DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!

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cant turn back

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DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« on: March 13, 2019, 06:34:53 AM »
Iíve been moved out of our family home for 14 months, only about a mile away, in a condo.  DD15 spends a week with me then a week with her dad, still in our family home.  We are officially divorced, since December.  We are done with Court and I donít anticipate weíll be back.  We are not amicable and he wonít speak to me, avoids me at every turn.  We email or text and only when necessary.  After 14 years of being a disgruntled, unhappy, dad in the background of life who complained about everything, liked to argue and yell and throw silent treatments so DD15 and I had to walk on eggshells... now heís the Disneyland dad, while Iím the bad cop.  He almost never drops his mask.  Before I moved out he bought a puppy, which has proven to be a very effective tool.  About a month ago DD15 and I had two incidents in which I was totally the bad cop.  DD15 has not bounced back and there is an ever present anger and resentment under the surface.  She is now generally distant, head in her cell phone, and apathetic about mostly everything, hates school, her grades are terrible.  The other thing ExH does is involve DD15 in every. single. decision.  Heaven forbid he discuss anything with me so we can coparent our child.  No, he gets her feedback and they are on the same page then when I do something outside of that agenda,  well, Iím the bad guy because it is not what she wants, while he gets her input on everything.  I have previously been ok with this because I donít mind being the reasonable one, there are rules and expectations in life, and, consequences.  However lately her gripes have been that all I talk to her about is school or grades or nag her or complain.  You know, parenting??  Disneyland dad apparently doesnít do this.  No they just have fun frolicking puppy time at his house.  Today she was having an emotional breakdown, crying, upset.  I asked her if she shares these feeling with her dad or if her volcano only spills over at my house.  She said she doesnít do this at dads, sheís mostly playing with the dog and just hanging out.  A part of me feels like she knows she can express these painful feelings she has safely with me.  Another part of me feels like why would she want to continue coming here when it causes her to feel like this, when she can have more fun, less pain and stress at her dadís house.  Now, I have become a problem in the eyes of my daughter. 
This is actually happening.  It is not exaggerated, not embellished.  You know when you see your kid and what is happening.  My gut instincts.
Tonight we were at her best friendís  house and the mom and I were commiserating about parenting struggles and she shared that my DD15 told her daughter that my DD15 likes being with her dad more than she likes being with me. 
PUNCH IN THE GUT.
How long until she says she wants to live with her dad full time?
Iím freaking out.
He is literally doing everything thing he threatened, systematically ruining my relationship with DD15, until she chooses him, just like he threatened.  Though, itís subtle, nothing overt.  But, itís happening, I see it.  I feel it.
MY HEART IS BREAKING.
Someone will say ďtalk to herĒ.  I do, I try.  She is no longer listening to me.  Itís like sheís checked out. Iím so scared of losing her.  Iím scared she will never see through her dadís games.  Iím scared of not having a relationship with her.
I know these are legitimate fears, because of this site, this section.
I feel like I am on a roller coaster of ups and downs, all dictated by how my DD15 is doing, day to day, hour to hour (still codependent I guess?)
Thoughts? Wisdom? Support? Please!!

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hhaw

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2019, 12:18:33 PM »
ctb:

I do think your DD knows you're safe to be herself with.  I also believe part of her wants guardrails, expectations and consequences in place, even as she resists and struggles against them.

I could say keep loving her, hug her, talk to her about what she thinks being an adult is, what she sees for herself, what skills and copies g strategies would be helpful to achieve goals she says she might set, but it's not that simple, I know.

I do know the bond you fear losing with DD is everything.  Cultivating that is key. 

I'd pull back, shift into observer mode if I could go back, and drop all judgement...really see my oldest DD when she was 15.  She's 18 now.

At 15yo she wasn't going to pass in school, but not passing wasn't the problem.  Only a symptom for a kid who could pass with almost zero effort.  It was her mental health that required attention.....not her grades.

We focused on school, git her special treatment, got her caught up, and then she asked for focus on mental health, which was a relief and also cause for terror, bc it made it real, and was ungodly expensive to send her to SUWS Wilderness Camp, where her T wanted her to go

You have a PD thwarting you at every turn, and what you're doing isn't working.  I offer the suggestion to read The Parallel Process, by Kristine Prozatek to gain insights and strategies on staying level and appropriate no matter what the PD does. 

Consider involving a T, who could potentially be an ally and advocate for DD.  You could suggest it based on the grade situation, so you're not auto blocked by the PD. 

I'm sorry whatever you do will be auto resisted.  I can suggest, once again, focus on the mother DD bond without judgment on the grades, attitude.  It's difficult to engage in loving warm feelings when you're living in so much fear and pain.

The fear shuts down your ability to think creatively, and act in new problem solving ways, Ime.

Read the book maybe.  Try to focus on something besides the problem.....for a while.  Anything.  Something you love.  Distract yourself with self care if you can. 

This helps your brain shift out of fight it flight mode, and engages your ability to problem solve again, ime.

How can you help DD navigate the next 3 years?  You can ask her what she wants.....and not suggest, tell or otherwise judge and see if this begins a shift in the relationship.

