With ideas and suggestions completely exhausted regarding the behaviour of my stepdaughter, I have, as a last resolution resorted to a process called Disengaging. This modus operandi is where I no longer take responsibility for her. Anything she wants or needs while she is with us, means having to ask her daddy. My husband and I have talked in length whether this course of action will actually work but it seems it is the only solution we have come up with as there is no explanation for her behaviour. If there is some way to uncover the cause which explains why his daughter has taken this attitude towards me, then we would know how to deal with it, but there isn't so we can't. It is simply a case of we'll try anything.
What I am told to remember is my husband is not a mother and never has been. He has little knowledge of what it takes to be a mother as his interests are more focused towards football, accomplishments and bringing home the bacon. He is a man and his components for life differ greatly to mine. I am more interested in keeping the house clean, thoughtfulness and appreciation so I suppose in short, social skills and motherly duties.
I automatically assumed I could extended my motherly duties to include my stepdaughter but my problem is I do not have the maternal bond with her thus preventing my having the moral authority to parent her, only my husband can give me this authority, it has nothing to do with my stepdaughters mother. Having support from my husband is not simply the emotional crutch he provides but his permission to allow me to parent his child. My husband is happy for me to take on the motherly role for his daughter as he clearly is unable to offer the parenting skills that I already own.
I find it frustrating that my husband can be watching the television and does not notice our daughter removing her nappy and emptying the contents out onto the carpet right in front of him. He doesn't see it because he has never had too. There has always been a woman in his life who takes care of these sorts of things. So my husband continues to be the parent he always has been believing his daughter is perfectly fine. My stepdaughter behaves the way she does towards me because her father allows her too so by not stopping it, he is giving her the authority to continue and the more authority he gives the greater she remains in control. Therefore by handing the parental authority back to my husband, his daughter looses her control. In order to successfully disengage, I have to accept some realities.
1. My stepdaughter is not my child.
2.I am not responsible for the way she was raised.
3.I am not responsible for the kind of person she is.
4.I am not responsible for the kind of person she becomes.
5.I am not obliged to become an abused member of my family just because I married her daddy.
6.The responsibility for raising my stepdaughter is not mine it belongs to my husband.
7.My husband is not a mother and he is not going to raise his daughter the same way I raise my children.
So in short, I should immediately end trying to parent my stepdaughter and allow my husband to make whatever mistakes he makes. I know this is going to be difficult as my husband helps me raise my children, but we have little problems from them.
I have contacted my Health visitor and on her advise, have spoken to the Headmistress of my stepdaughters school. I need to know if she is introverted at school and does she mix well. Does the headmistress have any indications signalling my stepdaughter's unhappiness? The response was, to my dismay, no, she is a happy child who joins in with classroom discussions which make her a valuable member of the group. I wasn't disappointed my stepdaughter wasn't happy; I was disappointed she was a normal happy child which meant the problem still resided with me. If the headmistress had disclosed that yes, my stepdaughter was quiet, often alone in the playground, then sad as it would be, the problems I was experiencing were not solely directed at me, so there would be a valid reason. I hoped for a small shred of evidence indicating her behaviour is not exclusive to me. But I'm afraid to say it is.
I get so irritated when my stepdaughter blatantly ignores me, I do with my own children, but when she wants to be fed, or wants to know where her daddy is she will ask me. So I tell her as she chooses to ignore me most of the time, and only talks to me when she needs something, in future, she must go and ask her Daddy. I will no longer perform menial tasks including, making her bed or unpacking and packing her suitcase when she arrives. When I prepare a family meal however, I will include her as there are some things I will not expect my husband to separate from the rest of the family, I know how that feels.
Our objective is to make her, alongside my own children who can also forget how much mum does for them, realise that I actually do an awful lot for her, so by withdrawing my services and disengaging, she will see how much she is missing, fantastic. Wrong! I have offered my stepdaughter the open invitation not to talk to me at all and above all of this I have given her the permission to do it. Putting this new agenda into practice is harder than it seems as I am finding virtually impossible to uphold as I naturally do lots for the children so to segregate one family member is very awkward. I feel uncomfortable handing the responsibility of his child over to my husband, because it’s my job as a wife and mother to take care of the children and running of the home. It is having the ability to accept she is not my child so I am not responsible for her. I have had little to do with her previous upbringing so I am not responsible for her future upbringing. Clearly, although I continually support my husband when his daughter is in our home, there are rules and guidelines the children are expected to adhere to so I can not help what she has become and I can not help how she turns out.
If she chooses to accommodate me on how I raise my children and follow suit then great, but I cannot force my views on her. Raising her is not my responsibility as she is not my child. She already has two parents that are doing that. I can be involved and support my husband when my stepdaughter is here, but she has made it perfectly clear that she doesn’t have to do what I say. I am not her mother but it is unfair that she treats me with such contempt, just because I married her daddy. I have had fortnightly visits from my Health Visitor who has been a massive help, offering much needed support, encouragement and guiding me towards professional people who will be happy to help. My husband has eventually put forward his views and opinions to her regarding his daughter and has expressed his concern to how unhealthy this whole episode has become. He is in the middle of a no-win situation.
My Health visitor has collected piles of information for myself, my husband and my stepdaughter to try and find a solution to this problem, but why does it appear that I seem to be the only one who is trying to find help and solutions? My stepdaughter is not my child.
September 15th 2004
Health visitor came to drop off the information she collected. There is a good booklet for your daughter to draw her family and who she feels are important in her life. The Health visitor made herself available for you to see her before you went to work. I told you about this, but you seemed to not worry about it. Other things on your mind. Work no doubt. It seems to me that after this weekend went ok, this problem is not an issue any longer. All I can say is if I have a bad weekend this week, then I shall have to tell you to talk to the health visitor and your daughter or I'm leaving. I bet you wont even go through the parents booklet with your daughter. You will have forgotten all about it. You weren't even interested in the information she brought for us. That says alot!