Jealousy? Spoiled? Just uncomfortable with us? What do we do?

MamaTo3 - posted on 08/17/2011 ( 4 moms have responded )

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A little long but I'd really like some honest feedback on our family situation. I think it's mostly jealousy based, but not real sure how to handle it effectively. My fiancé and I have two little boys, six months and almost two yrs, and he has a daughter who's almost three.  My fiancé works two jobs, six days a week. He's off to work before the boys wake up, is home with us about 15-30 min in the afternoon, then back to work until after the boys are sleeping. His daughter comes to our home one day a week (his day off) just for the day. So none of the kids get a whole lot of time with him throughout the week. Our two yr old loves his sister! He gets so excited to go pick her up each week, tries to play with her, tries to give hugs, etc. SD however doesn't seem to like anything about coming here. She whines constantly (little grunts/moans while scowling at everyone and hanging on daddy) but will refuse to say in words what she's whining for (her speech and language skills seem fine when she does talk). When my fiancé has to scold her for any reason she will sit stone-cold-still glaring at ME with a death stare for literally five or ten minutes straight. I try to ignore his scolding her as well as her reaction to me in an attempt to not add to her humiliation or whatever. She hardly ever wants to do much other than supervise our son. When we take them to the park she refuses to play AT ALL. When we're here at home she plays halfheartedly as if she's bored with everything. Until DS goes for something, then she runs to it as if it's the most exciting toy on earth. If DS tries to play with daddy she rushes to climb in his lap first. The other day my fiancé was sitting on the couch, she was laying at the other end and paying him no attention at all. Our six mo old crawled over and tried pulling himself up to daddy's knees. When she saw this she jumped over in a panic onto my fiance's lap, looking down at the baby and whining "Mmh! Mmh!" When my fiancé plays with her, teases her, tickles, or anything, she gets this little half smile and that's all. When DS tries to hug her she tenses up, leans away and scowls at him. If he tries to play with her she'll just let him have whatever she's playing with then come tattle that he took it away. And I mean EVERY time, with EVERY thing! It's unreal. She tried tattling on the six mo old the other day, saying he took a toy from her! He's six months! And she's twice his size! We have a little three foot plastic slide and when it's her turn she will be up on the top ready to slide, DS will run up behind, not pushing or pulling on her, just waiting patiently. Instead of just sliding down, she will climb back down the ladder, back away, so DS climbs up of course, and she'll go to daddy saying "He's on there all the time! It was my turn!" DS tries to hand her something of hers like a cup, a toy or her hat, and either she refuses to take it and runs to tell daddy "he has my...(whatever)!" or she will snatch it angrily from him and say "that's MY...(whatever)! Don't touch it!" Never just "thank you." If he's minding his own business she will just tattle about WHATEVER he's doing. He was crawling on the floor with a truck one time and she went whining to daddy saying "Mmph! Mmph! He's on the floooor!" Or my favorite: She came to daddy doing the "mmph, mmph" whine over and over, pointing at DS who was just playing fine by himself. My fiancé kept asking what was wrong until finally after about ten minutes of this grunting she said in the whiney tattle-tale tone "He's got that shirt on! I don't like it!" Luckily, at this point DS is oblivious and just loves her. I have yet to ever hear her use "please" or "thank you" in any situation. When my fiancé tries to prompt her to say it she usually ignores him. She actually told him "no" the other day when DS handed her a cup and my fiancé asked her (four times) to say thank you. He just sighed and called her a brat. I told him if it was my child I'd take the cup away until she's willing to respond politely. He then sighed dramatically at ME, said "FINE!" snatched her cup angrily and slammed it on the counter, but didn't explain to HER why he took it away. Later he was eating a snack with both kids whining for a bite. I got annoyed enough to finally say firmly "Stop whining, now, and say PLEASE!" DS immediately cried out "please!!" smiling, but SD just stood there scowling at him. My fiancé asked her if she could say please too, and her response was a silent glare, and he sighed and gave her a bite anyway. I have told him over and over that this needs to change, that he's reinforcing her spoiled behavior. He just gets ridiculously pissed off at me and goes into helpless excuses that there's nothing he can do about it because he believes she's allowed to act like that at home the other six days a week so that's just who she is and we can't teach her any better in one day a week visits. He does tell her over and over (and over...and over) to stop tattling, stop worrying about DS, just go play, etc, and explains to her that DS isn't doing anything bad. 

I'd love to hear how others would handle these things-- the whining, the tattling, the refusal to be polite. Do we address it consistently? Do we ignore it completely and give her no attention unless she's acting nice? Do we address some of it and ignore some?? I'd like to add that he leaves her with me for a little while so he can run to the store. He'll ask if she wants to go, just him and her, and she says she wants to stay with me. And she behaves much better in these times. Still doesn't play much, still a lot of scowling at everyone, but very little whining and absolutely no tattling when he's gone.

Also, as I said, she's nearly three, and has been potty training for at least six months that we know of (BM doesn't communicate with my fiancé at all, so I'm just going by when she started coming here in pull-ups) and she still refuses to use the potty. She doesn't tell us when she needs to go or when she has gone. When asked, she says she "can't" go on our potty. My fiancé has made her sit on it a few times and he said she cried and still wouldn't go. What to make of this?? I know with potty training it takes some kids longer to get it but how do we help an almost three year old who refuses to even try?? Then when our son wants to use the potty she tells him "No, that's a big girl potty!" but won't use it herself. I know this is long and I brought up several issues but I'd love any outside unbiased feedback.

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[deleted account]

I have had similar occurances in my house with my stepson (3yrs) and my own sons (2yrs). Not as much as your SD but, my SS has gone through stages of displaying bad behaviour to me and my sons. He almost seriously injured one of my sons, only to laugh and tell me to "look" at what he did.



