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I don’t know how

Idunnohow17's picture

just watched my 6 year old SD tell my husband that she wants to leave and never see him again in the middle of a tantrum. Watched him cry and wonder what he did wrong for the 10th time. I don’t know what to say, my automatic instinct has always been to fix things and this is just so messed up to watch. I both wish things were easier for them and wish she’d take her attitude elsewhere and save us from having to go through this. She’s been here 2 days and has thrown 15 fits because her dad said no and this last one culminated in the telling her dad she hates him and never wants to see him again. I don’t know what to even do here. I mean how does one disassociate (a necessity in this case) and then still be a supportive wife when he’s torn down by his own child..? I don’t know if this post belongs here but I literally don’t know one person I can talk to so I’m turning here.. thanks for letting me ramble..

elkclan's picture

My son used to regularly tell me I was fired - when he was much younger. That ended when I told him that it was ok, I'd found a new family who were really happy about me coming. 

Kids naturally push boundaries and sometimes it's incredibly hurtful. You have to breathe through it and stay calm. No 6 yr old hates their father, not even ones who are abused and ought to do so. 

I understand your husband's fear though - when I was first separated I didn't parent as well as I should have because I was afraid of 'losing' my son. It's hard. 

If she's only been there 2 days she's going through a transition period. It's hard. Frankly I would not like having to transition between houses with different rules and a different set up and different people. I live with my partner across two houses right now and I'm fed up and we have the same 'rules' at both places and it's something I choose to do. 

He needs to not react in front of her. She is 6. He is an adult. It hurts - it hurt when my son told me I was fired. It's ok to say that it's really hurtful for her to say that, but he needs to be calm and say "OK, that is really hurtful. I love you and always will. But you still have to put on your shoes/ eat your breakfast/ turn off the tv"

futurobrillante99's picture

My own kids, in an intact home (at the time) told me they hated me. I would smile and say, "That's okay. I love you enough for both of us!!" 

It would piss them off, but I think they liked hearing it.

hereiam's picture

All kids go through this and tell their parents some version of what she did, but when the parents are split, it's different. She doesn't live there, so it can become a reality and that is very distressful for your husband.

A six year old should not have the power to decide that, but some parents allow it and it sounds like her BM would help her carry out that wish of not seeing him.

I don't believe divorced parents should parent any different, give in to or indulge a child's whims. It puts your husband in a tough postilion when the BM is high conflict, and it sounds like this one might be.

I don't really have any advice. When my SD decided she was mad at her dad and didn't want to come over anymore, she was 15, which is a little different than 6.

If there is a CO, BM cannot keep your SD away from her dad without being in contempt. He needs to know his rights and exercise them and let BM know that he WILL exercise them.

Looking back at your other post, it looks like this girl has some behavior issues.

I think you can support him in being a good father and comfort him when he's down, without engaging with the child. He probably does need your support. I have never completely disengaged, I have always been there for my husband to talk to, even though I have very little to do with his daughter.

Idunnohow17's picture

its honestly incredibly helpful to hear other people go through the same thing even if they can’t offer advice. Learning to be a supportive wife and remain calm when a child hurts someone you care for is possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, and the only people I know are the type with their “perfect families” who have never been in this situation, which leaves no way to know that this is a fairly normal situation (sadly) for blended families and I’ve been left feeling like I’m the “evil step mom”, who appears not to care. So just having support and knowing my situation is not that different is extremely helpful!

icanteven's picture

My youngest, at that age, used to tell me he hated me, that I was not invited to his birthday party, and numerous other things that were not nice. It is just what kids do. I would tell my son I was sorry he felt that way, and send him to his room until he felt like he could be nice again. He outgrew this phase within one year. I do not know many kids who have not done this before at least a few times.

