difficult child 3 trying to play one against the other

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by rlsnights, Sep 19, 2009.

  1. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    She has now graduated officially to difficult child 3, darn it.

    My 13 yo daughter has become more and more difficult as puberty has progressed.

    She is now simply attempting to bully me and my SO into giving her what she wants all the time. Since this is not successful with me her new tactic is to try to split us and turn us against each other.

    I am now the bad mother, my SO the good mother. I am now not to be spoken to except with screams or a disparaging tone and looks that could kill - that's when she even speaks to me. She prefers to give me a killing look and stalk out of the room while I am speaking or instead of answering a question or request.

    My SO is suddenly the only one she will confide in or talk to - although daughter doesn't speak to SO any more respectfully than she does to me most of the time. daughter told SO that she isn't disrespectful to SO and SO told her flat out that daughter was very disrespectful and SO didn't see that she treated either of us appropriately most of the time.

    My SO is admittedly the somewhat weak link in the chain of our family. She doesn't always check in with me before giving the kids something they want that I already said NO to. When she has to handle a pending melt down it's much more likely to end up in full blown volcano mode than if I handle things. So sometimes I step in to prevent the blow up. After hearing me rebuff difficult child 2's mission mode for at least 2 weeks (he wanted a very expensive skateboard) she went and let him buy a $135 skateboard while he was out on an errand with her. I was very polite to her when they came in the skateboard...:grrr:

    SO is really much, much better than she used to be about this stuff. Used to be a full-blown armchair parent. But we are two different people and sometimes handle things differently - as is to be expected. Don't think there'll be another skateboard incident though...freezer burn is a little strong to describe our private conversation about it that evening but memorable probably covers it.

    The daughter is very socially observant and is getting more and more self-pitying about how hard her life is with difficult child 2 for a twin brother. I, of course, "blame" her for everything and "always" take her brother's side against her. She doesn't like it that I have her number and give her consequences when I know that she has deliberately provoked her brother into fighting with her - something she is doing more and more. Or when she gets out of line about chores, language, friends etc.

    Last night the difficult child 3 sat in our family room and talked about me to my SO as if I wasn't in the room. All about how I am the "top dog" in the house and my SO just does everything I tell her to do. How my SO never stands up to me...you get the drift. Casting me as an abuser when she is the one whose behavior is bordering on abuse.

    My SO flat out laughed at daughter when daughter claimed my SO does everything I tell her. Of course this is absolutely not the case. Like most couples we each have our area of "expertise" and responsibility in the family and tend to dominate in discussions or decisions about that area. I manage the day to day finances and most of the stuff to do with inside chores and the kids including Special Education. SO goes to work all day and earns the bacon plus handles all the outside chores/projects and sometimes the cooking.

    I am getting seriously ****** at this child. She works really hard to turn every exchange with me into a power struggle. She doesn't have a door to her bedroom anymore because she broke the door jamb slamming her door over and over to prove to me that she could slam her door "if she liked" after I politely asked her not to slam it. Then she dragged keepsake clothes that were stored in her very large closet (my wedding dress, the twin's christening outfits, etc.) broke the hangers and stirred everything up on the floor. She was starting to stomp on it all when I walked by her room and caught her.

    To say that I went ballistic really doesn't cover it.

    I need some advice if anyone has it to offer on how to continue to set appropriate limits without triggering her into becoming more and more oppositional. My SO can't be here every hour of every day to do the discipline even if I thought that was the right way to handle things.

    I don't think daughter really wants to be this way - I think she has sort of trapped herself in that role and can't figure a way out without a major loss of face.

    Thanks folks
  2. Sagegrad

    Sagegrad New Member

    Triangulation is a wonderful thing, isn't it? We have the same dynamics at our house. I am eagerly waiting responses as well :D

  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Triangulation really hoovers. It is also VERY dangerous. You and SO MUST be on the same page and continue to speak in private so that you are on the same page. It is easy for a child to put a true wedge between the two of you, easier than you would like to think. I have seen quite a few people in real life who divorced because a preteen or teen was triangulating and one parent believed the child instead of the spouse.

    Talk to a therapist about this. If difficult child has a therapist then go and talk to her first. That way you can set rules about it that are reasonable. When we had a son in the psychiatric hospital for 4 months it was one of the things the therapist there worked on with us,

    When our difficult child started triangulating, justifying or bargaining, we just said the word and that was the end. If we gave him a choice and he pushed for a different choice we said bargaining and made the choice for him. the consequence was having to live with whatever we chose. If he tried to drive a wedge in by lieing, we called it as a lie and told him he was triangulating. Then he had to spend a half hour doing nice things for each of us - back rub, foot rub, a chore that we normally did, whatever WE wanted. If he grumbled while he did it so what? The only time that was an issue is if it was during a back or foot rub. THEN he was told that he created this so he needed to be quiet or he would have to rub longer. Cause it was a 15-20 minute GRUMBLE FREE, NEGATIVITY FREE time. If he had to sit on his lips, so what?

    The hardest thing is to realize when they are triangulating. Wiz could be very subtle about it. After working to catch it every time we got a LOT better catching the subtle stuff. that is where working with a therapist comes in handy.


