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Desperate for change

TheNotSoBonusMom's picture

I've been having a really hard time with my bonus child 9 (more than usual lately).

--Little back story-- We are a blended family and I have been mom to my bonus child since day one of me being in her life. Her bio mom made some poor choices that caused my SO to get full custody. I stepped up because bonus child was almost 5 at the time and needed a mommy figure in her life. I have treated her like I have all my children. Bio mom is now in her life again (no custody atm, just virtual visits). We have a great relationship with bio mom.

Bonus child and I have always had a bumpy relationship. She was always spoiled as a toddler. When she came into my life, I was one of the first people to actually tell her no to things. Which has caused majority of our issues. Here lately she has been extremely disrespectful to me. She will not listen, but expects me to allow her to be able to talk to me however she feels (she has said this). She calls me mommy (her choice) and she calls her bio mom by her first name (also her choice). She also sees her bio mom more as a friend than an actual parent. Bio mom is extremely passive and has many years of guilt so she tends to give in or isn't stern when she needs to be. 

I'm at the point where I just don't know what to do. I have tried talking to her, yelling, grounding, time outs, taking things away, rewarding her with things, ignoring the situation, being strict with the situation, letting her pick her punishment, sending her to her room, etc. I'm lost. I've even been working on me a lot in the past couple of years because I am able to acknowledge I do tend to have anger issues and control issues.

I need advice or words or encouragement... something?

I do apologize if it's scattered. I'm 6mos pregnant and my brain doesn't like working with this pregnancy. 


Gimlet's picture

You can call her what she is: your SD (stepdaughter) and no one here will judge you for that.  She doesn't sound like much of a bonus to me.

Where is her father in all this?   It sounds like he's pawned all of the child raising on you and hasn't insisted that his child have any manners or respect for anyone. 

TheNotSoBonusMom's picture

That is something husband and I have gotten into multiple times. He has recently gotten better about jumping in and telling SD to stop being disrespectful. But there's still plenty of times when after it's all done he basically tells me I've made a mountain out of a mole hill. That it's not really that big of a deal. But she doesn't talk to him the way she talks and treats me. If she did, he wouldn't have it. He's just so passive he doesn't want any fighting. 

Stepdrama2020's picture

Many members on here use the term Bonus if their skid stays far away. That becomes a bonus. For me my SD became a BONUS when she became an ex SD.

No judgment and heck you prob are a bonus mom because you care, thats frigging awesome. 

Exjuliemccoy's picture

Gimlet is right.

You and your husband need to be a united front. That means you both sitting down with his daughter and HIM telling her directly that HE won't tolerate her shenanigans. Your SD needs to hear it from her dad, and he needs to be the bad guy instead of you.

tog redux's picture

Yep, not a bonus. And I agree it's time for one of her actual parents (your SO) to step up and start acting like one. 

CLove's picture

Both parents are failing this child. Your partner needs to step up and BE a parent. If she is being so disrespectful NOW, just imagine it getting worse. Its perfectly normal for kids to test boundaries and do battle with parents. But guess what. She has two parents and you are not one of them. Dont get me wrong, I love my SD14 and I have no bios and I treat her like shes my kiddo, but I am always always always aware that I am not her parent. I am her step parent. im here when she needs me, I love her, but I have no legal rights, period.

I would advise that you back up and back off. Disengage a bit, and talk with your partner about the childs need of him to parent her and talk with her about respecting you.

Then focus on your bio child. Congratulations on your impending bundle of joy!

TheNotSoBonusMom's picture

You are correct. My husband is not a bad guy, but he doesn't want to be the "bad guy" when it comes to parenting. He lets things go, and just kind of moves on from it all. The problem with all that is, if he tells SD to do something, as long as she tells him okay, he's fine. Whether she does it or not, doesn't matter to him. The only time he reacts is if she tells him no. 

I know I need to back up, (that's some of my control issues), but I have a 7 yr old and a two yr old. I have a hard time backing up from her when I'm tending to everyone. She lives with us 24/7. Honestly the person she was when I came into her life, and the person she is now is a HUGE improvement. Unfortunatley that came with a price; how crappy she treats me. 

Thank you for the congrats too! This is our second together, 3rd biologically for me, 4 all together in the house, but the first boy. We couldn't be more excited. 

