Angry adolescent easy child's with older difficult child sibs

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by recovering doormat, May 30, 2009.

  1. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    My about-to-turn 13 easy child is angry and confused and blames me and her dad for her horrible life, playing second fiddle to her difficult child older sibs. She is right, no matter how much therapeutic intervention we had as a whole family, there is no way she could ever have gotten the amount of attention her brother and sister have over the past six or seven years because our family dynamic was so chaotic. She has little use for either her dad or me lately, except for buying her clothes and giving her rides.

    After a long period of animosity towards her dad (refusing to stay overnight for visitation, refusing to go anywhere with him) she started to spend a bit of time at his house when her brother went to rehab for six weeks. Dad's house is three times the size of mine, she has a much nicer room there, and he lets her do whatever she wants. This year my ex is hosting a foreign exchange high school student from Germany, a lovely girl who has blended in well with the family and whom my easy child adores. So, I get why she likes to spend time there: it's more comfy and no one nags her to pick up her carp. Or to clean the bathrooms. Or fold the laundry. Problem is, dad works 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. or later (self employed CPA with his hand in about half a dozen other business adventures) six days a week; Sundays he food shops and watchs TV. The kids amuse themselves and my socialable youngest usually has two or three girlfriends who sleep over on weekends.

    What started out as a brief respite for me has turned into the norm for the past five months. Problem is, school is over in a few weeks and the German girl is "auf wiehedersehn" and my older daughter will be working and going to college during the summer. Hopefully my 16 yr old son will be working too. Which leaves my newly minted teen alone all day. Which she thinks is just dandy but I say is unacceptable.

    She is willful and headstrong and has never been one to do camps or clubs, not that we have the money for it, but my ex has decided he wants to change the custody agreement and have her stay with him permanently (we both have joint legal custody of her and difficult child 2). I have no idea what he plans to do as far as supervising her this summer. I am not employed but going for job training; on the advice of my attorney I'm waiting for the appeal my ex filed on the distribution of assets to wind its way through the court system. I don't know what I'm going to be awarded yet and that determines my next few steps, including part time or full time employment.

    Lately, if I make the slightest complaint to her, for example, that I would like it if she would answer her cell phone when she is out all day on Saturday watching a boy she likes play baseball (she is with the boys mom and family, so she is supervised) and going to cookouts and so on, she gets very irate and quickly escalates into "I don't live with you anymore, remember?" and "the reason I don't want to live with you anymore is that you're always giving me attitude." She's my third kid to hit adolescence, so I know not to take it personally, but the level of anger in her just wears me down. If I thought for a moment that her dad really would be responsible for her and not let her flit around town like an 18 yr old, I would say, okay, fine, if she wants to stay with you, I won't fight it. But he won't. He tried and failed to get sole physical custody when we first separated. I think she is about a year too young in our state for the court to defer to her wishes about where she wants to live.

    But, even if a judge orders her back to my house, what do I do if she just doesn't want to go? I don't know how to reconnect with her, when she is so determined that she won't be hampered by parental rules and supervision. She told me tonight that she doesn't like my house, it's a dump (forgetting that she trashed her room and then refused to clean it up, allowed her friends to come over and make a mess and not clean up). Now that I think about it, the trouble started last fall when I put my foot down and set boundaries: didn't let her just have carte blanche to bring friends home after school to hang out, watch tv, eat, and not clean up after themselves, and then leave the house without telling me where they were going. Made her clean up the downstairs before she had guests over instead of promising me that she would do it later, or that she and her friends would clean up.

    This inner turmoil is just with me all the time now. I don't know how to be an effective parent anymore. I feel like I've let all my kids down, but particularly her. I don't know how to fix this.

  2. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    I think you and DEX need to sit down and have a conversation about this...and her. Just like when you were married and lived together, the best way would be to have a united front on these decisions. Would he be willing to do that?

  3. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    I absolutely agree with Suz. You and ex need to sit down with kids and have ex tell them that wherever they live they will respect both parents. No kid should decide based on adolescent hormones and attitude. In addition a discussion with ex regarding plans for the summer. He has to put his foot down in the same foot print you put down. She has to have some structure to her day and some supervision. 13 is way too dangerous an age to leave her unsupervised.

    I think our easy child's do harbor a lot of resentment about our difficult children. My sweet easy child turned into a raging stubborn teen in a matter of days. He has legitimate reason. Most of our energy was spent on difficult child.
    easy child had to hear a lot from me about carrying a chip and to look around at the good stuff in his life. I basically told him to get over himself. In addition I did make a point of focusing on him. He obviously needed more than I was giving him. I doubt easy child will ever forget the chaos difficult child brought to his life but life doesn't dish things out fair and he had to wake up and look at his blessings.

