Family in Turmoil .. Help
Hi. Forgive me for this "vent" being far too long. Try as I might,I couldn't shorten it. I hope someone will manage to wind their way through this mess and help me sort things out. I would be eternally grateful! Our family is torn apart and I'm at my wits end.
My DH and I have been together for 6 years and are very much in love. We each have two children from previous marriages. I have two DS's ages 9 and 15 and my DH has a 14 yr. old daughter and 12 yr old son. Up until this last school year my DSD and DSS lived with us. They decided last summer that they wanted to try
living with their mom, have visitations with us and, wanting the kids to be
happy, we let them go. It has turned out to be the single biggest mistake we have ever made.
For starters, my DSD has major emotional issues. She's a funny, talented, girl with a great personality most of the time, but she has major behaviorial issues. The worst include habitually lying, manipulation, lack of empathy for anyone other than herself, stealing, attention seeking (calling her a “Drama Queen” is an under -statement) and her complete refusal to obey ANY rule. Her therapist, whom my DH and I have met and talked
withextensively, tells us that my DSD meets the criteria for Histrionic Personality Disorder and Hypo -chondria. One of the most troubling issues with my DSD is her obsessive
desire for attention. She has made a habit of “faking” injuries and illness to gain attention (This has been confirmed several times by her pediatrician who has seen her
since birth). We’re terrified of course that she is going to go too far one day and seriously injure or kill herself.
Ann has exacerbated my DSD’s behaviors by allowing her to take on the “Goth” look. (My DSS refers to her friends as "scary".) She's dyed her
hair black, and dresses in skimpy black clothing for the most part. Skulls and
other death culture icons are her favorite "fashion accessories". Ann not only allows her to wear thong panties & fishnet stockings, but from what I understand,bought them for her. There is no punishment for her behavior, yet she is often "rewarded" with trips to Disneyworld, $300 cell phones and unlimited “bonding time” with mom that usually includes a shopping spree, yet Ann constantly complains to my DSS and DH that she's so broke she can't buy groceries. No wonder.
My DSS on the other hand, is a great kid with a bit of a chip on his
shoulder. He has always been some -what neglected and mistreated by his mother and sister, but the problem is getting worse. My DSD is Ann’s “Golden Child” and she makes that fact clear to everyone, especially my DSS. Examples? Ann schedules “bonding” time with my DSS when she knows he’s scheduled to be with
us for the weekend or comes up with another excuse to get out of spending
time with him. No cell phones or shopping sprees for him. Ann sits idly by while his sister says hateful things to him such as, “Everybody hates you and nobody wants you here”. Her refusal to intervene in any way or defend him is a clear statement of where she stands on the matter, yet the poor child clearly continues to seek the same approval, love and adoration that she bestows on his sister. When he mentions wanting to come back and live with us, Ann tells him that she
won’t be able to pick him up for visitation with her because it is just too far to drive to add that additional 30 minutes to her trip. (I just can not understandhow a mother can hurt her child this way.)
I guess it's obvious that the "root" of our problem is Ann's permissiveness
with the children. The have essentially NO rules, no bedtimes, they cook their own meals which consist of Top Ramen soup, cereal and snack food - unless Ann brings home take out food. The children have unlimited, unsuper -vised access to the internet. Ann allows my DSD to not only "hang around" and go places with a girl who was expelled from school for selling drugs, but allows her to have the girl and other kids – including boys - over when Ann isn't there. Ann has allowed my DSD to have sleepovers with friends at other people’s houses and places with dubious supervision that have included boys her age and older.
Neither my DSD or DSS wanted to have summer visitation with us because it’s so “boring” at our house. The truth is that we have rules, and they'd ratherbe at their mom's where they can do as they please. (We have 4 children so rules aren't an option in our home, they're a necessity. Our rules are not harsh,they're based on common sense.) We forced the issue and made them come visit - we wanted the family time with them and we knew they would at least be safe for
the short time they were with us.
