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stepmarch88's picture
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its a long story, but I've been SM to my thirteen year old SD since she was one. she is a passive-aggressive bully toward me and two younger siblings that I share with BF. Disengaging seems to be the best option for me since SD is refusing to respect me and comply with the rules I set in our house. She lies, steals, and cheats on consistent basis and keeps our house a high conflict area when she is around. we share split custody with BM. I count down the seconds until she goes back to BM and severely dread when she will be at our house again. BF struggles to cope too when it is our time so the stress causes problems between us. Every time we go somewhere or we're around any kind of company, she goes out of her way to be the center of attention, usually negative attention. She asked many times that I treat her as an equal with her siblings and even once I did, she still refused to respect me or honor my wishes that she be not so loud and obnoxious all the time.. I am at a true loss today and I don't know a lot about disengaging but I have read some helpful tips along the way. I've tried to reason with her and show her love but she just won't stop the bad behaviors. it's so exhausting trying not to engage and go around a codependent cycle with her like she does with her BM. When she does finally see a counselor it is short-lived and I don't think she cooperates very much. I am doing my best to stand my ground and be a good example for my own kids. Any feedback or advice is welcomed!

stepmarch88's picture

thanks

JRI's picture

So often these problems stem from dad's lack of firmness.  He is the one who should be reining her in.  Have you and he discussed this?  That's a first big step in disengaging. I had a troublesome SD, too.  A lot of times, these dads feel guilty over the divorce and want to make up for the perceived "injury" by making a fantasy happily ever after life when they are with the child.  So instead of saying, "Knock that off!", " I told you about that, if you dont stop, then I'll xyz" and follow through, they ignore, deny and minimize things.

Dad sets the rules and enforces.  You support dad.  Good luck.

stepmarch88's picture

hi, thank you and yes he is very firm with her and she fights him to the bitter end on everything. the last couple of days that we had her i just avoided her because she always apologizes and lies to me that she will change but does the same insane things over and over. BF can hardly even discuss the tiring problems anymore because she is consuming so much of our time and energy. i agree that he is trying to overcompensate for the split from BM. He takes phone and ipad away from SD and she proceeds to guilt trip him by yelling at him saying he always takes everything away from her because I tell him to. she always finds a way to manipulate him somehow and it's so disgusting to watch, but I pointed out this as a possibility to him since I read your advice to give him something to think about so thank you for that. I definitely do support him and it's hard to watch SD resisting and fighting against our household so much. BF and I are both in agreement that she will either change or decide she does not want to be a part of our household.

JRI's picture

I'm way older than you, I'm 77 and still dealing with my troublesome SD60.  Your comment about the guilt trip rang a bell.  My SD60 has always bern manipulative, just yesterday, she sobbed, "Dad said you guys dont have time for me anymore!" after DH84 was hesitating about taking her to an appointment (his driving is iffy and she has 3 adult kids).  The sad thing is that these manipulative ploys are taught early and become instinctive.  I was reminded of this when her daughter asked last weekend for $30 for "gas and toilet paper".   Sickening.

My DH84 has not been able to resist this stuff, I hope your SO can.

Rags's picture

Put her iPad and phone on the drive way and run them over with the car.  She guilts because she gets her way.  Make the consequences escalating and when she tries to manipulatte (Hey, I invented a toxic Skid coffee drink. A fruedian typo), ramp up her state of abject misery.

Lather.... rinse.... repeat.

Crr18's picture

My skids don't have to guilt or manipulate they just get to do what they want all of the time. And overcompensating for being children of divorce, heck  yes. My skids would never of had it so good if my SO and his ex stayed together. I know that the skids guilting  and manipulating have to be hard.  It is good your DH is parenting and not worried that it may make her stay away for awhile. 

SeeYouNever's picture

Ignore it, come here and vent but don't give her the attention she's seeking. Treat her just like a toddler throwing a tantrum, as long as she's not hurting anyone or herself ignore it. If it gets really bad remove her from the situation, end whatever you're doing early and go home.

Teenagers have a keen sense of embarrassment, if you can find a way to make her embarrassed by her bad behavior it's the key to getting it to stop. 

