You are here

SD acts tortured to be in our house & I take it too personally

NicoleRB's picture

I've been looking through these forums on disengagement because I've decided that's my best option.  I have 2 of my own awesome sons (16 & 12)  and I'm about to marry my fiancé who has 2 of my soon to be SKs a SS(17) & SD(12). SS is a sweet heart to me, & my sons are kind enough and respectful to my fiancé. We have all been living together for 5 years and we are get married this July. My fiancé and I knew each other before & were living in the same community when we had young families & were both married to other people. We both divorced and truly & honestly came together emotionally/physically only after our marriages were over, but our exes likely question this simply because we knew each other as friends before.  We were both in toxic relationships that our exes never took any accountability for because we initiated the divorces.

I'm a school teacher and high school guidance counselor and soccer coach and bottom line is that I love kids. My relationships with kids have always been easy and fun.  I have a lot of skills in interpersonal relationships and child development.  I am a kid counselor! This is why my SD's attitude towards me and our household is so hurtful. I can't seem to fix it or make it improve even incrementally.

I have done everything I can over the past 5 years we have been a blended family living together to be fun and supportive and caring to my SD. I've gone to softball games, baked cookies, played catch, bought everything spelled out in her Xmas list, taught her to downhill ski, and the list goes on, but my SD stil acts tortured when she transitions to our house. She is nice to me one day and the next doesn't come out of her room and texts with her mom (codependent single mom with a victim complex), all day. There is no pattern, it just swings back and forth between ok and awful with every transition. Like a box of chocolates you never know what you are going to get with my SD. I can't help but take it really personally only because the attitude when it is bad, despite having done nothing to her, is directed at me, her Dad, or our new family/my kids. The kids even all get along well! When it is good with her it is usually because there is a benefit in the moment when she is with us & she is getting something like material things or opportunities to do fun stuff. I feel like were always giving giving giving her things without any genuine relationship reciprocated. She still has the gumption to ask for things from me and my Apple Watch from my parents for Xmas. They are so nice & obliged! Still she is moody and I fear also not genuine. My parents heard her make fun of them to her friend when she didn't realize they were still in the room.

I feel incredibly bad for my fiancé because he is such an awesome Dad. He runs around doing everything for her, tucking her into bed multiple times in the middle of the night (she's 12!) and giving in to her every need. All he wants is for her to be ok and for her not to be moody and rude to anyone-- we both have extremely low expectations for her, we just want her to be nice in the house and not miserable so that we can all enjoy our lives. Still...she acts like she just wants to be at her moms. She spends hours texting with her mother while she's with us. She mopes around.

I am thinking that if she decides to live with her mom full time and not come to our house it will break his heart. At the same time, it is no fun to be such a failure of a SM in my own house. This 12 year old is occupying too much of my adult headspace. Please tell me how to disengage when I have such low expectations is so bad that I have feared our upcoming nuptials because I will officially be her SM.  My mom tells me I try to hard, I need to just pity her and disengage. My fiancé put her on depression meds which I even question because they don't seem to help, she still posts attention getting motivational memes about staying positive when things are just the worst (but she is always Debbie downer in reality).  I wonder if her living at our house is ruining her life and ours because she sets the tone.  I'm so sad because I so wanted her to be the daughter I never had. Smile I feel like she's missing the opportunity to have a fun friend in me that cares. I'm not trying to be her mom, she has one! 

It probably isn't even me -- it is probably more that she is her mom's copilot/friend at her other house but with us she is a kid part of a new family where the adults call the shots and have an adult relationship. Is it the transition to a new dynamic in our house or me failing as a SM? I'm at wits end & starting to lash out at my loving fiancé simply because she is his and she seems to be causing such unnecessary turmoil...

Rags's picture

Take action, her moody texting  bullshit with her BM during visitation time in your home can end. Confiscate her phone when she walks in and give it back only when she leaves to return to BM's.  They can have their talks face to face away from your home, relationship, and family.  SS can of course inject into that crap by calling them on it at BM's home .... if he is so inclined. My kid certainly developed the testicular fortitude to call out the SpermClan for their bullshit as he progressed into his late teens and young adulthood.

Her rude making fun of your parents crap should have durable extremely unpleasant consequences.  Never let her forget it.  I for damned sure would not let her forget it.... ever.

Some kids are just beyond salvage and though I understand that you are a kid professional, this kid may just be one that is a write off.  I would box her in, put her 18th B-day on the calendar, facilitate her visitation with your DH while minimizing her crap and adverse influence on your life, family, home, and marriage.  I would totally eliminate BM's crap and pop a valued bottle of awesome wine when SD ages out from under the CO.