    The dump she calls your house makes you feel guilty and nothing is ever gained when you talk to them with guilt hanging over you. You are doing the best you can and if you can do better then do it. In addition what is easy child doing to improve her situation? If she is part of the problem then she should be part of the solution.

    Of course, reasonably nothing gets through a 13yr olds head but this is the time to teach. She won't admit to hearing any of it until she is 20 or older but you have to pour lots of life lessons in while you can. None of what I said holds up when it's a difficult child you are dealing with.
  4. ML

    ML Guest

    I definitely agree with Suz and Fran. This is the age when, more than ever, a united front is absolutely essential otherwise they will divide and conquor. I agree with you about your concerns regarding supervision. If she stays with exdh I would want to know what his plans are in this area. If he won't get on the same page with you (and I hope will) you might consider at least bringing her back to your home for the summer. Hugs of strength and support xo ML
  5. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    Thank you for reaching out to me about this. There are two filters that affect how I see/react to situations, and they are: my own hopeless anger about exDH's financial control over me, and my anxiety about my competence as a parent.

    When we started the divorce proceedings exDH did everything he could to present me as the less-fit parent so he could get sole custody of three minor children. During the trial he got onthe stand and painted me as emotionally frail, brought up an abortion I had as a teenager, financially profligate, and that I could not make difficult children behave like PCs, so therefore the kids should go to him. A confessed workaholic who spent perhaps five weekends in 14 years completely with his family, and only because we went away from home.

    During the intake interview at difficult child 2's third hospitalization, at age 11, I broke into tears and asked the social worker if I was the reason that our son was back in the hospital (he suffered from anxiety and ODD and we had been talking about applying consequences for his misbehavior and being consistent, it was before our separation but things had been deteriorating for a long time). There was silence from my husband and the social worker. I took that as a yes and it has haunted me since. I feel sometimes like there's nothing I can do that is good that cancels out the mistakes.

    I've tried to take my ego out of the picture and consider what is best for my easy child right now, and it is not being left alone all day. She has a "boyfriend" and people often tell me how beautiful she is. She is a candidate for getting involved sexually and as a survivor of too-early sexual involvment myself (and a disastrous unintended consequence that has haunted me for decades), I will do anything I can to protect her.

    husband is not a nice guy. People often remard that if he was so concerned about his kids, why has he dragged out a divorce and property settlement for nearly five years? My ex has assets in seven figures and I own one thing, my 2001 minivan with 134,000 miles on it. I don't own the house where I lay my head at night. His last motion filed was to stop paying me child support since my daughter was living with him, and to insist in court papers that now I can get a full time job and pay him cs for the two minor kids because he wouldn't be able to work as much since he'd have physical custody of the two! It would almost be funny if he wasn't so crazy and bent on getting back at me for leaving him. I didn't just wound his pride, I upset the financial house of cards he had constructed, and now a lot of people who admired him and thought him nearly a genius don't have such a high opinion anymore.

    It can't hurt to try to talk to him, but I'm not optomistic. I'm just trying to hang on until the appellate judges decide whether to enforce the divorce judgement (should know by Sept/October) or if they change the distribution, or worse of all, give him another day in court.

    Not even the Trumps took this long to finish their divorce!
  6. ML

    ML Guest

    I'm so sorry you're going through all this and I hope you yourself have legal representation!

    Divorce is hard on all kids, especially gfsg but for the social worker to imply it's your fault that you have a difficult child is just wrong. That makes me mad and frankly my experiences with social workers has been less than favorable (no offense intended to our social worker friends on board, you're the good ones). husband has worked in social services for 25 years and I could tell you some stories.

    I applaud you for looking at this in terms of what is best for the children. It's not easy to take ego out of the equation especially considering yours has taken quite the beating.

    I'm sending vibes of encouragement and support and tons of hugs xoxox

  7. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    I have to share one upbeat, positive moment, in the midst of all my bellyaching:

    Last night easy child called at 10 pm to ask for a ride to her dad's house from her friend Billy's. I had dropped her off at the ball park around 11 am so she could spend the day watching him play Jr. Babe Ruth. He also umpires. So Billy's mom, younger brothers and occasionally mom's boyfriend also show up a the ball field, then they usually go back to mom's house for a BBQ, sometimes to dad's home. They are a very nice family and I am glad for their friendship.

