Cassie - posted on 08/22/2013 ( no moms have responded yet )
Hello ladies. I just discovered this site and it seems like a great place for Moms to come together and talk about any number of subjects. I've been really needing to talk about some of the following things for a while now, but I can't tell my boyfriend all of the time that I think his parenting techniques aren't working. It's a sticky situation - in my opinion. Here is the situation:
I met my current boyfriend about 4-5 months ago. We talked and stayed friends for a while, and then we started dating. Since we've started dating, I have met his daughter. The mother lives about 2 hours away from where he lives, and she sees the child only on Holiday's. I find this appalling and I'm not a mother yet, myself. I just cannot understand why she isn't trying to get closer to her child. Not to mention, she's also about 8 months pregnant with a 2nd child. She, after 3 years of not having her daughter for more than a few weeks, she is even asking my bf about possibly having her come live with the mom & new baby for a while!
That's the bit about the mom - for now. I think this has a lot to do with the issues the child has...and I've tried and still will not give up trying to remain a positive, strong influence for the little girl. She's gotten used to having me around & she does like me being around. She's comfortable but not fully, and that's understandable. She seems to love being in between him and I, specifically, because I think she feels that comfort she hasn't felt in over three years. Now, she is a very smart child and she's starting school (home school) in the coming weeks. She has a few major things going on, constantly, that are just no good in my eyes. I don't see him doing much about these things and they *aren't* changing. She hits, kicks, slaps, bites, screams at the top of her lungs on purpose, laughs a specific laugh when she's doing it on purpose... it's out of control! She DEMANDS from her father and he does cater to her. I understand she's his little girl...but he isn't getting anywhere with her by doing everything for her. If she is hungry, she will say, "I want 'insert food name here', NOW!" sometimes with a scream or a bit of yelling. She has trouble communicating the thoughts that are in her head...she says everyone talking makes her head hurt. I know that he needs to discipline her, but all he does is time out & it doesn't work. He isn't stern enough and strict enough to continue upholding the discipline.
I seriously fear for her future, because she won't listen and she won't talk. She will visit her mom on a holiday, come back and won't answer any questions about how the trip was. The mom has many problems and she just believes she had to leave, but I feel like her absence is causing at the least a part of this. This little girl cries and screams if you even make a facial gesture or a movement while she is talking. Usually it seems to be related to something that she wants. An example of her most recent & quite awful tantrum...
We were driving on a highway and she had fallen asleep in her carseat (she's a small child for her age). She woke up and well, her hair was down and it was very hot outside...probably 95 degrees. She woke up and freaked out that her hair was down. I asked her if she wanted to put it up, or if she wanted me to do it for her. Her responses were that she did want me to put it up, to "hurry up and do it already". Then I'd go to gather her hair, gently, and in the car, mind you, and she put her hands over her hair so I couldn't while screaming "NO! NO!" and then right after, screaming "PUT MY HAIR UP!!!!" while kicking my arm that was in between the seats. I pulled away and said that I wouldn't put her hair up if she wouldn't let me. That I was going to wait until we got to our destination, which was maybe 10 minutes away, maximum. This continued for the rest of the ride, which total was about 25 minutes... 20 of which she was screaming, crying, kicking, slapping and just freaking out. She was tired, I know that, but when we got to our destination, she refused to get out of the car. He ended up having to pull her out of her car seat because the heat was ridiculous, we couldn't keep her in the car and she was trying to hold the power with him by refusing to get out of her seat, let alone the car. He said 1.... 2..... and then 3 and she almost got out, but it was like trickery. She then clinged to the seat and he had to bring her out. Then the kicking started. He remains very calm during all these incidents, but that might be part of the problem. He was telling her that she won't be playing any games (she plays a few games, that may be partially educational but she plays and relies on these games SO much) for x amount of time. She said she didn't care, and kicked the whole way to the room I had opened and ready for him to do the disciplining. He doesn't believe in spanking, but this was a serious time out. She had an accident, or so it looked like, in the car during the worst of her tantrum... She kept saying she was hungry, thirsty, had to use the bathroom...while crying... seemingly to get out of time out. He offers to walk her to the bathroom (to ensure she doesn't try anything... she can really get out of control badly) and she says then that she doesn't have to goto the bathroom anymore. She bit him during time out..and the time out did have an affect on her. What he DIDN'T do was tell her WHAT she did wrong, WHY she was in time out (the kicking, screaming, slapping, hitting and not listening in the car). He let her scream/cry it out, which we both felt was the right thing to do. She eventually did fully calm down and then she was perfectly fine. When he tries talking to her about anything she does wrong, she says this: "I didn't do anything! I didn't do anything though, Daddy. I love you Daddy, I'm sorry." and doesn't acknowledge what she did wrong. Then, since he is her sole care giver and Dad, he seems to give in because she sounds genuine. He can't get her to talk about why she acts the way she does... and during time out she actually bit him and broke his skin! As much as I care about him and the child, this is stressful and very hard. I *never* expected dating anyone with a child would be easy, and I don't expect it to be easy..but I do expect a common ground on discipline so that if it IS directed to me, like in the car, I know how to handle it. I am a 24 year old woman who isn't a mother. I don't know the right steps to take with this...I just have no idea. I don't want to get so overwhelmed that I can't handle it, I know that girl needs love and I try to give as much attention and love to her as possible from someone who isn't her mother.
My questions are:
What do you think of this? Do you have any suggestions for me or for him?
Have you dealt with a child that behaved in this manner before?
Can you tell me what you would do in my position?
I feel like if him and I are going to have any kind of serious future, she needs to understand why I am in her daddy's life and all of that. She smiles when he gives me a hug or kiss, and then comes to us both. She seemingly likes me around, but she absolutely does not listen to me or respect me. If him and I get serious and decide to have our own family and she's still acting these ways and having such problems along with not respecting me or her own father...I don't know if that'd work for me! I won't give up easily, I just won't. She is a good child and she is smart, beautiful, funny, artistic... she's wonderful when she *isn't* upset.
I know that there are things to try that might work to break down this wall with his child...and I want to help, but I also don't want to tell him how to do HIS job. He understands that I just want to try and help, and hasn't gotten upset or anything by me reinforcing his rules and what he says. It's just uncomfortable because I'm sure she doesn't understand why she'd have to respect me, if she can't even respect her father enough to go a few days without slapping him in the face and laughing, having a bad fit over something like wanting her milk NOW, or a food she wants not being ready/available/in the house. I worry for if we ever decide to live together, too. I just am still trying to keep my feelers out so I can get the best idea of the big picture with her and with him before I take this relationship too, too far. The thing is, I am falling hard for him and I want this to work. I know it's possible but like I said, I don't want to get overwhelmed and give up when I have a really great man in my life who happens to have a difficult, but lovely five year old daughter.
I KNOW this is really long. If you read it all, even, thank you. Any responses are appreciated but please be respectful, that's all I ask. Thanks in advance.