You are here

What does being disengaged mean to you?

zerostepdrama's picture

What does being disengaged mean to you?

I know there is no clear one answer. Each family has a different dynamic and circumstances.

If you are disengaged what are the hardest parts and what are the easiest parts?

What made you decide to disengage?

Have you considered disengagement and never went through with it? Why?

Are the skids disengaged from you?

How does your SO feel about your disengagement? Is he aware of it?

ETA: Is it okay to reengage from time to time and if so, when?

*********

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disengage

Simple Definition of disengage

: to separate from someone or something

: to stop being involved with a person or group : to stop taking part in something

: to move (a mechanism or part of a machine) so that it no longer fits into another part

Comments

nengooseus's picture

To me, being disengaged means leaving the parenting to DH instead of trying to take SKids on as my own. Recognizing that I am not their parent and am not willing to take on any parenting responsibilities for them. I will cook for them, but if they don't like it, it's up to DH to manage that. I will purchase clothing for them if DH chooses it (literally puts it in the basket). I will support DH in any way that I possibly can, because he is my teammate in life, but I will not take any responsibility whatsoever for his kids.

I got here because of PA, to be honest. BM wants to alienate DH by any means necessary, and has had some solid success in doing it. I don't want her dysfunction to extend to me, and I don't want my bio-daughter (not DH's) to be involved, either, so I just stay out of as much of it as possible. I would parent these kids differently, and how the SKids turn out will not be my fault.

I am more disengaged from SS than SD. SD tries. She LOVES her dad and wants to see him. She's mostly respectful. SS is another story. I am completely done with him. The only personality he has was issued to him by BM, and she's a complete b*tch, so I stay as far away from him as I can. Every once in a while I slip and engage on something, but I'm quickly reminded that I have no authority and no control, so I go quickly back to disengagement.

DH and I agreed to this approach because of SS's behavior toward me and toward DH. He is a risk to our team that DH has to actively manage.

Aniki's picture

What does being disengaged mean to you?
To stop being involved.

What are the hardest parts and what are the easiest parts?
Hardest: leaving skid crap for DH to either make them clean up or clean up himself. I want to help DH, but not lazy skids.
Easiest: no longer cooking for craptastic taste buds, no longer buying them so much as a stick of gum, no longer speaking to them unless them speak to me first.

What made you decide to disengage?
I reached my breaking point.

Are the skids disengaged from you?
When they speak to me, I reply. They have said they miss my baking; I always say I no longer have time. Strangely enough, I always manage to find time to bake for DH... }:)

How does your SO feel about your disengagement? Is he aware of it?
DH is aware of it and okay with it. He knows that anything found in any common area (living room, kitchen, etc.) that is on the floor will be thrown away. He knows that I will not enter the skids' room - even to get the vacuum. He must get it for me. He knows I will not pick up after skids. Pop cans can sit on the table and catch flies and I will not touch them. DH will either handle it or let it sit until the skids return (this is one of the hardest things for me). DH knows I will not wash one single spoon during skid weekends. I will wash MY dishes from anything I cook for myself, but skid dishes can sit there until the shi'theads return for all I care. THAT is THE most difficult thing for me. DH doesn't want the skids touching the dishes because they are too bloody careless and would a) do a p!ss poor job and/or b) break things. I do not care. DH could monitor them or do dishes himself. So he does the dishes.

ETA: Is it okay to reengage from time to time and if so, when?
IMHO, if skid behavior crosses over into affecting me in MY personal space in our home, I will say so. Christmas is approaching and I will reengage to a POINT. I will decorate, wrap gifts, cook. However, I will only speak when spoken to and have zero intention of asking/answering any personal questions. I will simply be there.

zerostepdrama's picture

I'm supposed to go to a wedding this Saturday with DH. I don't think I can go, but I said I would, but I'm going to flake out.

zerostepdrama's picture

What does being disengaged mean to you?

