Stepchild Responsible?

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-23-2010
Stepchild Responsible?
54
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 10:56am

If a stepparent has a poor relationship with their stepchild, who do you think has primary responsibility for it? The stepparent, the legal parent or the stepchild?

If a stepparent is emotionally unhealthy, emotionally abused the child, does the child have responsibility for "lashing out" at said stepparent for the demise of the relationship?

I'm really concerned about the ideas being populated in my daughter's head with her SM. Apparently, SM and ODD are trying to improve their relationship (good thing, she has another five years of dealing with her as a minor) but what is troubling me is my daughter passionately states she is also responsible for the demise of their relationship "because I take out my anger on her". It sounds an awful lot like my daughter has been emotionally worked over to internalize the failings of the adult who has been emotionally abusing her for years. SM admits very little wrongdoing but because she rarely does, my ODD gives her entirely TOO MUCH CREDIT for it and accepts more responsibility for a poor relationship with SM than I think she owns. SM goes on to tell her how she has to "get online and get help to become a better stepmother"...which on the surface is WONDERFUL news but then I'm watching my child cry over this gesture by her SM, I think so happy she recognizes she isn't doing a great job in her role that ODD clings to anything said by SM and trips over herself (something I recognize I do with people too, which is why I find this a huge red flag) taking on more of the responsibility for a failed relationship with this woman.

I realize at 13, my daughter owns her parts played in a poor relationship with her SM and I told her as much. But I am concerned about the small gestures and clever manipulations of my ODD's huge heart...with the water works, the "I know you love your Mom buts....", the blame game onto a child and the like.

Who is responsible? Am I just being an overprotective mother or is there some foundation for my fears? How would you counsel a daughter crying about it and blaming herself?

She seems overly sympathetic to SM, like SM is a victim of everyone else but herself, with only a mention here or there where she *might* have some responsibility. I don't view that as really owning your part, as an ADULT, in it but really communicating the child has to fix it. And it's obvious to me that's what my daughter feels she needs to do...she loves her SM because she's "family". And I agree with her but the emotional manipulation that is going on really concerns me.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-2009
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 10:58am
I think a 13 YO and an adult are not equal partners in anything.
A Stepparent is as much a parent as an ex-wife is a wife.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-28-2008
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 11:02am

I have never, ever believed a child has a responsibility in the relationship with an adult.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-11-2004
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 11:03am
When it comes to relationships between adults and children, I feel the adults have most of the responsibility to make the relationship work. A child isn't really mature enough to realize everything that goes into a relationship, and they shouldn't be forced to bear the brunt of fixing said relationship.






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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-28-2008
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 11:10am
And I'll just add that BD and SM tried to "make" my two responsible parties in the relationship with SM.
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-07-2009
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 11:57am

There are plenty of instances where a teen or otherwise surly young adult has decided he or she isn't going to like the person no matter what.

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The Honey disclaimer>>

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-23-2010
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 12:06pm

Okay. So I'm not out of mind mind to think SM has emotionally placed responsibility onto a child unfairly?

My daughter was crying last night when discussing this which just alarmed me in and of itself. She was PASSIONATELY telling me how she is responsible, overly sympathetic for SM's position and how they are trying to improve their relationship.

I'm all for improving their relationship I just question how SM is going about it as the ADULT. My daughter makes excuses for her, "she has anger problems", "she feels disrespected", "she feels Dad favors me over her", just to name a few of the gems I heard from my daughter's mouth last night while crying how she is to blame and how "I (me) don't get that part".

I DO get that part. I DO get the fact my daughter can be a PITA at times like any kid. I get that my daughter may have been disrespectful. I get that she has lashed out at SM.

I asked some pointed questions to try and get to the heart of why my daughter might lash out at her SM. "Are you misplacing anger that belongs towards Dad or me?" "Do you think SM might deserve some of your anger for abusing you?", "Do you feel emotionally safe with SM and that makes it easier for your to blame her?"...and the like to try and get to whatever it is my daughter might have "stuffed" which seemed obvious to me because she's crying and has internalized more blame than I think she should be owning.

But it's their relationship to fix...I know that. I'm not a party to it but I do worry about my daughter being emotionally abused further in this "endeavor".

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-2009
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 12:09pm

I think you owe it to your DD to protect her from emotional abuse.

A Stepparent is as much a parent as an ex-wife is a wife.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-20-2010
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 12:15pm
This is so sad and SM is a beast. My SD is 14 and I just cannot imagine putting something like this on her. She and I get along beautifully and have never had any issues aside from sassy mouth sometimes but very rarely and I hope it stays that way. This isn't right RP and I feel sad for your girl. She really needs to be with you. You have every right to be concerned and I would just talk as much as you can with your daughter about it to help her. Why can't you get her back now?
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-23-2010
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 12:17pm

"I think you owe it to your DD to protect her from emotional abuse. It seems to me that YOU are putting a lot of the blame on her, as noted by your questions to her."

Those are clarifying questions meant to remove my bias Best. I want to get to the heart of my daughter's emotional conflict with her SM since she confides in me about it. I want to best help her navigate and process it without trying to manipulate her myself through such confidence.

"It seems to me that YOU are more concerned about SM than about your DD."

Not at all. I'm concerned about my daughter and what is ultimately in her best interest. To have an improved relationship with her SM but a genuine improvement not based on emotional manipulation on either side of it: SM or ODD doing it to the other. If daughter has misplaced anger for me or her father, that needs to be addressed instead of her using SM as her personal target for purging.


"Are you getting any counseling for DD to help her stop blaming yourself?"

I don't have enough time with her for that and then if I do, I have to notify her father because we are joint legal custodians which means I would betray her confidence in me to him. That will start a chit storm at her father's home, which is the whole point of her conversation with me. A trusted adult in her world...a rare thing for her.

"Are you trying to get custody? I do not understand."

Yes. I am. However, emotional abuse is a very difficult thing to prove in court and it has taken me years worth of documentation to get to a point of having a position to file. I'm waiting on a filing until after my move closer to ODD in January.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-2009
Mon, 09-27-2010 - 12:20pm

I dont think your DD will ever be able to have a decent relationship with a SM who emotionly abuses her, so IMHO, you should give that up.



I am not saying whether or not emotional abuse could be proved, I just think most courts will look at what children of a certain age have to say.

A Stepparent is as much a parent as an ex-wife is a wife.

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