Self sacrifice on the alter of blended family martyrdom is never a good idea IMHO. Not even in an effort to rescue the toxic spawn of a loved spouse.

Take care of you.

NicoleRB's picture

Thank you for telling me what I know should be true, I should take care of me -- at least before I burn out from effort.  I wish that I could in force the take her phone or limit her contact w BM, the decree says "reasonable contact"-- unfortunately because she tends to downward spiral and say she depressed, her BP (my fiancé included), can't differentiate between disciplining her/creating rules and boundaries and losing her altogether so they won't take her phone. I was shocked when my fiancé told me he let her keep her phone now at night because she needs to listen to the ap head space to relax to fall asleep. He (and her BM) are a lot less strict than I am with rules and boundaries.  The constant communication with BM is a huge part of the problem but I'm helpless in this department as the step parent with no power. 

ndc's picture

An awesome dad does not run around doing everything for his kid, doesn't tuck a 12 year old into bed multiple times in the middle of the night, doesn't give in to her every need and does not have extremely low expectations of her.  That sounds more like a dad who is trying to keep the peace and minimize discomfort.  Maybe he needs to correct her rude behavior, demand kindness and respect for others (especially those who are good to her like you and your parents) and call her out on her attitude.

How often is she with you and how often are there transitions?  Has she had a bad attitude and been moody for the 5 years you've known her or is this a new "tween" thing?  Has she ever mentioned going to live full time with her mom?  Do you know that she's different there? 

shellpell's picture

Exactly! My four year old doesn't get tucked in multiple times and get everything they want. She sounds spoiled and you are doing too much for her.

Kes's picture

I agree with the above post by ndc, particularly these comments: 

"An awesome dad does not run around doing everything for his kid, doesn't tuck a 12 year old into bed multiple times in the middle of the night, doesn't give in to her every need and does not have extremely low expectations of her.  That sounds more like a dad who is trying to keep the peace and minimize discomfort."

Many bio Dads (these are more usually non custodial parents) feel they cannot impose reasonable requirements of good behaviour on their children because they fear the children will not want a relationship with them any more.  Their children then have carte blanche to behave in any nasty way they feel like, with no repercussions.  


tog redux's picture

Sounds to me like BM has found a willing ear for her victim stories and they center on your SO.  She's filling SD's head with nonsense.  My SS was like this - some weekends he was great, other times he wasn't - and it seemed like it was based on how much he was texting BM. Did BM need him to be focused on her all weekend or not? That was the determining factor.

I agree he should stop trying to compensate by being her servant and trying to please her. What he should do is take her phone and ask her to go do stuff with him while she's there.  And she doesn't get to "choose" to live with BM full-time until she's much older than 12.

12-year-old girls can be pretty miserable creatures, so that's probably part of it too.

DPW's picture

Oh, honey.... this is not about you personally. Put any woman in your place like you and she would give the same reaction. Please stop taking it personally.

Now, STOP chasing her. Live your life with the rest of your great blended family and if she wants to participate, then great; if not, then too bad. Let her be miserable in her room texting with BM. 

And, STOP indulging her. She does not deserve to be rewarded for her behaviour so you, as a child counsellor, know that you are simply encouraging her to continue down this path as you have all fed into her and her desires. Why would she stop? It's working for her.

Good luck. You are a good person but because you are a good person, you are losing the battle. A lot of us have a difficult time disengaging, but most of us who have disengaged in the past have been much better off psychologically, emotionally, physically... be strong. 

notarelative's picture

We both divorced and truly & honestly came together emotionally/physically only after our marriages were over, but our exes likely question this simply because we knew each other as friends before

The exes are going to think what they think. You can't change that. All you can do is restate the truth if/when SD makes the accusation. 

Years ago my first husband and I participated in the same sports league as DH and his ex for two years. After that league we did not see each other again. Then my first husband died. DH and ex divorced, and then she died. DH's neighbor and I worked together and she brought us together. We thought it was a funny coincidence that we were both on this league. However, SD and stepson-in-law seem to think it's proof of infidelity and told his mom that I was the other woman

The exes are going to think what they want to believe. Truth does not matter to them. You can't stop them from repeating their alternate facts to the kids. All you can do is repeat the truth to the kids if they question you. 

