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Is it possible to hold a child (who claims that they have mental health challenges) accountable for their bad behavior?

NicoleRB's picture

I go back and forth with this all the time.  My 13SD who really isn't my SD as she no longer lives with us or sees us at all...she behaves horriibly to her father, obviously is angry at him for remarrying, so doesn't want anything to do with him at all.  She left 6 months ago to live with BM  full time and because she has been struggling social-emotionally so badly, everyone (my DH and his ex-wfe the BM and pretty my DH's family of siblings who give him advice), all told him to back way off and let her do what keeps her happy because she has been struggling with depression and making suicidal type comments.  I am a high school guidance counselor, so I KNOW that you have to take those types of comments VERY SERIOUSLY.  

Yet......I think she is manipulative and she is a 13 girl that should not be given this much power.  Alas, I have more of a tough love parenting style than my DH and his family, especially with the way they handle the "fragile" sulking girls in their family which is not few and far between!  I have two bio boys of my own and I never had to deal with this level of fragility -- you're a KID you do not DECIDE what you do and do not do, I do as your parent.  

My DH just plays the mental health card with her all the time.  To me, to himself...

His counselor told him too just give her space.  It is 6 months later and she has hardly contacted him at all, with the exception of the recent request to attend his family holiday party (she undoubtably wants to see her girl cousins that are in their older teens/early twenties who baby the shit out of her and her aunts who spend a lot of time stroking her hair and asking how she is).

What no one in his family does is feel bad for my DH who she has blown off for the last 6 months.  Maybe when I don't show up to the xmas eve party with my sons to accompany my DH and his kids his family might actually realize that she is wreaking havoc and should probably be finally told that her behavior is unacceptable.  My DH overshares with his adult siblings to ask their advice because they have known her their whole lives and he is so at a loss on what to do.  I'm the new kid (around only 5 years) who would NEVER let my two teen sons be able to act this way without at least calling them on it!  The discipline part with teens is tricky, but they don't even call a spade a spade to the kid and at least tell her she is causing a world of hurt because they don't want to burden her with it when she is already emotionally struggling.  She probably doesn't even know my sons and I aren't going to my DH's side of the family for the holidays because of her behavior because they don't want her to feel guilty. GIVE ME A BREAK!

Also getting pretty tired of hearing my DH's sisters say things like "you don't want to push her away entirely"....why do we have to handle these kids like ticking time bombs instead of holding them accountable for their behavior?  The kids have all the power these days it seems!?



shamds's picture

And how they're exact replicas of their bio mum and not one possesses any characteristics or personality traits of their dad, even my husband said this to me multiple times in private that it really upsets him. 

my inlaws repeatedly excuse the bad behaviour as "its their mum's doing" and rarely call out this crap behaviour but my husband's niece and nephews they hound ss since he was 15.5 about his disrespect and behaviour towards me and my 2 kids with my husband. The niece and nephews don't hold back. 

my ss repeatedly uses his imaginary stress syndrome as an excuse to get away with crappy behaviour and i put my foot down 3 yrs ago and only then did my husband start to address things. 

sd's are both brainwashed by bio mum and behave as miniwives. They faked the whole "we want a relationship with daddy, we know you have a new family (like we're substandard)" then guilt daddy for marrying me and having 2 kids with me when their mum married their affair stepdad in secret the week after divorce was finalised and told them they had a new daddy when they got back from school.

somehow it was perfectly acceptable for biomum to be cheating on their dad whilst married before even being separated, marry him days after divorce was finalised but daddy getting married 5.5 yrs after divorce and having 2 kids within 2.5 yrs of marriage he is guilt shamed upon.

its a scapegoat tactic to absolve them of any accountability of crap behaviour and my husband is alot to blame also because he refused to address things sooner, chose to have 3 kids with nutjob exwife, then brought me into a relationship with him covering up these issues which i shrugged off naievely its just shyness just ignore it, when these were issues he should have addressed pre marriage snd having kids with me

my husband's failure to man up and address these issues as they arose because he knew skids would throw the i'll cut off contact and run away card just compounded the issues to the point i wanted a divorce when our kids were 2.5 & 1.5.

i've made it clear since 3 yrs ago I want nothing to do with his kids or any relationship 

tog redux's picture

Of course it's possible. But you have no control over whether anyone does hold her accountable. 

Kes's picture

I suffer with mental health issues myself and yes, people with these issues should always be held accountable for their behaviour.  Not doing so does no favours at all.  Having depression, anxiety or whatever, does not give you carte blanche to behave like a knobhead.  My SD26 has been known to make suicide threats - and they are very manipulative and difficult for the people around her. If the person/child makes them as an attempt to get their own way, or because they are not getting their own way - then the motivation for uttering the threats is fairly clear.