Nasty 15 year old step daughter

Elizabeth - posted on 05/12/2014 ( 6 moms have responded )

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I have been helping a 15 year old step daughter for 8 years now. Things finally blew up last night, oh happy Mother's Day. Nasty and entitled is a description in a nutshell. Her mother is an alcoholic and until last February she was not ready to live 100% with us instead of the 50/50 arrangement. Forget the courts they do not take children away from an alcoholic you just have to live with it until the child is emotionally ready to just visit periodically and not live with them regularly. My husband spent thousands to no avail. DUI's and convictions for assault and battery in a bar fight while on probation doesn't count with the courts where we live. The step daughter has been on her broom ever since she arrived here full time 15 months ago, at her request. She was no angel before it is just when she went to mom's house I got a break. She is disrespectful, bad mouths me to her friends who are then rude to me, lies about homework and is lazy, stomps off to her room almost daily, and has started taking my things. Her current GPA is 1.8 so yeah I caused that too. Like as no way honey you are blowing your life up all on your own. From the time she was 7 years old her mother has told her that it is CRUEL to be corrected or told what to do. Nothing like a crazy drunk. In counseling this is also called Fighting by Proxy - get back at your ex by causing the child to be nightmare. The step daughter has been in counseling on and off for years and living with us for the last 15 months has not helped. I am just fed up and wish she would go back to the drunk crazy mother, because she is just the dry version of her. Not much sympathy anymore for how she got to where she is now, I just want her gone.

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Elizabeth - posted on 05/13/2014

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Hi Evelyn, Thank you for responding. I hope I am able to stick this out with my step daughter and my husband finally understood that when she is so nasty on an ongoing basis that I am always under attack in my own home and then I do all these things and it is just a joke to her. Yet she will take whatever it is that is coming her way. That is why I told him that if she couldn't make changes and just be civil she needed to go live with her mother, he agreed after the light finally came one. He has arranged for his daughter to not need rides etc and told her that when your nasty with people all the time they don't want to do things for you and that it is unfair to expect them to. Previously he would keep saying "your doing this for me, to help me", but the light finally came in his head and he started to realize how this whole thing is affecting me. It isn't that I had not said the same thing before but I think he finally really got it when he found a hand written from one of her school friends. The friend had written the note in class and my step daughter had it laying on her desk in her room. It merely confirmed what I knew had been going on all along but he finally had it put in his face. I know he knew it but I feel he just was having a hard time dealing with how nasty this has all gotten. Generally men don't want to deal with emotional type stuff and this definitely would fall in that category.

My feeling about my step daughter being allowed to continue this behavior is she is learning this is ok behavior and she is actually being empowered to act this way on home turf. So, to me putting a stop in our home becomes important not only to my sanity but to her future and how she treats others. From the reading I have done when a parent engages in Fighting by Proxy or Parent Alienation their personality is narcissistic on the high end of the scale and so they don't see their child as separate from themselves. Hence in feelings of a grudge they wind the child up and then send them over to the other parent's house and put a wedge between the parent and their spouse or significant other. It is actually easy for one parent to do to another because all they do is say negative things about the new step parent. The child starts to feel like they must hate this person because of all the bad things their parent is saying. The younger the child the easier it is do this. Since she was 7 when we met this was easy for her mother to do. This is typically done by women. It appears that your ex husband did this to you with your children and fortunately it didn't work. I do think it is easier to do with someone who is a step parent.

I have a hard time understanding why people want to hurt children in this way. I know the intent is to hurt some adult in the situation but it can't help but hurt the child. In fact I think it hurts the child more than the adult who the nastiness is being directed at. When I got divorced a very long time ago I did not care who my ex spouse married. The only thing I cared about was if the new wife was decent to my son.

I appreciate the opportunity to vent, I thought I was going to explode.

Your children are lucky to have you and all your children are wise to see through what their dad has done. It is just so painful I don't understand why people want to hurt others in this way. I suspect somewhere in their maturation they didn't develop empathy, otherwise I don't think this is something they would do. It is things like this that shows up as bullying in the workplace, this is just showing up on the home front.