PetSpoiler's picture

Your husband needs to step up and let her know that HE won't tolerate her disrespectful behavior towards you.  I helped raise my SS and I disciplined him.  He knew better than to disrespect me because I would put him in his place.  I was the only woman in his life who wasn't afraid to set boundaries and enforce them.  I think there was some resentment on his part because of that.   But he treated me with respect.  My husband backing me up I think was the main thing that made it work.  He lived under my roof, he was going to respect me or he could leave was how I saw it.  He could go live with BM, MIL, or whoever, but he wasn't going to live under my roof and disrespect me.  

Is her father backing you or is he just leaving everything to you so he can be her friend?  With her BM being more of a friend than a parent, it's even more important that he step up, be a parent, and back you. 

advice.only2's picture

I'm not sure how the BM is having such an impact given the visits with her are virtual, maybe you can expand on that?

As for the parenting, are you and DH a united front when it comes to SD, or does he have different sets of rules for her and dismisses any type of parenting you do? If that is the case you have less of an SD issue and more of a DH issue.

If this is in fact a DH issue maybe he would be open to some parenting classes or to some counseling on getting past his guilty dad parenting.

If this is fact a SD issue, I can empathize, it's not easy taking on another persons child and trying to raise them, especially if the BM is a waste of space and the father is a Disney Dad. Try not to be too hard on yourself on feeling the way you do about SD. After all she isn't your child and you didn't create her issues.

TheNotSoBonusMom's picture

So the bio mom caused SD to have severe separation anxiety and attachment issues. Bio mom used to be a SAHM and one evening when my husband got home from work she left. SD watched her mother leave for the first time when she was almost 4. Shortly after my husband leaves bio mom and then discovers she had become a drug addict so he took bio mom to court and all this stuff. 
SD has came a long way! With constant routine and assurance she no longer freaks out and thinks she is gonna be abandoned. 
The reason I bring bio mom up is because SD used to tell me that she was rude to me or ugly to me because she wanted to be able to talk to bio mom. That was done. Then it was she treated me this way because she wanted to be able to physically see bio mom. I took care of that as well. I invited bio mom into our home for Christmas Eve. (Bio mom is 100% clean now and had to do the court order things before we could do any of this)

But now the behavior still continues and now SD just blames me or my bio child for her behavior. I'm always to blame. She loses her shoe? I get treated ugly for it. It's that ridiculous. And I'm not a push over. I can get really scary. My husband never undermines me. But SD has tried to lie to my husband and bio mom before about me. She has even told me, she prefers it when I'm not happy. It's insane the words she has told me. It's not just her being 9 either. She's been doing this since 5 and it only continues to get worse. 

Cover1W's picture

Wait, he doesn't undermine you?  In a post above you state:  But there's still plenty of times when after it's all done he basically tells me I've made a mountain out of a mole hill. That it's not really that big of a deal.

THAT is undermining my friend!  Right there. My DH used to do it, still tries to now and then, so my only option was to disengage. Stop doing for her and your DH. If he doesn't put up with her attitude to him why is it ok to do to you?  HE gets to do all of it moving forward. That's the only way it changes.

As for repercussions, are they consistent, each and every time? If you do ___ then _____ will/won't happen. Every time. No flip-flopping. This has worked for me with SDs when it's in my court (rarely) to handle. They know exactly what will/won't happen with me.

So she was rude to you in oder to have contact with BM?  And she got her way?  Or am I reading this incorrectly?

TheNotSoBonusMom's picture

I never saw it in that perspective. I considered undermining as him going against what I set as her punishment or such. 

And yes... you are reading it correctly... I will admit I'm a softy with it. My parents are still together and my husband's parents were married up until the day they passed. So neither one of us can relate to a parent not being present in our life. But his 9 yr old and my 7 yr old are both from previous relationships. My husband has stepped up and became my child's father because her bio dad signed over his rights. So we both are trying to be there for both the kids without skipping a beat. Unfotrunately SD is very good at "milking" things like that. And honestly I know I sound like a fool. The day she got to finally see bio mom physically, she was like "oh okay" once it was all done. Bio mom gave her the undivided attention she wanted and she was good to go. 

lieutenant_dad's picture

Your DH is failing his daughter just as badly as her BM has.