Rumplestiltskin's picture

I understand. You work with kids, have kids, and have always been great with kids, so you came in all excited about all the good you would do and the fun you would have. Then the incidents start. Minor at first, slowly, until most days are miserable. And you start to doubt yourself. Am i really good with kids? Have i been fooling myself this whole time? Maybe i'm not good with anyone. Maybe i'm just plain no good at all?

That's how i felt, anyway. But, this is their dysfunction. There is probably nothing you could do, no perfect solution, no perfect words to say, that could resolve this issue. Coming from you, anyway. Your DH needs to stop entertaining SD's bullsh!t for starters. The more you indulge whiny, needy behavior, the worse it gets.


Cover1W's picture

Agree with the others. My OSD was exactly the same. Down to only pleasant if she got what she wanted, never interacted with us unless SHE benefited, made fun of other people (including family and family friends). And she blamed everyone but herself for her misery.

DH is a pushover, still is with YSD. He never sets boundaries or rules, or very rarely when he's pushed too far ... And the whole situation could have been curtailed earlier.

I could NEVER set expectations in this house, or rather I could set them and be ignored or undermined. Still. So I disengaged. I don't do anything but provide part of housing costs, basic food. If I cannot parent I simply don't. No treats, no fun stuff. I get no thanks anyway if I do.
My blogs and forum posts cover what I went through. I still hate it, but it's either disengage or go crazy and leave.


Wicked stepmo.'s picture

I can empathize with your feelings. It's hard when most kids take right to you and to have an SK alienate you no matter what you do or how hard you try.

Let me tell you give up. It's not you, she will probably never like you. The fact that she texts BM when she is with you shows that is where her alliance lies and she will never choose to have a relationship with you because that would mean hurting her mother.

Been there.  I have learned to take the blame off myself and just accept the situation is out of my control. I don't put forth any effort anymore and I don't have too. They are not my kids, it doesn't matter if we have a relationship or not. The only person who needs to work on the relationship is the OP. 

I don't agree with my SOs parenting decisions, but I don't have to. He needs to live with the decisions he makes in regards to his children. 

Right now both SDs have PASd out, and I don't care. I stopped feeling sorry for SO because at the end of the day he didn't do anything to stop it and he gave his children and ex all the power and control. That's on him.

I can say this because as a parent I would have fought tooth and nail for my child and I have done so in the past. The fact that my SO wants to roll over and do nothing is on him and I certainly don't feel sorry for him.

I would rather do everything I could to fight for my child even if I lost than do nothing at all and guarantee that I would lose. At least I would be able to sleep at night knowing I tried. 

Dancemom4's picture

I feel you. We are dealing with very similar except with SS. He would rather be anywhere but our house because it's so boring he says and the attitude and smart mouth has gotten super annoying. Their mom constantly texts with them too. It's frustrating but I'm realizing I just have to disengage- love and parent when I can but disengage and try to not let it bother me when they aren't here. 

Two Steps Back's picture

Dealing with the same, SD hates me.  I feel like no matter what I do she finds fault. SD is a toxic 13 year old. It's draining me. 

MotoWife303's picture

13-15(ish) was a HAAARRD time in our house. A few months before SD 16th bday she seemed to get a little less overtly toxic towards me, more attitude/apathy/passive aggressive which I can ignore a bit better. 


MotoWife303's picture

This sounds VERY similar to my situation, SD(16) lives with BM & StepDad when we get her on weekends she stays in her room 90% of the time. DH is awesome with my son(DS11) and the 2 kiddos get along well enough. But SD has dad wrapped around her finger so she gets away with attitude with him, and also treats me like a 3rd class citizen the majority of the time she's here. 

I'm finally at the point where I basically don't engage with her at all. I say hello when she gets there and good morning/afternoon when she comes out of her room. That's about it, when we do family outings, I make sure DH understands I'm being civil and trying with her for him and DS. In fact we are going to a performance she is in this weekend, I'm going because he asked me not necessarily for her and am taking a separate vehicle so I can leave early to go watch my students' football game. I'm a teacher too, and would definitely prefer to spend time supporting kids that respect me and actually care if I show up to their events. 

Feel free to PM me if you need to vent to someone in a similar boat, *blessed be* I know I need to sometimes *biggrin*

Loxy's picture

What you have described of your DH is far from an awesome Dad, more like a disney dad who has created a spoilt princess used to getting her own way. On top of that BM is clearly intentially creating conflict and attempting parental alienation. 

What your DH needs to do is set boundaries and stick to them. If she's rude then there are consequences, every single time. There may be a high price to pay for that, ie she decides to live with BM but either you live by your values and principles or you don't.