Is the Stepmother overstepping her boundaries?

Trina - posted on 12/10/2012 ( 5 moms have responded )

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I am a mother of a 15 year old (turning 16 this month). My ex-husband married the woman he had an affair with while we were married. I do admit that for the first year after he left I had hard feelings but since then have gone on with my life and my only focus is on what is in the best interest of my daughter. For some reason, this woman hates me. It is obvious that she does not want my ex to have any contact with me whatsoever. If my daughter does even the slightest thing wrong, she blows it out of proportion. It’s obvious that it is an attempt to make me look bad as if I am a bad mother. They have been married for about 10 years. When my daughter was younger she would go to their house and the stepmother would scream at her and punish her. My daughter was very quiet and intimidated. She would get in trouble for not talking and punished for being disrespectful because she didn’t talk. She was punished if she told me. Mind you she was 6 at the time. I never had a problem with her at home and always got good reports from school. It seemed to me that the only one that had a problem with her was her stepmother. I tried on numerous occasions to talk to my ex and he would always defend his wife. My daughter would cry to me that her stepmother would yell at her non-stop and daddy would do nothing. She would say that she was screaming and pointing her finger in her face so close that her finger would touch her eyelash. She would be put in the corner because she wouldn’t talk. Once her grandmother was there and stood between my daughter and the stepmother to shield her from the lashing. Another time her grandfather heard the stepmother yelling at her and stepped in. She would say daddy always takes her side or daddy let’s her yell at me. She would fight going there and cry the entire time she was there. I was accused of “poisoning” her against them when in actuality she didn’t want to go because there was constant yelling and punishment going on when she was there. I worried that stopping visitation would only get me in trouble for interfering and being a single mother, I did not have the resources to seek legal counsel. It got so bad that my ex-husband said having my daughter there was so miserable for everyone that it was best they stop every other weekend visitation. Over the years I have pretty much raised her on my own other than 2-3 hour visitation weekly. It seems any interaction I have with my ex-husband infuriates his wife so I just find it easier to limit contact as much as possible for my sake as well as my daughter’s. Since my daughter graduated 8th grade, it seems the relationship with the stepmother has gotten much better. Her and I can even have a conversation without screaming at each other. I’m thinking great; this is how it should be. We all should get along for the best interest of my daughter. I want her to have a relationship with her dad and truly feel I take the high road when it comes to the stepmother because it is in my daughter’s best interest. Without giving every detail, just recently my daughter got in some pretty major trouble regarding a boyfriend who lives across the street from us. Because of the seriousness, I decided to discuss it was her dad. I thought it would be a good idea for her to resume every other weekend visitation so that she would be away from the boy across the street at least every other weekend. I will admit I have not been the best disciplinarian. She has always been a good child with good grades, so discipline has been minimal since it really hasn’t been necessary but since turning 15 and now nearing 16, she definitely needs some discipline. Two weeks ago she went to her dad’s for the weekend. Her stepmother began the screaming again. She told her she should have “slut tattooed on her forehead”; the only reason that I want her to go there is so that I can +*%$ my boyfriend; that she will stop her from going on the pill because she is the stepmom; that she is writing a letter to the Secretary of State to not allow her to get her license; that she is going to “beat her ass”; that if she disrespects her she is going to sleep outside; that she is a liar just like her mother, and so much more. They also took her phone away – a phone I pay for and I need her to have because I need to be in contact with her 24/7. I went to pick the phone up and the ex said to get out of his driveway or he will call the police and called me an effing c___t in front of our daughter. I called the police and they retrieved the phone for me. I tried speaking to the ex and he just criticized my parenting and said she was the stepmother and had every right to discipline her because this wouldn’t be happening in his house (ya right—that’s what all parents say that don’t have teenagers). I tried speaking to her and she just screamed over me and I couldn’t get a word in. My daughter went again this last weekend. Again, she was screamed at non-stop for telling me everything that went on and both her dad and her stepmother bashed me. She was completely in her face and her daughter who is a few years younger stepped in between the stepmother and my daughter because she was afraid for her. When I went to get her she told her daughter to go get the bat so she could beat my car if I pulled in the driveway. My daughter again spoke with her dad and told him she is not going to go there if she is going to get yelled at all weekend. He again defended his wife. The stepmother said it is her house with her rules. I agree that if my daughter does something wrong at their house, then she should be able to discipline but things that happen at my house are mine and her dad’s problem. Issues like birth control and getting her license are our decision. He complains that I do not involve him in anything and he is just a paycheck. I tried to tell him that the one time I need his help and come to him, this is what happens. It is chaos and badmouthing and undermining my authority and then I’m defending my daughter and basically saying don’t listen to your dad. This is craziness. I seriously need some help because of the problems I’m having. This is such a critical time period in my daughter’s life and I think my daughter needs a father figure. All of this fighting and screaming is taking any focus off of my daughter. Do I cut off or limit contact with my daughter and her dad? Do I allow her to go to his house? She does not want to go there and is very angry at her dad for always taking his wife’s side. Do I ever seek his help again? I truly want to do what’s best for my daughter. Sorry so long and drawn out – it still isn’t the half of it.