Maybe you can advise your husband that this is a common phase that kids go through, and see if he can try not to take it personally. He will not lose his daughter over this. She must learn not to act this way also. If he can, he should remain calm and take her to her room when she does things like this, and tell her she can come out when she can be nice again. You can help him with that in whatever way seems good, like by reinforcing his message, saying "no one in this family hates one another" or something similar. The biggest thing you can do, though, is reassure him that this is not personal against him, and that kids this age often say things they do not mean. Maybe you can even get a book or article on the subject that you can read with him.

Maria10's picture

My answer is this was just a tantrum.  SD can feel what she feels but she should still be told what to do and expected to follow thru. The rules and consequences do not change because she hates your DH. My SS. used to bite when someone was disciplining him or just doing something he didnt like. Guess what- the first time somebody bit him back (his brother) he conpletely stopped biting.

Continue to calmly enforce the rules consistently. 

If there is no court ordered visitation file for one. DH court order actually states tat if the child is uncomfortable or does not want to go to the other parent the child is still obligated to go until a pattern emerges.

Merry's picture

I didn't know my DH when his kids were little, but I can imagine him reacting exactly as your DH has--including the fear and the tears. But the worst thing your DH can do is give in to the 6-year-old terrorist. All that will teach her is that she is in charge and she can get whatever she wants from her dad. This leads to nothing good. My DH was a friend-parent to his son, and 30+ years later he's still cleaning up that mess.

I don't think there is anything you can do to fix this, other than be supportive of him instilling the importance of proper behavior in his child. It will take time and consistency. Her behavior doesn't mean the child doesn't love her dad. It does mean that she is testing him. But even SHE doesn't know that -- she's doing what six year olds do. The less he can react the better--she gets a time out or something until she can act nicely.

Maria10's picture

Merry i like that solution. 

Whenever my SS6 gets tantrumy I sit him on a chair and we count to 60 three times. Usually helpa calm him.  Then he is expected to do what I ask.

I dont know if here I would recommend taking something away but going to the room is a good idea.

notasm3's picture

I used to babysit when I was a young teen.  I've never forgotten a mother who would say "Mike if you don't stop doing that I'm going to cry." - and then she would cry.  I was still pretty much a child myself - but even I was old enough to realize what BS that was.  

That mother would give me explicit instructions of when he should go to bed, etc.  Being very much a rule follower I enforced it.  Little did I know that his mother never did.   I talked to his young man years later when he was in his 20s and he said he loved me being his babysitter because he knew what I would and would not let him do.

I'm not in favor of getting out the belt - but a parent who totally abdicates control is also abdicating parenting.  Your DH needs to man up.

icanteven's picture

Yes! Children need boundaries. They feel safe that way. A teacher explained this in a parents meeting once, when one of my kids was in Kindergarten. She was talking about bedtime and some parents said they found it difficult to enforce because their kids were not happy to go to bed early. The teacher said to keep on with it even if they seem unhappy because they feel safer if they know what to expect, and it will get better.

I remember this about my husband when I met him. He had two beautiful dogs, German Shepards. They were the most wonderful dogs I ever met, perfectly trained, behaved in every situation. My dog is sweet and well behaved, as well trained as any pet dog you might like to meet, but these dogs were impressive. I asked him why his dogs were that good, and he told me he always enforces clear boundaries with them and is very consistent, and that he had done this since they were babies. They were a bit old by then, so they had lots of practice.

It surprised me how much he understood the value of boundaries for his dogs, but not at all for his child. I know some people are offended by comparing kids to animals, but the concept of boundaries and consistency are quite similar to both.

StepUltimate's picture

Lots to learn about family or pack structure that aplies to humans, too. Primarily in that WE are the ones who teach the lower-ranking pack members how to behave, how to do the right thing even whith distractions, etc. Drama ensues when the alpha(s) are disrespected.

fourbrats's picture

like you all of the time then you are a parenting failure. Even my oldest daughter, a kind sweet child who rarely gave us an issue, had a time or two when she told me she hated me. My typical response was "Well, I love you but I don't like you very much right now." And then I would leave her to her temper tantrum and continue on with my day. Every kid hates their parents at least once in their lives. 

