Choosing which parent to live a descripti

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by griznog, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. coalminer1235

    coalminer1235 New Member


    About three years ago I met and subsequently married my soul-mate. I have two girls from my first marriage, she has two boys and two girls. My oldest daughter was difficult, to put it mildly, but eventually found her own way and left me thinking that even if a child is difficult, if a parent takes a stand and sticks to it anything can be worked out. I was not prepared for my youngest stepdaughter.

    Reading any of the ODD literature is like reading an exact description of her. Her primary medical doctor is familiar with ODD and after seeing her on several occasions pulled us aside and stated flatly that we are in for the worst 3 years (she's currently 13) of our entire lives. I won't bother with examples of her behavior as I'm sure many or all of you have seen the same or similar.

    When we decided to get married, I made a commitment to try to be as involved as much as I could as a stepfather and I have (I think) a pretty good relationship with three of my stepchildren. But with the difficult child, I have had to pretty much excuse myself from any role other than to be a bodyguard for my wife when difficult child becomes physically abusive toward her mom. In addition to not wanting to endure any more emotional abuse from difficult child, I refuse to be alone with her under any circumstances because she has repeatedly threatened to "call the police and make up stories" to get both I and her mom arrested. I'm not sure what more there is for me to do as a stepfather other than to support my wife as much as possible.

    difficult child's father is a "former" meth user, insofar as one can be a "former" meth user, an admitted alcoholic and a pathological liar. However, in difficult child's view of the world he is a saint and all his problems are caused by my wife (e.g. if he says he'll pick her up at 3, then turns off his phone and doesn't show up or call back for a few days then that is my wifes fault.) Our counselor has recommended that we do nothing to interfere with her belief that her dad is perfect in every way and loves and adores her as the counselor believes that even a fantasy view of her dad as a good dad is better than accepting the reality. When we do occasionally slip and say something even mildly negative about him or challenge her view of her father with a fact, she becomes immediately enraged. So even if we didn't agree with the counselor we have learned that the truth does not set us free, so to speak.

    Now for the part where I ask your opinions. We are planning to move across country to the east coast within a year and my wife is faced with either taking difficult child with us (essentially forcing her to go against her will) or relinquishing custody to her father who would jump at the chance not because he wants to be a good father, but simply to avoid child support (he's > $20,000 delinquent at the moment). I've read enough stories about kids with these problems to make me believe that this girl has some very rough times ahead of her, regardless of where she lives. I'm honest enough with myself to realize that I'd like her to stay with her father because she puts a serious strain on every other relationship in our home (two other teenagers are still with us at home) and frankly I don't like seeing my wife constantly emotionally assaulted and physically bullied. I'd like to hear someones opinion who has experienced what we are dealing with and can be objective, as I obviously cannot be. I'd like to be able to give my wife some non-selfish advice, but am finding it extremely difficult to do. It's not hard to rationalize to myself that difficult child would be better off with her dad when that also means we'd get some peace at home.

    I'll note that in rare moments the difficult child is a great, intelligent kid with an awesome sense of humor and is a joy to be around. But these moments are extremely rare and when they occur they usually end with her seeming to realize that she's forgotten herself for a moment or let down her guard and then she snaps back into defiant and abusive behavior. I know there is an awesome kid in there, I'm just not convinced my wife or our home is the place that can get that awesome kid to come out. It makes me feel like :censored2: to want to give up and it is much harder on my wife as she considers it. Deciding what is "right" or "wrong" in this situation is complicated, to make an understatement.


  2. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I'm going on the side of selfishness here. She's not going to get easier, she's going to get harder. She is also going to affect the other kids in the house tremendously and that has to be factored in. So, if you think she will be safe, taken care of to at least a semi-reasonable extent, will not be allowed to totally run wild, I vote for daddy dearest.

    Maybe a bigger question is what does your wife want? Will she be able to accept that for now having her daughter live with her ex is truly a good solution? It is hard of us moms to give our kids up even temporarily, even for the best of reasons. To make things easier in the household is not a good reason to our mommy hearts. It screams of failure.