I can tell you that buying the puppy of dd's dreams didn't help, if you're considering it

DD feeling empowered by choosing what she needed for her mental health, and considers that time some if the most important in her life

I have a hard time now t fretting and worrying, btw.  It's what I've done to get through what I had to do, but it cost too much, and didn't serve my children. 

I know I didn't solve anything, but I hope I can help you reframe your situation, and gain some emotional distance.

There may come a day where you find yourself wishing bad grades and DD liking time at her dad's more was what you worried about.

The grades are a symptom, ime.

DD knows what you want.  She knows how you feel.  She's not responding positively so consider addressing the only thing you can.....your responses and actions, bc you can go nuts worrying about the ex and DD's behavior, ime.

Energy wasted, at this point, is energy spent wishing things were different.  Accept.  Radically.

Now.  What can you do in these moments?

Model behavior that benefits your DD, and self.  I really like the book for this reason.  You can learn new coping strategies, and DD learns from you.

Knowing what's important to address, and ignore, is helpful.

You have a narrow window of time, and these days will be gone in a quick blink so 90% research and 10% execution.

Make a good plan, then sail that course.  Doing what you're doing isn't working, so consider doing something else.

Good luck,
hhaw



What you are speaks so loudly in my ears.... I can't hear a word you're saying.

When someone tells you who they are... believe them.

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."
Nietchzsche

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cant turn back

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2019, 10:30:45 PM »
Thank you hhaw,
I so appreciate and value your feedback. 
Yes, what Iím doing isnít working. 
The grades are just a symptom, agree.
Iíve been pushing and advocating to get her to a therapist for more than a year.  ExH has been very against it (shocker).  Of course DD15 knows this so they are aligned and she doesnít want to go. She did go, 3 times last Fall.  She hated it and still rages at me about how I made her go.  The therapist wanted to have a check in appointment in February.  ExH said he would schedule and take DD15, he hasnít.  DD15 is now struggling more than she ever has.  The therapist had initially requested to meet with ExH and I together.  He refused to go.  He sabotaged it in every way possible.  Though, he will say he is just supporting what DD15 wants (because 15 year olds are a great judge of their mental health needs).  Meanwhile both ExH and I see therapists regularly and have for 2+ years.  Needless to say I am beyond bitter about this situation. 
However, I hesitate to push the envelope to schedule the appointment as DD15 is so opposed and currently do aligned with ExH.  Parental Alienation tactics can be very subtle and in the absence of ever really speaking to me or ExH or seeing our dynamics, Iím afraid the therapist might make things worse.  And, if DD15 is not really engaged, Iím afraid it just wonít be helpful. 
I wish I had the ability to just turn off my worrying brain.  I canít.  Yes, I feel like I am in fight or flight.
I am going to get that book you suggest.

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hhaw

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2019, 02:17:38 AM »
Hmmm... ex sees a T, but sabotages dd15 seeing her own T.  Unbelievable.... really crappy parenting, but what do we expect from a T?

And that's the problem.  We're always expecting something better, and we're always disappointed. 

I guess you adjust those expectations.  KNOW the PD will always sabotage his child, in order to get to you, and maybe attempt to get him off guard.  Maybe if he thinks you don't want DD in T,  he'll take her?

They're so darned predictable,  always choosing the lowest common denominator.  Always sticking a (fig) thumb in our eye, when given the chance.

Just spit balling here, but..... what if...

let's play what if?

Yes. 

What IF you let DD off the hook with her grades.  Let her know that you respect her choices... she's a young woman now.  She's the one who has to live with her consequences so she might as well make her own decisions.... then look at peace with that statement.

Don't bat an eye when DD refuses to do homework.  Don't bat an eye when she makes sad choices, and that's what they are...

her choices. 

I snapped to attention when my family stopped trying to control my choice, regarding a boy I was dating. 
My sister said..
"You really love him, huh?" and I remember my stomach DROPPED, bc for the first time I considered my actions, and I didn't like what I saw....  I FELT THE WEIGHT OF RESPONSIBILITY , and that wouldn't have happened when my FOO was constantly worrying and commenting. 

I'm not saying this is what you'll do.  I'm saying it's time to research.   Ask for help from a good T who specializes in teens, maybe who worked at SUWS Wilderness Camp for a few years, and can support YOU during this time... give you insights, and direction.  The book I suggested was suggested by SUWS, so you'll be heading in a good direction, IME.

I think dropping the rope, and turning our attention to something we have control over FEELS wrong, or like we're failing, or letting our child down, IME. 

I don't think that's the case.  I think that's part of what keeps us locked in the struggle.... it's counterintuitive, IME.

I had to ask myself...
 "Who am I, if I'm not the mom striving to solve her DD's health problems,  keep DD safe, always stepping in to shield her from discomfort, and anxiety?"

That was pretty terrifying to think about, if I'm truthful.   DD asked me to "stop trying to fix" her while doing T work at Wilderness Program, so I stopped... and it wasn't easy.  It was hard hard hard, but there's nothing like stories from parents struggling with kids cutting themselves, engaging in unsafe sex with strangers while drugged out of their minds, lost in big cities, running if not watched every second of every day..... TERRIFYING, and it got my nose to the grindstone, once I came out of shock, and stopped shaking... teeth chattering.  Failure wasn't an option.  We made changes, and change is hard.

