Help w/ step-daughter

Raye - posted on 01/21/2016 ( 3 moms have responded )

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Ok ladies, help me out here...
My step daughter had a complete meltdown last night. First, her science project was due today and she hadn't done much work on it and didn't have the project board completed to show her work. We knew she was doing the project, and reminded her often to work on her hypothesis. Sometimes she would do a little work, and sometimes she would say that she had done enough for what was due. Well last night, the whole thing had to be done. Her father is easily frustrated and talks "mean" which he realizes and tries to calm himself, but it's hard when the kids won't listen or answer direct questions (i.e. "How was your day?"... "Kitties!). Instead of laying the elements on the board in a logical way (as her father asked), she pasted them down with large gaps between and the photos weren't next to their corresponding data. He tried to explain that's why you lay it out first, and she just wanted to get it done. One of her main faults is not thinking ahead or realizing a logical progression of events.

During this time, I kept my step son busy so he would be out of the line of fire, and not interfering in their progress.

So, the meltdown... I went in her room to tuck her in for the night, and she was crying (as expected). I tried to comfort her, and she said she was overwhelmed. I asked if it was the science project and she said "everything". I asked if it was her dad being upset, and she said it was "everybody". I asked if it was worse at home or school, and she said "all the time". I don't know how to comfort her in this. She internalizes a lot, and she wants to be grown up, but she acts like a toddler with her tantrums. She doesn't get consistency with her parents, and I know that's part of it, but not something I can change (although my husband has been trying to get better). I know her hormones are going wild (body hair, but no period yet). I know it's a "normal" thing at her age. But that doesn't help me feel better about it.

It's just hard not knowing what to say. I mostly listened, and hugged her and told her we love her. I feel dreadfully inadequate. So, tips from you who have been through it would be appreciated. Is there a way to comfort her? Is there a better way to help her think things out instead of last minute scrambling? Her father is a last minute and disorderly too, and her mother doesn't think much about anything except herself, so I know where she gets it. But knowing that still doesn't help me help her. So, here I am.. lay it on me, folks...

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Raye - posted on 01/21/2016

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Oh, and also about the split home thing, (generally more with Drew) they will be missing homework assignments from the days they spend with their mom, and my husband has to check with the school and try to help them catch up. It's very frustrating for us and the kids, but yet the kids don't seem to catch on that they should just get their work done so there's not the frustration about it later.

Raye - posted on 01/21/2016

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She just turned 11 in December. They are going to their second session of counseling tomorrow. They probably should have had it ongoing since the divorce, but that's past now, so we can only try to look ahead. I'm concerned that the counselor is male, and that she may do better with a female, but we'll have to see how it goes. She seemed to want to talk last session, but her, dad, and brother were all together, so she didn't feel "safe" opening up. Her dad's going to ask if they can have individual time. Again, we'll have to see how it goes.

I just felt so bad for her and I didn't know what to say to calm her. She did thank me for listening. So, I hope that was good enough for now.

The split home is a problem in these kids' lives. There's not always a consistent schedule because their mom will cancel and reschedule, or have her BF pick them up and she won't be there until late (I don't have a very high opinion of the BF, either). Their mother ignores them, and when they fight to get her attention she comes down on them pretty hard, or she will give into them to shut them up. Their mom is bi-polar, off her meds, and self absorbed. Stella may have to act the mother over there, because there's no one else doing it, which may be why she's bossy when she comes home and maybe why she feels like the world is on her shoulders. I don't know... Drew seems to have his mom's number and is a little better adjusted, but Stella I think keeps hoping for some compassion from her mom that I fear won't ever happen.

Dove - posted on 01/21/2016

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Hormones. Are. Evil!!!! lol I know that doesn't 'help', but holy moly it is SO true. I don't remember how old she is, but 10 is 'typically' the age that these awesome girls start turning into part time monsters. Sorry to say I don't think that gets much better (girls are 14 now).

Last year I was really concerned about one of them cuz she would randomly start sobbing and wouldn't talk to anyone about it. I tried to comfort her, but nothing helped... so I just let her be. She hasn't done that this year yet though.

As for the homework stuff... I'm not too sure on that. Maybe when she has a big project you can offer to help her figure out a better timeline and let her know that it's better to get ahead on the timeline, so that if something happens to delay her... she won't fall behind.

The split home thing has got to be rough. I'm a single mom, but the kids don't have a 'split home' cuz their dad is completely uninvolved 99.999% of the time. That does bring up some issues, but it's also 'normal life' to them at this point.

Has she ever been in counseling? I've utilized counseling at one time or another w/ all of my kids and it really helps.

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