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I need help disengaging

Doorsy's picture

I try to follow what I read here but it doesn't seem to work and sds actions affect me. How do you guys handle things that affect you? Is it effect? I looked it up and I'm not sure which one is right. :O anyways this morning sd didn't take the trash out last night and it was over flowing this morning and making the kitchen smell so bad I was gagging. Dh had cleaned out the fridge of leftovers and it was pretty stanky. Sd had already left for school so I had to drag it to the garage and spray some febreeze to get through my morning. I called dh and told him but his excuse was that the outside trash was full and the trash picks up today so she will empty when she gets home. He always has an excuse for her.


Acratopotes's picture

Disengagement helped for me....

next time the trash in the kitchen is over flowing, simply dump it in her room..... wish we could that would be great.
When you see DH putting loads of rubish in the trash simply tell him, oh Hon take that out now it smells....

Wake SD up and tell her - take out the trash... that's it nothing more and nothing less. or if she goes to bed without doing it, wake DH up and tell him to sort it out.

never split on SD for not doing anything, you keep quiet and you nail DH to do it.... dirty dishes, easy tell DH go and sort it out, I do not tolerate a dirty kitchen and I did not mess it up.

never say anything negative about SD cause DH will go into defense immediately, stop doing anything for SD and learn to say NO when they ask and learn to say ASK YOUR DAD

Doorsy's picture

I went to bed early last night with a backache. I didn't know it wasn't done till this morning. It smelt horrible as we had leftover from Christmas in the outside fridge. I try not to say anything bad about sd because he will then find a reason to say something bad about dd.

CANYOUHELP's picture

Yes, they can rationalize the most ludicrous mess; it is not even worth your breath to try. It is hilarious, actually, when you think about the stupidity of the claims they create for a false defense.

Just give it up, like Acra stated. stay on HB to do daughter's tasks, put the responsibility back in the court it needs to be...not with you!

Doorsy's picture

I see what you guys are saying but how do I deal with the anger and frustration. I was furious this morning and it put a damper on my day. How do I learn to let it all go and not care when it impacts my life?

Tuff Noogies's picture

i quote STalk shakespeare -

"cast thine eyes upon the fields
in which i grow my f*cks
and see that it is barren..."

maybe even a little personal gesture to get the concrete set up in your mind - any time you see something like that, make a statement in your mind "MEH." and maybe even do a little brush of the shoulder as you walk away from it.

these things take time, OP. i have spent years living in a nasty-ass house. i refuse to clean up after anyone else but myself. dh has had countless break-thru moments only to backslide again - but i do believe he is FINALLY sick enough of it himself, enough to have made a LOT of changes in the last few weeks. and he has full custody, so it's not 50/50 or every other weekend that i've lived like that. oh and ps, we've lived together almost 9 years.

it takes time. do the mental equivalent of squeezing the hell out of a stress-ball, then breathe deep and walk away. focus on taking care of YOU and not worrying about the house or trash or mess, leave that for your dh. if you *must* say something, just say it once and say it nicely - "oh dh dont forget tomorrow is trash pick-up!" and again walk away.

time and practice. if you repeat certain things in your mind and reinforce those thoughts with your own behavior, you'll get there. you will have moments of re-engaging and regretting it, but remember it's just practice.

Major Blunder's picture

Bravo! I'm gonna save this one for myself Tuff, great advice. After years of trying I still suck at disengaging, didn't know that was what I was doing until I found y'all, love the mental stress ball imagery.

trying1996's picture

I am new to the "disengaging" thing, and when SS11 doesn't do something he was specifically asked to do, DH always has some sort of excuse for him as well. I know it's really frustrating. The last time I asked SS11 to take the trash out and he didn't do it, I pointed it out to DH. Per usual DH had an excuse for him. I believe it was "he forgets a lot. I was like that when I was his age." This time I couldn't help myself. I blurted out "I have no idea what favor you THINK you're doing for him by teaching him being irresponsible is acceptable behavior. Maybe I could just forget to go to work, or do laundry, or do groceries and that would be ok too. Responsibility is a learned behavior that begins at home." I walked away after that. DH did NOT say anything. This last time when I asked him to take the trash out, DH said "do it now so you don't forget." It's a step in the right direction. I wouldn't expect anything miraculous like a consequence or anything from DH to SS11. I mean, that would be inhumane(sarcasm).