Idunnohow17's picture

Ive literally almost said exactly word for word what you just said to my husband. I love what you said about if they liked you all the time than you’d be failing! My husband goes back and forth between being receptive to help and support and thinking I’m being to hard on her and she might never want to come back. We make progress but it’s so incredibly slow I don’t know if it’s enough! 

Areyou's picture

1. Your husband needs to not take it so personally.

2. Your husband needs to not be afraid that he will lose his child.

3. You have to be wary that you may start resenting the child because of how she treats the man you love.

4. Your husband needs to continue parenting the child and not give in to the child. 

Nottakingit's picture

From what my older kids tell me, my youngest acts that way too when she has weekends at her dad's. And her dad cries. She's not allowed to act like that at home!! I've tried talking to her about it. But she's always given whatever it is she's tantrumming about so she's not learning anything but to be a brat. Then she takes a day or two back at home to start behaving again. I can only imagine what her sm thinks, oh god. 

In these situations, dad is going to have to decide to be the boss and stop giving in. Kids still love their parents even when you have boundaries and enforce them, and then not only do they still love you but you have a much more peaceful kid and home!

Curious Georgetta's picture

events are precipitated by events that are occurring in the moment. ,As a rule 6 year olds  do not carry grudges or nurse anger.

.Your husband can simply say, " that is unfortunate because I,will always love you " and move on to addressing the behavior. When he  cries over what is not an atypical response from an angry child, he  is modeling poor behavior for the child.  

If he were in the original family structure and the child made the same statement, hopefully, he would not have responded with tears. 

Chances are that  15 minutes later the daughterof had moved on to her next 6 year old focus area and had forgotten about the previous crisis.

Your husband has to recognize that he is the father and that he has to resume his role as the father. His daughter needs to know, that although he and the mom are no longer together  his feelings for the daughter are unchanged. This is something that needs to be verbally stated and modeled in his behavior.


Rags's picture

It is pathetic that your grown husband cries over a tantrum thrown by a 6yo brat.  He needs to swat her on the ass, tell her to knock it off, grab her by the ear, give it a twist, march her to the nearest corner, place her nose in contact with both walls and she can stand there until he gets tired.

Lather, rinse, repeat each and every time she pulls that crap.

Time for DH to take off his girl panties, gird his loins and man up IMHO.

This is nauseating to hear about though less so than it is for you to have to live with I am sure.

Good luck.

futurobrillante99's picture

I think he, like many divorced dads, has an ACTUAL fear he may never see his kids again if the BM or the skids get pissed off.

What he's forgotten is he is the parent and the kid is not in charge at that young of an age. If he becomes the kind of parent the child can trust - the kind of parent who says what he means and means what he says - the kid will happily return to dads.

But too many of these divorced dads, out of fear, will abandon structure and consistency for a chance at popularity in the moment. It gives the kids too much power and they can't trust and adult like that.


Rags's picture

My wife had a similar fear though she was the CP.  She was afraid that the SpermClan would take their crap out on the Skid during visitation if she firmly enforced the CO.  It took years but finally I was finally able to deliver clarity that they were taking their crap out on him anyway.  At that moment she became tiger mom and made destroying them her focus any time they deviated from the CO.  We never had issue with parenting in our own home though countering the SpermClan crap and the behavioral degredation in the Skid immediately before and after a SpermClan visitation was a regular challenge.

This DH needs to put a hand between his legs, grab a big handfull of balls and go to war for his kids.  It isn't easy, it isn't pleasant, but it works.  When my bride did it the SpermIdiot crawled under his slime covered rock at the bottom of that shallow and polluted gene pool and stayed there and even SpermGrandHag was kept fairly well under control though it took periodic application of pain and misery to keep her there.

A child needs to know that their parent will do what ever is necessary to protect the child's best interests and that includes enforcing household standards of behavior.

I understand the fear of losing a child, what I don't understand is doing nothing about it and failing that child as a parent out of fear.  I would rather fail while going down fighting than fail while doing nothing.

Just my thoughts of course.