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Anyone have one SK that doesn’t live w u the same % time as others?

NicoleRB's picture

I have blogged before about my SD12 who is not happy in our house. We are a blended family living together for 4 years now and it is us, newly married this July, my SS17, my two sons 16 & 12 and my SD12 we have the kids 50% time all together. My SD12 is codependent on BM, and I have tried everything to connect with her, but she is miserable when she is with us. As I write this she has been here since school got out after 5 days w her BM and she didn't come down to dinner because she was weepy and had anxiety over the transition (she's been with us for 3 hours tops) since leaving BMs.

this has been going on now for a while ever since she entered preteen land and I sense she is going to want to go live with her BM more any day now. Especially when her brother goes off to college next year. Her BM lives about 10 mins from us, alone, and seemingly never has anything to do but communicate with my SD via text when she's with us. 

 

My question is this-- if this child, who is putting her Dad through anguish regularly over her seemingly not wanting to be in his new household. The other kids treat her fine-- they all get along fine, albeit they're boys. IF she decides to leave to go be with her BM more (breaking her Dads heart) where do we draw the line on what she gets to join us for and what she gets to be a part of? I ask because we have more means than her BM and we do more fun stuff...and SD12 seems to like the perks of that part of our household.  Do we let her come on our family trips to Cancun when she doesn't want to live with us on a plain old Tuesday?  I feel horrible for thinking this way but she is hurting him so much and making me feel horribly guilty (I never wanted to cause him to lose his child!), by seemingly being so miserable when she's with us. I think it's unwarranted and it comes from her codependency on BM who has no rules (she basically rules the roost as her BMs copilot when there) vs. our house that's more like a real family with a husband and wife. Does she get to have her cake an eat it too? Come to xmas dinner to pick up her gifted Uggs and then take off?

advice?! Thanx  

Comments

OKtoStep's picture

I feel like the word codependent is thrown around too much in some blended situations. 
 

When I was knee high to a grasshopper I would sob for weeks after coming back from visitation with my dad. We just clicked better. After a few years of this absolute misery for everyone my mom decided to punish me and my dad by letting me live with him. I thrived. He was a functional adult, instilled healthy boundaries and encouraged me into a successful adulthood. Some kids just favor one parent. Just like they choose their friends or their favorite food or whatever. 
 

edit- If SD chooses to not visit anymore, she should be treated like a well-liked niece or cousin. She's welcome to dinner, she gets a moderate gift at holidays but she's not an active part of the family unit and doesn't necessarily get invited to vacations or be treated to fun extras.

Will she be upset? Maybe, but it's also an important life lesson about reciprocal relationships. 

The_Upgrade's picture

If SD chooses to not visit anymore, she should be treated like a well-liked niece or cousin. She's welcome to dinner, she gets a moderate gift at holidays but she's not an active part of the family unit and doesn't necessarily get invited to vacations or be treated to fun extras.

Yep! Holidays are like rewards. Rewards for good behaviour and pitching in to help the family. We're not talking about anything big, just age appropriate stuff. For example my SD estranged herself from DH and wouldn't even pick up the phone. Another girl she grew up with remained friendly with DH because her parents were his friends. That girl would help out with DD whenever she could and we could get her to pick up stuff from the shops on her way home. For her birthday I happily gave her a new smartphone. SD heard about it an expected one too. Uh hello? Why would we give her one? Cue emotional guilt trips about proving that DH doesn't love her if he refuses to give her one.

Bottom line: Go down that path and you set the expectation you're nothing but a resource to be exploited. Do it often enough and they'll get even more pissed if you stop because you've done it for so long already you've reinforced the dysfunction. Door is always open for SD to be a part of the family but she actually needs to be a part of the family and hang around for the good and the boring bits to do fun family things. 

OKtoStep's picture

You brought up an excellent point.

I spoiled my my ExSS for the first year and a half of the marriage. I gave him rides, extra spending money, pricey clothes. One day I asked him why he refused to mow our lawn (my then DH was away for work) when he came to mow his grandmother's next door. He said, and I quote, "I guess I'm just not that altruistic." When MY altruism dried up after that suddenly I was abusive, rude and controlling.

Winterglow's picture

Bm is texting all the time to maintain her daughter's unhappiness at your place. She is actively making her miserable. I'd start by putting a stop to that (no phones in your home between X and Y time?) and getting her involved in other things. 

Cover1W's picture

Yes. BM was on the phone and texting OSD constantly in the early PAS phase. It negates the parenting and time of the other parent (DH).

NicoleRB's picture

I agree totally but this is where my fiancé plays the mental health issues card for her and says he is being compassionate because she's mentioning suicidal thoughts etc. He has too hard a time giving her boundaries because he doesn't want to push her over an edge or be what he thinks is "unreasonable" Like limit her cell phone or say no nightly call with BM.  I completely disagree with this and think it's compounding the problem.

Winterglow's picture

He's shooting himself in the foot. Counselling for both of them. He (especially) needs a reality check.

Kes's picture

My SD24 used to behave like this - I thought of her (and still do) as enmeshed with her mother.  Up until her early teens she would often demand to be taken back to NPD BM's house on EOW when she was with us - because she "missed NPD BM".  Needless to say, I was quite happy for her to go back, as she behaved in a hostile and miserable way when with us, despite constant outings and treats supplied by DH.  