Many people on here have given me advice about disengaging. I have to bite my tongue A LOT!!! When something we agreed upon isn't taken care of, I tell DH. I'm obviously not perfect so I still have my moments where I can't stop words from flying out of my mouth. I have gotten a lot better.

So_Annoyed's picture

Good question. I also am disengaged, but there are days where I think I may just lose my freaking mind, with the crap that happens.

Your garbage story is about what it's like at my house Sad

Example, last night I asked SD to do the dishes after she ate. The sink was full, I had cooked, and I'd done the dishes the past 3 times.
So she does them, but leaves the crockpot and lid. I ask her to go do those as well, and she says "dad does them for me", to which my head must have spun around a few times, and then, DH Disneydad, says, "it's too heavy for her, I will do the crock pot". WTF??? Too heavy? She is 14, not a tiny, frail child, and she is fully capable of lifting a damn piece of the crockpot and cleaning it. In my head a screamed WTF...
So I shut down afterwards. Said not a single word until bedtime. No matter what I would have said, or how I would have said it, an argument would have resulted, because - as you say in your post - he has an excuse for everything she does/does not do. It's mind numbing and so nonsensical.

Sorry for the rant, I am still fuming over the insanity.

All I can say, it just keep trying.

ChiefGrownup's picture

At 14 the girl is close to full grown. So if it's too heavy for her, it must be too heavy for you?

I would seriously consider throwing the damn thing away. Prominently on top of the trash. When DH gives you the Scooby-Do, "eerrrghh?" tell him he enlightened you and you now realize it's too heavy for you, too.

If he misses his crock pot meals -- cuz he's gonna cook every time you would have used it instead -- he can buy another.

Natural consequences.

BTW, my dh volunteers at a cat shelter which he does with SD. I set up this opportunity for them because at 12 SD was kitty-crazy but her parents wouldn't allow to her have one cuz allergies. But she can pop a Benadryl 2x a month and go volunteer.

Little did I freaking know that DH would take on ALL the kitty chores - sweeping, feeding, cleaning, medicine, etc - while SD's chore was to "play with them!" And most specifically in 5 years now that kid has never ever changed out a litter box cuz DH thinks that would be "dangerous" for her. One's head explodes. One cannot see these things coming. Arfplft.

So, yeah, toss the crock pot and let him feel it in his wallet and his own chore schedule.

So_Annoyed's picture

I have been fuming all morning, but have calmed down a bit since last night. Yeah, the CP went into the cabinet and wont return. And believe me, the next time I see BS doing dishes, I will make a huge deal out of it being too hard and the pans too heavy for him. He's 21 but who cares. And this "too heavy" will rear its ugly head on a regular basis now, you can bet on it Smile

I don't know where they got the idea that doing for them is any help at all. Hope they enjoy being roommates when she's an adult, he's in diapers and I am far, far away.

ChiefGrownup's picture

Ha! Another idea! Devise an arm strengthening exercise program for SD and put her to it! Be all cheerful, oh, dh, I was so concerned when you told me she was behind her peer group in muscle development, I just had to help! Come on, sd, here we go, up down up down..."

ntm's picture

Whenever I left their mess for their father to clean up, I was accused of being "petty". And then he started finding every fault he could with the then 5-year-old. Retaliation or whatever. If he got on the skids' case, they could cry they wanted to go home to Mommmeeee (at 16 and 20). And he'd take them. The little one was stuck.

And then I had a stupid duck child psychiatrist tell me that he parents just fine and not to correct his parenting. THE SKID WAS SITTING RIGHT THERE. Psychiatrist got an earful on the phone later and my primary care got a call that either she find a new therapist for me to see or I was getting a divorce. There are few times I've been as angry as I was that day.

So_Annoyed's picture

I've heard the same, accused of being petty. Then the attack on my BS for things that may have happened 5+ years ago. To me, THAT is petty, but they think they are always right. Just pure insanity sometimes.

trying1996's picture

I have also been called petty. I no longer tell SS11 what to do. I tell DH, and I ONLY tell DH the things we have agreed upon. Sometimes DH does it for him, and I don't think it's right but I keep my mouth shut. DH told me I'm petty. I said "if you think I'm petty, then the things I'm asking aren't a big deal right?" He said "right. They're so insignificant." I said "great, then it shouldn't be a big deal for you to just make sure they're done." He didn't have much to say after that.

