Step daughter concerns about stealing and jealousy
I hope someone can help me with this. Here are the background family dynamics: I am a divorced lady with 2 grown up daughters who I see but who live independently. They dont stay over. I have lived with my partner (R), who has 2 daughters aged 14/15 and 11/12 (birthdays soon), for 16 months. They live with their mother, who left their father for their step father, when they were just 2yrs old and 2 months old, respectively, and I am the only person he has lived with in all that time. He had a tough time over the years, because the girls' mother informally changed their names. She left the country with them when they were still small children, without telling him, to go to Cyprus with her partner who was in the forces. My partner (R) had years of legal wrangling, but somehow managed to keep some contact with them - necessitating a trip to Cyprus every 3 months for visitation. He wasnt allowed to have them sleep over for many years. This overseas contact continued all the time they lived overseas - 3 years. On return, the contact issue has been approximately every month, eventually with an overnight stay. In more recent years he has tried introducing girlfriends to them; he finished with one serious girlfriend because his girls didnt like her. R told me that his youngest daughter has been stealing from her mother and sister for a couple of years. She is only 11 going on 12 but seems to be unhealthily obsessed with fashion, and has expensive tastes!
When we got together, we initally got on very well, enjoying either days out, or days at his home. I have a lovely spaniel, and my partner has developed a great bond with him. He also gets on with my daughters, although by virtue of their ages and independent lives, he has not seen them regularly; which is OK for me. About 6 months ago, R's eldest daughter told him she wants to start coming every 2 weeks instead of every month, and so both girls began this new visitation soon after. I thought everything was going well, apart from the eldest one (starting with puberty), who became more sulky. I didnt worry too much as this was happening at her mother's as well.
My stance on step parenting has been a laid back approach, taking my lead from R, who does not want me to get involved with disciplining them or stepping in if there is a disagreement. Usually, I manage this fine, as I really dont feel it necessary to do the parenting thing - after all, the girls have their own parents to do that. I have stepped in very rarely, although this has not been well received by his eldest.
About 5 weeks ago, I began noticing that the youngest was blanking me - at least that is what it feels like. I tried talking to R but it all went over his head. When someone doesnt feel good, you stop doing it, right? So I guess - not wanting to be blanked- I gradually reduced my conversations with them, becoming very wary and unsure of what to do. I spoke with R about it again, and he spoke to his girls, who merely denied it was happening.
The girls stay recently, for the Easter holidays. I had to work for part of the holidays (Sat and Mon). R returned them home on monday evening. On tuesday, I went to apply my make up and found several key items missing from my make up bag, and not wanting to go to work bace faced, I wasted half and hour searching for the missing make up. I would say at this point, that just after the girls previous visit, my Tiffany heart necklace went missing from the dressing table, but I blamed, first R, then myself for its disappearance - concluding it had ended up being accidently swept into the bin. However, after the disappearance of my makeup, I began to fear that it had been taken by one of the girls. I didnt automatically suspect the younger one, but thought the older daughter to be responsible for it, as a way of "getting at " me.
I rang R at work, and in the days that followed, he discussed with their mother, who searched youngests room at their home. Initally, nothing turned up, and she denied it, saying that perhaps my daughters had taken it when they came for sunday lunch. Her mother took her side. R said he wanted to put the issue behind him and didnt know what to believe- I guess its pretty uncomfortable to think of your daughter stealing and lying. I kept on to him about it, as I felt it needed to be resolved, and I was beginning to dread their next visit and the fact I would not be around half the time, as I would be at work. R said he would search their bags secretly before they left, although his ex didnt like this and thought it was a step too far. On Sunday (yesterday) he told me that on friday whilst I was at work, he went to see his girls, as their mother had once again searched the youngests room and found 2 items of the make up in her bag, and on being found out, she said they must have "fallen in" to her bag. Her older sister stated that I had probably hidden them in her bag before I had gone to work, stating that I didnt like them. The youngest one agreed with her. They then said that they dont like me because I am taking R away from them.Their mother has taken their side, and now says they dont want to come and visit. She says that if he has them for a visit they cannot stay over. R is gutted - I am, too. He has fought long and hard for the level of contact he has and, thankfully, wont give in easily; but it hurt like hell to see him crying yesterday when he told me all this. Incidently, he said he had put my stolen makeup in the bottom of the dustbin if I wanted it; leading me to conclude that he hid it in the bottom of the bin because he had considered not telling me. I love him to bits, and we are very strong, but need some HELP!!!
Sorry you are going through all this Kassie. Sounds like from day 1 this was dysfunctional....well, this has been dysfunctional long before you came into the picture.
How long have you been with "R"? Doesn't sound like you have been with him long.
