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What to do when your step daughter wants to move for the wrong reasons?!

mamafaith28's picture

my step daughter is 14, while it has been difficult, the last few moments we have grown closer. Her BF has sole physical and sole legal, however her BM gets long distance parenting time.(once a month, every other Holiday, 8 weeks in the summer) This past spring, BF and BM decided to go against the court order and allow her to decide when she comes and goes as long as she stays with us during the school year. We have kept our end of the deal, however the BM has not. (We were expecting this) She went down in June for her 8 weeks and came back for July 4th week, however her BM still wanted her 8 weeks, regardless of what daughter wanted. Between her July 4 visit and two weeks ago, SD has asked if she could live down there and try school. BF said he would think about it, however he would want some time for her to think about it while she is with us. Within a day, she was with us. 

Keep in mind BM has promised many things that hasn’t happened (trip to Cedar Point, being a SeaCadet at a local military base, 4H, and camping trips) none of which has happened. This isn’t something new, before every summer she promises exciting things, only to tell her that they will have to try next summer. This is 3 summers in a row that she has said, ‘next summer.’

SD has claimed that BM will set her up with driver’s training, buy her a new phone, and give her her own room. However, she has also asked her daughter to lie about their dog attacking the other kids, having her bedroom in a basement that is against building regulations(there is no exit and no egress window in case of a fire), and who has come to the house(a 15 year old male that has asked SD 7 year old sister to get naked so he can see her parts. Those are only a few lies. 

We have allowed  SD to think about what she wants and she wants to live with her mom(according to SD) so that she doesn’t have to do chores, she will get money from CS, along with the new phone, own bedroom, and driver’s training. 

Her home has only 3 bedrooms and she has 3 other daughter, and a son, we know she won’t get a new phone or driver’s training because BM can not afford the court ordered $78 a month child support(that she was only ordered to pay after she tried to get CS for her long distance parenting time) 

We want to let SD make the decision on her own, however we know she won’t get what she is promised because BM breaks EVERY promise.  

BF has already decided that he will not let her try it out after finding out about the constant lies that BM has asked her to tell. How do we go about explaining to SD the reasoning behind the decision, without throwing her BM under the bus and without serious resentment? Any suggestions are welcome .


Survivingstephell's picture

Blame it on the judge.  You went to court and the judge decided that SD was best served staying with her dad.  

14? Starting high school? Not a good time to switch and then come back behind from spending a year with her mom.  Everything counts now for college.  Get the girl involved in groups, band, sports, theater , what ever to get her to want to stay.  It will help with the attitude.  

You might want to think about getting BM on board, maybe threatening her with court about the CS if she doens't cut out the empty promises, turning her into the authorites about the basement bedroom and any and all other violations you can come up with.  

As for  protecting SD from who her mother truly is,  not always a good thing.  This kid is stuck with her mother for the rest of her life and needs to be taught critical thinking skills so she can recognize her mother's games.  Does SD know that you know about the lies?  If she does did you ask her why her mom would lie about this or that?  What purpose does it serve and with the purpose serve SD or BM?  You can ask leading questions but if she can figure this stuff out, it will go a lot further in keeping that attitude in check.  Does she know why her parents aren't together anymore?  

My DH had to do that with YSD who is now 18, he started the thinking training when she was about 13.  It worked for him.  SD is the only one of the 4 skids that has a realtionship with him.  

That's all I got for now.  

mamafaith28's picture

We had asked if she was still sleeping on the couch and she said she had the bedroom basement. For the past year we were told her room was moved, then told she was on the couch to do more rearranging but that her room would not be and was not in the basement. BM has even ranted on about how much work she put into moving her room upstairs. As far as the dog bite, (which the dog had bit BM’s mother causing 20 stitches, authorities were called but BM blamed it on the other dog(which was a puppy and told the kids to lie to authorities or the dog would die, but the dog, weeks later attacked BM’s son and daughter), we had heard about it from SD’s friend, and when SD came back we asked how her siblings were. SD stated that her BM told her to lie or SD would get into trouble with authorities and with us. 

We always know when she is lying because her attitude changes drastically, she acts out in anger, and keeps herself secluded. Since the lies came out, her whole demeanor changes and she is more pleasant. 

We do encourage activities, she is currently in soccer and loves art. We would even put her in SeaCadets if she wanted, along with our other kids. She is extremely shy and has a hard time trying new things, but we are working on it and believes it is due to low self esteem and confidence partly due to the situation. 

We know she knows about her BM’s manipulating ways, however she states that maybe this time her mom is telling the truth. 

All she knows about her parents no longer being together is that it just didn’t work out. We try to shelter her from as much as we can, but as she gets older, she sees more. 

StepUltimate's picture

Sometimes it's safer to imagine a better story. She wants BM to come thru for her. Anyone would want that; it's a childish survival tecnique I used as a child with my dad. 

MoominMama's picture

SD here did that too. Only 2 weeks before she decided to go and live with BM she had been opining how bad BM was and how little she did for her and she in her words 'had no real relationship with BM'. We even paid for her to go to a therapist, therapist wanted BM to come in too and work on their relationship. Of course that didn't happen.