Ashleytenorio17's picture

Ugh I so feel your frustration! I go through those up and downs with my SD who is 12 but I have only been in her life since she was about 7. My SD acts like me and her half siblings are the worse thing to happen to her. At first I would try so hard with her only to have it back fire when she was bossy, rude or just plain messy and not adhere to the rules. I would get In countless fights with DH about her behavior and his lack of parenting until I just ignored her. I don't let her run my house at all and I just fully disengage from her sometimes and if she leaves her mess out or whatever I just tell DH " that's SD". I'm curious to know how he handles y'all other children ? 

stepmarch88's picture

thank you! It's exhausting, right? that's great that you take a step back when needed too. Just within the last month, she's become more convicted in her 'mission' to not only be a rebellious teen, but just having no regard for anyone's feelings around her. she is bossy, rude, messy, and resistant too so I feel your pain. I disengaged because no amount of love, support, or encouragement I have shown her seemed to make a difference. She was physically pushing her bedroom door against me last night when I was going in to get pajamas for my toddler so I let BF know and he told her to quit acting up and making everything difficult. I told her she can do her own laundry from now on and BF has her doing double the amount of chores she usually does since she thinks she is independent and void of having to care about the people around her. the only person she truly cares about is her BM who she obsessively calls and texts to make sure she is alive and well and still approves of her. But that is another story. My husband is great with our other kids since we have them all of the time and have complete control and ability to instill values. it will be interesting to see what SD decides to do and if she decides to change. she has stolen a lot from me from jewelry to peace of mind.

Winterglow's picture

Next time she steals from you, call the cops. Put the fear of dog into her. Get them to scare her about what would happen if you decided to press charges (but don't) and let her know that the next time, you will not hesitate to press charges and have her dragged off to the police station. Sometimes shock therapy is what works best.

Harry's picture

He is not parenting her.  She can fight to the bitter end. But at the end she most lose.  She must be punished every time she breaks the rules.  Rule one is to respect you and DH.  Remove her phone iPads ect for X days. Next time is 2x days 

You must disengage.  If she try's to block the door. Take it out. No door on her room. Noe cooking for her, do taking her places.  

stepmarch88's picture

I agree. He wasn't even going to take her devices away last night even after she bullied our son around. then she yelled at her dad that he only took it away because i said that SD has no consequences. I am trying to relay this info to DH but he keeps ducking out and is too overwhelmed or something. He just says I'm bugging him and he needs to work which is so infuriating and upsetting. she always finds a way to get her way with DH. What does it mean to disengage exactly? I usually have to pick up SD from bus and watch her until he gets done with work but I haven't been doing that any more and he is feeling the weight of having to be more responsible for her more. thanks

Ispofacto's picture

If she gets physical with you in any way, or steals from you, call the police.

Each time she yells at an adult her punishment doubles.

Remove the door to her room.

 

stepmarch88's picture

So just out of curiosity if I called the police would they be heading to our house to talk to her? I wonder how the whole experience would play out as far as how BM would respond and/or retaliate. She tends to have SD's back most times. Although SD was recently hanging out with some kids on the street and one was picked up by a police who was carrying a pipe. BF did not proceed to drug test SD which is negligent. I feel like SD would only cry and victimize herself in such a situation and make up s crazy, alibi story in the whole thing would be a sight for our neighborhood to see. If I called them could they talk to her over the phone and see if that is effective? It's hard to know what to do because she continues to be a bully and toxic person and it seems like she always gets away with it.

Ispofacto's picture

It sounds like you either need secret cameras, or you need to leave.  False abuse allegations could cause you to lose custody of your littles.  But you can't let things keep going as they are.  I predict if you/DH crack down on her the way she needs, she will refuse to come over anymore.  But then you won't have to deal with her anymore.

 

stepmarch88's picture

Well, I'm not leaving so please tell me more about the hidden cameras. I am a good mother and neither SD nor law enforcement would find any evidence of child abuse on my part because there is none to find so that accusation would backfire and make herself look even more vile. I am extremely careful not to react in the way that SD pushes me to so she will have to live with all the bad decisions she's making. DH is very receptive to doing what it takes to crack down and I agree that the right amount of laying down the law could get this toxic bully to steer clear for increasing extended periods of time, as has been the case lately: she told her BM and BF both that she did not want to live at BFs house any more because "everyone needs to learn to respect each other more so I will stay with BM longer this week".

Winterglow's picture

"DH is very receptive to doing what it takes to crack down"

But will he actually follow through? What you've written so far leads me to think that he won't, that he'll just let things go at the first sign of conflict. 

Winterglow's picture

They may be proved to be false but an accusation, false or not, can stick to you like glue for a very long time and can cause harm to you and your family once the rumours start. Depending on the kind of work you do, it can also harm your career. You could have your professional license suspended while the investigation is running. Unfortunately, there are many, many people out there who believe that there's no smoke without fire.

