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How young is too young too disengage?

Lilmama's picture

My SD is 6 and is w us half the time. Is that too young to disengage? And further.....I'm new to this so be gentle, is the goal to disengage from the kid or the shitty parenting by the partner? 

hereiam's picture

As far as I'm concerned, no age is too young to disengage, as disengaging does not mean ignoring or being mean to.

She is your husband's child, so is his responsibility. Acknowledge and be cordial/civil but you do not have to do anything for her that you are not comfortable with.

To me, disengaging from the child has nothing to do with shitty parenting when custody is 50/50, as shitty parenting will most certainly affect you and your home. So, you can disengage from the child, but how much can you disengage from your husband's parenting? That is the problem.

Harry's picture

Not taking care of SD.  If S.D. is at your home then DH is taking care of her.  If DH is not home then SD is not home with you.  Or he gets a babysitter and it’s not you. 

sunshinex's picture

When DH and I started living together, I disengaged pretty fast. SD would have been around 2-3 years old and I didn't really engage until 4 or so when we worked through some issues/parenting differences. If DH wanted to feed his 3-year-old daughter boxed mac and cheese everyday for lunch, that was his choice. If he wanted to let her watch as much cartoons as she wanted, his choice. If he wanted to let her stay up as late as she wanted, his choice. I made it clear when we moved in together that I didn't agree with a lot of what he was doing but he did the typical "well, she's my daughter" so I wasn't going to be involved.

As she (and he) got older, things improved a ton and he started really taking my feedback and letting me help without turning around and doing the opposite thing when he was alone with her. I did not babysit either. Actually, I remember him once telling me to pick her up from the sitter as he'd be working late and I said nope sorry can't and he left saying "well you're going to have to you can't leave her there" and guess what I did? lol I went to the bar and had a girls night and woke up to many missed calls/texts frantically saying "why haven't you picked SD up her sitter is calling my work?" and finally "SD got dropped off at my work thanks a lot" haha 

He's matured a lot since then and we had a bit of a separation for 3 months or so where he really worked on being a productive parent without any help. He realized he was asking a lot of me and I realized I was being quite stubborn and we got back together, got married, and we're coming up to our 3 year wedding anniversary. Things have been great since.  

lieutenant_dad's picture

Disengagement is not a one-size-fits-all. You can choose to disengage from some things while being engaged in others. It really depends on what the goal of your disengagement is.

I disengage on certain issues that I wholeheartedly disagree with my DH on and that don't impact me directly. Example: if DH wants to allow the boys to stay up all night, so be it; however, if we have things to do in the morning, it won't be delayed because they are tired and I won't put up with their attitudes. I leave it on DH to make those decisions.

If I choose to cook, I cook for everyone. If I choose to buy my SSs a special gift, it's because I want to. I usually end up planning their birthdays because I enjoy event planning. If I didn't, I wouldn't.

Disengagement is a combination of choosing what you do and don't want to do while also recognizing your "wanting to help" can sometimes cause bigger issues. It's not about age, though younger kids will always require more engagement from adults just so they don't die. You do have a responsibility, like any adult would, to make sure a kid is safe. However, that's where your responsibility ends. Anything you do past that is your choice.

SMoftheyr-lol's picture

where to start?? Ugh.. I married my husband under the stipulations that I would not and had no disire to parent his kids.. 11 and 14. I disengage all the time.. but I feel like my husband really wanted me to change and be different after we got married.. I have NO desire to even be home when they are there.. I feel bad for my husband but I’m loving myself more right now.....I’m having a hard time dealing with my emotions... I cry in my car by myself and avoid being home at all costs when. They are there.. I love my husband and he is great, but I worry I made a mistake marrying into this situation.. (btw- I was never married prior and no kids, no baggage and brought a lot of financial assets to the table) and I feel like I can’t enjoy the new house I just built) HELP!!!

shellpell's picture

NO ONE can anticipate what it's like. The whole "you knew what you were marrying into" and "they're a package deal" are mantras that society uses to make you feel like there's something wrong with you when you don't embrace the little darlings. The invisible (and sometimes not so invisible) influence from many other players in the situation - BM, in-laws, ex-laws, undiagnosed mental disorders, crappy parenting, and on and on - can turn a step-situation into a hellish one for the unsuspecting woman (particularly childless one, which I was when we got married). There are these other woman's kids in your house, being parenting in an entirely different way (or not parented at all), who exhibit the effects of this. I adore my DH, but every time SS is here, I feel the same - did I make a mistake? Why have I tied myself to a situation where my life for the next 7 or so years is determined by a visitation schedule in which I don't have much input. Where the exhorbitant amount of CS affects my household finances. Where I don't have a normal relationship with my in-laws because they are up BMs ass, so there's no room for TWO DILS. I totally relate to the crying in the car bit. You're not alone. 

SMoftheyr-lol's picture

tha i you everyone for all your input.. I think you really hit the nail if the DONT really know what it’s goijg to be like (all the b/s and drama) how it will affect you.. then you feel like shit and unhappy when it sucks!!

flmomma08's picture

I disengaged when my SD was younger than yours and we also had 50/50 at that time. For me, it meant leaving the parenting to DH. You may not like or agree with his parenting but you do not parent SD. Like someone mentioned above, if DH isn't home, neither is SD. You don't get SD up in the morning, don't get her ready for school, don't get her ready for bed, don't bathe her, take her to appointments, buy her clothes and other necessities, etc. - you can still do things with/for her, but things you WANT to do, not things you feel forced into doing that you don't want to do. NO PARENTING DUTIES. I still buy outfits for my SD here and there and I include her in things my BD and I are doing, but I do NO parenting duties for her. Sometimes things I think should be done don't get done, but that is just part of disengaging - you have to accept that they probably won't parent the way you would or the way you think they should.


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