We pointed this out to SD and her answer was 'people can change'. BM did not change and in fact got worse with PAS etc.

I don't think that once they decide to go to BM and their heart us full of childish hope that the BM will become the parent they want them to be there is any hope of changing their mind. 

notsobad's picture

If it was any other person, besides BM who was lying to this child would you protect them or would you gently tell them the truth. I'm not saying throw BM under the bus but at 14 this girl should understand that her mother is not being truthfull with her. That lying to get your own way is not an option and certainly shouldn't be the way you attempt to get through life.

Tell SD that her mother loves her and wants her with her but that telling lies isn't helping. That it will only make things worse in the long run and that the best place for SD to be right now and until she finishes school is with her Father.

She's 14 and while I know lots of people say you shouldn't ever put BM down or say anything disparageing about the other parent this girl isn't stupid. There are times when I think it's ok to talk to young adults like you would an adult and tell them obvious truths.

MoominMama's picture

We tried not to say anything negative about BM. We encouraged SD's relationship with BM, we even paid for therapy. BM still stabbed us in the back and upped the PAS.

As I mentioned before, I don't think their mind can be changed when BM is using PAS and promising stuff, they think they are finally going to get the attention they want from her. Afterwards, even when it's apparent to them that nothing has changed they wont admit it and become even more determined to pretend BM is what they want in a parent.

My SD went to live with BM. She did not get anything she was promised. BM did not pay out a cent on her behalf. BM had her as babysitter to SS when he was there and also to her BF's kids, SD was expected to go get food and shopping, take the recycling to the container park on her BICYCLE. Do house work whilst BM sat on her A**. She was being used and became even more alienated against her father because no way would she admit it.

It is dysfunctional and sick but i don't believe there is any way to counteract it. The pull of what they think BM (or the absent parent) should be will always be there.

justmakingthebest's picture

At 14 yrs old , I would tell her No and the truth.

"Your mom loves you, but this is not the best thing for you. You are welcome to continue to see your mom as often as you want, but your primary residence will be here with us. You will go to school here. However, your mom is still welcome to gift you with a cell phone, driver's training, etc. Bedrooms that are in basements and completely unsafe due to fire codes don't count and quite frankly your mom and dad will be having a discussion about your safety if there was a fire. I love you too much to allow you to be unsafe." 

Step-girlfriend's picture

Exactly. This is good advice. It probably would have been best to stick to the CO...I feel like anytime someone talks about not sticking to the CO, it usually ends in problems. Any time my SO goes outside of it (even by allowing BM to call him via skids phone, which is not supposed to happen...all communication is supposed to be through an app), I cringe, because something bad almost always happens. But hindsight is 20/20.

simifan's picture

Hope that BM will giver her everything she wants and that pony she wanted as a little girl is a terrible reason to move even if BM followed through.  

ESMOD's picture

I think this is a time when the parent knows better than the child and enforces the CO.  That can be the official reason.  Now, again, the things that mom is promising.. she can still give them to her if she wants to.. doubtful

I have told my DH's daughters things along the lines of  "your mom loves you and has good intentions but unfortunately isn't always able to follow through on her promises.. I'm sure she wants to do these things, but in the end they just become not possible. 


mamafaith28's picture

I just had a long talk with SD. She stated that she does want to live up here. I explained, during this talk, that our concern is for her safety and well being. I told her that her mom will always be her mom, and she should love her mom, however that always having hope that her mom will change will leave her disappointed. I explained that her mom is who she is and it doesn’t mean that she can’t love her, but that at the same time there comes a point where you have to learn to protect yourself from the disappointment. I told her that we will always do what we say, they we will always give her what she needs, and that our goal is to protect her and raise her to be an amazing woman. 

She said she wants to be with us but is worried that her mom will be disappointed and that the last time she called her mom, which was to wish her a happy anniversary, her mom switched the conversation and went on and on about how she’s not making her own decision and we are influencing her and that she’s not happy with her allowing us to give her her options. She says she knows her mom will be mad and does t know how to deal with it. I then explained that if she is making this decision for herself then her mom should encourage it, as she had said she should be making this decision. 

BM will tell her she has the option, but will get angry if she doesn’t side with her. 

It’s heartbreaking and we have been dealing with this for years. When SD was 6, her mom lived states away and asked her during a phone conversation if she would call more, BM yelled at her and wouldn’t call or answer her phone for months.

Another year, she told her she got her everything she wanted for Christmas and that the package was on its way, only to say, 2 months later, that she never got her anything and just wanted her to be excited and thing she did. 

I am encouraging counseling for her. I think being able to talk to someone outside would help her deal with this. Does anyone have any other suggestions? We are also thinking about going back to the court order, as BF and BM agreed to let her call and visit as she wanted. I believe giving BM more leeway has actually worsened the situation. 

Why cant parents all do what’s right and moral? Or at least do everything they can to create the best environment for their kids?