Welcome Chuck. I have a few questions as their answers will affect my response:
First off, how old is your difficult child?
What behaviors/actions has this difficult child exhibited toward your spouse?
Is this the child's parent or step-parent?
It helps alot if you could give some background information on your difficult child. Doesn't have to be tons, but like age, diagnosis, is difficult child in treatment or on medications, some of the behaviors you're dealing with stuff like that. Gives us a better picture of your situation and what you're dealing with.
But I can put an answer to your question somewhat. My husband seemed to hate my difficult child T for pretty much most of his life. He was always angry at T, always short tempered and had no patience what so ever with T. Nothing I did seemed to help. And most of the time T wasn't doing anything intentional to husband or anyone else. He was just being a difficult child. But boy could he drive you to the edge and back. :wildone: husband used to say that T only did the things he did just to drive husband crazy.
As we went thru the diagnosis process, treatment process, I forced husband to always come with me to every appointment. As we began to get correct dxes, and docs who cared and explained those dxes, husband began to see more and more that most of T's behavior was not deliberate. Sadly though, my husband didn't begin to come around until T was about 14. His feelings and behavior toward T have drastically improved, but their relationship will never be close.
Understanding the disorders was the key for my husband when it came to difficult child T, then by the time N got her dxes he took it in stride.
It is so very hard when both parents aren't on the same page.
A non-bio partner has no vested interest in your child. Some partners will take on the child emotionally as an extension of their new love; others see the child as an intrusion.
Or you could be misreading the situation. If your wife has actually said to you, "I find it very hard to love your child," then value the honesty. it can't have been an easy thing to say.
You need to sit and talk about it, for the sake of your relationship. You need some ground rules, both of you. How involved does she need to be with your child? How involved do you want her to be? How involved does she want to be? Does she want to get to know your child, or does she want to keep her emotional distance?
On what basis is her relationship to be with the child? What were your expectations? Hopes? Can you let go of them? Ask her - do you need to let go of them?
The parenting responsibility has to fall primarily on you.
My H is stepdad to my difficult child and I know in his heart he loves her. On SOME level they have a connection and parent/child respect for one another.
HOWEVER, I notice that he seems a bit harder on her than easy child, and I notice that even though he knows he's pushing a button of hers, he sometimes doesn't back off. And I notice that difficult child won't back off either. And I notice that difficult child KNOWS when she's doing something she shouldn't or behaving in a manner that she shouldn't but STILL doesn't 'get' why H is upset with her. difficult child tends to exagerate H's reactions to her and his manner of parenting, and I shamefully admit that this was something I contributed to in the early years.
When she was younger and we didn't quite know what the heck was going on (rage attacks were termed temper tantrums and dealt with according to what you would do with a non-difficult child), I would intervene on difficult child's behalf when I thought H was being harsh or not understanding her plight, impatient with her, etc. I honestly thought I was 'saving' difficult child from being punished too harshly. Her cry was pitiful and pulled hard on my heartstrings.
With counseling, I learned to back off a little and allow H his piece with difficult child. He wasn't violent and just because his style of parenting was different from mine, didn't make it wrong. There were benefits to this, such as, difficult child needed to have a different perspective other than mine alone. difficult child also needed to learn how to get along with someone who wasn't always backing off or jumping through hoops to get her under control (that would be me). It also helped H to see that some of his methods weren't working and that there WERE other issues at play with difficult child - that she was not exhibiting typical child behavior or simply yanking our chains. Allowing H to parent his way helped him realize that we needed to work more as a team and be more understanding of difficult child and how her little head worked. It also helped give me some respite from always being the parent with difficult child. It helped me to also realize that while difficult child was a difficult child, she was also a manipulative young girl with ideas in her head that I couldn't control 24/7. By being 'understanding' I was enabling her in her difficult child-ness and not teaching her better methods of coping with herself.
I suggest family counseling. You can go alone, together, with or without difficult child, etc.
When there is a difficult child in the family it effects everyone in the home, but the difficult child should not be controlling everyone in the home. I'm sure your wife harbors some resentment if that's happened in the past. And I'm sure that wife feels second in line, after difficult child, if difficult child is dictating how the parenting is done, etc. Some of the dynamics of your relationship with wife and her relationship with difficult child depends also on how long she's been in your lives. My H has been in our lives since my children were babies - he was a close friend of the family. We've been married since difficult child was 6 and lived together for almost 2 years before that. Since difficult child's biodad lives a state away, H has essentially been her main male role model (not the absolute best, but pretty darn good along the way).
Share some more of your story and I'm sure you will find many good ideas, support and advice here. Welcome.
Some day soon, I will get the impulse to write it all here....
For now, difficult child is a 14 yr old female. I assumed custody after being on the left coast for most of her young life....terrible parental alienation....
I moved back to the east coast....and won custody in a few years based on educational neglect and abuse.
difficult child lived with me in our new house, and I got back together with a HS flame...
