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Behavioral issues with SD. Advice please!

INeedHelp123's picture

Warning: Long post, but I am looking for advice. I have been with DH for over 7 years now. I thought that being a stepmom would be a walk in the park.  However, I quickly realized that is more like a terrible nightmare. My SD lives with her BM in a different state, so we only have my SD for 2 months over the summer each year. However, my SD is about to be 10 and has become very vocal about how she wants to come live with us. Her BM is exhausted because she has a special needs child who is 3 now and requires a lot of attention. My SD is very manipulative and lies repetitively and BM is ready for her to move out. SD told her BM that she wanted to come live with us because she gets whatever she wants at daddy’s house and she doesn’t have to do chores, and it is so much more fun. SD is set to move in with us in October of this year.

            For the first few years DH and I were together, SD told me that her mommy and daddy were going to get back together and that I wasn’t really married to her father. Any time we went somewhere as a family, she didn’t want me to go. Everything I did resulted in her saying “Well my mommy…..(fill in the blank).” If I would open the door to get her out of the car, she would want her daddy to do it. She would cross her arms, roll her eyes, and completely ignore me. She demanded things from me and had huge temper tantrums when she didn’t get her way. I literally ended up hiding in my bedroom for about 4 summers in a row because I couldn’t take it anymore. My husband babies her and always gives her whatever she wants. It is as if he has to overcompensate for not being there all of the time. When SD was 7, DH ended up sleeping upstairs with her for the 2 months we had her over the summer because she got upset in the middle of the night and would cry on the stairs. DH and I are on 2 separate pages entirely w/parenting. I would tell SD she couldn’t ride her scooter inside the house. Then DH would let her. She would have the snarkiest look on her face because she still got her way. Also chipped our tile in multiple places because of it. It was a constant battle and I barely spoke to DH for 2 months while SD was living with us.

              Last summer, my younger sister who was 14 at the time came to stay with me for the summer. We were moving to a new state and she was going to help me with my daughter who was about 7 months at the time. My SD told my sister that she was not a part of the family and that she needed to sleep outside and could not use the shower or go to the bathroom in the house. She also kicked her repetitively in the ribs because she was mad that she was in our house. DH thinks that all of this is normal “kid behavior”. Meanwhile, I absolutely lost my mind. To add more stress to the situation, SD recently came to stay with us for a few days before my husband left for a long work trip.  She peed on our couch in the middle of the day. She didn’t tell anyone about it. She just sat there. Then changed her clothes and went about her business. She is almost 10! I had DH talk to BM about it and apparently this has been going on for the past 3 years and her BM does not let her sit on her furniture at her house because of it. I am scared my SD might do something to my BD because of how crazy her behavior has been. BM was supposed to take SD to an appointment for her daytime wetting, but it has been over 2 months and she still has not done anything.

          My main goal is to try to keep the peace between our entire family and make sure nothing happens to BD after SD moves in. DH does not think I have a valid concern because he still thinks there is nothing wrong with SD’s behavior. With all of this being said, I’m terrified of what is to come in the next couple of months after SD moves in with us.  I’m bracing for impact right now because I know things are about to get incredibly difficult. I am going to set up family counseling when she moves in and make sure she gets evaluated by a doctor for her issues. I’m exhausted.  Has anyone experienced anything similar? Is there any hope? I feel like I can’t keep living like this. I don’t know what to do anymore. I have always had an end date since it was just for 2 months over the summer, but now this is supposed to be a permanent thing. Any advice is greatly appreciated!


The_Upgrade's picture

"DH does not think I have a valid concern because he still thinks there is nothing wrong with SD’s behavior"

You and your DH need to attend counselling before she moves in, not after. He needs to be on the same page and understand there something wrong with her before you can proceed. So many red flags ignored for so many years. It's not going to get better. Unless DH can prove that he can stick to the agreed game plan and actually be a parent for a summer trial period, SD is just not coming over permanently. If he can't last for two months then he's incompetent and he'll ruin her further if she lives there. She may need counselling as well but that can wait until you sort DH's head out first. Otherwise he'll undermine every step and there's nothing you can do once SD is permanently there.


justmakingthebest's picture

Everything but the peeing on the couch does sound like "normal" jealous behavior- as much as I hate to say it. 

The big thing for you is going to be making sure you and your husband are a united front. You need to sit SD down and explain that visiting in the summer was all fun and games but living there full time will be different. She will have chores and bedtimes and general expectations. No more Disney dad.

If you husband and you can't be on the same page, disengaging will be your best friend. Back off and don't do anything for her. Cooking is up to him, shopping, school, laundry- all of it. He either needs to meet you in the world of actually parenting or it can be 100% on him.

simifan's picture

DH & BM made this problem and are expecting you to cater to it. You need to sit down with a therapist now and clarify what your role will be, what the house rules and consequences are, etc. You have a Disney dad on your hands and a behavioraly chanllanged child. Sort it out before she moves in and get it in writing. Otherwise you will be the problem and the bad guy and your marriage will suffer. 

ldvilen's picture

Since the allegedly manipulative SK appears to be the hot topic today, I figured I’d just cut and past what I wrote on another forum.

“Why do I feel like I am the one who has to suck it all up?”  Because you are.  Your DH has set it up that way.  He has let his daughter know in so many ways over so many years that she is the alpha female in the house, or you could say that she is the #1 wife in the home.

He supposedly makes rules or sets boundaries, she breaks them, and then she suffers no consequences, or, even worse, he makes excuses for her.  He has trained her to just keep doing whatever she wants to do, because why not!?  He won’t hold her responsible for anything.  And, then to boot, she gets the added benefit of knowing that she has not only controlled dad yet again, but upset her “Evil SM” yet again.  Whoo-hoo!  Every SK’s dream and daddy laid it all in her lap.

You do not have a SD problem here.  You have a DH problem.  He has, for years, been treating his daughter more like a wife and you, I'd imagine, more like a child such as by ignoring your concerns.  It is the so popular ever-apparent role mess up that happens so often in step-situations.  Everyone has been raised to know you treat spouses like spouses and children like children and in-laws like in-laws, etc.  You’d think it’d be a no-brainer.  But you throw the term SM in there, and these well-honed and well-tried roles all go out the window.  Next thing you know, dad is some kind of a$$ for not giving his little baby girl whatever she wants, so dad, rather than being a man and a dad, gives it to her and over and over.

Where does that leave SM?  It leaves her at the back of the familial pack.  It leaves her being the one who has to suck it all up all the time.  This leaves SM looking for and longing for a husband.  She married a husband.  She didn’t marry, or didn’t think she married, a patsy enabler of a man who pretty much every time wants to take the easy way out FOR HIM.  But what about SM.  Why can't DH pick himself up by the boots straps and be a real dad and be able to treat his child like a child, and at the same time be able to be a real husband and treat his spouse like a spouse.

Yes, make sure you set those boundaries, strong with that counselor.  Set up consequences and get your DH to agree to them in writing.  My guess is he’ll wimp out again.  However, if he tries to negate what he agreed to, you’ll at least be able to whip it out and show him.

Otherwise, if you want to save your marriage, then you’ll need to completely disengage from SD and focus only on your marriage to your DH.  Disengage.  You do absolutely nothing for her.  She is your DH’s 100% responsibility, including cooking and cleaning and taxing, etc. for her.  He now gets to be the one dealing almost solely with the monster he created.  That way, in reference to his own daughter, he gets to be the one to have to suck it all up.