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SD9 becoming a preteen.

SecondGeneration's picture

We both knew it would happen, BM made the mistake of being a friend first and a mum second to my SD9 and is no suffering the consequences.

The positive thing is BM is communicating very well with my DH, both in regards to positive and negative aspects of SDs behaviour. But BM is starting to struggle, SD is getting very verbal. They are having shouting arguments almost daily, SD point blank ignores her BM, wont get out of bed, generally being difficult, etc. 

Yet when SD is with us, we have no such issue. Dont get me wrong she can have the occasional bad mood but she is never rude, on the contrary is often helpful. Getting out of bed is never an issue, we literally turn her bedroom light on, say "good morning it's time to get up" and she gets up with a smile. She is a happy, sociable girl who when with us spends her time playing with DD1, or with her own toys. She enjoys cooking with me for meal times, cleans up after herself without prompting and is generally speaking a pleasure to have. She absolutely adores her baby sister and whilst I'm sure she misses her when shes with BM, I think we have the balance right to enable them to have time together to play but not too much time so they start to bother each other.

I'm wondering whether the issue is that BM is dating again? And this current guy has actually been around for 6 months now.

My DH is in two minds as to where to draw the line in terms of speaking to SD about her behaviour at her mums. On one side he feels like they have operated with two separate households since SD was 2 so it would be wrong for DH to overstep. On the other hand he would like to help support BM so that if her behaviour gets worse as she comes into the teenage years that BM is more likely to keep him in the loop. 

So far my DH has only said anything to SD when he has been physically present when SD has been rude to her BM. Which happened at a recent parents evening. He then had a chat with her about it when SD was with us, asked what was going on to make her speak that way to her mum etc. 

From what BM is telling DH it seems like we have two very different versions of the same SD. 

Please tell me we are right in protecting our home and only acting on behaviour we actually witness from SD? It's not that we dont believe BM, but we dont want to be doing her parenting for her. Nor do we want to risk getting overly involved and later finding out BM wasnt 100% honest.


tog redux's picture

This is a tough issue. In theory, good co-parents would let a kid know they expect them to behave in the other home as well; however, if the other home has a parent who is lousy, and that's why the kid is misbehaving, then that may not be appropriate.

I don't think you guys should punish SD for her behavior in mom's home, but DH (not you) talking with her about it to see what's going on can't hurt.

And I know that everyone will get out their pitchforks when I say this, but would BM ever give DH more custody time if she can't manage SD?

ndc's picture

My skids are younger than yours (4 and 7) but we know they behave differently (better) at our house than at BM's.  We have more rules and consequences than she does, and they have an older stepbrother there who teaches them some undesirable new tricks.  BM will occasionally call and ask us to come get them before they drive her nuts, and we will, but other than that she doesn't ask for help.  The kids themselves admit that they behave better for us than they do for BM, and they've told us things they've done at BM's house that they wouldn't dream of doing at our house.  We will tell them that those things are not acceptable, but we won't punish for them, nor would we help BM if she asked (other than picking up the girls and taking them during her time when they drive her crazy).  So far there aren't huge differences, so that we think we're dealing with different SDs.  But I could see the differences growing as time goes on.  I think you need to keep the two houses separate and let BM deal with her house.  You can't become the enforcer for BM, and she's not likely to change her parenting, so your enforcement won't work at her house anyway.  I would be worried that if we got involved with BM and problems in her household, the problems would just infiltrate our house.  

Jcksjj's picture

How often is she at your house? If its not very often it could be a little unfair to blame BM. She could just be getting the brunt of the misbehavior because shes more comfortable misbehaving at "home" vs somewhere that shes only at for a couple days at a time. Kind of like how alot of kids behave way better at school than at home. Or at grandma's or wherever.

Also, where is the info about this behavior coming from? Only BM or has SD also mentioned it? Could BM be exaggerating it for whatever reason? Is she wanting your DH to play bad cop so she doesnt have to?

I'm not accusing anyone of anything, I just feel like the post is way too vague to really give any advice. But overall I would say if something gets brought up about her misbehaving tell her your expectations of her because they should apply everywhere. I wouldnt go out of your way to discipline for things that happen at BMs house though. She needs to be able to take care of that herself.

hannahmae's picture

She is the guest at your house. She is at home with her mother. Be will get the same behavior her mum is getting if you push it or she stays with you 100% of the time.

tog redux's picture

Not necessarily.  Kids respond to their environment and to consistent rules and consequences.  She would probably do fine in their home 100%.

Gimlet's picture

Yeah, I don't see this as being a "guest", I see this as consistent rules and expectation's at dad's house.  Kids often get away with what they know they can. 

tog redux's picture

Just because someone has more custody time (BM) doesn't mean they are actually a parent. In our case, DH is the only actual "parent" that SS has, BM is his pal (if even that anymore, they seem to fight a lot).  SS was always great for us and awful for BM.

What will likely happen, though, is that once SD is a teen, she will want to be at BM's 100% because there are no rules.

And wow, that comment above was really sexist.  She's a "guest" in her father's home?  Wut?

SecondGeneration's picture

Just to clarify. I dont get involved, if SD says something negative about her BM I simply say "that's not a nice thing to say SD" 

Visitation wise SD is here one midweek overnight a week, alternate weekends and half of all school holidays. 

"Bad" behaviour is being reported by BM, school and her tutor. DH has witnessed it when attending parents evening with BM and SD was present. He was shocked by the way SD spoke to BM (or rather, snarled and called her names) and immediately responded. SD was embarrassed once she realised dad was there and apologised which kicked off BM being more open about issues shes facing. 

Basically it sounds like SD is rebelling against BMs attempts of now putting rules and structure in place. BM now works full time and is trying to be more organised, and SD is not happy about earlier wake ups, less time at home and more time at school clubs during the week. Up until now BM has dropped and collected straight from school and since shes not with us as much, we have been able to adjust our work schedules to enable that too. 

Plus DD is 1, and BM is now in a long term relationship, this guy has been around for more than 6 months now so SD is sharing attention at both homes. 

SD adores her baby sister, BM is very keen to use "correct" terminology of "half sister" which angers SD. In her words "a half sister is all I can ever have but I love her with my full heart" which I found so damn sweet when we tried to explain that technically BM is correct she is a half sibling but the label doesn't need to change how she feels. 

Puberty is not far off, her body is starting to change. So hormones are starting to hit, shes getting bored of toys (barbies are still safe since I told her I played with mine till I was 15). 

I personally think SD has had alot going on this last year and this is her way of lashing out. Perhaps there is something to be said for her feeling like a guest at ours (that's a perspective I hadn't thought of). And in our scenario for whatever reason its BM that's the bad guy first, I'm sure my turn and my DHs turn will come. 

DH has offered that SD can come to us more but BM is reluctant though has started to reach out when shes not going to be home until after 18:00, but it's not a regular event. 

I'm relieved to see that the general consensus is only react to what we actually witness and have DH talk to SD if he feels an issue BM raises is important. We dont want to be spending our time being negative about things shes done when shes not even been with us. But at the same time dont want to misjudge end up with an angry teenager who is unable or unwilling to talk about whatever issues shes facing, be it with BM or anyone else.