Our brain pathways have defaults that get thick, and wide and heavy with fat.... myelinated axons.  Fat makes those pathways  FAST...... saltatory conduction.   They fire before we're aware they're firing, and this is why it's difficult to catch it, then work out a different response. It's exhausting to form new pathways, and nurture them so they grow, and the old defaults transfer that fat to healthier new pathways... the body is frugal, and doesn't sustain what it's not using. 

It's learning to catch ourselves, BEFORE we respond, and gifting ourselves with more choices.... educate ourselves about those choices, then mindfully select the ones that will likely get us more of what we want, while limiting the things we don't want.   Honestly, we have to find a way to get out of Fight or Flight mode, or it's an exercise in suffering, IME.

How can you relieve some of the stress in your life?  How can you help turn your brain off, and find some relief?  Meditation is popular, and I found that just becoming aware of my inner dialogue, and naming the way my body felt in the places I FELT the stress... is it my stomach?  Chest?  Jaw?  How bad is it?  What happened when it started?  Thinking about it, and feeling INTO it sometimes stops the anxiety cold, and gives me answers around the stress, IME.

For instance, I had an anxiety attack while DD was applying to a boarding school we couldn't afford AFTER the WIlderness Camp, and TBS.... and I felt so responsible for getting her IN when I had very little control over some of the things going on around me.  Once I could identify feeling responsible, without any control, my stress dropped, and I felt peace around it.  It was like magic, and is the closest I get to "meditating."  Being mindful of my inner world is something I can wrap my mind around, and practice.
 It's exhausting, but failure isn't an option.  Doing what I always do, therefore, wasn't an option anymore either.

Confusing.  Terrifying, but there are Ts who get it, and work with it all the time.  PD parents get kicked out of family T sessions at the SUWS wilderness program.... these folks see it all, and they have answers without thinking about it. 

One last thing... when DD18 went from a straight A student who hated weekends bc she was mad she couldn't BE in school 7 days a week, I thought... "she's trying on NOT trying."  She had reasons.  She was mad we changed schools, and mad she couldn't BE in advanced placement classes anymore, which she'd been a rock start at, and she wasn't worshipped by the other kids for doing their work... she was asked to stop raising her hand so much, stop blurting out answers before anyone else could answer, stop pumping her hand when she wasn't called on, and she just stopped raising her hand, and doing her work, and eventually stopped going to school. 

I thought dropping the rope, at that time, would be enough, but I was wrong.  I didn't know what to do, and I wish I'd have had the energy to put into parenting, the way I did before all PD hell broke loose.  I wish I'd have been proactive, read the books I needed, and been able to get my kids into T.... but the kids were jaded, and bitter from a summer of Psych evaluations in a custody suit, and vowed to NEVER EVER EVER see another T again. 

And you know what? Dropping THAT rope meant DD15 came to her own conclusions about needing a T, and asking for all the help we went on to get her.  I had to stop doing doing doing, and let her have voice, and I had to hear her, and make her feel she was heard. 

She didn't feel heard, ctb.

I had to learn how to listen, and HEAR her so she felt heard. 

Truth be told, when that DD speaks, there's like a filter that muffles what goes INTO my ears.  I'm not sure what it is, or why, but it's absolutely the truth, and I SEE it.  God knows dd has always felt it, since it was a thing.  I think having PTSD, and living under siege, while that DD fairly tormented me through 10 years of trials was what that was about, honestly.

My situation is not your situation.  My situation is about learning new parenting strategies, and being open to change. 

Again, good luck.

hhaw



What you are speaks so loudly in my ears.... I can't hear a word you're saying.

When someone tells you who they are... believe them.

