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What do I do?

GonnaLoseIt's picture

I have a stepdaughter (6yo) and a bio son (7mo). My stepdaughter requires constant "reminding" from her mom... 5-10 times to do a task. Mom (my wife) has rare consequences for misbehavior and just explains why she shouldn't or should do something. Things changed this weekend when 6yo held the 7mo by his ankles upside down. When mom freaked and told her to put him down gently she put him down on his head and let go. The baby's neck bent and he flopped flat on his back. My wife said he was laughing the whole time but she (my wife) was panicked that he could've broken his neck. I've told the 6yo explicitly NOT to do this about a week before this happened and just because mom and I do it doesn't mean she can.

My wife told me about this event and said she "took care of it" with the 6yo. I pushed hard that this is unacceptable behavior and she needs consequences to disobedient behavior. To make a long story short we had a sit down with the 6yo and explained that she needs to listen. Later I had a sit down with mom and explain how angry and scared this made me and the 6yo needs to start listening, that this disobedience endangers the life of our son and I may leave her if she something doesn't change.

This is not the first time this has happened with the 6yo. She goes off and picks up the baby without permission. She's fallen off the bed while holding the baby. She's very clumsy and in 'trying to help' disobeys us and does what she feels is best.

My wife said she would crack down on the 6yo on Say night but nothing changed on Sunday when it came time to be firmer. Nothing ever does change. My wife is always all talk and doesn't see her daughter as disobedient, only 'trying to help' and she doesn't want to squash her spirit.

I'm really scared, angry and not sure what to do. Can someone please offer advice?'s picture

I have a SD6 as well, and I could see her doing this if DH and I had a baby (not going to happen). I can see her doing it because like your DW, my DH sets no boundaries, no consequences, and acts like having a 'talk' with skids works. In reality, it just means they know they can do something over and over because the worst that will happen is that their dad will just fuss at them.

Maybe if you and your wife sat down with the 6yo and told her that while you love her helping with the baby, she can't do it without you or your wife there so she will learn how to help with the baby the right way. And that if she tries without you there, she will be punished and won't be allowed to help at all.

And maybe tell your DW that she seems to have a choice in disciplining her daughter to keep your son safe, or not taking the chance of upsetting her daughter, but having a hurt, or worse, son.

Drama3zone's picture

Id say you deal with it how you want to - its your baby here - if your wife sees fit to discipline here daughter how she wants - then you also should have the right to discipline as you want - especially as there is a huge risk to your baby's well being here!

I left my DH and home because I felt that his dogs were a risk to my children - he couldn't see it - and neither could my MIL or SIL. But I could see it, they were untrained and had killed a cat. So I moved out and I didnt come back till the dogs had gone. If I had stayed he never would have sorted the situation with the dogs - and all it takes is a split second to change lives forever ( I know this because my dad (chronic alcoholic) came home drunk and set the house on fire cooking chips and falling asleep - sister and I severely injured.

Don't take chances with your baby - she's a 6 year old with no sense - and you should put your foot down with your wife on this one.

ctnmom's picture

Tell your wife to spend a week in the ER- her tune would change pretty quick. I'm in the banking field but my 2 offices are in hospitals. The stories I hear!! Siblings are accidentally hurting each other all the time. I'm with Newwife on this one. My own FIL was dropped by his mom when he was a baby and had (has) permanent damage to his right eye. It's got to be presented as a non-negogiable, with consequences for touching the baby without permission. Don't wait for a visit to the ER- or worse. Maybe show your wife this post?

WTHDISUF's picture

Parents rarely think about what they are teaching their kids when they allow them to live life with no boundaries or consequences. They assume everyone will find their little miscreants adorable and that they'll just grow up and magically start respecting that there are limits in the world. It takes an objective Parent to look at their children BEYOND their household and think about what they will be and face in the future when the rest of the world is NOT adoring and does not cater to them with 'talks' but with true consequences. Lack of discipline and refusal to listen come with serious issues later in life.