The visit was a nightmare. My DSD played me for a fool and I fell for
it hook, line and sinker. For starters, the first words out of her mouth were
that she did not want to be here and that her mom had told her that if things got "too bad" for her she would come rescue her. Their first night here, my DSD confided to me that her last "illness", which resulted in hospitalization, was due to her taking an overdose of aspirin to make herself sick. Her mother had taken her to the doctor one morning with stomach pain and he'd sent her home. She took
more aspirin, insisted on going to the ER and was finally admitted for observation, just like she’d wanted. The doctors' and her mother were clueless and remained clueless about what was wrong with her. When I talked with her in depth, she firmly
denied it was a suicide attempt. Strangely enough she was supposed to have taken the TAKS test at school the day she was in the hospital. This is also when I found out that my DSD was hanging out with the girl who was expelled from school for selling drugs. Another of her "best friends" was supposedly in the hospital at the time with an overdose of crack cocaine. A day or so later, she came downstairs one morning to show me several scratches on her face and neck that she’d "somehow" just woke up with. They were very superficial; in fact, she had to point some of them out to me because they were so faint. It was obvious they were self inflicted, but that she really hadn’t been trying to hurt herself. After confronting her with the obvious, she said she "needed" to cut herself because she was so bored. While she was with us
she disobeyed EVERY rule we asked of her and the other children. While searching for something else, we found among her things, a pack of cigarettes, candy containing massive amounts of caffeine that she’d been eating, a handful of ASPIRIN and items
she’d stolen from my DH. While discussing her behavior and explaining to her that maybe coming back and living with us would be in her best interest, my DSD tells me that she wants to die and she's going to kill herself. Common sense told us that she wasn't serious, but we gave her the benefit of the doubt. At this point I was frantically worried about her so I contacted her pediatrician and thera -pist for advice. When I took her in for an office visit she told the pediatrician that she wanted to die, which he took very seriously. He informed us of this while in her presence. (She later threw a huge hissy fit and called him a liar - She didn't know why he took her so seriously.) After speaking with the pediatrician and her therapist at length, we took their advice and admitted her to an adolescent psychiatric facility for assessment.
At admission the first words out of her mouth to the psychiatrist were, "I 'll kill myself if Ihave to go back and live with my dad." She repeated that same
phrase to everyone who interviewed her. She would not acknowledge that she was responsible for being there because she herself had claimed she was suicidal, she blamed me for
putting her there. By her 2nd night there, I couldn't take anymore. She had done everything short of saying that my DH and I abused her physically. She broke her dad's heart. The man has never harmed that child in any way, shape or form. During
a family therapy session with her and her mother we sat and listened to Ann deny that anything at all was wrong with my DSD's friends. She said they needed "a little guidance" maybe. I lost my temper and voiced my feelings. While the councelor was talking with her in her room, Ann informed my DH that my DSD is "terrified" of him and
doesn't want to be with him. Now mind you this child obeys NO rules at all - if she's so terrified wouldn't she be afraid NOT to obey the rules her dad gives her? Ann knows that DSD rarely tells the truth, yet she chooses to believe this nonsense. To make a
long story short, my DH informed my DSD, Ann and the therapist that he was temporarily giving up his visit -ations with her. He couldn't be responsible for her "killing herself
because she had to be with us". He added that because we have 3 other children to care for he felt we had to suspend visitation because we are afraid that my DSD's claims of abuse would escalate and put us and the other children at risk. During that same meeting Ann told the therapist that she would take my DSD to nightly therapy sessions, and
would put the both kids in summer camp so they wouldn't be at home all day unsupervised, and that she'd make sure my DSD kept seeing her regular therapist. They attended ONE counseling session, she went to day camp for a few dadys and then Ann resumed letting the kids stay home alone and do as they pleased. As far as we know DSD is no longer seeing
her regular therapist, which of course she desperately needs to do. (Of course, my DSD has wrapped her usual false spin on what happened and told people that we said we never
wanted to see her again. Unfortunately, everything played out just like she'd intended and she got her way about going home to her mom's.
MY DH has always taken the high road and avoided making negative comments about Ann to the children or provoking needless confrontation. Ann has done everything she can to turn the kids against us. I know my DSS would choose to come live with us if it weren't for his mother's manipulation. When my DH attempts to discuss what we feel are valid concerns with Ann she immediately turns the conversation into ad hominem attacks, character assassi -nation and trivialization of the
issues at hand, which completely derails any attempt at honest dis -cussion.
What I am seeking with this message is feedback for methods to effectively deal with this situation. I am at a complete loss. The kids "betrayal" has
broken my DH's heart. I can't stand seeing him so hurt and I desperately want to "fix" things. I feel that it's just a matter of time before something detrimental happens to one or both of the children while in their mother's care. I know that the only thing that is going to "save" these kids is if they come back to live with us where they can receive consistant and uncon -ditional love, guidance and disci -pline. I know that my DSD needs intensive mental health treatment that she will not get with her mother, but we also know that my DSD would do everything in her power to destroy our family and make life miserable for us if forced to live here. Is there anything at all that I can do about Ann's neglect and permissiveness or do we just have to accept it? What do we do? We love these kids so much it hurts and desperately want to help them, especially my DSD, before it's too late.