This ex can't go changing visitation without going through the courts first, so this all could be another legal battle. Sounds like "R" has had too many legal battles with this ex already. Plus, you have this other issue with "R's" daughters acting out; stealing and lying about it. I am not sure if the ex put them up to this or not.
Have you all ever tried therapy? I would encourage this if you are truly invested into this relationship as you stated you "love him to bits." I can't say this relationship will last though as the children already stated they feel like you are taking their father from them, so they will probably be trying every trick in the book to get you out of their father's life. It seemed to work with the last person. Plus, like I stated earlier the ex might be putting all this nonsense into their heads about you and their father.
Sounds like "R" will have a difficult time having anyone in his life related to this.
I would take the visitation back to once a month and perhaps put all your valuables under "lock and key" and try some therapy.
Sounds like a pattern repeating itself and he is being once again pushed into a position to choose between you and them. They are doing this.
I am not sure how this will work out; prepare yourself for the worst though.
Also, although Rs ex may "sympathise" with her girls fears that I'm taking R away from them, she wouldnt have put the daughters up to stealing. As I said, the younger of the two, who stole from me, has a 2 year record of doing so from her mum and sister. Money, clothes, makeup, and other stuff.
R is resolved that he is going to continue to get his message across to them that, he loves them dearly, but that I and the dog are now as much a part of his life as they are. I'm confident that will not change.
I just need to get things back on an even keel - to know what direction to take with it.
Well, sounds like a PARENTING issue between "R" and his ex. They NEED to be investigating why she is doing this and/or seek professional help for her.
Unfortunately, this really isn't in your control. Your bf needs to set serious boundaries with his daughters in regards to WHAT is EXPECTED in his home while they are visiting and reiterate that stealing will NOT be tolerated and that there will be a punishment if this occurs. His daughters have "0" say about whether they want to come visit or not. The ex can't go changing the visitation schedule at whim either.
He could be afraid to cause any friction between himself and his daughters because he had to fight so hard to finally get visitation with them.
Sounds like "R" needs to get serious with the boundaries in regards to his daughters.
This is NOT your responsibility, but "R's". Let HIM handle this. It is HIS RESPONSIBILITY to get things back on an even keel.
As I stated above, if this child is that "out of control" with theft, then the PARENTS should be getting help for her before she goes shoplifting all over town. She could be doing this just to get attention from her parents.
This is a JOB for "R". Hope "R" is worth all this.
You are right on all counts. I am not her parent. R has been through the mill and back to get even a meagre contact, but he is no quitter. His ex tries to control the issue, and he has accepted things on her terms. However, youngest one now refusing to come over (and older one now wont because of younger one refusing) and their mother is supporting them (aiding and abetting!) them in this. That is the real problem. There is no way R can force them to have contact, and if the situation is not resolved soon then he may have no alternative than to return to court, but given their ages, this may be futile. I have suggested Mediation, which is cheaper and less formal, but legally binding resolutions can be made. However, it does require all parties to sit round a table, and R said that in initial contact issues, she refused to use Mediation. I do know the courts want conflicting parents to use this system first before dragging kids into court cases.
Last night the youngest one said she was refusing to come over this weekend because daddy upset her with the things he said.
What he said was that she couldnt dictate to him about having a life partner. He also said (when the stolen items were found in her possession and she blamed me etc etc) that he didnt believe her, and that she could no longer deny what she had done. So, what on earth is going through her head is anyones guess, but I would imagine, that having got her mum onside, colluding with her, she is using emotional pressure to get her dad to back down and apologise. She also probably doesnt want to face me because she has been caught out.
Well, "R" is doing the right thing. So what the youngest is "upset" as NO child should be dictating to a parent on how they should live his/her life or who should be in his/her life. Hey, he is the parent and was reprimanding her; proper parenting in my book. The child STOLE! It is HIS home and she will have to respect YOU and him. He should NOT BACK DOWN AND GIVE INTO HER; he needs to stand his ground. This is typical for steps to try to use "emotional blackmail" in these situations when they aren't getting their way and usually it is some manipulative ex driving all this. Obviously, the youngest is trying to use control like the mother to get what she wants and the oldest one is just following.
Apologize to her? Pfff.....she is the THIEF that stole your stuff and LIED. Sorry.....beg your pardon.....she SHOULD be apologizing to her dad and YOU. Is she trying to minimize the fact she STEALS and maximize the fact her dad reprimanded her about this? GEEZ!!! She sounds manipulating too; a "carbon copy" of the mother unfortunately.
Well....give this some time and if he has to go back to court for the 1001 time, then do so. I am not sure about the laws regarding these situations in the UK. Here, children under 16 are NOT in any position to choose whether the want to continue visitation with a non-custodial parent or not.
"R" should NOT back down. He is entitled to PARENT and see his daughters and he is entitled to live his life with whom or how he WANTS.
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