She has 2 almost easy child (in behavior anyway...one may be Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the other is somehow learning disabled....
We moved in together a year later, and got married after another year...
difficult child was acting out, but I suspected it was from the prior environment....she seemed to be thriving in the new environment....had to "sit" on her, but she got good grades and was making good choices for friends....
Out of the blue, seemingly, I grounded her for a semi-serious infraction at school, and on her way to her room, she called the Police and claimed abuse!!!
She had been acting out with the wife, but I NEVER saw it....caused problems between wife and myself....I had no idea what was going on when I was not present...but it was pretty bad, I guess....
When difficult child claimed abuse, I sought help from diagnosis, and ended up losing custody....
diagnosis has an undiagnosed mental illness, and they have been resorting to fisticuffs when difficult child doesn't get her way....
Grades since living with diagnosis are HORRENDOUS, and difficult child is living in a runaway shelter right now...Upcoming custody hearing will be hard, as I have not even spent time with my difficult child for a full year....she hates me, refuses to acknowledge me as her Dad....
difficult child has been diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, Dystemia and possible bi-polar..
Currently she is on Adderal XR, Lexapro, Depakote and Seroquel....
Doctors think there are good results, but diagnosis and difficult child have hidden the violent tendencies from everyone until now...
wife and I will be getting counseling together, but the custody trial is soon, and she doesn't know if she wants difficult child back in the home...what a mess...
Is there a chance you can get difficult child back??? Is she at all better where she is now??? Can she honestly come "home" with wife there? Is what wife did to her forgivable??? Can you honestly forgive your wife, if you never get to see your difficult child again, or have her living with you if you know it is the best for her. Can you forgive yourself... I know those are some hard questions to answer but I think you have to look into the future and how this is going to affect you and your difficult child. and your peace of mind....
All I know is I can never forgive my Father for all of the crap he pulled on me... He will be out of mine and my families life forever. But my stepfather/adopted Father who abused me also, came clean and apologized and tried to be a part of my life, not until I was older, but we now have a decent relationship.
Even though your daughter is a difficult child she is still a child and your child.
Good luck with this, I am sorry for what you are going through.
Sounds like a rough situation. The counseling will help you and wife come to terms about what is happening. Hopefully however this comes around will bring help for your difficult child. I'm so sorry you're in this place, it is a hard place to be. But there is a lot of support here and you won't be alone.
Was difficult child hitting wife? Was wife hitting back? A violent 14 yr. old is hard to live with. I wouldn't be able to live with my own kids hitting me after they get to be teenagers. Does wife know to call the police if difficult child hits her? Or was she feeling cornered? I agree that family counceling is a good idea even if difficult child doesn't live with you. There are alot of feelings that need to be resolved. I hope the custody hearing works for the best for all involved.
In all honesty, your child is very disturbed, but nobody has tried to help her.All those years with your ex made her worse. The only one who can help her is you. Why hasn't she been diagnosed yet? Has she seen a Psychiatrist? My guess is, to heal she will need a psychiatrist to treat her mental illness and many years of therapy too. The question becomes, are YOU (not wife) willing to invest in her and try to save her? I understand your wife's fear and hesitation, but she's not as invested in this child as you are--it's not hers--all she sees is a "bad" kid. I think your daughter is screaming for help. You're her last chance for it before she hits eighteen. It's a decision you have to make, and you won't please everyone. I agree that counseling for you and your wife is also in order. I just hope you can come to a resolution. Maybe your daughter needs a good Residential Treatment Center (RTC) (although I don't care for them myself--you need to look around and see which ones really help the kids improve and aren't just holding cells). Your daughter may have mental illness PLUS attachment problems due to your ex's behavior. She may beu unsafe at all. I'd say first order of business is an intensive evaluation. I wish you all good luck!
It's hard enough to live with a difficult child of your own, but to live with someone elses when they aren't treating you with respect must be even more difficult. I would start with the counseling and the two of you need to decide together what you can and cannot handle. Hopefully you will find a good counselor who knows how to get you two on the same page.
One last red flag. I've done foster care. Often when kids think to call the police for abuse it is because they've been abused in the past. Is there a chance she was maybe sexually abused by some boyfriend while living with your ex? I've found that boys who were sexually abused tend to act out on other kids, and girls tend to cry abuse to authorities. If she was sexually abused she needs a very special sort of help and understanding. I hope it's not too late. I know this is all so difficult for all of you.
Bio dad and I have been separated for more than 5 years, and he has no idea the level of difficult child 2s issues. I just told him he had problems a month ago. With that said I am worried about getting in a relationship with anyone, because I am afraid of how they will react when they meet my boys. I wouldnt blame anyone for running in the opposite direction if they were to find out they were dating someone with difficult children. After dating, and eventually marriage, I see nothing wrong with disliking a child occasionally. But hating, that would be a problem.