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."
Nietchzsche

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cant turn back

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2019, 05:04:15 AM »
Hhaw
Today after I picked DD up from her after school sport, I tried a new tactic, completely supportive and Zen and open, active listening and supporting (much like you suggested).  I turned the other cheek when she hurled an F bomb when I told her we didnít have time to get donuts.  When we got home I didnt bug her to ready herself to shower and get ready for tutoring.  Left her to her own devices.  In the car, she was raging, yelling, angry, crying, throwing her phone... totally overwhelmed with everything she has to do and catch up on for school, she would rather work on all that than go to tutoring.   ĎWhy does she have to go to tutoringí.  She doesnít want to go today she is too tired and just wants to relax at home, I never listen to what she wants.  I make decisions without asking her.  I donít care about her.  Basically a big tantrum.  I was chill as could be thoughtfully giving short replies, supporting her.  In the parking lot at the tutoring place she is legit balling her eyes out.  Same line, why canít I listen to her or consider her feelings, she doesnít want to go to this tutoring place.  After a few light attempts to sway her, we just drive home.  She was relieved, yet still tearful, also, I think a little in shock that I drive away.  I tell her I worry because I know underneath anger there is pain and hurting.  I just spent a lot of time acknowledging her feelings and being there for her.  Told her how strong she was for managing a difficult boyfriend/breakup situation, an ex boyfriend she must sit beside in class everyday , which many adults canít do... coexist right beside an ex every single day (like her dad canít do, donít know if she caught that parallel).  And yes, another reason for her to hate school, the ex boyfriend issue.  We get home, she hibernates in her bed with her phone.  I pop in and out of her room with very light inquires only, question about laundry, etc, no discussion of all this homework she is allegedly worried about.  I sit by her in her bed and talk to her, continue to try and feed her loving  sentiments.  She is open to it and listening.  Iím not pressuring, I go watch tv for a short time then check back in with her, and I offer more support.  I ask her if she wants to come sit on the couch and watch tv, or she could bring her math or chemistry and I could help her get started on it.  She agrees to come sit with me and brings some homework.  REVOLUTIONARY. 
Relationally on this night things are a little better between us.  Which is tremendous. 
What is not good?  No homework completion whatsoever.  As she is crying and raging about all the things she has do and her worries about tomorrowís Math quiz because itís stuff she doesnít understand.  (I canít tell you how hard it was to bite my tongue and not say, WTF we were just at the tutoring place where you wouldíve got the help you needed!!!). I didnít go there, my poker face was good tonight.  So she is not prepared for her math test tomorrow, didnít do English or Chemistry.   She was busy with her phone for awhile, then on her laptop doing some mindless surfing.  I give her light redirects every now and then about opening up her homework.  She never does.   Then she fell asleep on the couch... like out for the night sleeping.
So?  I listened to her and complied with her wishes.  Some buy-in for mom, finally.  She heard me singing her praises and acknowledging the heavy burden she is carrying on her shoulders. 
Maybe sheíll just fail out of school?  Be ineligible to play her sport?  Do poorly enough to be homeschooled (her dream).  Learn if she is obnoxious enough she will get her way (contrary to her best interests).  I donít know.  Is this a new rabbit hole Iím going down?  Blindly supporting 15 year old whims and desires?  It feels so irresponsible.  Iíve only been engaged in this tactic for 6 hours, but it is so contrary to my usual parenting.  Ordinarily there would be discussion of consequences for Fís.  Privileges removed, etc.  now itís like rolling out the red carpet for failure.  It just flies in the face of accountability and responsibility.
Iím at a loss. 
I should go to sleep.  I need to rest up for the next battle, at 7:00am,  to get ready for school.

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Rose1

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2019, 05:43:03 AM »
I get it. Very hard but it seems you had results. Dd is acting out very badly, like a toddler imo. I don't think that's normal for a teen. It indicates some really big stress. Maybe she was holding herself together at her father's all week and collapsed in a heap? Playing all the time isn't teaching her strategies as you know but Maybe she's holding herself together so badly at her fathers that she can't think about anything else? It almost sounds like a fear tantrum.
I was told with youngest that there are 2 kinds, the fear tantrum where they literally don't hear you, because of fear. Think covered in spiders fear. Can't make decisions. Then there's the manipulative tantrum in which case it was don't negotiate with terrorists. You wouid see it better.
However she's dealing with something horrible right now, can't see any other reason for this behaviour. So she fails school. She wouldn't be the first kid who gets a nowhere job and then decides to complete high school when they realise there's some consequences.
But maybe if it's calm you might actually get her to talk to you at some point.
Take care

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athene1399

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2019, 09:11:02 AM »
CTB,

To me, your daughter's ranting was a little extreme but I also think she feels safe enough to show here emotional side around you. Also, she kept repeating "You don't listen to me," and ten you did. You listened, were supportive, and even did what she said. IMO there's a tightrope to be walked. After a bit you will find out what you can push back on, and what you should just give in on. Like compromising about stuff. And maybe after DD feels supported, she may reach out for help in school herself. After you let her rant, hours later she said she didn't understand math. Maybe she calmed down enough to realize that herself and may be more wiling to go to the tutor next time.

Also, maybe try letting her make small decisions around the house. Like what to eat. Or what to watch on TV. That way she will feel more empowered, yet you're not letting her run the house (which it sounds like you are afraid of). You have to parent to an extent, but also realize that DD's at the age where she tries to push back to gain more autonomy. Like I said, there's a tightrope. Unfortunately it's trial and error to figure out how to stay on. You will make mistakes, but if you do just own up to them.  IME that's probably something your ex is incapable of.

Lead by example. Share with her what you do when you're upset. Maybe it will hep her work through the rage. If she doesn't want to see the T, ask if there's a reason why. Does she not like the person? Would she be more comfortable talking to someone at the school? Or maybe she's just not ready to take that step yet. Therapy only works if you are wiling to open yourself up. Maybe she will get there in the future, just not right now.

I also want to acknowledge how hard this is for you. You see her pain and don't know how to "fix" it. Yo ucan't really fix it, but you can support her. You clearly want to do whatever is best for your daughter. We can all see that. You went out of your comfort zone to try something new to see if that works better. You should be proud. That must have been scary (sounds like it still is). It will take time to figure out what works best.  :bighug:

On a side note...BM got a dog too after she came back into SD's life. She uses it to try to anchor SD there. Drives me and SO nuts sometimes too. Especially when BM uses the dog to keep SD there because she needs someone to watch her dog for a few hours.  :roll: I totally understand how irksome that is (nothing against the dog, just BM's reason for getting/using one).

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cant turn back

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2019, 04:03:19 PM »
Thank you Rose1 and Athene.  Your feedback and insights are very much appreciated. 