It depends on my mood. I can't say that I am 100% disengaged because I do find stuff out about the skids and tell my friends about it or post about it here. But mostly it's just to share the story to others who understand or to reaffirm what I already know about their stupid behavior.

To DH though- I don't ask about the skids or tell him anything that I find out about the skids. This is VERY important. To me, I have to be consistent. If I ask about the skids or what he did with the skids or tell him something I know about the skids then he will think I care and from there he will get hope for a miracle.

If you are disengaged what are the hardest parts and what are the easiest parts?

Hardest: Following it 100%

Easiest: HAPPINESS! I am much happier. I don't feel the need to go and tattle on everything that the skids do. Because that more often then not, did not bring 100% satisfaction or resolution. I don't need to show/tell DH anything about his kids. Honestly it's much more satisfying when he sees it for himself. I've stop being a nag and the "bearer of bad news" for DH.

There is something to be said about minding your own business and the inner peace that it brings.

Our marriage has been better because of it.

What made you decide to disengage?

Sick of the skids and DH. But mostly the skids. Their lack of appreciation and respect.

Have you considered disengagement and never went through with it? Why?

N/A

Are the skids disengaged from you?

Yes.

How does your SO feel about your disengagement? Is he aware of it?

He knows I don't care for his children, I don't do anything for his kids, I no longer plan involve his kids when I plan something. Not sure if realizes it's disengagement.

Is it okay to reengage from time to time and if so, when?

I have from time to time. When MSD got pregnant, when she got kicked out of BM's house. Both backfired on me. With OSD and trying to plan family stuff with her. Again to backfire on me.

***I am disengaged from girl skids, not SS.

Cover1W's picture

* What does being disengaged mean to you?
I don't provide support (physically, mentally, socially, or monitary) for those things one or the other parent should be providing.

* If you are disengaged what are the hardest parts and what are the easiest parts?
Hardest: Keeping my mouth shut. But if I do engage, like a recent discussion about SD12s classes that DH asked me about, it backfires. Because I "just don't understand."
I don't think parenting requires tip-toeing around the kids to avoid arguments.
If they do something very wrong or don't do something they should, an appropriate level of discipline should be used. DH is a permissive parent and I am semi-strict (but not totally). It's difficult to come to an agreement when he just "wants to have a talk with them" about something like breaking a kitchen drawer instead of having them help fix it so they understand what it takes to fix things they've done.
Easiest: Withdrawing from the food issue the best ever. I don't worry about cooking for them (unless I feel like it) or helping with their lunches or buying food for them. It's nice to just be able to retreat or do what I want when they are with us because...not my kids not my parenting time.

What made you decide to disengage?
I was parenting them and it was going badly.
DH was undermining me big time.
The SDs were out of control and I was spending a lot of time away from the house.
And I found this site.

Have you considered disengagement and never went through with it? Why?
I don't disengage as much as some here except for at the very start.
The SDs and I get along very well overall it's just some of the parenting issues I have problems with and it's not their fault.

Are the skids disengaged from you?
Nope.
I think SD12 does sometimes, but she does that with BM and DH too sometimes. Teenager angst.

How does your SO feel about your disengagement? Is he aware of it?
He is aware of it on the peripheral.
Gets annoyed when I ask him to do things instead of asking the SDs.
Gets tired of cleaning up after them.
But not my problem.
I've suggested he read Stepmonster but he has never picked it up.

ETA: Is it okay to reengage from time to time and if so, when?
Yes - I re-engage when necessary.
Like when something is not done correctly, like washing up dishes and DH is not there.
Or one of the SDs specifically asks me to help with something or wants to talk about something - but I am always careful to make sure it's not something that BM or DH should be doing before I do it.
I also fully engaged when DH's father was ill and eventually passed away just over a year ago. I worked with BM on an alternate schedule since she couldn't alter hers quickly and the SDs were great. They are always actually on pretty good behavior when DH isn't around - and I've told him this. He just doesn't get it.

