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SD causing me to have panic attacks

Quinn_Anon's picture

To give a bit of background, I have a blended family of three children. My own son is 8, and my step children are 11 (step son), and 9 (step daughter). My partner works away 7 days home and 7days away at a time, we have his children every week he is back - 12/14 days he is home. We have his children more often than we are able to spend time together. 

My partner and I have been together for 5years, since my son was 3 and his children were 4 and 6. It's safe to say I have been in their lives longer than they can remember. 

Recently my step daughter has become unbearable, it kills me to write this but I cannot take her behaviour any longer and have seriously considered leaving my partner to save my own mental health:

- She consistently bullies my son, gestures at him with her fists and has raised a knife at him previously, thinking the behaviour is amusing. Yet tells her father my son has hit her, this only happens when they are alone. I now ensure and constantly check when they are alone. 
- She is defiant, ignores everything I tell her and goes as far as ramping up her behaviour when warned. When I discipline her (words only, I would not smack) she runs to her father with false and exaggerated tears which cause us to argue. 
- She always has to be the centre of attention and will ensure the limelight is always on her by making excessive noise or interrupting should someone else have even the smallest amount of attention. 
- She follows her father around the house continuously., for example, he will go to the toilet and she will run to the hallway to wait for him to finish. Should he leave the house temporarily she will choose that moment to push my buttons. This leads to arguments, though my partner thinks it's a coincidence she plays up when he leaves and nothing to do with her causing trouble. 
- She does not sleep and wakes me up throughout the night opening the fridge and walking around, no matter how often I put her back to bed. I have not been able to get a full nights sleep while they are with us for many months now.

My partner is lapse on discipline as he and his ex wife separated when she was very young. In addition her mother has gone through a string of boyfriends and has quickly introduced the children to numerous men, allowing them to form attachments before the relationship fails a small amount of time later. Her most recent separation was only a few months ago and I have no doubt this may be a cause of my step daughters behaviour, though my step son does not seem to have any behavioural issues outside of the normal pre teen occasional attitude.

I have suggested to my partner that my step daughter see a doctor regarding her sleep and constant need for attention, he does not agree but has previously told me of his concern that she may have inherited a bipolar disorder from her mother. He now refuses to acknowledge he ever suggested this. 

I have begun to have panic attacks just anticipating her return to our home, my continuous attempts to disclipline my step daughter and the stress it is causing me has caused arguments between my partner and I - I am unable to hide my strain or pretend. Has anyone else successfully fixed a similar situation? 


marblefawn's picture

You really have your hands full. I'm sorry to hear it. It sounds pretty awful.

I small suggestion:

What about a small recording device so your guy can see his daughter in action? I hear they're cheap and easy to setup now. And it's hard to argue with proof. But maybe tell him you plan to setup a camera because if you don't, he might be offended to learn it, even if you're showing him footage of her at her worst -- these dads use anything to distract from blaming their baby girls.

And what does her school say? If she's a problem at home, she's likely a problem at school too. If you could poke around there, they might give you some backup to getting her help.

A bigger suggestion...he needs a new job.

Regardless, you should NOT be stuck raising his kids for days on end. I get it -- you're a team and it sounds as if you did a great job. But only a parent has a prayer with an out-of-control kid like that. It's beyond your authority because even the parents don't have authority over their kid.

If he has a job that takes him away for days at a time, he needs to find another job. Yea, times are tough, jobs are hard to find, blah, blah, blah. But he chose to have kids, he chose a job that's not appropriate for a man with young kids, he decided to leave the kids' mother, and he's deciding to continue dumping his kids on someone they do not respect. He's a crap father.

Biologically, he is a parent. He needs to actually BE in his kids' presence to parent them. It can't be you, nor should it be.

So cut yourself a break. This is all on him. Now whether he'll do anything about it is another story...but what he needs to do is pretty drastic. And if it means a huge pay cut, you need to back that up too for all your sakes'.

Kids and divorce cost a lot of money and time. He needs to start paying up.


Quinn_Anon's picture

Thanks marblefawn, I'll have a look into your suggestion... at this point I'm willing to consider most things. 

The school has attempted to address issues previously but with the mother only (the mother used to be employed by the school and is still very involved with staff at the school). Long story short, SD was caught bullying and physically hurting another child - SD asked her teacher not to tell her mum. Teacher obviously told her mother, but mother decided not to discipline SD as it may "cause SD to lose faith and trust in her teacher as she asked the teacher not to tell". 


Harry's picture

Both BM and your DH are not parenting SD.  Letting her go on her marry way.  Nothing is going to change. If your DH can not see his DD behavior is bad and not acceptable.  And is doing anything to change it,  it's not going to change. 

If you want to live like this that up to you. Just make sure she does not hurt your son.  Because nothing going to bre done to her if she does. 

hereiam's picture

The kid's parents have to want to address it and they don't seem to want to be bothered.

Neither you, nor your son, deserve to live this way.

simifan's picture


You have an SO problem. Raising SD is you SO's job. Wake him every single time she wakes you. He needs to deal with the problem. If she refuses to listen to you - its SO's job to reinforce your authority. If she can't behave when SO is not there - she goes with him. 


Thumper's picture

Are you legally married?....Partner (boyfriend, girlfriend) means no legal ties unless partners in business with contracts and such.

The reason I ask matters.

If your married, it is a little more complicated for a short period of time. IF you're not married it is easier.

Your first duty is protect your bio child. It is your obligation in court too.

IF you want this relationship soooo much because he is an amazing guy, please send bio child to your ex's house so she can have some peace and safety where she lives.

I am sorry your having panic attacks. There is a way to elevate them, you have the source (someones elses kids), now get away from this source. If not you...give the gift of peace and safety to your daughter. She can go back to dads....


Willow2010's picture

my continuous attempts to disclipline my step daughter


Don't do this.  Just don't do a lot of things.  

Don't discipline skids.  That is DHs job.

Don't let your kids be alone with skids.  

Don't put her back to bed.  That is DHs job.  


Ratilal2016's picture

My ExBF actually also said that he expected me to disciplinate his daughter and I said that I wasn´t ready and I stayed with some mixed feelings "should I be honoured he is giving me such a power" or "do I want to scream and e worried and correct a child that isn´t mine" now after reading many posts here I think definetly he was trying to introduce me to "life is just not only roses and fun times and when she needs to be corrected you are a stepmom yeeey!"

I want to puke each time I remember the beggining of the brainwashing when I never ever wanted kids and I told him I was in the relationship to get to know him!

Crappy crappy single dads and their demands! Find another another that wants to be the mother of your child! argh

Survivingstephell's picture

OP, you mentioned two things that stand out to me, 1, a Bipolar mother and 2, inability to sleep.  I suggest you get a copy of hte book The Bipolar Child by Papolos.   A hallmark of biopolar is not being able to sleep and it does show up in kids. You might not be able to get a diagnosis, but you will learn a lot about the disease and can make an educated decsion on whether you are up to living with a very challenging child, clueless dad and putting your own children thru it.  The fact he won't parent will tear you up.