They do seem to think they're going to win some sort of award for being "right." It's annoying.

sunshinex's picture

I've put all my SDs toys in garbage bags and threw them downstairs when she refuses to clean her room. That happened ONCE and since then, she cleans it when asked. I'd do the same with my own kids when I have them. Sometimes tough love is better than letting them get away with crap.

sunshinex's picture

I've put all my SDs toys in garbage bags and threw them downstairs when she refuses to clean her room. That happened ONCE and since then, she cleans it when asked. I'd do the same with my own kids when I have them. Sometimes tough love is better than letting them get away with crap.

CLove's picture

Disengagement for me:
I have no natural children of my own, but when I was first in their lives, I made breakfast every day, I cooked, I washed dishes, I picked up their stuff from the living room and lovingly deposited on their beds, I took the youngest to museums, and parks, I got them both a surf day, I drove them here and there. Christmas, we went to Santa's Fly in, we did candy cane lane. Street festivals, we always went, and spent scads of cash on foods.

Cut to now, I don't drive the teen ANYWHERE, I don't cook breakfast, unless its for me too, I have asked the 10yo to start washing her own dishes after she brings it to the sink, the teen either washes her own dishes, or daddy does it. I don't say a word, or ask them to do much anymore, I ask SO to "get this accomplished", and he will ask them, or do it himself. If they give an attitude, I go straight to SO, tell him, and he deals with it. We don't do to any family outings really anymore, to save money. I don't take the younger one to the museums or parks, because she would rather play on the computer, or play date with her friends. I figured if its not appreciated then Im not ging to do it, and Im much more happy than I was.

When the teen was caught shoplifting recently, it was up to SO and BM to do the lectures, and the consequences. I stayed as much out of it as I could. If I need the youngest to do something for me, I ask in front of daddy, because she always is the perfect child in front of daddy. So if she "forgets" or ignores a request, its up to SO to reprimand.

Im still learning about disengagement. Reading other's examples, helps.

sunshinex's picture

In my opinion, if stepkids don't have to listen to you, then you don't have to do ANYTHING for them. That means no rides, no cooking, no laundry, hell, stop paying your part of any and all bills too. Tell DH if you can't have a peaceful home that's run in a way you can enjoy, then why are you paying? He can raise his own kid, pay all the bills, handle all the housework. THAT to me is disengaging.

I told my husband early on, if he doesn't want to dicipline his kid and he doesn't want me to, than he can have fun running a household alone because I'll sit back and do my own thing. I won't pay to live in a place where I have no say.

When we first started living together, he was a disney dad. She was young but still... even toddlers need rules. So until he got onboard with getting her to behave, it was simple. He wants to run to the store? Ok, get a sitter, your child is misbehaved and i won't spend 5 minutes with her alone. He wants me to drive her somewhere? Nope, your child is misbehaved, get her there yourself. He wants to split the cost of groceries? Nope, your child gets to say no to a meal that's cooked than get's another one instead. I won't pay for that crap.

And so on. With everything.

He finally got the point. Now 3 years later, he's more strict than I am because he knows that nobody wants to spend time with a misbehaved brat, and parenting gets REALLY hard when nobody wants to be around your kid.


Cover1W's picture

A big one for me was learning what I could ignore and what I couldn't.
I cannot stand for a dirty kitchen. I engage on that for the most part unless it's directly having to go get someone to do something or it's just over the top.

Example. This weekend. SD13 kept leaving her dishes in the sink in spite of an empty dishwasher RIGHT THERE. I ignored them. DH cleaned the kitchen for me at one point which was nice. However, SD13s lunch bag, with dirty tupperware and trash in it remained on the counter since Sunday I knew everyone would ignore it but me. So Sunday morning I put it on the dining room table. This is where I stack alllll the crap left around the living room during the weekends (or I toss the stuff). I've made some really nice centerpieces.