Welcome to the board. My DF (dear fiance) and I have been together for 8 years. I left difficult child's father and took him with me when he was 6, he is now 16. To say it's been one H of a ride would be such an understatement. DF has a daughter that is married, 26 and has no contact with him due to (we think) jealousy over his involvement with difficult child.
When DF and I were dating for the first six or seven months there was no meet the boyfriend type situation. After that a dinner at the house and difficult child fell in love with him. A year later we made a decision to share a home and with difficult child's permission DF moved in. We moved six months later to a bigger home everyone still with their own rooms, difficult child picking his room first so no hard feelings. A while later he asked difficult child permission to marry me and we became engaged. THAT is when it all changed for us. When DF actually became part of difficult child's family, it was like someone flipped a switch and it became his mission to split and destroy. The words exchanged between them were horrific. difficult child would tell me that DF wanted (fill in the blank) and then would go tell DF that I wanted (fill in the blank) and had us running all over getting angry at each other. We'd never "checked" with each other before. difficult child was living to divide us and make DF move out. IN his mind if DF was gone, all MY time would be HIS. What he neglected to realize was that if DF was gone? All my time would be spent working to afford this big house...and he would be at daycare. So we told him. Still didn't make a difference.
When going "after" DF didn't seem to punch holes in his character, he started on me. Intensely. I had been treated badly by difficult child in the past but NOTHING like this. At one point my son even spat in my face. DF responded in kind by finding this out and spitting in difficult child's face. He said in all his years on the road, as a biker....he had NEVER spat in anyones face...difficult child was the first, but he made him nuts. At many points I was sure I would come home to see the boxes packed, the tools loaded and the bedroll on the bike. I actually at some point looked forward to it. AT least then I would only have one person to argue with. What I know now is FOR SURE that difficult child's grow up, move out, move on and to some degree whether they eek out a life for themselves and get therapeutic help or not...we're left behind as parents. My thoughts now are that I don't want to be left alone. I wan't to have someone to hold my hand and love me when I'm old(er) and gray. (not putter er, cause I'm not gray yet). I love my son, but he's going to have a life of his own. Then where am I?
THe flip side of that last statement/question is If we don't help our kids when they are younger, then where are they? ARe they 21 and still living in our houses, ruining our privacy, eating our food, asking us for money for gas, peaving us off, making us old before our time when we should be loving the twilight times with our mate? Do we allow them to do that? No. I see so many people who have dysfunctional children, that grew up to be dysfunctional men, and now at 50 still aren't able to make a living for themselves. Do you want that for your daughter?
At this point in her life I would stick to the facts. She's 14. She's quite a mess. She's not going to change overnight. There is no pill that will fix her. It's going to take stability, trust, therapy, (probably medications), and a lot of understanding, plus family therapy to put this kid back together. It's a lifetime investment. You'll wear out your knees praying. IT may cost you your marriage. It may cost you your entire life savings, your home...your health. You may be her only chance, and she may come out a winner. You may be her only chance and she may never change.
That's the reality of it. No one knows WHAT the outcome will be for you. But for any child the best thing to do for any chance of hope is to get them evaluated, get them stable, and start working on trust. In about 3 years maybe that's the best you can hope for. Trust isn't just there because you're dad....it's earned. As for your wife. WHO CAN BLAME HER? My DF like I said, been here 8 years....and maybe JUST NOW last few months could say he liked 'our' kid. My son even asked him at age 10 "can I call you DAD?". Love him? Sure. Like him....mmmm Not so much. AM I ok with that? 3 years of therapy later? Yeah, cause my kid has put US (not just me) US through HE!! US....as in the other person that has to PUT UP with the little devil that inhabits our otherwise peaceful home but when he is here turns it upside down and shakes it like a snowglobe? Yeah....that's him.
Hope this perspective helps. I'm the You parent in this story, and I don't blame your DF not one bit for not wanting difficult child to come and rock her world. There would have to be some INTENSE counseling /parenting classes...before I'd let your daughter come live with me, and I HAVE a difficult child. Residential Treatment Center (RTC) sounds better at the onset with home visits.
Come back often. We're here. Encourage wife to post her thoughts too. She'll get a lot of emotional support too if she's interested.
Chuck, I do not have nor have I ever had the kind f problems you do however I did foster kids for over 20 years. The ones whose parents worked with me did way better than the ones whos parents undermined me. From that observation I would suggest that you and your wife get into and stay in counceling indefinately. The job of raising your difficult child is going to be a very rocky road. You and your wife need to be on the same page and need to be a unified force. Your difficult child will try to triangulate you. Video tapes of her behavior and interactions with you and your wife will be very helpful for her therapist and yours. Tiny, easily hidden nanny cams are inexpensive and can prove invaluable. You might want to consider an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for a while to transition your difficult child back into your household. They will work on getting her medications in order, behavior modification and psycotherapy. She is only 14. There is still time to get her on track. It won't be easy and you and your wife will need all the help you can find. -RM