Day 52 – Mixing it up

I’ve been recently reading the happiness project and finding the book fascinating. Not only is it inspiring hearing her story, I’m also enjoying all the facts and figures behind her own experience.

I took my SD horse riding today, with her glamorous mum in attendance too. I’d been having a lovely day until this point, swimming first thing and then playing with BB. I’d also finally made the perfect porridge, but anyway I digress.

So, I jump out of my car when I arrive at the stables and I’m greeted with the most awesome hug. All the anxiety about seeing her melts away as I give her a big squeeze back. We start walking towards the yard and her attitude starts towards her mum, berating her for not remembering her gloves and demanding she goes back to the car to check if she’d left them. No please or thank you, with a tone that makes my skin crawl. Her mum a powerhouse of a woman, a top director in a massive male dominated organisation, just turns back to the car to get them. I say to my SD quietly, not to undermine her mum, “you didn’t say please”. I get an eye roll, and a “yeah I always forget”, followed by a shrug. It makes my blood boil, but I feel it’s not my battle to pick.

My husband and I have decided (before this incident) to have a chat with her this weekend, to ascertain if there is anything upsetting her, before gently letting her know her behaviour won’t be tolerated and explaining why. We’re also going to lay out some boundaries so if her behaviour continues we can gently enforce and parent her in the right direction. We’ve discussed this at length to make sure we both have the same boundaries etc so there’s no crossed wires. I love my husband for supporting me when I’ve explained I’m struggling with this and putting an action plan together. I’m also glad he witnessed her bad behaviour towards me and my friend in Devon as well as finally aiming some in his direction.

Driving home from the stables, my head was in a spin. Why did her behaviour get under my skin so much? What triggered me to get so annoyed by it. I worked out in my head I found it rude and disrespectful. When reflecting I also was surprised to find it also stems from believing she should be more grateful for all the opportunities she has. My family and I were poor when my father walked out and I didn’t have as much opportunity as other children in my school. I remember one year everyone went to France on a school trip for a week and there were only 6 children left behind out of a year of 350. I was one of those 6.

I think I’m getting frustrated as I’d be so grateful to have the same opportunities as she is given, private school, a puppy when she asked her mum for one, horse riding lessons, dance, gymnastics. I was lucky enough to have riding lessons, but I helped out at the stables from a young age for free to get it discounted.

In a way it’s not her fault that she’s not grateful as all she’s known is privilege. It’s also not her fault my background and how this may irk me more than someone else. It’s not her fault that growing up she knows she can ask her mum for whatever she wants and her mum has the money (and the guilt of going 10 days/2 weeks without seeing her often) to give it her.

So where does this leave me (apart from craving a drink and probably in a need of some therapy). It’s the night before she’s due here and I feel sick and anxious again (desperately wanting a bottle of wine). The happiness project talks about how when she does a task for someone, if they praise her it makes her happy. When she doesn’t receive praise or she is met with rudeness it makes her angry and sad. This the affects her happiness for the rest of the day.

I’ve decided in my head, I’m going to mix things up. Instead of telling myself I’m doing things for her, that I’m doing them for my gorgeous husband. I know it makes him happy me investing time with her, planning things to do, surprising them both with dvd nights etc. I know it will improve our relationship and hopefully we will both reap the benefit of that. So when I get an eye roll, a rude answer back or getting ignored for some thing I’ve done for her, I’m going to tell myself whilst she may not appreciate it, deep down my husband does. I’m hoping this will move me on from the anxiety and in turn stop linking her behaviour to my own personal happiness. I also hope it improves my relationship with her over time.

What’s your thoughts?

Day 52 everyone 🥳

Love

JS xx

Published by lifesippingaway

36 years old, wife, stay at home mum, outdoors lover, wild swimmer, starting the journey to an AF life

19 thoughts on “Day 52 – Mixing it up

  1. SO. MUCH. OF. THIS!!! I also have a blended family. I love this post, because it really makes me think about how I get annoyed when my step daughters act out. I love your resolution to this, and it honestly made my heart smile.

