DD worries me

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DD worries me
« on: March 10, 2018, 09:43:20 AM »
There is an aspect of DD11's personality that really has me worried. There are people in her life who are, as I call them "hot and cold." One minute they're super nice, the next they are shunning her. stbx is one of them, but there is also a girl at school who likes to play games with the other girls (manipulation, control, pit them against each other).

So two things have been happening almost simultaneously - stbx and this girl.

stbx: We've been living separately for not quite a month yet, he's had two weekends with them. The first weekend went great, the second weekend, not so much. DD became the outcast, she was sassing, talking back, etc because stbx was essentially making the kids scrub the house clean when they needed to unwind and get homework done (DD had a huge project due the following week but cleaning took priority). DD also had a lot of activities scheduled on his weekend (something stbx hates).

So I'm not sure if he was 'punishing' her because of all of her scheduled activities or if it was her attitude (which isn't new), or if it was a combination of both. stbx reacts by lavishing all of his attention on DS14 (who knows exactly what games his dad is playing). He even goes as far as to hug DS and make a point of telling him hom much he loves him...and ignores DD. She is so hurt by this, crying on the phone and wants me to come get her and take her to my house.

Fast forward to his one night last week - and he's back to his nice self with DD and she's fawning and eating it up. As if the past weekend never happened. He's best daddy again.  :stars:

Meanwhile, at school this girl is trying to be better and get along with all of the other girls (she's been spoken to about her behavior). DD is sitting with one of her friends when this girl wants her to go off with her and leave the group of friends she's sitting with. DD does, and one of the friends she abandoned got upset. DD gets upset, can't figure out why this friend was so upset that she left with the girl. Then DD tells me the only reason she left her friends to go off with this girl (at the girl's request) is because she didn't want the girl to get upset and start crying. DD also tells me that this girl is being nice and she's going to play with her for as long as the niceness lasts.  :stars:  It's a cycle that's been repeated ad nauseum.

I try to explain that this isn't good, that she should have a group of friends who always treat her well and with respect, but it falls on deaf ears. She continues to placate these people who are alternately mean and nice to her. It's making me crazy!

Is there anything I can do to help her? She is in therapy, but rarely opens up about what goes on at home (she finally did a little at her last session). Do I just need to wait it out and let her decide on her own that these people aren't worth being near? I'm fearful this is her pattern, and that this is what she will continue to seek in her friends and eventually her boyfriends/future husband. It would break my heart to see her follow in my footsteps.

Any advice?
You can't destroy me if I don't care.

Being able to survive it doesn't mean it was ever ok.



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Re: DD worries me
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2018, 11:38:10 AM »
I'm so sorry you're going through this. Your DD's friend sounds like one of my DD's. The friend of DD15 (in the past) would try to isolate one of them from the rest, and she'd seem to cycle through the friends every year. A few years ago, I spoke to my DD15 about boundaries and how important they are. I told her that each of us is allowed to decide what boundaries are right for us and to enforce them. I also spoke to her about empathizing with the other friends who aren't "in favor" at that moment and how this girl is trying to isolate one of them from the rest (a group of 5 or 6 girls). DD15 and I ran through scenarios and how DD would react. For example, if Nellie Olson (how I describe her to my friends when I talk about this situation) tried to physically force herself between DD and her best friend at the lunch table, DD would intentionally not allow that but would instead show Nellie where she could sit at the table. If Nellie tried to get DD away from the group, DD would politely tell her that she was going to stay where she was.

I was very proud of DD one year because she asked me if it would be ok if we didn't carpool with Nellie and her mom because of things Nellie had quietly said to her. I told her that that was an excellent boundary and asked her if she'd like me to phone or text the mom. She asked me to text her, and DD read and approved the text before I sent it.

Now, a few years later, DD and Nellie are friends (Nellie has gotten better the last year or two) and all seems to be going ok.