When my SS refuses to say please, we refuse to give him what he is asking for. When he refuses to say thank you, we take away what he has and put it up on a shelf until he is ready to be polite.



When he shouts at my sons, or snatches and yells "thats my (item)", he has to give him brother a hug and kiss and say sorry, or he gets 3 minutes time out in bed.



I understand how hard it must be since you only have a limited amount of time with your SD, and your fiance would be tired from work, but if you are both firm and united dealing with your SD, she will change her behaviour in the end. She may need some special "daddy time", where your fiance can take her out of the house for even just 30 minutes, go for a walk or to the park, so she feels important to her father, and knows he wants to spend time with her. Often at this young age, separation anxiety manifests itself in many ways. My SS even now freaks out if he cant see his father (even though we have him 8 days out of 14) and tells me an my sons to "go away", and cry til he sees his dad. The violent behaviour he has been displaying really concerns me, but will not necessarily occur with your SD, but I recommend keeping an eye on how she acts when she is upset, as she may accidently hurt herself or others.



You mention she seems to be alright when your fiance goes out eg to the shops, perhaps she has an understanding that your children belong to you, but is... unable at this stage to fully comprehend that they, like her, belong to her father. Patience is the key, and if you "over"react, she gets the response she is seeking. If you stay calm, lay down the rules and explain that everyone abides by these rules in your house, time will help change her attitude.



As for the potty training, I havent much experience in that yet, but I have always received the same advice from my friends, that positive reinforcement works. Maybe set up a sticker chart, and that if she goes to the potty, she gets a sticker, and when she reaches a certain amount of stickers, she gets a treat (small toy/her choice of movie to watch/her choice of activity for an afternoon). When your son needs to use the potty, distract your SD with something else, like ask her to sit down and draw a picture of her family/pet/favourite things. Even if you give her a small snack (crackers, celerycarrot sticks) and ask her to sit at the table til done. This should give you a little time to take your son to the potty.



I sincerely hope the situation improves for your family.

:)

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MamaTo3 - posted on 08/28/2011

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You're not crossing any lines, I totally agree 100%!! My mom babysat lots of kids and I often witnessed their behavior do a complete 180 when I went to play at their homes, stuff they'd never try in my Mom's house, but got away with around their parents! I'm not sure about the rules or discipline she has at BM's house. My fiancé did tell me she is usually already crying when he goes to get her, and her 5 year old sister commented matter-of-factly to him recently "She's cranky. She's ALWAYS cranky." Fiancé's mom has also made comments about her being a "huge drama queen" when she babysits as well.  My fiancé believes she is just spoiled and catered to, but we really don't know what goes on at BM's house.  There is little to no flow of communication between. She generally refuses to come to our house, my fiancé almost always has to go pick SD up and take her home, and I am NOT welcome at these exchanges. He told me BM doesn't speak to him, pretty much acts as though he's non-existent as she hands over her child. And I certainly can't ask because I did try to discuss something one time, then called her out plainly when she tried lying right off the bat, so the few times she does come to drop off or pick up SD she refuses to even get out of the car and has told my fiancé "I don't want to talk to HER!" when he merely suggested she come knock on the door rather than sit outside our house honking. The only communication I know of between them is after parting ways she will often send texts bitching at him for anything and everything, so he tries to respond as little as possible. A couple times he has tried asking for instructions or information regarding specific aspects of her care and BM just went off on him, calling him an idiot and a horrible dad, telling him that he should know this stuff already, and to take a parenting class. So now he's not too eager to ask her anything. Especially because she'd probably have a whole new set of accusations if he told her SD was having any trouble here :/

[deleted account]

I hope Im not crossing a line or being rude here, but I dont think that its a good idea for your fiance to say that its a lost cause to teach your SD about the rules of your home. I agree that kids learn what behaviour is expected from certain adults, and consistancy in your own household is the key. If you expect the same polite behaviour from all kids in your house, including their friends when they are visiting, then it will become ingrained behaviour that comes natural.

If you are on good enough term with BM to have a chat about behaviour, not specifically negative aspects of your SDs behaviour, but as a general thing, then it may help. Ask her what rules she has in her home regarding manners, etc, and what she uses as encouragement for good behaviour, and discipline for bad behavior. If the methods she uses at home yield results, then maybe try similar things in your home, so its less confusing for her, as shes still quite young.

When my fiance and I differ on how to deal with my SS, we try eg his way for a while, and if it doesnt show results, we try my way, or failing that we seek the opinion of his BM or my MIL, for some outside perspective :)

MamaTo3 - posted on 08/18/2011

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Thank you for your input! You presented a few great thoughts I hadn't yet considered. As far as the house rules being the same for everyone, I stated this to my fiancé last time when she was refusing to be polite and he gave her the same results as our son got for saying please. I explained to him that I believe over time, as they all gain understanding, not only will her behavior grow more offensive with age, but our sons will very likely resent her and us when they realize she is not held to the same standards. I think it will foster negative relationships all around. And there's just the simple fact that we will spend the next 15 years helping to raise her (at least when she is here) and it is absolutely imperative that she learn to respect us as the parents as well as her siblings. I know my fiancé is smart enough to get it, he agrees that it's a problem, but when I try to enforce it with her he gets defensive, pissy, and sometimes acts like I'm not even speaking when I try to address it. He's repeated over and over that he really thinks it's a lost cause since her time here is so limited. I disagree. I know from experience that children do learn that rules and expectations are different with different caretakers. They know who they can work over and who they can't, and I believe she can be taught to behave respectfully and lovingly, at least while she's in our care, if we work on it. I'm just having a hard time convincing him so that we CAN be a unified front. :/

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