Rose1, yes, I think my DD15 is dealing with some horrible feelings.  About one month after I moved out she and her ex boyfriend got together and he was an anchor for her for almost a whole year, like a healing salve, buffering from the pain of our divorce.  Towards the end, when things were bad between them he told her ďIím tired of having a girlfriend thatís always in a bad moodĒ and he was critical of her lack of initiative with homework/studying; he is a high achiever.  Then they broke up.  While their relationship wasnít picture perfect he grounded her and gave her a reason to put in effort, and, it was her first very serious relationship.  So, now three months post breakup, she is really feeling it all.

Athene, yes, I went outside of my box.  But it does seemed to have affected a positive change, so I feel good about that.  I will bring up the idea of therapy with her, maybe she might like to consider someone else, when an opportune time presents.  I worry about this as she knows what ExHís opinion is on it so she will be hard pressed to give any response other than Ďnoí.. she canít go against what he wants, Mr. Delicate.

So, for todayís update?????
I told her one time that she needed to get up and get ready for school.  She did.  Got dressed, did her hair, all about 15 minutes earlier than she would traditionally.  Then she was sitting on the couch reviewing her Math (this never happens).  She got in the car earlier than usual and without any prompting.  She was on time for her first class (she has been tardy or absent to first period the past five days).  Her attitude was pretty mellow, whereas the past few weeks she has been antagonistic with me about everything. 
So, this little trial appears to have been fruitful.  Itís like Iím not the enemy (at least not right now) and she was responsible enough to take care of business this AM and, showing some initiative and caring about her schoolwork, after forgoing it all last night.
Good stuff!!

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Penny Lane

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2019, 04:32:45 PM »
What a good update! I'm so impressed at your willingness to try a new strategy and how quickly you implemented it. It sounds like you really heard her, and she felt that and it made a positive change. In such a short time! It's always baby steps but this is a very good one, I think.

I totally hear you about feeling weird about not imposing consequences for F's or bad behavior. I would offer a couple things: 1. No that you should coddle her because of the divorce. But she's having a really tough time right now and in the long term having a good relationship with you will be more important than whether she did well in school this year. 2. She's old enough to take responsibility - or not - for her schoolwork (as you saw this morning). Making her do it, to some degree, takes away her ability to decide that she WANTS to do it. And as she gets older she's going to need to know how to be self-motivated rather than doing things because you want her to.

Have you ever read the book Parenting with Love and Logic? I think it might help you if you decide you want to get out of the mindset of imposing punishments and into the mindset of letting the consequences of the kids' own actions do the teaching. It might help give you some strategies to guide her through this tough time while letting her be in control of her own life as much as she's able. I got it from the library and I loved it so much that I bought a copy. My husband read it too and I truly think the strategies we've used from it are the #1 best way we've been able to help my stepkids navigate the issues at their mom's house.

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acc1984

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2019, 06:06:15 PM »
Can't Turn Back,

I'm SO happy you tried a new approach and feel good about the results. I can't tell you how IDENTICAL the situation with my DSS17 is at the moment. DH and I spent the last few years trying to wrestle him into doing the "right" thing. He ran away to stay with his UBPDBM for 10 months a few years ago and it was during that time my DH and I realized that we just have zero control. You can't fight a PD. And you can't convince a teenager of what's best for them when they have a PD whispering in their other ear.

Our BM spends all of her energy making DH the bad guy, triangulating with DSS17, exactly like yours. They'll work something out together then just completely run over DH. Most recently, he has been talking with DSS about possibly interning with him at his company after he (hopefully) graduates. It's a field DSS is interested in and pretty good at and DH can pay him to do some work and gain experience. He went to UbpdBM's house the next week and came back talking about how she was going to get him a job where she works, he'd get paid next to nothing but "not really have to do anything." HOW DO YOU FIGHT THAT? You can't reason with a teenager about what's in their best interests when you have someone feeding into their underdeveloped "lizard brain" on the other side.

So. We have completely backed off. DH just decided that eventually things will crash and burn with BM and DSS and he'll need someone healthy and mentally stable to support him. If he ruins his relationship with DSS trying to fight all of these battles he's not going to win anyway then DSS will have NO one when he gets some sense.  He quit his job last week (while at BM's house) and we let it go. The consequence of that will be that he has no money to do fun things. He may not graduate high school but no amount of effort on DH's part has made DSS or BM realize what a big deal this is. So we backed off. He doesn't do his homework, he doesn't graduate? He'll go back next year or take summer school. Honestly, he'll probably move in with BM when he turns 18 because he doesn't have to do anything and I think that will blow up quickly. She'll want him to help with rent, he won't have a job or a means to get one (he can't drive because our state is no pass/no drive) so I don't think it will be long before BM's had enough too.

All that is to say that I think you're doing EXACTLY the right things and we're doing the same and seeing some improvement. Everything is in the toilet but you know what, he's fairly polite and pleasant, relatively helpful around the house, kind to his siblings. It could be (and has been) worse.

Best of luck and big hugs. You're doing the right thing.

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hhaw

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2019, 03:08:00 AM »
penny Lane, I love the Love and Logic series of books.  It was a mandatory read for Wilderness Camp parents.  Old fashioned but really good stuff!

CTB:
I'm glad you're experiencing some relief, and hope.  Hope is important.