WalkOnBy's picture

What does being disengaged mean to you?
I know there is no clear one answer. Each family has a different dynamic and circumstances.

Letting parents parent. I don't do anything for my skids. I do cook, but I cook what I want to cook. I don't check school work, I don't attend school events/functions. I don't pick up after skids - they (and DH) know that if something is where it doesn't belong, it will disappear into the abyss.

If you are disengaged what are the hardest parts and what are the easiest parts?
Hardest part - keeping my mouth shut when DH makes a stupid parenting decision.
Easiest part - not giving a shit most of the time

What made you decide to disengage?
ASS and DH's craptastic parenting a few year back

Have you considered disengagement and never went through with it? Why?
n/a

Are the skids disengaged from you?
Yup

How does your SO feel about your disengagement? Is he aware of it?
My DH understands why I disengaged. I don't think he's thrilled about it, but he understands why I have disengaged.

ETA: Is it okay to reengage from time to time and if so, when?
I re-engage when something happens involving the skids AND DH. Or if DH is out of town and some chore is done wrong. I also will drive BV if KK is unable to do so. I also will re-engage if something has to do with my home, our shared finances or my personal space.

Gimlet's picture

I don't think I'm disengaged so much as I've accepted the way things are.

I don't ask DH questions about SS19 and their communication (or lack thereof). If he talks to me about it, I just offer support but try not to offer advice or opinions.

DH takes care of SS16's dinners most of the time, because he won't eat what I cook or I don't feel like making toddler food.

The skids and I are polite, they do not love me and I do not love them. I care about SS16's welfare and happiness, I am struggling to find empathy and caring for the other one. I do not like the way he treats DH at all.

I don't ask about what BM does or doesn't say, do, want. DH manages all that, not my family, not my concern.

It works for us. DH takes care of his business with his kids and I am supportive.

DaizyDuke's picture

To me being disengaged means doing nothing for skids ever and saying nothing about skids ever. I had a hard time with this at first, because I have a bit of OCD where I need to be in control of the situation, my life, my house whatever... and not in a controlling way so to speak, like I don't tell DH what to do or not, and when to do it or not do it, but I need structure. I can't stand walking in the front door to a messy house. I can't stand an overflowing laundry basket. I can't stand it when someone doesn't replace the damn toilet paper roll when it's empty. I can't stand dishes in the sink. I hate being the passenger in the car.... so shit like that being in "control"

So anyway I had a hard time truly disengaging the first time around because while I wasn't doing anything for SD, I was bitching to DH about her messy room, about her leaving dishes in the sink, about her leaving makeup spilled in the bathroom etc. But DH was blowing me off as the wicked step mother who just didn't like SD and then I was getting even MORE frustrated.

So then I learned to disengage COMPLETELY! It was difficult at first, but it worked and eventually gave me peace. So if SD's room was a sty? Oh well, close the door and never go in there (except to steal my things that she stole from me back) If SD had 20's and 30's for grades? Oh well, if she fails, she fails. Not my concern. If SD left dishes in the sink? Oh well. They could stay there until DH or her put them in the dishwasher. The best part is when I started not caring, DH DID! He started getting pissed about her room, he'd get pissed about her dishes in the sink, he'd get pissed about her leaving the bathroom a mess. And I didn't have to do a lick of tattling!

I wish I would have figured it out right the first time and saved myself a lot of aggravation!