So anyway, bag full of trash still on table (I had also set the table for dinner) and SD13 comes up for dinner, grabs her plate, and proceeds to move the lunch bag BACK to where it was. I stop her in her tracks, "Don't you Dare move that Bag to where it's been sitting since Friday." Where should I put it? "You put it in the kitchen to clean it out after dinner." ok.
She does as told and after dinner I relax a bit as DH cleans up (note not the SDs). I go into kitchen for something and I see all the tupperware left in sink. DH, please make sure this stuff is out of the sink by the morning, it's from SD13's lunch bag. He goes and gets her, clearly irritated and lectures her that he's sick and tired of constantly having to go get her to make sure she cleans up after herself...

AND that's why you make sure DH does it. HE has to have the ramification of cleaning up or taking care of things. I've learned to make sure my question or instruction is clearly for HIM to take care of not, "Please go get SD13 and make sure she cleans up." Nope. That won't work because she's going to be "too busy" or "she needs to relax." It's, "DH, please make sure this is cleaned up. It's from X place and it needs to be taken care of." No complaints, no speculation.

That trash? I would have left it in DH's way. On the front deck, in front of his car (done all of this), in the garage? I would likely have taken it out of the kitchen as well, but take the WHOLE TRASH BIN OUT part way and don't replace it. No trash bin? Not your issue.

Doorsy's picture

I put the whole bin in the garage. Dh and sd had already left this morning and I can't imagine they missed that smell. I am just going to leave it there and not say anything.

sunshinex's picture

I honestly think even being passive aggressive is more of a hassle than you deserve. Think of how nice your life would be without them... Think of living in a nice clean home, making what YOU want for dinner every night, enjoying what you want on TV, cleaning up after only yourself, then tell DH that if his kids can't at least take care of their own chores, then he needs to remind them or you're done paying for the luxury of living with slobs. You'll live there without ANY responsibility for them - that includes financial or otherwise. Or you'll move out on your own.

I don't think disengaging should leave you feeling like you're living in a way you don't want to or dealing with things that make you uncomfortable.

Cover1W's picture

Exactly. And that's why there's some things I will not disengage from.
Others I don't care so much about.
And no passive/aggressive as much as I can help it. If I do that, DH calls me out on it.
He says I'm just direct and he likes that.

Gimlet's picture

I would want to set those lunch bags on fire after all the nonsense you've been through with them.

Cover1W's picture

LOL - you remember! And it's only SD13 - SD10 takes care of hers right away and properly.
I hate them - those lunch bags I mean.
I haven't yet thrown them into the trash but I WILL do it the next time it's left on the counter for more than 24 hours.

Gimlet's picture

Yes, it has to be crazy making! Weren't you putting them on the deck at one point? And SD13 couldn't manage to wash her sandwich keeper?

Cover1W's picture

Oh, I threw one down the deck yes. That one was front and center in front of the fireplace for 2 days and EVERYONE walked by it multiple times (of course, full of trash and dirty tupperwear) on the way to/from the kitchen.

And moldy food in many, many "lunch" bags. I think she's got another crop growing in her room now. And she ruined one of my really good storage containers by leaving stuff to mold, and DH refused to clean it (that doesn't happen any more as he replaced it and other storage containers on his dime).

I don't go in her room any longer, only can see what she's got going from the door as I do have to speak to her now and then or get the cat out of her room. But I know she's got all kinds of old food items in there again from what I've seen.

CLove's picture

We just found out we have a freaking DISH HOARDER. finding our bowls that she lied about having in her room, all nice and moldy. Ugh! Luckily SO is a clean/neat freak, and he is going to have her clean her room, and every day asks her to get all her dishes together and wash them. I used to, and all I got was snotty or ignored. I tell once, and then let SO take over the reprimand, when not followed. Im still learning how to navigate the whole disengage thing.

Cover1W's picture

Oh yes. I know this well.

DH is not a clean freak so he has no clue.
We ran out of glasses this weekend and he just shrugged.
If he has to drink beer out of a coffee mug so be it.

I stay out of the room cleaning issues. Far away.
NOTHING worked because DH ultimately gave up.
So I told him, straight up, "If anything happens because of SD13's mess in her room (infestations or mold or other damages) it's ALL on your dime and your time. I will do NOTHING to help because I've tried."

I said the same thing about the SD's bathroom.

DH knows.
I know it's super, super hard but it's possible to disengage from it.