Wanted to jot down things that come to mind....
1.  Giving children voice in the world, the feeling they  can impact their lives, and have agency over themselves is HUGE.  When you stop talking stop waiting to speak, stop waiting to make yourself feel better, and really hook into DD's inner world, you're connecting in a way that could have lasting impact on your entire relationship, and be the reason dd turns things around, IME.

2.  My oldest DD refused to go to Piano Lessons about age 15.... when all this was brewing... and she curled up on the truck foorboard, and refused to look up at the instructor, standing bewildered, at the window.  I paid for that lesson ,and cancelled the standing lessons DD had been enjoying up to that point.  Something just clicked for DD, and I knew I couldn't force her.  I didn't want to force her.  We dropped the lessons for a while.   She asked for lessons again, after TBS, and jumped right in... actuallly joining a school band, and loved it.  I think it's interesting that your DD refused the tutor, then moaned that she didn't have a handle on concepts. 

It feels familiar to me, in that my oldest DD seemed to regress to the age she suffered trauma from the divorce, and much worse... our lives went up in flames, (fig.)  DD also was dx'd with emotional looping, where her brain pathways (blood and energetic) were shut down,or impaired, and those really difficult feelings just went round and round, with no where to go, or resolve.

DD's T, who'd worked with SUWS WILDERNESS CAMP, referred us to a Brain Integration Practitioner, who did an entire protocol on both dds, and myself.  Oldest DD used to tantrum easily, and often, which was very odd, and awkward for everyone... including her.  She just seemed so out of sorts, and unable to help herself.  After Brain Integr she started to throw a tantrum, stopped... asked herself... "Why am I doing that?" then chose another response, and worked things out like an adult.  It was amazing.  Not saying your DD is experiencing that, but it came to mind.

Also, your DD is being put in the middle by her father.  That's really tough, and sometimes our kiddos choose the PD parent as the hero in these things... at least for a while.  My buddy certainly did, when he was younger, but later he and both his brothers championed their mother all the way.  Sometimes the kids figure the PDs out, and hold the PD nonsense  against the PD.

Another thought..... most of our internal turmoil comes from wishing reality was different than it is.  If we accept things are as they are, in this moment, and stop roiling over the way we NEED them to be.... things get easier, IME.  It frees us up to realy SEE what's in front of us, now, and work on creative solutions we need to get us through, IME.

You help your DD feel heard.... repeating exactly what she said BACK to her, is a very good strategy.  I think feeling seen and heard will soften your dd towards you, and if you don't offer up your opinions, and suggestions al the time, unbidden, dd will likely begin asking you for them, IME. 

Be that calm, consistent, loving mom, and your dd will have at least one calm, consistent good enough parent in her life, which is what all kids need.

Model behaviors you want your dd to pick up on.  Self care.  Maybe meditation or yoga, tapping... dropping into the scary feelings, and finding where they live in your body helps you center you and make sense of what's behind them.  Don't fear the scary stuff.... the scary feelings are usually messengers... we're somewhere we need to move out of, and that discomfort is a hint.

DD likely has plenty of scary stuff she hasn't figured out yet, for herself.  She might learn something about dealing with it from you.
 
It's OK to admit you're struggling to your child.  It's OK to cry, and to express pain, and frustration in ways that don't blame or scare your dd. We're adults and take responsibility for what's ours, and we do that. She needs to see people be human, and work through difficult times.  Always wearing a chipper face, a serious face, an all business face isn't the answer typically, and we can get into ruts.

At some point, DD might benefit from hearing your side of the story....  without assigning blame, but just speaking about your experience, and process.... and inviting her to do the same.  That's best done with a professional, I have to say, but it was part of our family T, and very helpful.  Sometimes we invite our children into our inner worlds, and they invite us back.  Appropriately, of course.  With healthy boundaries, and the knowledge everyone has a story, and the right to be heard and valued, despite fears that we aren't good enough, or worthy.... we are: )



 

hhaw



What you are speaks so loudly in my ears.... I can't hear a word you're saying.

When someone tells you who they are... believe them.

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."
Nietchzsche

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cant turn back

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2019, 07:41:48 AM »
Penny Lane,
Yes, I totally relate to this,
I totally hear you about feeling weird about not imposing consequences for F's or bad behavior. I would offer a couple things: 1. No that you should coddle her because of the divorce. But she's having a really tough time right now and in the long term having a good relationship with you will be more important than whether she did well in school this year. 2. She's old enough to take responsibility - or not - for her schoolwork (as you saw this morning). Making her do it, to some degree, takes away her ability to decide that she WANTS to do it. And as she gets older she's going to need to know how to be self-motivated rather than doing things because you want her to.
So much truth here.  Itís just a new mindset, very much involved in my letting go.  I just donít think there are any other choices at this point.  What Iíve been doing isnít working.

Acc1984,
The way you described the internship situation and your stepson running away to his motherís house, I feel like that could all happen to us.  It terrifies me.  Before I moved out my ExH did threaten me ďwhat makes you think she would choose youĒ.  And Iím sure they have discussions to the tune of Ďyou know you could always stay here with me full timeí.  As much as it scares me, what you  say here is so true:
DH and I spent the last few years trying to wrestle him into doing the "right" thing. He ran away to stay with his UBPDBM for 10 months a few years ago and it was during that time my DH and I realized that we just have zero control. You can't fight a PD. And you can't convince a teenager of what's best for them when they have a PD whispering in their other ear.