  4. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    When you've got it figured out you can educate me too! I used to want to be a twin (I was an only child, painfully lonesome). After the emotional turmoil and power struggles I've witnessed with our guys (they are identicals) I changed my mind. I'll take the solitude any time.

    My husband is very passive, sneaky too, gave the boys things after I said NO. We had a great therapist who counseled us to take the "I'll talk it over with mom/dad" approach. Dr. Ding-Dong bought them each a car any way.

    I'm sorry, it inhales big time to have manipulative children.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Family counselling plus individual counselling for difficult child 3. That's it. Don't try to handle it yourself, because if you could, you wouldn't be where you are now.

    A lot of this is typical teen stuff but when you have difficult children in the mix it complicates the picture.

    I was talking to easy child 2/difficult child 2 today when a cousin's name got mentioned (as not coming to the wedding, has sent an inability). easy child 2/difficult child 2 said, "easy child will be pleased. She never could stand her."
    I pointed out that both cousin and easy child are now older and much more mature; cousin was a little controlling, that is all (and condescending, which really teed off easy child) in her mid-teens. I responded with, "easy child wasn't the easiest to get on with either, when she was mid-teen. We had some horrible times with her and she is also VERY controlling."
    easy child 2/difficult child 2 volunteered, "I know I also threw some beaut tantrums. It seemed to me that I would get into trouble for doing things I had got into trouble for NOT doing prevously. I felt I couldn't win."
    I replied with, "That is because you were still learning about appropriateness and timing. What is the right way to behave in the situation can rapidly shift as the situation changes. It takes amturity to recognise this and to not argue when we're trying to explain it to you. And you WOULD argue, a lot."

    She still does, but at least we get some explanation in before the tantrum gets too far out of control these days.

    We got both girls into counselling at different times, when we had the biggest problems with them. The counsellor helped them feel "heard" but also helped them have a more balanced perspective. They also helped us find more effective ways to interact with them.

    A big part of the problem - the child is becoming an adult and expecting adult rights and adult respect, but without the full knowledge of how to use it appropriately. They challenge parental authority (especially the one they perceive as the most dominant) and it is very much a struggle for dominance. Some parents just cave and let the teen become dominant. This is where they can run amok, getting more and more outrageous in their determination to live like adults but also at some deeper level, waiting for someone to say, "Enough!" Failure to put the brakes on can be one reason a kid's life can get as out of control as a runaway train.

    The best option is to give the child respect, in order to teach them to show respect. Even if they didn't deserve that respect - you have to start somewhere. But you shouldn't be a doormat either. She needs ultimately to learn self-control, self-respect and self-determination. You ultimately need to see her as a fellow adult, no longer your child in need of discipline. But you are all at the moment in transition to that point, and this stage is where the worst teen conflicts can develop.

    Seriously - get thee to a counsellor. someone good can help you all find your way to that desitnation as painlessly and effectively as possible.

    And I really get the "hassle brother" problems. We would have our three younger kids at home each donig their own thing together or apart, all in harmony. easy child would arrive home for the weekend (she was 18-19) and within five minutes, ALL the kids would be screaming at one another. easy child insisted it wasn't her doing but I pointed out - it was her arrival that set everything off, that unbalanced what had been in harmony. So even if she felt she hadn't done anything wrong - she needed to learn to wait after arrival, to pause and assess the mood of the place before putting in her oar and trying to bend everyone to her will.

    I hope this helps.

    Nobody should have to put up with this. But pounding the table and saying, "This must stop!" is not the way to fix it, either.

    husband has changed a great deal since we began implementing "Explosive Child" methods. Today we observed a strict (and also loving and concerned) father trying to care for his adventurous pre-schooler. The man was gruff, strict, controlling and stern. Everything he was trying to do was correct, but as I said to husband later - there were gentler ways to do it. That man is heading for trouble in years to come because one day that son is going to say to himself, "It's about time Dad trested me like he expects me to treat him." And the difference between the two is such a huge gulf, that it is sometiimes too difficult to bridge it.

    it is far better to begin as early as possible, and learn to treat te child as you want the child to treat you. It is how you will treat one another when the child is an adult, and we spend more time as adults in our lives than we do as children. So train her for that. Train yourselves too. But get help to do so.

  6. ML

    ML Guest

    My husband is not difficult child's father either and I kind of experience this too. I'm currently seeing a therapist for parenting issues and husband is also going. We are trying to get on the same page and one of the things we are working on (with major decisions) is that we say "I will discuss this with SO and then we will decide and let you know". Then sometimes I'm to present our decision and sometimes husband, but we are always to present a united front. Manster has accused me of being doormat and said "why don't you ever make any of the decisions around here"...and I calmly tell him we make them together. This has been a great shift and it takes a lot of work. husband and I have a few years of bad patterns to break.

    I wish you the best.

    Hugs, ML
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My kids did this too. Well my oldest wasnt too good at it because he isnt socially aware enough but boy did the other two make up for it. Cory STILL does it...lol. Heck, we already have shirts for the grands that say...if Mom and Dad say No, just ask Grandma! Triangulation at its best...lol.

    By now, I have learned to tell Cory that he cant have a thing from me until I ask his father first. Then I call Tony and ask if he said it was ok. We talk...then we decide the answer.