Glassslipper's picture

If you are disengaged what are the hardest parts and what are the easiest parts?
I'm not currently, I was once, the hardest part was redirecting them to their father, they come to me and count on me for most everything, so all the questions planning and time spent at home was with me

What made you decide to disengage?
DH's parenting, were blended and he is HYPER critical and judgmental of my parenting and kids actions, making critical statements all day long (no filter on his mouth) BUT if his kid does something, or the same thing my kid just did, he COMPLETELY ignores it

Have you considered disengagement and never went through with it? Why?
I have and don't because its not my skids fault that their dad parents the way he does, and they are good kids, he just is hyper critical. Ex: my kid will drop a book upstairs in her room and we hear a thud: DH will say "what is going on up there, its been banging up there all night" then SD will be upstairs 30 minutes past bedtime, going up and down the stairs like a heard of buffalo, banging drawers around deciding what to lay out for an out fit, banging a school bag and all her books on the floor for over an hour and he will sit there quietly watching the television.

Its not the kids, its DH.

Are the skids disengaged from you?
No

How does your SO feel about your disengagement? Is he aware of it?
I don't think he is, he has been completely disengaged from the beginning from my kids, and also me when the kids all come home from their other parents.

ETA: Is it okay to reengage from time to time and if so, when? not sure

zerostepdrama's picture

It's like how unfair we see the '100pct responsibility, 0 authority' it's not right, it's unfair....SO if you are disengaged and taking 0 responsibility, you also don't get to have authority IMO.

This is my DH!!! So annoying.

Toxic Situation's picture

This is a good point here, monkeyseemonkeydo. The idea of being disengaged but criticizing and commenting anyway. I've got to stop that or it's not disengaging. I also agree with the idea you mention of "I refuse to be responsible for a child for whom I can set no boundaries or rules."

It's hard for me not to comment after hearing DW beg and supplicate for over an hour for SS15 to stop playing video games and when he finally stops playing, DW says to me, "See, he listened to me. He stopped playing." It was so hard to not tell her that she begs and supplicates a child to obey her and worse, actually believed he (eventually) listened to her, when really, he just got tired because it was late and stopped playing, and that DW is that deceived that she actually thought his decision had something to do with her!

These are the kinds of things I have to shut up about and it is so hard for me to do!

Tuff Noogies's picture

What does being disengaged mean to you?
totally depends on the family dynamic, but mostly letting the parent(s) parent. it also depends on the kids - i'm totally engaged w/ lurch, and mostly disengaged w/ kaos

If you are disengaged what are the hardest parts and what are the easiest parts?
Hardest part - biting my tongue when kaos treats dh like dog$#!t
Easiest part - there is no easy part with that child

What made you decide to disengage?
i was feeling resentful for how much i was doing and my efforts were completely in vain. there was also incredibly strong PAS against me, some from dumb@$$ but mostly from MIL - hell i couldnt even blink w/o being accused of looking at them wrooooonnnngnggg or being a b!t@# for griping in front of them about the d@mn unflushed toilet.

Have you considered disengagement and never went through with it? Why?
n/a

Are the skids disengaged from you?
levels of engagement are mutual

How does your SO feel about your disengagement? Is he aware of it?
he's totally aware, and totally understanding of his reasons - and i think sometimes jealous too Wink

ETA: Is it okay to reengage from time to time and if so, when?
I re-engage when something will affect ME, either directly or indirectly (house, finances, pets, etc), and i also would if there imminent danger.

zerostepdrama's picture

Hardest part - biting my tongue when kaos treats dh like dog$#!t

I find this part hard too! Before it used to be pointing out their stupid, annoying behavior. But now that they are adults, just seeing how they treat DH and how he takes it,,, ugh.... I just keep my mouth shut. At times it's like he'll take any little crumb they throw at him. To him that is love. He grew up with a mother like that and now he takes it from his kids like that. So sad.

Gimlet's picture

I can relate to this too. DH is getting stronger, but watching the dynamic with SS19stb20 makes me want to bite my tongue clean off sometimes.

zerostepdrama's picture

Sometimes I feel like screaming "Are you that stupid??? That desperate????"

I love my parents, (mom, dad and step mom), I just can't imagine treating them the way the skids treat DH. But I can't imagine treating my BS the way that MIL treats DH either. So I guess it's just his normal.

