holding my breath, but fingers crossed. 

Before I go treat myself and puppers to a nice peaceful and rejuvenating walk, I'll end this entry with a quote for all those working toward disengagement from toxic skids, in-laws, and others:

“Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.”

~ Brene Brown




blessedwithstress's picture

Good for you for laying down the law with your hubby and double congratulations that he agreed to all 3 of your terms! Hopefully the come-to-Jesus meeting with his daughter will set her off in a better direction! Nobody likes to see a young person head down a path to a life of failure. Stay strong!

ChamomileTea4Me's picture

Even though there is a lot of animosity between us, I still hate to see any young lady go the way she's going.  Believe it or not, we use to be fairly close.  I was a huge mess at her age and got myself into some very dangerous and life-changing situations.  I've never wanted that for her.  I know someone on here may chime in and remind me that I laughed at her losing her job and that's true.  I admit there has been a bit of satisfaction, to say the least in the rare instances she's actually had to face real-world consequences.  But truthfully, I just wish she'd get on the happy train and do something positive and productive with her time, ya know?  So that is what's so hard about disengagement and really being in a SP position period...standing by as an outsider to children within your own castle who could benefit from your presence in the right climate.  It feels like it's against every Mom-fiber of my being to stand by, but in this scenario, it's absolutely necessary that I do just that.  Thanks for the support!

Doublehelix's picture

Wooooow, props to you for working with your DH on this. In terms of my own stepkid, I'm pretty much complaining over the equivalent of first world problems, so kudos to you. I hope your DH continues to stand his ground, bc really, it's his job to correct his daughter's behavior. Like you said, does he simply just want to be a "good guy" and not be too hard on her or does he actually want what's best for his daughter? Choice is his. Good luck to you guys!!

ChamomileTea4Me's picture

Well, some would say I should've walked away a long time ago, and honestly...I told him that during our conversation last night!  For once, he actually agreed that I would've had cause to but said he is happy I didn't.  That's something.  For a few years, I stuck in there because I was naively trying to make a positive difference in their lives and thought it would be a passing phase for each of them at 16/17/18.  I did leave one time for a month when MSD was causing drama and it triggered my depression.  But now, with SD17 being the last of 4 that we had full time at home, I can see a new phase of life on the horizon.  As long as he's working toward that with me, I'll try to work with him to get through this.  I do hope he keeps working on what's best for his daughters instead of pacifying them, but at the end of the day...not my circus, not my monkeys. ;)  Thanks for the comments!

Oh, and first world problems have been a BIG factor in these skids going astray, so that's important stuff!  MR. ED wasn't on it when it came to the first world problems when they were young, so here we are.  Good luck to you as well!

CLove's picture

Disengagment roques.


Love all those quotes. "I am not the jackass whisperer..."

In my case "I dont do crazy..."

My favorite!

ChamomileTea4Me's picture

Well, when I started by saying, "There's so much more to the evening, but I won't hash it all out here" that is part of the "so much more."  I told him that I've considered making an anonymous call to the school to report her or just calling the police.  I've warned her about this as well before.  We talked about it and both agree that he and I would most likely not recover from that stress and potential resentment.  So, I told him I will hold off, but if he can't stop her from bringing that stuff in this house that I will have to make the decision to leave.  Neither of us want that, so I guess I had to clearly set my boundary with him so he knows he has to lay down the law with her or lose me.  So yes...I agree with you that is an option, but if it comes down to that I will leave that option to him, disengage entirely, and walk away.  Hopefully, it doesn't come to that.  Thanks for the input!