    Now comes the caveat. What are you going to do when he has had enough and kicks her out? The odds of that happening are probably pretty good. Are you prepared to pick up the pieces because that will be a very shattered little girl when it occurs. She will come back even angrier, more defiant and probably a lot wiser about how to damage all of you.

    You, sir, sound like an awesome man. I wish you and your family nothing but the best. Congrats on finding your soulmate. May you have many years together.
  3. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Hi Griznog,

    Meowbunny took the words right out of my mouth. I agree at this point that it might not be a bad idea to let her stay with dad. If there is a threat of physical violence in the house, you need to consider the majority.

    However, she (along with every other teen on Earth) thinks that the earth revolves around her, and as soon as dad cramps her style, she may be looking to move back.

    Now, you COULD use that to your benefit.

    "Ok, Sally, you can come back. But here are the rules to follow if you are going to live under our roof. You are nobody special. Rules are the same for everyone. You will respect, you will obey, there is no yelling, no violence, you will follow curfew, etc."

    Best of luck to you!
  4. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Just wanted to welcome you to the site(even though you are an orc! :bag:). You may want to go to the section under "my stuff" and fill out your profile. Your profile will appear at the bottom of each of your posts.

  5. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi! I don't have kids your age, so I'm going to look at things a little differently.

    Her Dad is a substance abuser (I question whether or not he's totally clean if he shuts off his phone and disappears for a few days when he's supposed to have the kids)who has left you and your wife high and dry to the tune of $20,000.

    You on the other hand, sound like a really nice, intelligent man who has EVERYONE'S best interest at heart.

    She's 13 - difficult child or not, she's possessed. Linda Blair had NOTHING on a difficult child teen!

    You guys are talking about moving clear across the country and leaving her to live with this clown because she's poisoning the rest of the relationships in the house.

    My vote (sorry BBK!! :smile: ) is to take her with, but have a contingency plan. If she starts really getting out of control, BEFORE you move, make sure that there is an Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) or something available should the problems escalate.

    You do not want her showing up on the doorstep pregnant, with an STD or something far worse and to top it all off, mad at you for leaving her behind. I'm just thinking that she'll have a better chance at making it in this life if you guys are there for her.

    Is she taking any medications? ODD rarely stands alone, have you had a full neuropsychologist done on her?

    My mom taught us to keep our friends close, our enemies closer, and NEVER LET A TEEN OUT OF YOUR SIGHT! She had 6 of us...enough said! :smile:

  6. coalminer1235

    coalminer1235 New Member

    I should probably add more info about her dad. Of course we always assume he is still abusing meth or at a minimum alcohol/marijuana, but I don't believe this is the reason for his dropping off the radar at times. He simply never says no to her and his alternative to saying no is to say yes over the phone then avoid contact for a few days until she forgets. Unfortunately she blames my wife before conveniently forgetting, putting us through the ringer. It's especially hard to sit and watch a kid for hours crying in the window looking at the street, hitting redial constantly, pausing only to yell blame at her mom all the while knowing that the moment he chooses to show up all will be forgiven and he'll be SuperDad again while my wife and I remain firmly in the Evil category.

    I don't think there is any doubt that he really does care about her, he just lacks anything approaching parenting skills and sets no boundaries for her (or his) behavior. He is unable to put any of his children ahead of himself. One aspect that my wife (who obviously knows him better than I do) adds is that the responsibility of caring for his daughter could actually be a motivator for him to make some changes to his life about the way he treats his kids. Is it worth risking her future to take that chance? Which one of you has the manual with the correct answers at the back of the book?

    Meowbunny asked an important question: what does my wife want? About a year or so ago one of our older girls attempted to run away at 15. She was comically unsuccessful, but in looking for a way to deal with it we decided that my wife would become a stay at home mom until we got over this hump. That daughter has made a complete turnaround and has mostly normal teenage issues now. The downside is that my wife, who has worked most of her adult life is going stir crazy at home, add in an extremely difficult child and you can see where this is going. We only half joke when we kid each other about asking our Dr. to medicate us through this. She's tired, I'm tired, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel as the two 16 3/4 year olds get nearer leaving, we are just worn out at this point.