    However, my easy child assumes that I know that she is in their safe care all day long, for 12 hours, and that it's no big deal if I can't get her on her cell phone. Well, I disagree. She's too vague about her plans and she's tried that adolescent ploy of "well, I called my sister and she was supposed to tell you." She forgets I was a teenager too and I know every trick in the book.

    As per usual, we got into a heated debate that ended with her criticizing my parenting, my home, and my attitude. I said that's fine, but as a minimum I need to know where she is and with whom, even if she 'knows' that she's fine. what if there was an emergency?

    Well, she stalked off into dad's house (he reported to me the same frustration trying to reach her) to sulk. This morning I found a message she left on my voice mail while I was in the shower, telling me that she was going to the ballpark, then at noon they were going to Billy's cousin's house for a pool party, then back to the mom's house for dinner and she would be home around 7:30. She said dad knew her schedule as well, and said she'd talk to me later, and that if I needed to reach her she would have cell phone service until noon. And she said she loved me. No anger, no attitude. Just some switch flipped in her head overnight.

    Small victories.
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    This could have been my story 25 years ago. Excepting that L was an infant at the time and it dragged out until she was 7. And the ex accused me of far worse, and he did get custody. He never did ask for child support, though. I think he knew it would give me the upper hand. He is a self-employed attorney, so I provided health insurance through my work, which was a big chunk of change to him. It was my idea and he was definitely comfortable with it. L also got a portion of disability from social security when I had to quit working.

    The most difficult part of your story is that your daughter's wishes at her age are going to be given a lot of weight in court. Unless he is physically abusing her in some way, if she wants to go there and he wants to have her, they will probably let her go there.

    From my experiences, I have to wonder if your husband is doing most of this just to make you squirm? If he's a sadistic b*****d like mine was, he may stop if you give him what he is asking for - under the limits of the law, that is. With L's dad, he got custody right away. Being a married attorney whose wife knew the judge compared to an $8 an hour store clerk greased the skids there. But he and particularly his late ex-wife would force things back into court every 6 - 12 months. I spent a long time not getting therapy because I knew these things weren't my fault. And they weren't. But about the time L was 3.5, and they accused me of molesting her, I knew that I wasn't strong enough to handle it anymore. I was ready to give up on L as they wanted, and pressured not to from my family. So I got weekly therapy and medication.

    It took about 3.5 more years, but when L was around 7 I finally figured out that he was poking me with a stick and I was reacting, and he liked to see me squirm. He had left his ex-wife around then, and she was a big contributor to the hate. I had him over to the house and I told him if he ever brought me to court again I wouldn't respond, and I would never see L again. He was no fool. At the very least, he had a built in babysitter every other weekend and he could entertain his girlfriend du jour as he pleased without a very unhappy 7 year old throwing tantrums around the house, beating up the girlfriends' kids. He never pulled anything on me again.

    I'm sure your ex is totally a jerk. And it is unconscionable the way he has used your children to batter and malign you. With easy child being 13, he may have won that battle. I hope that you will find a way to not let him win the war with your happiness forever. I hope that you will contact your own attorney and ask him/her if she thinks he will get your daughter at this point, and what your financial obligations would be if he does. If so, it may be time to think about how to get on with your life so you can not only be your own person but also be better prepared for your easy child when she decides that her dad really is a jerk, after all. Attorney fees are way more expensive than child support, and child support will be based upon your income. How much is $50 - 100 a month child support worth to him in the attorney fees it would take to get it? Maybe if he realizes you aren't going to fight with him or be frightened of his winning anymore, he will stop picking on you.

    It seems inevitable that there will be some life-changing moments for you coming very soon. You should be the one in the driver's seat. Look up the child support matrix in your state and see what he's entitled to if she goes to live with him. They won't order more than you fit into on the scale. You won't have to go to three jobs to fill an unreasonable amount because that's what he wants. He doesn't need a dime. Educate yourself about what your rights as her mom are and get some help for your battered spirit. No one can live a happy life with a man like that dancing them on a string.

    Big hugs.
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    PS. You know, you're still entitled to 1/2 the marital estate. I figure you were married at least 10 years from your signature. Giving up the custody would entitle you to the divorce settlement. And when push comes to shove, your daughter may want to come back to you next year. And you'd be in the driver's seat.
  10. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    It's so sad. We separated in September, 2004, and the divorce was granted December, 2007.