What your X is doing is behind cruel. I just cannot wrap my head around parents who do this sort of thing. My uNPDxH has done things along this line with our adult sons, and there's nothing I can do to buffer the pain for our SG eldest son. My heart aches for you and your children.



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Re: DD worries me
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2018, 08:07:41 PM »
I have no advice, other than to say that other children have similar behaviours. With my son I suspect it's part of his personality but its developmental as well.

My son is completely resistant to peer pressure or shame. He is also an extrovert who needs friends, and will accept anyone as a friend with little judgement. Over the years, through life experiences he has learnt the hard way that true friendship is complex and he made better choices on who he wanted to be friends with. So his friend group has changed from the troubled kids to migrant kids. I have the same repetitive stories of 'friends' who are hot and cold and I have spent countless hours coaching my son on how to make and maintain friendships and finally now as a 16 year old he gets how it works.

My daughter as an introvert does not need any friends but for some reason seems to have a large collection of friends who are generally well behaved kids. No coaching need here. Life seems unfair sometimes.

How does your daughter view friendships? In her eyes, what make a true friend? What is the difference between a friend and an aquatance? What are your obligations as a friend? Should we forgive but not forget previous bad behaviour? Etc. etc.

It seems from your story that she sees friendship as being very fluid and without boundaries. Maybe this could be a topic for the therapist.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 08:41:39 PM by MaoMeow »


Penny Lane

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Re: DD worries me
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2018, 03:34:59 PM »
I'm sorry you're going through this, it sounds really hard to watch. You know what will happen if she continues this behavior long term, but she just doesn't see it (like many preteens, I suppose).

I wonder if you can use the problems with the friend as a way of planting a seed with her about how to handle the bad behavior on her father's part. With my stepkids, my SO and I try really hard to not criticize their mom. But sometimes we'll described the way she treats the kids or handles things and how we would react differently. It's in a context totally removed from their mom, but the hope is that we can help build up their confidence. Then eventually the seed will take hold, so to speak, and they can be like "oh, yeah, I don't deserve to be treated like this by mom." So for example SO and I had a conversation with the older kid about how we set boundaries with our own parents and when it's appropriate to do that and when it's not. They can't really do anything with that information now but hopefully in 20 years the kid will think back and be like "well dad taught me that it was normal to set boundaries with my parents in my own home."

Your DD is a little older than the kids here, and it seems like the older the kids get the less willing they are to listen to us telling them stuff. I wonder if she would respond to some gentle questions. Like Do you think she's being nice to you because she really likes you? Do you think she's going to be your friend long term, or she's going to eventually go back to being mean? If she goes back to being mean, what kind of relationship do you want to have with your other friends? Do you think you hurt your other friend's feelings? Do you feel comfortable around Mean Girl, or do you feel like you're walking on eggshells? What do you think about? How do you feel when you're with other friends?

Even some of these seem pretty heavy handed and pointed, but you get the gist. The point is to get them thinking about what outcome they want and how to get there.

The other thing I do is say I statements and don't really weigh in on what the kids should do. Even saying "you could" instead of "you should" I think makes them more willing to listen. So maybe something like, I don't like being around people who are hot and cold, because I feel really tense if I don't know whether they're going to be mean or nice. Or, I've found that sometimes people cry because they know it will make me want to do something for them, and if I do it then I'm teaching them that crying works. Then they'll cry more. So what I do is generally walk away when they do that.

With the older kid we've also used the example of younger sibling. So like, "you know how sibling used to have tantrums in the grocery store? Well dad started just not giving in to any tantrum, and guess what, sibling stopped tantruming. Sibling got the message that getting a tantrum doesn't get you what you want with dad. But when sibling whines and you give them your stuff, that they learn that whining works with you and it'll star t happening more and more."

You never know if these things are taking hold ... and then all of a sudden kid comes home with a story about how they didn't give in to a schoolmate's tantrum and they told all their friends that if you give in to a tantrum it just teaches them to keep doing it.

Hopefully some of this helps? I really hope you can use this as an opportunity to teach her some coping skills for difficult people.