    Ok, I mostly avoided the question there. In my view my wife is ashamed of herself when she considers sending difficult child to her dad and feels that doing this means she is a failure as a mom. At the same time she is bone tired from being battered by what can only be described as a series of tsunami waves, each a little bigger than the preceding one and the last a wave of truly monstrous proportions. I think she just wants a break from it and the need for relief slowly increases casting more and more shade on the shame of feeling like a failure. Ironically, she is one of the best and most caring moms I have ever known, she just had the deck stacked against her by starting the journey with a nonparticipating partner (an experience we have in common and which has helped draw us closer together.) The last thing she need ever do is be ashamed of her actions as a mom.

    As I write this we are experiencing one of those rare moments. difficult child is making cookies for us and it's almost like a Norman Rockwell painting in the kitchen. Except that the rest of us can't quite enjoy it because like rats who get randomly shocked when they reach for cheese, we sit trying to remain calm and enjoy the moment while waiting for the next inevitable jolt to hit us.

    I really appreciate the answers and the existence of this forum. I'm more than a little surprised at how much it is helping me just to get this out in writing.

  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm going to play Devil's Advocate. First of all, ODD is RARELY the main reason a child is defiant. It almost never stands by itself. This child has a terrible genetic history on the father's side and could very well have a lot more than ODD going on. Has she seen a Psychiatrist (with the MD?) A neuropsychologist? Is she on medication? Has she only tried therapy?
    There is no way I could live with myself if I left any child in the hands of a man who takes drugs and is an alcoholic and a pathological liar. This child is only thirteen and is likely quite mentally ill and perhaps has been misdiagnosed and not given the proper medical treatment for her disorder (whatever it is--bipolar maybe?). Just a thought. The red flags are there on the father's side. At any rate, if she is actually dangerous, I would want to take her with and find a GOOD Residential Treatment Center (RTC) (yes, there are BAD ones) so that she can get a re-evaluation, the right medications, and help. I don't think she acts up because she thinks her dad is a saint (and I doubt that, in her heart, she thinks he is unless he is great at hiding what he does). Either way, this is a young teenager and she shouldn't be sacrificed, in my opinion, just because it's the easy way. She's not your child, but your wife may feel very guilty if something bad happens to her while in the custody of this untreated drug addict who likely has psychiatric problems of his own. Would you let your other stepkids live with him? If not, then in my opinion it's not fair to let HER live with him either. He is unsafe and there are other alternatives. I wish you luck in whatever you decide to do, but I'd try to get a new evaluation from a Psychiatrist (with the MD) before I did anything. A neuropsychologist exam along with the Psychiatrist would give everyone a really good picture of why the child acts like she does. It would likely be far more accurate than just a therapist's interpretation. JMO
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I'd let her make her choice, and expect it not to last. She'll tire of the lack of structure at her dad's house, or he'll tire of her and she will be back in your home with the knowledge that it's where she belongs.
  9. stepmom47

    stepmom47 New Member

    Welcome to the board:)

    I am gonna chime in here all....
    As the stepmom of a child that moved in with bio-mom after so long of us taking care of him...

    I should have never let difficult child go!!!
    He is worse now more than ever!

    He is abusive towards others, which was not happening when he left here.
    He steals more than ever now.
    Bio-mom has gotton to her wits end and I can tell you that instead of returning difficult child is just ignoring him & his problems!
    His grades are all F's.

    husband wanted to give me a break and I love him for that, but our situation has spun completly out of control and now bio-mom has no interest in trying anything now because it impeds on her precious time!

    My vote....DON'T DO IT... :thanksgiving2:

    Stay here for awhile, this board will make you strong and provide many many answers you seek!
    Everyone here is wonderful!