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Naturelover's picture

Hi there everyone - I have written a couple of blogs in the past so let me give you an update. My husband and I are doing OK, not great but much better. I have decided to have my DD, 16, live with her dad right now. It was so stressful with her and her SD. They don't get along and it is hard. He has tried so hard over the last few years to connect with her. They will have a relationship and then BOOM!, it's like he doesnt exist to her. Everyday is a new day. From her point of view, any time she improves, we find something new to critize her on and she has just given up caring. She told me today she wants to stay with her dad - it is much easier there, less stressful. I am working on improving my relationship with her and we plan to meet for hikes and bike rides. Its not the same though and it hurts me. 

Now, I am worried about my youngest daughter - I am worried that she wont want to come to my house anymore either. She gets upset when she is here because we are too strict and there are too many rules. Let me be clear - I am somewhat strict but not super strict by any stretch of the means. The problem is that my exhusband has absolutely NO rules. We give the kids each one chore that they take care of during the week (emptying garbage, etc) and they each clean one thing in the bathroom each week. That is it. Other than that, they are expected to have clean rooms, make their bed, put their stuff away - basic stuff. So, the struggle here is that her dad has no rules. Now, I took my daughters cell phone away from her at night because I don't want a daughter who grows up attached to it  - she is 11. 

I don't know if I am doing the right thing - it seems like I can either have my husband or my kids, but not both. I don't know how things are going to work out but right now, I dont have a lot of confidence in my marriage lasting. If we didn't have young kids, definitely. But, the kids make it so hard - I feel like if they aren't perfect, he gets upset. It is like he is looking for something to get upset with at times. And, he will get on my girls about communicating, saying hi and bye when he goes out of his way to shut people out when he is upset. Seems pretty childish in my eyes - expecting kids to meet you half way when you won't even go any distance.

So - I guess my question is - would you stay? I love my husband very much but I love my kids more than life itself. Do I stick it out with the kids until they are grown or should I cut my losses and go? Right now, I just dont see a whole lot of signs telling me I should stay.


Iamwoman's picture

I didn't go back and read and not sure what I said before at this point.

If I recall, you described your DD16 as introverted, but many of us described the difference between and introvert and a jerk.

Its hard to gain footing on your situation, because in your first blog, your husband was right about everything and you self-admittedly didn't try to properly parent DD into successful social etiquette (something which both introverts and extroverts are perfectly capable of mastering).

You should not have to choose between your daughter and your spouse.

I personally would not leave this type of situation up to online advice from the rest of us. This is a very serious decision, and we cannot possibly know all of the facts that you know or feel any of the feelings or intuition that you feel.

I will say that MOST of us struggle with children who have one strict household and one feral household. The children will always choose the feral household - they simply don't understand why rules are important until they are adults and then some of them continue to not understand why they must go to jail for breaking rules.

I would never expect a teenager to greet me first. Your husband's expectations here are ludicrous. Return a greeting? Yes. Initiate? Nope. A teen can barely initiate a cohesive thought, let alone remember to greet adults who stare at them expectantly. This is especially true for the extremely self-conscious teens.

That being said, it sounds like your mind is made up.

You also asked why you must choose between your teen and your husband:

Because your teen has been given too much power in this situation, and your husband sounds borderline psychologically abusive... or maybe just fed up and exhausted?

Either way, tensions seem high, and you have done nothing to resolve the situation before. You admitted that you ignored your husband's pleas and thought if you were just a "kind caring wife and mother" that would make up for not parenting DD16.

But it didn't.

The situation spiraled out of control, which always happens when issues are ignored.

So now you ARE at a crossroads, because you didn't fix it when it was a minor issue.

That is why you have to choose now.

susanm's picture

I am not clear on why you are looking at this as having to choose between your husband and your children.  Are you saying that, if you left your H and lived only with your kids, you would not have your kids do any chores or have any rules for them?  Because the chores you describe seem pretty minor and like something that you would have even if you were alone with them but their father would still be providing a chore and rule free household that they would prefer.  Unless you are willing to leave your H and compete with the kids' father for the title of most lax parent then I see little point in throwing away your marriage.  My suggestion would be to start parenting your kids despite their father allowing them to run wild and letting your kids hate you if necessary.  Sometimes a teen hating your guts is the sign that you are being a good parent!

ldvilen's picture

I may not be the best person to weigh in, but whenever I hear a bio-parent say something like, "I'm stuck in the middle," or "I don't know who to choose," I get the image that it is probably one of those situations where the bio-parent messed up the roles and treated their child more like an adult or partner and their partner more like a child.  

Being a child and being a spouse are two completely seperate roles.  There should be no competition going on, no stuck in the middle, and no choosing between one or the other.  Of course in step-situations you are going to have kids that are not too fond of the step-parent.  That goes without saying.  These kids feel they are being displaced by the step-parent and blame the person rather than the action (divorce) that brought the possibility about.  That is how children think.

No adult should be letting a child and that child's thinking carry the same weight as an experienced, mature adult's.  Now, I realize that there are adult predators out there going after kids, but that is a whole different animal.  Now, step-dad's thinking may be a little off or more strict, etc.  But, the roles here should never be forgotten.  There is BM, her child or children, and BM's husband.  For the life or me, I find myself getting so PO'd how easily these roles can be completely forgetten or messed up in step-situations.  Granted, too, some SPs do try to parent too much.  But, it all comes down to the bio-parent, regardless.  They are the ones who have to properly clarify the roles and set up boundaries from the get-go, and explain.

But, why in God's name would anyone marry someone thinking that their spouse and child are on some sort of level playing field, and feel like if there is conflict, either real or imagined, that somehow they are being put in the position of having to chose?  I'm not saying by any means to put your DH first, because he is your husband; or, put your child first, because she is your child.  However, look at the roles!  If you are a "weak" parent and your husband is more "strict," and your daughter is complaining about that, how would you have handled that if that occurred in your initial relationship?  Chances are, you would have worked with your husband on it vs. feeling like you had to chose.  Would you have ever kicked your initial husband, bio-dad, out just because your daughter thought he was too strict?  I'd rather doubt it.

Would you rather kick your spouse out than put in the work you need to do?  "S/He made me choose and I chose my child."  Yeah, i hear that one a lot in step-situations.  Now I know why.  Because, more than likely the bio-parent gave both of them the idea that they were somehow equals and competitors, and then when that happens, the bio-parent tries to absolve themself of any guilt or responsibility.

If you want to divorce because you think your spouse is a prick, fine.  But, don't say it was because you were, "forced to chose."  Because you were not.  Or, you could say, the day you started thinking of your spouse and child as equals and treating them as equals, is the day you made your choice.