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Denikka - posted on 12/10/2012

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At almost 16, and especially considering the circumstances, I would think that she is more than old enough to decide for herself if she wants to go, and for how long. If she wants to go back to a few hours a week or every other week, I would allow her to make that choice. If she wants to cut off contact all together, I would sit her down and explain what the consequences could be, but ultimately, still her choice, although I would make sure it's an informed one.



There are other positive male role models, other than her father (although I don't see much *positive* from your description). She can look up to teachers, coaches, friends fathers, your bf if he's a part of her life, etc. The biological parent, mother OR father, are not always the guiding figure that SHOULD be in a child's life.

Gigi - posted on 12/15/2012

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Talk to your daughter and ask her what does she want. If she says she wants to cut the contact with her father, then support her. You need to stand up for her in this situation and also to stand up by disciplining her yourself if you think it is necessary (boyfriend related). You are primary care giver and you have to take responsibility when it comes to "unpleasant" parts like enforcing the rules or so.
But, as previous poster mentioned - check with courts can you actually cut the contact before you talk to her. It sounds to me that it would be the best thing to do in this situation. He is not a good father figure anyways, on the contrary. She is probably very hurt by his behavior, so you should gently try to explain that people act in a wrong way for different reasons and that it doesn't mean that he doesn't love her.
Your ex's household sounds very unstable - what with hitting, screaming, threatening and calling police. It is not a place for teenage girl who is anyways very susceptible.

Sue - posted on 12/15/2012

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I agree with Denikka. I believe at 16 she is old enough in the eyes of the court to make the decision on if she wants to go over there or not. I would call and ask right away. Find out if you have to follow any court ordered visitation schedule, have to request a hearing, or if at a certain age it's just up to the child. If he is going to be such a poor role model as a male figure, it might be better if she has the option to limit her interaction to what she is comfortable with. You sound like you have been a very strong woman to deal with this issue, by allowing your daughter to have the say in this toxic relationship, you will be giving her back some of the respect she lost, that she should have had at her father's home. Children need to know that they should not be treated that way, and deserve respect, just as they should respect others in authority positions, until they lose that respect. It would be a cold day in hell before I would allow my daughter to be treated like that. You must have the patients of a saint to not slap that woman and your ex. Have a planned sit down with your daughter, make it special. Let her know that she's growing up,and with that comes more responsibilities, but also more say in her life, including her relationships. I grew up with an abusive mother and my father never stood up for me,never told me that I did not deserve to be treated that way. I let myself be a doormat for too many years because after so much abuse I believed I deserved it, that it was normal.

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Amber - posted on 09/09/2015

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Let her decide and if they have problems with it take them to court. That poor girl shouldn't have to deal with that

Toni - posted on 09/07/2013

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As all the other ppl who posted had said, she is most likely old enough to decide if she wants to continue visitation. Me, personally, I would cut off all contact completely. The step mother has been verbally (possibly physically) abusive long enough! And your ex is no better for sitting back and watching! There's more than enough there for a DYFS case (not that i'm suggesting it. I don't know the entire story). Subjecting her to further, un supervised time with your ex and his wife could only send her further down a rocky path. If it were me, I would either insist on supervised visits or no visits at all. Hope it all works out well. Good luck

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