    The reason it took so long was that exDH refused to settle fifty/fifty, which is the norm in our state for long term marriages (we were married 15 years at the time of separation), and that necessitated a trial. We went to trial in Sept. 2007. He dragged it out as long as he could by refusing to turn over financial documents until threatened with contempt, and then only turning over partial info. I had to hire a forensic accountant at my own expense to try to make sense out of his muddied money situation. I couldn't apply for alimony during this period because he refused to turn over his financials, so I lived on credit cards. I am in debt to Amex for $55,000. now and no way to pay it off. I settled with VISA several months ago. He gave me a little support during this period but not nearly enough.

    He also sued for sole custody, which immediately put us in the slow lane because we had to pay for a court-appointed guardian ad litem, basically a SW who spoke to us and the kids and tried to come to a resolution that everyone could live with. We had to have a separate custody evaluation done by the court, which involved all of us speaking to more social workers. In the end, the ad litem recommended joint legal and that difficult child 2 stay with dad as primary custodian because of his aggression towards easy child and me. The girls came with me.

    Three months after the trial the judge issued his decision, and I was awarded 68% of the assets. More than the half I had asked for. ExDH immediately filed an appeal which freezes all assets. We just had a hearing two months ago at the state court of appeals before a three-judge panel. ExDH brought in a new attorney for the appeal. How has he been paying them? His attornies are both partners with him in several real estate holding LLC's and he is giving them shares as opposed to actual cash. Though I have a sneaking suspicion that one or both of them is sorry they signed on. The appeals court has been taking five months to issue it's rulings, so I should have some kind of answer by Sept./Oct.

    At least, I hope so. I can't imagine he can drag things out much longer. Gulp.
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful



    I don't know what advice to give.

    If it were my child, no way would I let her live with a parent who let her run amuk, not if there was anyway I could stop it from happening.

    I know you trust the boyfriend's parents.......But a word of caution.......she should not be spending 12 hrs a day with a boyfriend and his family. Nor would I rely on the parents to provide adequate supervision, most especially for long periods of time. I made that mistake and wound up with a pregnant teen because the boyfriend's parents would just up and leave them in the house alone for periods of time.

    Your easy child is balking at home rules because she gets a free ride at daddy's house pure and simple. Odds are once daddy has an out of control teen on his hands (and he will if he gets custody) he'll be pushing her off onto you.

    Hoovers. I'm sorry. Wish I knew some wisdom to help.

  12. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer


    my fears exactly. And I will be sharing them in court when and if exDH pursues keeping easy child with him.

    It's hard enough to coax an angry, independent, strong-willed young teen back into the family fold; I have the added handicap of appearing that I am doing this just to keep exDH from cutting my support by 40%. My ex and his lawyer are going to have a field day with that in court and that is putting my stomach in knots.
  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Yeah, spending twelve hours a day with a boyfriend and family reminds me a bit of Levi Johnston. "I can't imagine that her mom didn't know what we were doing in the bedroom..."

    If you win the appeal, I think you will still get the 68% based upon what was there at the time. He's spending his 38%, unless I'm mistaken, regardless of how he is coming up with the funds. What a louse, by the way.
  14. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Sooooo how's the closet and reorganization process coming?

    If you are plus size you can send the clothes to me.....(lol) ahem.....

    What would happen if you told him that you did NOT want child support for the daughter? Do you think THAT would unloosen his belt and the knot in your stomach?

    I ask because while you wouldn't be gettinga chunk of cash every month I am SURE she wouldn't stop asking her dad for her necessities.

    Just a thought.
  15. recovering doormat

    recovering doormat Lapsed CDer

    Witzend: yes, he is a louse. I was the last one to see it, and even when I did, I still blamed myself for his pain over the divorce. It's how he's been able to play me for the past 21 years.

    there is no way in he** I will let my kid be alone all day at her dad's house (or mine, or a friend's) without a responsible adult supervising. Her older sibs are not candidates. If she refuses to voluntarily come to my home for supervision then I would call DCF and ask for their help, tell them she is at extreme risk. Dad hates to have his parenting abilities questioned, gets very hot under the collar.

    I have no problem with her dad keeping his child support, and letting her come to him when she wants something. He can also drive her all over town to her friend's houses, too, since the price of gas is going up and I can't be expected to absorb that cost.

    Star, havent' done the closet yet but I must, I must, because the pile of clothes on the floor is growing and it's comingled summer, winter and too small stuff. I'm just lazy and stuck in this latest head-spinner. I'm supposed to be on a treadmill or exercise bike trying to lose one of my chins before my baby brother's wedding next month. I swore I would not get on the dance floor with so much jello jiggling, but as usual, when I set a deadline to make myself look nice for others, I end up doing nothing.