I agree with OKtoStep when she says "If SD chooses to not visit anymore, she should be treated like a well-liked niece or cousin. She's welcome to dinner, she gets a moderate gift at holidays but she's not an active part of the family unit and doesn't necessarily get invited to vacations or be treated to fun extras."

TheAccidentalSM's picture

I wouldn't drop her from holidays.  She'll take it as a punishment for wanting to live with her mother and you'll be feeding into their invented drama.

Just don't consult her or her neeeds when you make plans.  If she's around, great she gets to go.  If she not, hard luck.

AgedOut's picture

I'm not sure I'd stop w/ giftgiving on holidays or birthdays but I would alter my choices of gifts.

Any plans made for during her scheduled visit times would go on whether she was there or not, w/out her knowing said plans ahead of time so she could pick and choose her visits accordingly. If, for example, you decide that a day trip to an event or festival are in the plans and she's chosen to not visit that weekend but later complains about being left out? I'd replt w/ a "you chose not to join us for the weekend"

 

The constant contact w/ her mom while at your home is feeding her unhappiness. Short of barring it there's not much you can do at this point. 

lieutenant_dad's picture

I think you have to let your DH take the lead on this and push your feelings on it aside (to a point). Does SD get to come to Cancun? Well, does DH want to have her come and make those memories with her? If so, you're going to have a hard time convincing him to give up time with his daughter and the few good memories he may be able to have with her to punish her for having loyalty to her mother.

However, that doesn't mean you should be okay with SD being a pill. If you take SD to Cancun and she ruins the vacation by whining, throwing tantrums, refusing to do activities, or whatever other behavior she pulls that is non-familial, you should put your foot down and say you won't vacation with her again. Basically, you need to give her a chance to eff up, but hope that she doesn't. 

CODs end up in loyalty binds with parents when a parent, or both parents, don't act like they should. BM is breeding co-dependency in SD. SD is a child who doesn't have the ability to recognize it or the authority to fight against it. The more that BM makes her home look appealing and guilts SD into leaving her alone, the more dysfunctional SD will become.

Your DH can step in with some of this. When SD is with you all, she doesn't need to spend hours and hours on her phone. She should have structure and see the benefits of that structure - clean home, good food, nice clothes, family outings. Your DH should keep the visitation schedule and have conversations with his daughter that she is NOT responsible for her mother's happiness, and BM has the freedom and ability to go out/meet new people.

I don't think it's fair to punish a kid in a loyalty bind by taking away the fun things PROVIDED they aren't ruining the experience for others. That loyalty bind has less to do with the parent they are snubbing and more to do with the parent they're forming unhealthy attachments to. Don't compete, but don't make her feel bad for choosing one parent over the other. If she starts acting like a pain AFTER DH talks her through her feelings (not just doling out consequences for her poor attitude) and tries to help alleviate the effects of that loyalty bind, THEN you can start treating her like the niece/cousin, or banning her from activities if she goes from just being absent to ruining the experience for others.

This is a scale, not an all-or-nothing. Slide carefully based on her behavior AND your DH's parenting to help alleviate her anxiety and attitude.

ESMOD's picture

Great advice!  

I would also add that part of it could be her age.. she could also be someone that doesn't shift gears easily and the transition is stressful.  It isn't up to the SP to make the situation work.. obv.. dad should be also in this mix trying to bond with his child etc..

 

We did have a situation when my YSD was in maybe 2n4 or third grade where she decided she wanted to try living with her dad full time.  I think that it was a combination of a lot of things that drove her desire.  1.  She wanted more time with her dad. 2.  Her older sister is/was a pill to her.. cutting her down. taking out her frustrations on her.. wishing she would disappear etc..  3.  Her mom would usually play favorites with her girls.. whichever one was in the cuter/funner stage would be the one that would get attention and face time with mommy.  The one who was difficult...or not totally adorable.. or doing things to promote MOTY cred.. well.. not much use for the child.  (OSD was a more poised and attractive child .. really not poised so much as painfully self conscious.. but it presented as a poised child.  YSD was messy and didn't brush her hair.. and wasn't the "beauty" her older sister was.  Mom really didn't dote on her until she got into cheer as a teen.. then of course..mom had value in YSD... kind of sick.. but it was what it was)

So, we had YSD full time and OSD EOWE... 

 

Lifer33's picture

Texting with bm all the time will most likely be a major part of it. I wish I could assure your dh for you that limiting phone access in a lot of cases is not hindering the child's state of mind, it will actually improve it, and you'll form better relationships!

Dh here went through several years of ss wanting to go home early, suddenly getting sulky or tearful and we couldn't figure out why for a time. We started flipping his phone over while he was otherwise occupied. Found constant texts from bm telling him what he was missing out on, trying to entice him home, asking if he was OK. Unnecessary and ridiculous. She was told in mediation to pack that right in. Now ss is like a different child, happy and engaged all the time when he's here.  

If you can find a way whether mediation or otherwise, limit the phone contact and better still if you can put it on bms head to  to do so