Winterglow's picture

The police talking to her over the phone won't make the slightest difference. You need a home visit. Who cares if the brat weeps and sobs, she brought it on herself. And if you think yout neighbourhood is not already aware of what kind of an individual she is, you're kidding yourself. 

And if your SO could actually bring himself to draw lines, boundaries and KEEP them, things just might improve. Giving in when she stirs a fuss is not the solution, standing firm is.

stepmarch88's picture

He is strict on SD. I have faith he will follow through in order to hold our marriage together. It will be a stretch for him because I usually do a lot of the emotional work with SD. I have kept extensive documentation of BM including many times when she has given up her time. BM has a long track record of legal issues. SD is dishonest so these are valid possibilities to prepare for. I think she likes getting one on one attention from DH so an accusation would sabotage his wanting to be around her. He already does not want her around but he tries to tolerate her presence at our house. He wants to believe that SD is "just going through a rough patch" and will get better with a little family counseling with himself and BM. They are scheduled to go soon and they have never all three gone together. When I tried to take SD to a family counselor when she was seven I was threatened by BM that she would take me to court if I continued so DH said to stop and not talk to SD about her adhd and oppositional defiancy disorder that the counselor has unofficially diagnosed her with. It was until SD was finally diagnosed when she was 11 or 12 (when BM decided the time was right) that she was finally treated for adhd. SD said she was diagnosed with depression but BM would not allow her to take medication for it.

Gemini's picture

If he doesn't want her there and you're doing all the emotional work with her, why does he keep joint custody? That could be part of the reason she's acting out and jealous to her younger siblings, kids pick up on this stuff. If he doesn't want her around and she wants to live with BM, it would be better if he gives up custody to BM. Being around a dad who just tolerates her is probably doing her more harm than good.

 

stepmarch88's picture

You are absolutely right but the problem is that she cannot go live with BM because BM has borderline personality and does a tug-of-war with her constantly. So for the time being we are all just trying to tolerate SD. DH has gone to great lengths to be there for her and show her support financially and emotionally, he has tried to sit down and talk with her so many times about why she is acting the way she is but she just seems to be someone who is tormented inside. Kids at school are cyber bullying her and they are all threatening to beat her up because she stirs it up among all their classmates and spends a lot of time going to the principal. DH Has said so many times he wishes she could go live with BM but I have spoken with BM on the phone as I went to go rescue SD from her house because BM was to inebriated to care for her.

Gemini's picture

I take back what I said. Unfortunately itl looks like her mom shouldn't even have had custody in the first place. But it is what it is. If your DH doesn't step up and try to support her, things are unlikely to get better and I think it's already too late. I think you should stop doing the emotional labor for SD because whatever you do, you're not her parent. She wants her father to do the emotional labor, spend time with her, step up.bYou need to protect yourself and the kids, that's all you can do. You seem like a kind person.

stepmarch88's picture

Thank you for that. I needed to hear it because I feel that SD is painting me to be the evil SM and I'm not. For twelve years I've been readily available to SD except for a time before I had my own kids and my son was a baby when DH and I were trying to sort out differences. I remember SD trying to drive a wedge between our marriage when she was very young and I have always encouraged her to have a close, healthy relationship with her BF. She butts heads with him the most and DH compares her resistance to what he witnessed between his sister and their mother as children. I don't know what gives and it's confusing because SD does this codependent thing where she hates us and then apologizes with the puppy dog eyes to get back into good graces and run us over again. So I know this is the point where I'm at least fully aware of the pattern, and it's just learning how to break it. It means I can't take on such an emotional haul because I have done more than enough and my kids are more receptive to the work I do together with them. I agree that BM should not have custody and she lets DH know before the first that she needs the money and she coerced him into paying for the majority of SDs expensive preschool, braces, and the latest being sports that he said he was not comfortable paying for because of her bad behavior. BM proceeded to tell BF that he must pay to keep SD from doing drugs on the street. SD is going to do sex, drugs, and rock and roll regardless of what sports she is enrolled in. DH has his hands full and I have tried to help carry the burden since he runs his own company. He doesn't let much slide with SD and I will gently encourage him to follow through and praise him for his tenacity. I don't know what else to do because I've tried every which way to be the mom but like you said I'm not the mom and the one that SD needs is her dad. I joined last night to SDs sporting event after the realization that my job is to support DH not my SD. There is some education and hence, liberation happening so I'm going to go with that because it's the first bit of peace I've had in some time. No telling what will happen and no use in dwelling on it.