    I know my youngest SD is going through some things at home, and it’s super tough sometimes. I always think that talking through it is the best way to go. The role we play as step parents is tricky, especially in how we go about these things. 💖

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    1. Thanks so much Amy, it’s so nice to hear I’m not alone as some times it feels being a SM is a pretty lonely place. I really feel for my SD, her mum works away a lot and when she’s in her custody she gets moved around a lot. I think that topped with me having a baby is the core of this, but I might be wrong. We used to get on so so well together until lock down and I’m so sad I’m starting to dread her staying. She only acts out to women too, very rarely her dad or other Male friends which I cant fathom why. Any way thank you and I’m so pleased I made your heart smile ♡♡♡

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  2. I’m so glad your husband will be working with you on the behavior issues. I bet once you are a united front with her dad, things will get better. Ultimately, you have the opportunity to do her a huge favor by helping her to understand the effects of her behavior now. It’s much harder to learn those lessons later. Hugs! 🤗

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    1. Thanks Leafy, I agree. I know we all have our moods and good days and bad days but some of the stuff is so eye watering rude. I just want it to be when she’s older we have a great relationship, but it’s so hard xx

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  3. I think you’ve sussed it in your reply above – things and privilege are not substitutes for time and attention from parents and with you having a baby she probably feels insecure in her place in the family right now. Also teenagers are rude – even securely attached ones! The task of adolescence is separation and individuation and that involves a degree of rejection of your parents hence the sighs, the eye rolls etc. Doesn’t mean you’re not right to have clear boundaries and expectations. The fact you’ve got on well before is great and means you have a good base – your plan sounds great too – she needs to feel important and loved even if her behaviour makes you feel otherwise. Some special 1:1 time with her dad would help too – mums tend to be the primary attachment figures so mums and mum substitutes cop the most negativity. Sorry for going on – I’m a child psychiatrist so this is my area and I can’t help myself sometimes! Xx💞💞

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment, really really appreciate your advice. I could understand if she was a teenager but she’s in year 2 at school so 6-7, which seems so young for teenager behaviour (I could be completely wrong). Her nan has told her mum her behaviour started like this when she was 6 and they had to take her to dr when she was 8 as her tantrums were so out of control, which worries me. Her mum brushes it off and thinks it hilarious that she was strong willed.
      I currently make sure she has some alone time with her dad so once a week if not more, a trip to the park or them doing a fun task/project together and then I try and spend some 1 on 1 time with her too, so going for a walk, watching a dvd, horse riding etc.
      I think (but could be wrong) the root of it is entitlement and insecurity so pushing boundaries, attention seeking, demanding tasks and gifts etc. It’s just so hard when you’re living with it. I spend mostly 60% of my time now (we have her 60%) miserable, putting on a fake smile. So I would whole heartedly welcome any advice Fingers crossed the reframing works. Thank you again ♡♡♡♡ (sorry for the long comment)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think kids are entitled at 6. They are scared, lonely or insecure and looking for love and attention. Just think, this little child has already experienced her parents separation and now has a sibling and a step mother. It must all seem very overwhelming.

        In the end the most important factor is trust. She needs to trust you and know that you will love her no matter how she acts. My personal thought is to be her friend. She already has a mother, no matter how she acts.

        That trust is delicate and takes time and patience. Tough love and rules don’t work. It’s a fine line between punishing and correcting behaviour. Kids are completely selfish and they don’t really develop empathy for others until their teens.

        Anyway, that’s what I have found. Not all kids are the same, and maybe people would think I am too soft, but my kids are nice people.

        You are doing a good job.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Anne, that’s a really good way of looking at it. The most of the time I am her friend, it’s just hard as I spend a lot of 121 time with her so you do end up having to parent a fair bit too.

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      3. Yeah. Step families seem very complicated and I am thankful I have full custody and that my kids are pretty much grown up.
        From friends I see that is is not easy to find the balance.
        Hug

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      4. I assume she was a teenager from the description! I think the lack of time with mum (emotional needs not met) plus the entitlement of privilege especially if the time replaced with things is a toxic combo – from your next post you are doing a great job – she needs time, love and boundaries – when kids don’t know where the boundaries are they get anxious and anxiety can show as all kinds of behaviours. She is lucky you are so thoughtful and caring and it will pay off! 💞💞

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  4. That is so tough, you know I understand the SD issues, but you have a great approach to it. It’s all about reframing / lowering expectations. I need to do this also. Often times when I try to connect / interact / suggest something to mine, it’s just met with an unenthusiastic reply so I give up and do my own thing. I need to remind myself (a LOT!) that she’s just a kid and I need to be the adult!!

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  5. i kind of think your excitement and inquiry towards her would be valuable. live vicariously through her. ask her about the things she gets. get the good stuff (eye contact, her sitting and sharing, a pleasant upbeat tone) while talking about the stuff stuff. also, entitlement, in general is hard to stomach. i am dealing with that a little bit in my storyline. i use a “come now, you’re much too cute to be so rude” and call a spade a spade. loving, gently, before i get irritated. and if i start feeling the burn…. which i do… i check myself: am i hungry, tired, needing a shower. and just make sure i am not unnecessarily irritable.

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