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Thanks for your advice guys. Backing off a little.

Mermar90's picture

Quick recap if you need it:
BM sentenced as a felon for drug theft/addiction. BM has already been sentenced and in and out of jail (6 days jail, 10 years probation). There's other evidence that BM isn't fit to have primary custody of SD (14). SD claims she does better and is happier with DH and I, she wans us to go to court. DH has 0 custody. (His biggest flaw is avoiding stressful situations - including getting a lawyer. We've also been working to obtain the resources necessary for SD to spend more time with us, including a house with a bedroom for her, which we have now.)

So I wanted to thank you all for your advice with this situation. I think the biggest thing I took away is that, for as much as I want to take the reins with this, like I do everything else in my relationship (I wear the pants, lol), and as much as I want to protect SD and fight for her, this isn't really my fight. While in tears, I told DH this. I told him it was hard on me to have him come to me with all of this drama, get me all fired up to fight for SD, and then him not do anything (because of his avoidance/procrastination). I am powerless and it hurts.

Being powerless legally, I decided I have to back off or risk losing my sanity. I signed up for this relationship and purposefully chose to live my life in a way that focused on SD, and so this fight feels like my fight, but it's not. At the end of the day, she's not mine and it would do me good to remember that.

So thanks again for reminding me of that. This balance is hard. I'm 30 with no kids of my own. I feel like I've given a lot to this situation just to be reminded that it's something that can be so limited by, or even taken away by other people. Her bio-parents will always have more control than I do. Do I really want to give so much of myself to something that I hardly have power over like this? I'm not so sure anymore. 

And honestly, it feels good to step back for once.

Merry's picture

Mermar, you're doing the right thing. You just can't over function for your DH in this area. You're not saying you won't do ANYTHING, you just won't take the lead. I'm also the business person at my house, so I sort of know what you're dealing with, although we didn't have custody and court battles. 

I hope your DH does step up for custody. It sounds like your home is the much better environment. But if he's conflict avoidant and doesn't want to deal with the hard things, what does he think living with a teenager will be like? Does he assume that you'll just handle it? Because that would be a hard no for me.  If this does proceed, be sure you nail down parenting roles as well.

You will want to step in to fix this sooner or later, if you're anything like me. But no good will come from it. I have found that it takes practice to step back. But it's the healthiest thing to do for everyone.

I wish you good fortune ahead.

Mermar90's picture

Hey, thanks for your reply! It's nice to talk to somebody else who also likes to get crap done themseleves.

I made it clear to him last week through my tears that he was going to have to step up if he goes through with this. Conflicts with SD, appointments, school, all of it. He was going to have to be the main person for all of that, not me. I told him that I understand I take the lead in most of our important situations, but I can't take the lead in this. It's exactly like you said, I'm here to help, but I can't be her biological parent or take that role. I just literally can't, as much as I'd like to.

This really is new to me, literally not being able to control something that is so apart of my life. I think it was hard for DH to understand why I was so emotional about it. 

He does a really good job while she's over for a weekend. He definitely steps up and she becomes his priority so that she doesn't have to be mine. And he tells me he's ready to do that more frequently, and I believe him that he's going to try. I imagine it will be exhausting for him to be more responsible more often and I don't know if he's thinking about that... But it's also not my responsibility to think for him either. I'll just have to trust him, even though it scares the crap out of me lol. 


Merry's picture

What if you thought of yourself as a business advisor? Maybe he is scared about finding and then talking to a lawyer. You can offer advice on approach and help him outline talking points. Or help him build a timeline of activities. Maybe he's overwhelmed with everything, but if you help him break it down into manageable steps he might be more willing to take action. Have periodic "meetings" to discuss progress and offer advice. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you don't get sucked back into doing the work because it's easier to just DO it.

I asked my DH to do something that I thought was pretty simple. One of his credit cards had a small balance and I asked him to call and just pay it off. He panicked. So I led him through the statement. Find the tollfree number. Should be an automated option for payments. Have the checking account number handy. What's that? Here, this line on the checks. 

I know that sounds ridiculous coming from a very intelligent man who has owned three of four homes and raised two children and held professional level jobs. But he literally panics and can't function. Used to infuriate me. But I've come to accept that it's not going to change.

Mermar90's picture

I like the idea of being a business advisor. I have yet to ask him how it's going since I stepped back last week. Maybe I should check back in. I don't think he's done a whole heck of a lot regarding this in the last week so maybe I can offer him some advice if he's stuck. It might be hard for me to not get frustrated, because I hate procrastination. But if I keep thinking of myself as a professional, business advisor that might help me keep my emotions out of it.

Thanks for the advice. You're very thoughtful.

advice.only2's picture

I've been in your shoes, I wish I have found this site back when we first got custody of Spawn it would have saved me 7 years of drama and heart ache and non stop fighting with my DH.

I have a DH who is very conflict avoidant and procrastinates. I did most of the hard work, short of going to court and I resented him for wanting to keep his daughter safer than he did. Now she is a grown adult with major issues and I just shrug my shoulders and pass on what I hear about her to him. He doesn't like it, but reality is he helped foster her issues so he should know.

Mermar90's picture

Nobody ever talks about this. Nobody ever mentions how some of us actually care/cared about our s-kids and end up trying harder than their real parents. And nobody ever talks about how hard it is to essentially give up on the s-kid because there's not a whole hell of a lot we can do. 

We're told to try harder and love harder, which doesn't come easily or naturally. We finally learn to be vulnerable and love them and then, of course, want to protect them when they are being hurt. But then we come to the realization that we can only protect them and care for them as much as their bio-parent's want to, and we have absolutely no control over that. The realization that I need to try a little less and love a little less after being told all this time to try and love more... it's tough. Such a weird balance that I didn't know would be a thing.

