You are here

Disengagement pros and cons?

I want to be a pigeon's picture

Has anyone got any experience with actively Disengaging from their stepchild? Particularly if you are a full time step parent. I have tried and tried with my SD10 and she remains very difficult to deal with. Both my partner and I feel that she is particularly difficult with me although is more rude to him at times and following a chat with him last night he thinks if I let him take over it might improve matters.
I would appreciate any advise as these problems with her are getting worse. For and against experiences or views would be extremely welcome.

imjustthemaid's picture

I have SD16 that lives with us fulltime. She was 10 when I married DH. I became a SAHM and he works 7 days a week so I have to deal with her all the time. When she was 10 I had to make sure she did her homework, cleaned her room and all those fun things. Then she started to hate me and resent me. I told DH that I am not dealing with it anymore. He can call her from work and tell her to do her homework and to clean her room. She was still young so it was hard. I didn't discipline her. She got away with murder and it sucked. The few times I did get on her case about something, DH told me I was too hard on her!!

Now she is 16 and I am partially disengaged. I don't tell her to do things, I honestly don't care if she does homework or not, I will take her to get haircuts and drive her to friends houses. Our relationship is much better since I am not the bad guy anymore.

She is old enough to know she has to do her homework and do her laundry. I stay out of it!!

I want to be a pigeon's picture

I am sat here being brutally honest with myself and realising that this child's problems are completely NOT my problem and I am realising that this child actively does things to annoy and upset me but really is manipulating the situation to make me out to be the baddy! I have always felt that she was a secretive and untrustworthy child but from reading a lot on this forum being a stepmum and trying to be earth mother do not go hand in hand. I feel that disengaging from her might be the healthiest option as the situation as it is seems entirely negative.'s picture

I've disengaged from my skids. I cook dinner and occasionally will pick them up from the busstop if DH is running late at work and it's his day.

I don't talk to them unless they talk to me first. I don't do anything with them. I didn't even bother to tell DH I was disengaging. I just quit. I got tired of them assuming I will clean up after them, tired of the throwing clean and dirty clothes together.

And while I don't know if it's better for them or DH, it's certainly better for me and my sanity.

jaschipmunk's picture

This is exactly what I started doing about a month ago. Just quit, let DH handle. So far, I'm a lot less stressed and he is on SS11's case a lot more LOL. I will help with homework if asked, but I will not remind about it. I definitely will no longer clean up after him. Discipline is DH's problem as well, not mine. We'll see how it goes.

Kes's picture

For me
Pros to disengaging - you will keep your sanity and not have to deal with so much BS any more.
Cons to disengaging - you will be quite lonely on SKIDs weekends.

I want to be a pigeon's picture

I am full time step mum and the more I read about it the more positive this might be for all of us. There are no breaks from her aside from when i am at work so I think this will be the sane way forward. My OH is being really supportive as she is better behaved with him and so it all begins tonight!!!!
I feel a sense of freedom from being responsible for her any longer. It's trying to do it so she doesnt feel rejected that concerns me. However I have tried all kinds to sort her out to no avail.

3familiesIn1's picture


It has restored my sanity and reduced my stress level considerably.

Problems I still face is that the skid behavior is still unacceptable for me, so although I don't engage I can't help but feel some frustration from time to time especially when DH's lack of parenting effects me directly.

As much as I try very hard to disengage completely, SD13\SS7 - moreso from SS7 as he is the chaotic one - there are things that effect me and my bios BD13\BD8 directly and that frustrates me. I find it hard to disengage when SS7's action impact me in ways I can't avoid.

Lets say his behavior makes a public outing hell - what am I supposed to do? DH won't take him and leave unless we all leave - so I am faced with trying to ignore it but its hard to do that in some situations whereas the group gets penalized if we all leave which is also unfair. Its these kinds of things that I haven't managed to figure out how to handle.

Also - a CON is in order to disengage, often I have to not be very close to SS7, this is one way I avoid getting sucked in by his bad behavior - but since SS7 is attached to DH on a tether at all times - this means I stay away from DH too.

I want to be a pigeon's picture

From what I can gather this is the bit that is hard the actual letting go of the parenting of the child, as it's now not our concern and let the OH deal with it in their way. I wasn't getting anywhere what ever I did I was just the nag and the baddy whilst trying to meet all of her needs. My needs or how I was feeling well that was just tough! I am so ground down but I can't help but enjoy watching (as I sit and type) for once me sitting down whilst he is dealing with her. A weight off my mind I am going to have to get a mantra to get me through the moments I want to step in!!

planningMyEscape's picture

The biggest pro is that I'm much less stressed out. I've stopped trying to get them to be clean/polite/behave, etc. The arguing in our house has gone down quite a bit.

The biggest con is I now I have to live w/stinky kids who don't shower/brush teeth, etc. And my house is much messier because SO takes a LOT longer to clean up after them than I used to.