So maybe you have to appeal to her from a higher perspective of "if you don't teach her respect now, you're going to make it a tougher life for her later in life". It's not just about turning the baby upside down (probably best to stop doing that in front of her by the way). It's about her learning that she can't do anything she wants and that there are risks- real risk. Come up with a list of unacceptable things to do and the CONSEQUENCES that come with them. Pick up the Baby upside down again means an earlier bedtime or not being able to watch a favorite show- real and immediate vs a talk she's learned to ignore.

Then maybe you can suggest to your wife that she give SD6 a LIST of approved ways in which she can help with the baby so as not to 'squash her spirit'. For example, maybe she can 1. Give Mom a Pamper when she's preparing to change him. 2. Help pack the diaper bag before travel. 3. Put baby lotion on baby feet after bath. Those are harmless but helpful ways that should make SD6 feel useful and maybe squash her desire to turn the baby upside down. If she still continues to be disobedient, continue upping the consequences of her behavior.

Mom is also the Mom to your own kid remember so it's not like she's going to teach your Son anything she's not teaching her Daughter -for the good and the bad- so for the sake of BOTH kids, you best get to working on getting this through Mom's head!

Good luck

GonnaLoseIt's picture

Awesome thanks for the concrete suggestions. I love the list of ways she can help.

GonnaLoseIt's picture

Thanks everyone for your input. I am very firm with the SD6 but mom feels I'm harsh and doesn't want her daughter intimidated so we agreed that I take a hands-off approach which I regularly depart from. This is frustrating because we both feel her not listening is unacceptable and there should be consequences but DW doesn't know what to do. We've HAD the conversations mentioned here several time. I present my DW with options such as a "star chart" or timeout but she doesn't use them or uses them once then stops. She refuses to spank (she stopped this about a year ago) and says she'll pray about it but never takes any different actions in the heat of the moment. DW actually used a star chart (my suggestion) for about 2 weeks and SD6 was improving but she stopped using it without a reason. I've asked why and she said she just started forgetting. The thing is it WORKED and I've asked her to start again and she agrees but never starts. SD6 didn't want to lose stars and that was motivation enough for her to listen. SD6 is a good hearted girl and does mean well even if disobedient.

The thing is I can't leave. I don't want to live without my son in my house, I cannot take him from his mom (legally or emotionally), and I don't want him to experience the "step" situation. I love my wife but I cannot MAKE her discipline her daughter. When I reprimand SD6 she breaks down in tears, runs in her room and curls up in a ball but repeats the behavior again. If I try to discipline her myself my wife gets angry with me because she says my methods are ineffective and it drives a deeper wedge between us. How do you make someone do what you want them to? The only real threat is removing myself and I don't want that for my son.

I need to find a solution that keeps the family together and doesn't create more division. I'm looking for something that helps SD6 WANT to do what she's supposed to. I suppose I'll reintroduce the star chart myself. I'll get it ready today and fill my DW in on it. I can fill in for DW and issue/remove stars if my DW forgets. I SOOOO don't want to do this. I have such resentment right now and don't want to do anything for either of them but I think this is the best solution for everyone. Ugh.

AngeLily's picture

I FREAK OUT when SS7 tries to pick up my daughter (8months) he drops the dog on "accident". I told my DH in no uncertain terms he CANNOT pick her up or hold her unless someone is sitting next to him. She can hold a doll, a stuffed animal, a pillow or whatever, but you make it clear she is not to do anything with that baby without your permission. That "talk" stuff is mom (or dad) trying to speak to kids like they are friends. Active parenting includes ask, tell, make and when it comes to making there are definite consequences. I guess I am really surprised mom isn't firmer about this being that it is her baby too. In regards to our daughter, it is one of the few times DH's words reach SS7's head. Of course, that makes him resent her more, but that is a different subject....