The thought of SD getting more messed up by the day is so heartbreaking to me, but I have to stop taking that guilt and sadness to heart. I am not to blame here.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

Hugs to you, Mermar90! You're doing the right thing. And thanks for reminding us all of the power of StepTalk. We're saving lives, one naive stepparent at a time. lol

You are SO MUCH smarter about step dynamics than I was at your age. I had your situation - 14 y.o. SD, crazy BM, conflict avoidant nonparent DH - but did everything wrong. "We" did get full custody, BM poofed, and I spent the next five years struggling to raise a damaged, disordered teen girl while DH blithely ignored all the issues.

It's not our job to fix other people's problems; it's actually interfering, and often above our skill set anyway. When we do too much, it's because someone else isn't doing enough, so stepping out of our lane throws the whole dynamic out of balance. But when we step back, we create room - room for change and opportunity for the responsible parties to step up. You're making the logical and healthy choice, and kudos to you for doing it.

Mermar90's picture

First of all, wow. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to take on all of that responsibility yourself. Even a year or two prior to this I could've seen myself falling into that trap. I'm lucky things with SD haven't moved faster. 

In the last year I've done a lot of soul searching, especially with the imminent possibility of SD spending more time with us, and me turning 30 and buying a townhouse with more space. I'm trying to figure out my role in all of this, instead of having a role given to me. For the last 10 years I've had a role given to me regarding SD, and it's time to change that a little bit. Talking to people here on StepTalk has definitely helped me realize what options there are for me.

You're right. By me stepping back it's giving DH more space to learn, grow, and prove that he can do this to me, his daughter, and to himself. He deserves that opportunity. And while it's disappointing when he makes choices I wouldn't have made, it's ultimately on him to face the reprecussions of that. I won't hold it over his head, but I'm also deciding that I refuse to take responsbility for any of it. 

Man, it's just tough when my DH has been pushing me all these years to be more vulnerable and open to SD and to the role that I play in her life. And then to have this realization that I should actually be a little more guarded because... as much as he would like me to be her mommy, and as much as I'd like to think I could fill that role, I'm not and I can't. Especially not with BM so much in the picture and legal issues just on the horizon. I can't make those calls to the lawyer. I can't go to court for them. I just can't.

It's just not fair to me to feel like a protective, mama bear and not be able to do a damn thing or have a say in any of this. And it's probably for the best because I don't want to trap myself, like you said happened to you. I shouldn't be trying to take over responsibility for my DH's situation.

nappisan's picture

Your doing the right thing by stepping back.  My exDH was the same and would brush everything under the carpet and avoid it all,, well if you keep doing that ,, the pile gets to big to clean up eventually and your left with one big fat mess!   He would avoid all issues of conflict or the 'hard emotional' stuff,,,,this only led to the BM ruining a house they owned because he didnt have the balls to sort it out , same with finances and his brat son behaviour issues,,, all swept under the carpet and avoided!   I did everything and made sure important things were done straight away but in the end i didnt bother anymore as i was so frustrated for being dragged throught the mud with everything but having no power over anything that was happening.   Now  the brat is even worse and has an endless list full of issues.  This is not your fight even though it frustrates you 

Mermar90's picture

Thanks for your story. I can't imagine how tough that was for you. I've only had a small taste and it feels terrible. The scary thing is, I could easily have seen myself falling into that trap. I would've gladly taken as much responsibilty as I could have, and then realized too late that I dug myself into a hole where I get blamed for everything but have no control over any of the actual important things.

This is why I am thankful for StepTalk. Nobody talks about these things in real life. Like yeah, I'm going to be here for DH and SD if they need me. But I'm going to stop trying to take so much responsibility and I refuse to feel guilty for any of this, considering I have no control over the things that really matter. Everybody seemed like they expected me to act like SD's mom, but I can't and I won't, especially considering she has a mom who is in the picture too. 

It's going to be hard to watch SD suffer through this stuff, and I'll be there for her while she's over if she needs me for advice or anything, but ultimately I can't save her. That's up to her parents.

nappisan's picture

yes unfortunately SD will suffer from the lack of parenting by her ACTUAL parents !   Same with the situation i was in,,,,i felt that no one else was doing anything for this kid , so i should at least do something and cant sit by and watch ,,, but it always gets thrown back in your face.  The bio parents are quite happy to let us do all the heavy lifting so they dont have to deal with it ,, but as soon as you try to discipline or have a say, we are told to butt out!    I would get sooooooo frustrated at the my DH and the BM for not doing things a parent should ,,,,,,,i would be the one rushing around the day before the kid started high school getting all his books and laptops etc cos the bio parents havent done it WTF! I would have the kid every single day over the holidays while DH buried his head in work as he didnt want to deal with his kid becasue it was too hard as the kid is extremely difficult and needy, but as soon as i approached DH about his kids stealing, lying or destructive behaviour  ,, I would be told im picking on his son and its not my place.   In the end ,, the kid took out all his anger on me for his parents lack of everything.    Like you , i was just naturally expected to fill a mummy role while DH did whatever he wanted to do. The BM was heavily in the picture also as they had 50/50 week on week off custody (the only reason they did week on week off is because neither of them want him full time as hes such hard work) which left me as a live in nanny basically.  It got to a point where i was trapped and stuck! I would have this kid all week while DH was at work , then he would come home and tell me hes meeting up with mates for drinks and would go out all night and leave me once again looking after his brat. You become so clouded, worn down and trapped that it becomes normal and we just accept it.   Unfortunately just like my exDH ,, yours wont do anything about it and BM will walk all over him while he burys his head in the sand.  Stand back and stay out of his mess