So. We have completely backed off. DH just decided that eventually things will crash and burn with BM and DSS and he'll need someone healthy and mentally stable to support him. If he ruins his relationship with DSS trying to fight all of these battles he's not going to win anyway then DSS will have NO one...
Yup, zero control, you canít fight a PD.  And, in the event DD15 gets to 18 yo still going week to week with ExH and I, I think she will probably choose to live with ExH, for all the reasons you described.  This is one of the reasons I had been so hopeful that DD15 might be eager to go away to college, dorm life.  However, with her grades and lack of motivation, well thatís just not going to happen.

Hhaw,
Thank you again for your insight and wisdom.  Iím on the right track with the self care thing, go to the gym 3-4 times and week and yoga here and there.  I make it a point to talk about my gym workouts and my progress (I can do 28 push-ups!) with DD15 so she knows Iím out there, doing healthy things.  I make it a point to tell her in a matter of fact way when I meet a friend for dinner, etc.
1.  Giving children voice in the world, the feeling they can impact their lives, and have agency over themselves is HUGE.  When you stop talking stop waiting to speak, stop waiting to make yourself feel better, and really hook into DD's inner world, you're connecting in a way that could have lasting impact on your entire relationship, and be the reason dd turns things around..
I agree for sure and I hope to really integrate this way of thinking.
And this:
Another thought..... most of our internal turmoil comes from wishing reality was different than it is.  If we accept things are as they are, in this moment, and stop roiling over the way we NEED them to be.... things get easier, IME.  It frees us up to realy SEE what's in front of us, now, and work on creative solutions we need to get us through, IME.
This is VERY TRUE FOR ME.  I just donít know how to do this.  Iím not yet at the point of acceptance.  I still ruminate CONSTANTLY about why canít he just be a normal man? why canít we work together for DD15ís best interests? Why do we have to compete? Why would he want to cause a breakdown in DD15ís relationship with her other parent?  After 30 years, I know better, but I still stupidly hope and expect things to be different.  I always weigh in my mind Ďshould I email him and appeal my thoughts about things to try and forge positive changes and cooperationí.  I basically never do this as I know it will lead down a rabbit hole of him blaming me for everything and missing point of working from here, working together for positive change for DD15.  I donít even want to give him the open invitation or the satisfaction of being able to send me an argumentative, blaming, confused logic message.  I know it will only lead to more frustration and it will embolden him that he can affect such power over me, like heís an authority over me.  I have a tendency to want  to dialogue, talk things out, process, make things right.  I know it will never happen, but I canít seem to let it go.  The fact that this other person in my life, who, lets be honest, is still a very important person in my life as he is DD15ís dad and a person I spent 2/3 of my life with.. this person hates me so much that he is attempting to destroy the only thing that matters to me and I will forever be the scapegoat for everything wrong in his life.
I definitely spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME AND ENERGY on these thoughts.  But I donít know how to disengage and turn it off.  I really want to change this.

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hhaw

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2019, 12:46:10 AM »
Sometimes it helps to come to terms with our worst fears by facing them.

Think about your worst fear, and let it catch you.  Pay attention to where it sits in your body.  Chest?  Stomach?  Neck?  Pay attention to it.  Without judgement,  observe the feelings around it.  They belong, and they're part of you.  Nothing to fear, or try to change.  They're OK, and you can examine them without stopping.  It's OK. '

Usually I make huge connections, and learn things I need to understand what's underneath the pain, and fear. 

It's shifting into observer mode that's difficult. 
hhaw



What you are speaks so loudly in my ears.... I can't hear a word you're saying.

When someone tells you who they are... believe them.

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."
Nietchzsche

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sonto92

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2019, 01:23:19 AM »
Can't turn back:
I'm in almost the exact same situation - my son is 15 and he made the decision to move to his mom's this last summer.  It has been extremely difficult, and like you, not a minute goes by that i am not thinking about it.  The move for him has been a disaster - he is failing school miserably and is fumbling through a consequence-free existence over at my BPDx's.  I have tried to be present when at all possible - I go to his therapist appointments, keep tabs on his schoolwork through his counselors and teachers at school.  My son got involved with an 18 yo girl that has a baby and everything now has the appearance of him taking on this father/caretaker role in this relationship, which has been given the nod of approval by my ex. 
My frustration is shared - how do you compete when there are no rules over there?  I am trying to put some things in place now to try and re-integrate him back over to my house, but he has demonstrated no desire at this point to want to do that. 

