Anger problems + Keeping SD's secrets + BM teaching to sneak
Hi everyone, first post. I had a question about secrets your stepchild tells you that you keep from your partner. The secrets I feel are justified but I don't want to teach that hiding and keeping secrets is the answer to your conflicts. While I support my SD to have a private relationship / way to communicate with her mother, she and BM are doing so behind my partner's back. I worry that the mother (a total deadbeat) is teaching SD to lie and sneak. I'm kind of left with all this info and wondering what the best thing for me to do is (right now, just listening to SD and not interfering or telling the father/my partner). Here's my full situation:
My partner of 3 years has a daughter who is 11 years old.
BM is pretty deadbeat - she lives in a run down apartment, can't hold a job, doesn't pay any child support.
Father (my love) is very responsible and has taken full custody of SD for years. SD goes to see BM every other weekend.
SD and I are incredibly close, have never had any major problems between the two of us - have known her since pretty young and has always been accepting of me.
She often comes to me when she needs someone to talk to about how she's feeling (her dad isn't so great at that).
Another important point, my boyfriend is very short tempered, going through depression and extreme anger issues right now. This is starting to become evident to SD, who sometimes gets the brunt of his anger (no hitting, but swearing, yelling and aggressive body language that scares us both). He needs help and has started to get some, but it's not enough. (I'm not sure how long I'm going to remain in the relationship if this continues, but that's a whole other website to post about.) Right now I'm working on what we have built. I feel very bad for what his daughter has to endure and want the best for her, but feel so very conflicted about sticking behind my boyfriend's sometimes irrational behaviour vs. defending his daughter. I stay out of conflicts, but as she gets older, she is starting to notice more and more how ridiculous and over the top his reactions are getting and they are starting to damage her and destroy her relationship with him (they have a very good relationship when things are going well). She has talked to me about this privately.
My partner allows her to contact her mother over phone and Googlehangouts, but he monitors the hangouts chats. His daughter has told me privately that she thinks it's wrong that her dad does this. I told her that I believe she has a right to have a private email / way to communicate with her mother without the dad seeing, whenever she needs. I told her I would help defend her or help her if needed. My partner's concern with the mother is really SD'S safety -her mother has a limited sense of parenting and does things like SD(11)up for a Facebook account (again, at age 11) with full access to login information to use whenever she wants (we shut that down fast), leaves her home alone way too late at night, etc. He also uses it to get information about her financial situation (she moves frequently, and when she does he needs to know and ensure that his daughter will get a proper bedroom to sleep in, wants to know if she is spending frivolously instead of paying child support, etc). He really means the best but this is also damaging her. I cannot explain this to SD because I'm not going to tell her that her mom is a deadbeat and makes awful decisions and can't take care of her.
Recently, SD showed me another private account she and her mom had created so they could talk privately in hangouts - the presumption that the father won't see. I am not to tell the father - first, it would damage my relationship with SD, but to be honest, I am not against this idea of having a private space for her and her mother - I do believe she is owed that, and she needs a support other than him when he is in a aggressive mood. I feel immense guilt having this information but it has brought SD and I closer and really increased our trust in one another. That said, the mother is starting to slowly ask more things - to take her for a week instead of a weekend, and I worry about what types of things she is writing to SD. I worry that the mother is helping her keep things from the father and that is even further damaging to their relationship. Then again, if I were a mom, I would probably do the same thing if the baby daddy was reading our messages....
I'm basically trying to deal with two completely f@#ked parents and protect SD myself.
I'm wondering on anyone's take on the situation. I would typically reveal anything to my partner about important info about his daughter, but I feel like this is best kept secret from him. I feel terrible and like a bad role model to tell SD that she should lie and go behind his back. I'm thinking about having a conversation so she doesn't have to snoop but can have a private space that no one else can look at and maybe he will listen to her. Should I ask her about the possibility of me even initiating the conversation one evening as a family and then have her chime in? Should I try to just completely leave this, be an ear to her? I worry this might bite me in the butt and my partner find out I knew about this all along and then betray him.
Should I tell him? Should I try to get SD to tell him herself and hope that he is reasonable and allows for a private relationship that he can't see but knows about?
Any advice appreciated.