BM not being around doesn't mean he needed to find a new wife and mommy for his daughter. HE now has to step up and take on 200% of the parenting role. HE has to discipline her. HE has to parent her. No matter how good you are, you're no replacement to her bio-parents, and your SD isn't an idiot. She KNOWS her mom can't/won't take care of her, and she KNOWS her dad has passed off his parenting responsibilities to someone else.

Bluntly, you're thw safe one she can ugly to because you've shown that your care for her isn't conditional. Your DH only cares when he sees it and gaslights you when he doesn't. BM only cares when it's convenient or she's cognizant enough to remember she has a child. SD has learned that she has to act "lovable" in order for her parents to actually care.

Your SD needs therapy, and you need to plant your foot squarely up your DH's backside (figuratively) and tell him he's failing his daughter. If she has any sort of attachment disorder or anxiety, then she needs professional help AND for her bio-parent to be far more actively involved in all facets of her care. I don't care if your DH works 14 hours a day with a 2 hour commute each way. His daughter NEEDS him in a way that you can't provide.

ndc's picture

I don't get the term bonus child, especially used in reference to a kid who behaves the way this one does. I have 2 stepdaughters. We get along, I enjoy them, they're good kids, and yet they are in no way a bonus to my life. They use our resources, they limit/affect where DH and I can live, when we can vacation and how our holidays are spent.  They keep BM (who isn't bad compared to many) in our lives. Their existence impacts how many children DH and I can have. . I have a pretty good step situation, and I still can't think of these kids as a bonus.   Anyway, that rant is over.

Your problem is your DH. He needs to step up and parent more. He needs to get his daughter therapy. He needs to give her consequences for her bad behavior. I would let him know that if he doesn't do that, you will disengage completely. It's HIS child. If you divorced or he died tomorrow, you would have no legal rights to her.  If he can't 100% back you up, do his part and make you feel appreciated for what you do for his child, you would be wise to step back and force him to be by far the most involved adult in your SD's life. That's likely what SD needs anyway. 

yougotthis's picture

I would get SD into therapy. And I would step back a little and let DH start parenting. He needs to start giving her consequences for her actions and the way she treats you and others. And I wouldn't do anything for her until she starts to appreciate and respect you.

TheNotSoBonusMom's picture

She has a huge lying problem. So before we didn't want to do therapy in fear she would make lies up. Now we've decided to do blended family therapy. That way we can all be in the room and I'm not doing it alone anymore. Our ins just kicked in this month so I started looking at places today because I'm honestly at the end of my rope.

I finally did have to hold firm to not doing things for her. She was in a sport that practiced every Tues. Over the weekend she was so foul to me, I told her I would no longer do all this extra stuff for her, since I do literally everything for her but yet I'm the one she treats the worst. So I didn't take her to practice Tues and it was the last one. She's supposed to do soccer this summer and I told her last night I will not sign her up until she learns to treat me correctly. Her response was "But I already told bio mom I was going to be doing that this summer" I responded with "Idc what you told her, if you don't change the way you treat me it won't happen and you'll have to tell bio mom why you won't be doing that sport". Her response was "you can tell her." 

But I'm going to hold firm on doing all the extra things. I won't do them until she starts treating me right.  

yougotthis's picture

That must be so hard after all you do for her and how much you care for her to be treated that way. I'm sure she does appreciate it and love you but she obviously has some issues and honestly who can blame her with being abandoned like that. 

Defenitely hold firm, she needs to learn that if she treats people like crap they're not going to want to bend over backwards for her and do nice things for her, I really hope if you hold firm and don't do these things anymore something clicks with her. 

That's good about the family therapy I hope that helps everyone. 

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

Although you are concerned about her lying. I would still consider therapy. Especially if she has past trauma she has not dealt with from BMs addiction.

I am dealing with a 13 year old now who is depressed and basically a hot mess because of her chaotic childhood. 

Things that happen to children during their early development leave lasting emotional scars. It comes out in Thier behavior. Going to counseling will not only help SD but may be beneficial to you and SO as well in learning more effective ways to deal with her behavior.

TheNotSoBonusMom's picture

You are definitely correct. It has gotten to the point where idc if she lies. We will notify the therapist before hand that she has an issue lying. I can no longer allow her to have this much control of me and my household.