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cant turn back

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2019, 08:49:15 AM »
Hi all,
Bumping this one back up, hoping for some feedback and support.
DD15 is with me this week.  I just looked through her phone and glimpsed her text messages.  It completely baffles me how much dialogue she has with her dad, and how frequently they have it.  It is 90% positive and healthy... overly so.  Like who is this person that is suddenly so patient and accommodating and supportive and flexible and catering and disgustingly sugary?  Sooo many pictures and videos of their puppy sent to DD15.  Like ďdonít forget who is over here, missing you while youíre with momĒ.  DD15 eats it up.  Pictures of their kitchen remodel, seeking her input on colors and choices.  ExH in no way resembles the dad he was previously, for 14 years.  However it is a facade and the best way to tell is by glimpsing at the emails he sends to me: blaming, hatred, defensive, vitriol, NO coparenting.  He wonít even speak to me.  However he has maintained this ďgreat dadĒ facade for over a year now.  It is simply who he has become now.  DD15 probably wonít remember him any other way.  Maybe thatís good for her?  However it is so off balance.  More like he is her best friend versus being a PARENT.  I know the best way for me to handle this is with radical acceptance and to just not care and let it go. 
I canít.
I feel fueled with hatred by the deceitful Dr Jekyll Mr. Hyde routine. 
And it pisses me off that I am in some ways still allowing him to control me, control how I feel.  I know it wonít always be like this.  But, how long until I can truly let go of the hatred and just not care anymore what kind of BS games ExH plays?

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sonto92

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2019, 01:24:00 PM »
Can't turn back - I was just thinking some of the same things today about this dynamic of sometimes feeling like I am chopped liver, like I am not a priority.  I know that when my BPDx calls or texts my daughter, that message has to be responded to right away.  My success rate is about 50/50 if I will hear back from her or not.  And I would agree that it is a double bind that most of us are put into - do I want to be my child's "buddy" or do I feel it is my responsibility to be there as a parent.  I am currently working with a therapist and we have been spending a lot of time talking about this - what do you value?  She asked me a really good pointed question regarding my 15 y/o son who is struggling and has refused to come back to my house.  The therapist said, "would you be able to have him come over and have him just be who he is - don't worry about or discuss the bad grades, the 18 y/o girlfriend and all of the other stuff".  She wanted me to answer this question - like a carrot dangling in front of me, I wanted to take it and say "yes I can do that - no problem" but I had to say no I can't.  I value my role as a parent too much to let go of this value.  So the next question is - where do you go from there, and I believe that you have found an answer, which unfortunately is radical acceptance and a need to take care of yourself first and be present if the circumstances change.  If your PDx is anything like mine, something will happen to create a change in the circumstances over there.  It's almost inevitable.  My 19 y/o son made a decision to move to my house the last half of his senior year because he couldn't take it over there anymore.  I'm not as optimistic with my middle son, but I don't take steps that are going to make things more difficult.  I have been consistent and my son knows that I am still here.  I just try to be present in any way that I can.  Hang in there - the difficulty at this age is that it is very easy to manipulate a child's emotions at this age, and being their "best buddy" and letting your child be a decision maker in everything is not in their best interest.

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hhaw

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2019, 03:43:24 PM »
Sonto:

Your post really breaks this situation down into parts, and reminds me....

there are no good choices in these situations.

We select the least harmful...
the one we can live with....
the one we feel will lead to the best possible outcome, and that's the best we can do.

I'm glad you're working with a T.  I hope it's helpful.

hhaw



What you are speaks so loudly in my ears.... I can't hear a word you're saying.

When someone tells you who they are... believe them.

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."
Nietchzsche

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Penny Lane

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2019, 02:19:26 PM »
CTB,
Sending you lots of long-distance support and goodwill!  :bighug:

I've been on a real radical acceptance kick lately and it is HARD! In some ways even harder than being mad all the time. Maybe even impossible to do perfectly in these situations. It is a long, long, long difficult process to recover from a relationship with a PD and then a million times harder when you have to interact with them all the time through your kids. Go easy on yourself, it sounds like you're doing really well under the circumstances. You'll look back in a year, or two, and think, wow, I've come a long way. But you can only do it one small step at a time.

On the texts: Your ex is writing those for an audience, probably you or maybe court officials in the future. I wouldn't think that's how he acts with your daughter all the time. Even in their private communications, it's all for show. He's not a new person, he's just trying to manipulate you (and her) in different ways.

Like hhaw says, there are no good choices, and all you can do is your best.

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athene1399

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Re: DD15 likes ExHís house more, heartbreak!
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2019, 05:23:53 PM »
Quote
Sooo many pictures and videos of their puppy sent to DD15.
WHat is it with PDs buying animals to use as tools? SD gets the constant dog pics sent. We have dogs at my house too and I don't think I sent her a pic once. It's the same thing though, "The dog misses you and wishes you were here... don't you feel bad for not being home with us?"
But I've been working on radical acceptance, too! It takes a lot of practice, but it does help. It just takes time. When ever I get mad about BM's mother-of-the-year act I remember that those who matter, like SD, know the truth. Like who helped her with her math homework when she was struggling. Who sells SD's fundraiser stuff so she can go on school trips. Who pays for her advanced/college courses. BM can post whatever she wants on social media but that still doesn't change who is really supporting SD. Sometimes it does drive me batty though. She has this struggling single mother act and SO and I pay for everything for SD (aside from BM's rent, which I'm sure she things equals her supporting SD). And kids need a parent more than a BFF. BM is more like a BFF as well. It may feel better at times for the kid, but from a developmental standpoint a real parent is better than a parent trying to play the "cool friend".

Forget the "great dad" facade. I'm sure your friends and family know the truth. Your kids will one day know the truth. You know the truth. And that's really all that matters. Let him wear his mask for the world. He's leaving a trail of people who know the truth in his wake.

I may have started ranting a bit, but I hope some of this helps. :)