Ev - posted on 05/13/2014

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Elizabeth--

Just a side note to start, Elizabeth is my daughter's name. I read the posting you placed here. Now that you have explained things more so, I can see and understand the efforts you have put in to help this girl and her father. My son has some learning issues or delays (that is what the term is used here for that) that he has to deal with all the time. He also had to deal with two step moms along with his sister on top of a divorce. Neither step mom has had any interest in really knowing my two kids. And their dad has basically not even tried to have much one on one time with them. Noting what you said about how I have stayed focused on them and close to them, we were close long before these things came to play in our lives. And though their dad and step mom say those mean things about me behind my back, one day the kids came to me nearly in tears over this and I told them, "It does not hurt me. Your dad and step mom are so wrapped up in things about me that they are hurting themselves by not dealing with their marriage and family unit." I think I surprised them with that quote. It also showed that I was not about to let their dad and step mom get to me. My oldest is now on her own, married, and a mom herself. She is really beginning to understand more of what I did for her and her brother in the past 12 years. My son is not so close to his dad. He see through everything since he was five years old. Both see through what is going on with their dad. I just hung on and now that we are past the younger years, I can say we are closer than we ever were.

I think you are such a strong woman for taking on this whole thing with this girl. And though you want her out of the house and your life, I hope that it does not come to this, because someday, she might just come back and tell you that you were the best part of her life because unlike her mother you were there and you did not give up on her. My son has also been diagnosed with a form of Autism. And it was a trial at times to get him to learn how he should be in a lot of different situations. I never gave up on him though at times I could have. But he was my flesh and blood and so important to me. When I told him about his diagnosis, I told him it made him different but in a good way because he could see the world as most people could not. His dad and step mom used that to explain his behaviors away and used it as a crutch. So I would not totally give up on this girl. Its a struggle sometimes to be able to just move on with things as they are but in the long run if you stay with this kid, she might thank you for it.

Elizabeth - posted on 05/12/2014

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Hi Evelyn,

I have worked hard to be supportive of my husband and have assisted in driving to athletics, school, sleepovers, visits with other family members and her mother's, clothes shopping, and doctor's appointments. I have also assisted with homework which for many years was difficult due to her having a reading disability. We finally found the correct source of the problem which was a Neuro Muscular issue which caused her eyes to not track properly left to right and up and down lines of text. There was months of weekly therapy, which then in turn involved daily exercises to correct the problem and then daily reading to catch up on the site words that were missing in her vocabulary because of falling behind on reading. This is something that costs thousands of dollars to correct and many hours of one on one work at home, which involved remediation reading and then regular school work. Her mother was court ordered to pay for half the therapy and only sporadically makes payments towards that amount. I have also continued to encourage him to keep pushing for what is right for his daughter and helping her to mature and become a self sufficient adult. Prior to finding the Neuro Muscular issue we had tried Tutoring Club at a cost $3,300 which did not work. It was not anything Tutoring Club did, they told us with all the tutoring and her not making any progress that there was some other issue causing her to not be able to read. At that time I was helping her 2 hours per day with homework, it was painful and clear she had some kind of learning problem. The schools are so underfunded that their testing will only allow for children who are much more severely learning disabled to have help at school. In addition, help through the school district would not have addressed what the real problem was as we found out later. We finally took her to an educational psychologist for testing. He recommended testing through another doctor for the Neuro Muscular testing. That turned out to be the problem. The educational psychologist told us to come back for the testing he did if the results for the Neuro Muscular turned out to be negative or if that turned out to not be the whole problem.

A child exposed to an alcoholic parent has many challenges. For example, school performance problems are very common. Now that she is up to speed on reading we have had other performance problems of not focusing on school. While my husband has been the one to address the school work or lack thereof, I have tracked through the school website her work progress and then kept my husband up to date. My role there is behind the scenes but with his schedule it is hard for him to go through the website and also follow up with his daughter. Therefore, I get the information gathered up and he then he sits down with his daughter to go over her school work problems.

The primary goal of counseling is not to employ discipline with a child but to validate the child's feelings and help them sort through their feelings. The parent is the heavy lifter in the discipline department. The role of the counselor is also to help with letting her know that certain behaviors are out of line because when she hears it from her dad she thinks he is just trying to rain on her parade. She doesn't feel that with the counselor.