Gimlet's picture

My DH gets it from all sides. My MIL means well, but is very needy and makes everything about herself. She looks to DH for most of her emotional support. My FIL is alive, but not really interested in conversations about MIL's feelings. I'm with you, I can't imagine having that dynamic with my BD.

BIL is having marriage problems, so he's turning to DH. So yeah, I guess getting emotionally drained all the way around is his normal. He's working on setting better boundaries.

And then there is SS19 and his BS.

I would not treat my dad like that and believe me, he's no FOTY either.

Toxic Situation's picture

Thank you for this reminder of what it means to disengage and why it is so necessary. I am reading the forums again because DW read me the riot act last night, because it "breaks her heart" that I have been speaking "negatively and critically" about SS15 and have spoken to others outside the home about what goes on in the household. Her response gave me the reality check once more about the need to disengage, as hard as it is for me to do. On one hand, I love to do it, because I don't want to have any more to do with SS15 than I have to and I used to think I was being bad for not wanting to get involved with him. On the other hand, it's just so hard for me to shut up and not engage when SS15 is obviously abusing DW (not physically, yet).

So, I'd like to answer these questions:

*What does being disengaged mean to you?

A pathway to freedom within a situation I am not able to leave yet, or may never be able to leave. (Think: lawyers forcing me to maintain DW in the standard of living she is accustomed to and having to pay for an apartment for myself at the same time. Plus all the legal fees. I don't know if I would be ordered to pay child support for a stepchild.) Affirmation that I am not being a bad person for not wanting to wade into the fray every time DW and SS15 are at it again, to protect DW, only to have DW say "you're being mean to him." It's a tightrope however, because DW also calls disengaging "being mean to SS," even though we read the part about disengaging together in the book Stepmonster and she grudgingly admitted she understood - but did not agree with - my reasons for it.

* If you are disengaged what are the hardest parts and what are the easiest parts?

Hardest part is sticking to it. I'm the kind of person who likes to speak up about wrong things that are going on. I also don't like watching someone abusing my wife (her son) and seeing that she is a pushover. It's hard to watch that going on and not do anything about it. Easiest part, it's just a heck of a lot easier than trying the same thing over and over again, helping DW by getting involved, explaining to her that SS is trying to intimidate or scare her, and then ask SS15, so what are you trying to get your mother do when you do that? (He is standing over her with his face in hers, staring her down) And then trying to get him to talk about what he is after by this behavior. This worked, this time, but I will get no thanks from DW for it.

* What made you decide to disengage?

My situation, this forum, the book Stepmonster - and most importantly because the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over, expecting a different result this time. So, I quit engaging (insofar as I can and when I don't relapse.)

* Have you considered disengagement and never went through with it? Why?

SS15 looked about ready to hit DW and I started talking to him.

* Are the skids disengaged from you?

Absolutely, unless you call hostility and contempt engaging. But he doesn't talk to me and there is a kind of peace in the house after I disengaged. Before that, it was borderline domestic violence (if it can be called that when a kid is walking around with his fists clenched, because I said, "Don't talk to your mother like that.")

* How does your SO feel about your disengagement? Is he aware of it?

SO, in my case, my wife, is aware of it. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. Any intervention I make is "being mean to him," but disengaging "breaks her heart" because disengaging is being "mean to him."

* ETA: Is it okay to reengage from time to time and if so, when?

I think it's OK. Sometimes I even venture a word with SS. I'm trying to explain to him how to get free from his mother's helicopter parenting, but I don't I'm going to be able to do any parenting in this sense. He will just use information against his mother instead of learn how to see what's going on. I don't think anything is going to work. SS and DW are really the same person. Two persons, but one in essence. They have an enmeshed relationship.

They're also the same person because of how they treat others. SS treats DW in a nasty way, but DW doesn't treat SS nastily. However, DW treats me very nastily if I criticize, suggest, talk, etc., about her son - and this is why I also say they're the same person. Because DW will show the same behavior her son does in this case.