So the thousands of dollars may have sounded like we were trying to dump her on someone and take the attitude that they can fix it. That is not the case. We spent well over $6,000 just on various therapies, tutoring etc for her reading difficulties. We have spent a great deal of money on counseling because there is an evolutionary quality to the development of young person and what they experience growing up the child of alcoholic parent.

That is wonderful you have been able to keep close to your children as they go through this difficult time with their father saying unkind things. I hope for their sake he wakes up and stops, but sadly he may not wake up until they distance themselves as they get older. I am sorry your ex said negative things to begin with, it is very painful as an adult to hear your child come tell you the mean things being said about you. As a parent you want to take on their pain to alleviate theirs, and unfortunately that cannot be done.

I hope you can celebrate when your son comes back to you.

Ev - posted on 05/12/2014

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If that is the case as you say, should you not at the least be some sort of support for your husband during all this. I am not sure what to tell you. I have been in a situation where the kids ended up with dad only because I could not put them through hell with constant custody fights with their dad. In essence I was afraid that they would be turned against me. Lucky for me we have always had a clear and close relationship together. My big worry was my son but with his sister being so much older it helped keep things tied together. My kids are close to me and come to me with the things their dad says about me though there is naught I can do about it. In less than 18 months my son is going to be out of his dad's home. He will be with me.

Elizabeth - posted on 05/12/2014

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Well counseling was done as a group and there is no way going with a raging alcoholic would ever work. The counselor has told her that she needs to stop being so rude to me, clearly she has not taken that suggestion to heart. I do believe the dynamic is the step daughter is well entrenched in her behavior, ie: this is clinical level stuff, not just a little discipline is needed. However, the dad has failed to really be the bad guy when needed at times but he has made an exhausting level of effort both putting some consequences and trying to get her help. I do feel it is hard to continue when a child has behavior that entrenched.

What I have observed in others who I knew well and knew they were making consequences and following through with limited results there was more going on than what the parent knew about. The problem came to light after the child got into legal trouble and the child was in therapy and it finally came out that an older child who lived across the street had molested this person's child. The child got into legal trouble at age 14 and the molestation occurred at age 6. Their child was acting out by sneaking out at night, doing poorly in school etc. When they got into trouble for vandalism it all came out. I will say this family had the child in therapy before and it was the deal of consequences for bad behavior and rewards for good, which was what was being done but there was no change in the child's behavior. It did no good until this child landed with a Forensic Psychologist and treatment, then the answers came about. This child was in therapy for years.

In regards to the step daughter we only know some of what went on over at the mom's house while on her visits. It was not good. It even reached the point where a treating psychologist wrote a letter to the family law judge indicating her extreme concern for my husband's daughter and her safety. The court's would not change custody even after all that. Going to Family Law Courts is a cost prohibitive adventure in futility. At any rate here we are feeling like we should shave our heads before we tear it out by the roots.

A partial resolution to all this may well just be certain events occurred while off our watch and has yet to come out. What I learned from the other child I referred to above is that there was not a change until the child started dealing with the molestation in therapy. Hence that is why putting consequences and rewarding good behavior and loosing privileges wasn't doing any good. That may well be the case here. Maybe something other than molestation but something bad that caused a trauma that she is unable to deal with.

It is easy to poison a child against someone especially when they are young. All the parent has to do is continually say negative things and the child starts to feel like they should hate the person the parent speaks badly about. That is one thing that has been done to my step daughter. It is not just what the daughter has told a counselor but what we have heard from people we know that the drunk mother has said things to.

I guess I at least in part answered my own question in that there is a possibility of being more to the story here and it has yet to come out. I have felt that way at times and I think this has just become more of a possibility.

Ev - posted on 05/12/2014

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You have not actually said what all you and your husband have done outside of having this girl in counseling and spending thousands to no avail. What has he actually done to address the situation? Spending a lot of money over the years for therapy that did not seem to work is not enough. He should have been putting his foot down a long time ago. Were there rules in the house? Were there ever consequences when she was with you guys and even now as a full time member of the household? Why did you guys not go as a family with bio mom or without bio mom to counseling with her? It takes more than sending her to counseling alone to make changes in her for the better. Your ex should have gone for full custody when she was younger so that both of you could have had a better handle on the situation. And you knew going into this what the mother was like and how this child acted. If the parents including you did not really put this girl in her place from the get go, then I do not see there being changes now.

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