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Uncharted territory: how should we react?

Posted by on Oct. 26, 2013 at 10:36 PM
  • 6 Replies
Background: DSD is 8 and DH is CBF. I've, with both his and BM's acceptance and, in the last two years, encouragement, handled school stuff, picked her up every day, volunteered at school, signed her up for sports-- taken her, paid-- etc. I am more involved than I would ever advise someone else to be, BUT, it works for us, and my relationship with DSD has been led not only by BPs, but by DSD. I am not looking for help with my relationship with her or DH. Our dynamic works for us.

However-- we're in a unique situation right now. BM met a guy in April, married him in May, moved him and his two children into her and DSD's two bedroom apartment. DSD was sharing a bedroom with a violent little boy and an 11-year-old girl with a propensity to post string bikini selfies on Instagram. It was VERY confusing for DSD. She started crying a lot, didn't want to go over there. Didn't want to talk to her mother. Started hanging up the phone after a minute even, whether they'd finished talking or not. Just not acting like herself. I know there were issues with SF.

So this week, SF left BM. And DSD is having a hard time knowing how to react to it. She didn't like the kids or SF, but she's been TOLD she liked them and that they were brother and sister (problematic as she met them once before the wedding). She has gone back and forth between being sort of pensive and sad (normal) and being jubilant (I love my mommy so much, etc)-- neither of these things is unnatural, I wouldn't think, but neither is typical of her, either. She told me that the thing she'll miss the most is "the iPad", so I know she's not longing for deep personal connections. I know at least some of her mourning was because she was worried DH and I would get divorced ("Can I see [me, SM] EOWE when you guys get divorced?"-- DH and I have no problems at all, but she's connected that 'everyone' gets divorced.) Her mother is not super maternal-- but she actually seems to have handled this situation better than expected. She's gone out of her way to say that DH and I are "not like her and SF" etc. I've got no problems with the way she was told.

But here's the thing-- I have no IDEA what to say to DSD. There's been a lot of "what do you think?" And "how do you feel?" And trying to validate those feelings. But I also don't want to let her engage in revisionist history (For example, she said, "I'll miss having a little brother so much!" And I said, "Why?" After a few minutes of thinking she said, "I won't miss him at all.") I want her to be validated in her feelings, but I don't want to overstate the importance of this relationship-- she's seen these people a total of less than a month in her life. They were married a very short time.

I just want to know how to guide her through this time. It's kind of a tricky one. I have been encouraging of the "maybe I'll get more time with mommy" thing, because she seems to be excited by that. But there's a dark undercurrent here. She's learning some lessons we were hoping she wouldn't have to yet-- about the seriousness of choosing a partner and the illusion of security. Ugh.

Has anyone else been in this situation? Are there things I should look out for? Anything I could say to comfort her without denegrating the other household?
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by on Oct. 26, 2013 at 10:36 PM
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Replies (1-6):
amonkeymom
by Amy on Oct. 27, 2013 at 2:01 PM
1 mom liked this

I think I'd probably take SDs lead and let her come to you, unless you notice signs that need to be addressed right away.  

child_of_fire
by Bronze Member on Oct. 27, 2013 at 4:12 PM
I think you're right. I'm afraid I'm doing that thing where I watch her too close for problems and attribute everything to a rough couple of weeks culminating in this. She's had a little bit more attitude than normal-- but she normally has NONE, and she's at an age where some is to be expected? Haha, I am way over analyzing.


Quoting amonkeymom:

I think I'd probably take SDs lead and let her come to you, unless you notice signs that need to be addressed right away.  


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looneytunes290
by on Oct. 27, 2013 at 11:25 PM
1 mom liked this
You are going to do wonderfully because you seem super level headed about eh whole thing. Your sd will be okay- she is seeing. The example you am your dh are setting for a stable home. Just be there for her.
lancet98
by Member on Oct. 28, 2013 at 7:42 AM
1 mom liked this

I'd step back and let her do most of the talking.   If she says she will miss the little boys then LET HER SAY THAT, DON'T QUESTION IT.  

DO NOT correct her or try to redirect her feelings like you did in your original example.  

DO NOT do that!!!!!   

LET HER correct her own point of view as she grows up - she will get there - let her get there in her own time.

LET HER TALK.   LET HER SAY WHATEVER SHE WANTS.   LET HER FEEL WHATEVER SHE WANTS.

YOU should be saying a lot of, 'Oh?   Uh huh?    Oh.....I see'.   Give her a cup of cocoa, a cookie, sit with her, listen.   Hug her a lot.   Tell her, 'THANK YOU FOR TELLING ME!   I LOVE HOW YOU SHARE YOUR FEELINGS WITH ME'.

LET HER FIGURE IT OUT.

IF SHE ASKS YOU A DIRECT QUESTION, such as 'does everyone get divorced?'   Simply say 'no'.

LET HER SORT IT OUT.   GIVE HER THE TIME IT TAKES.   Don't try to make this disappear instantly.  Let her feel what she needs to feel, WHETHER YOU AGREE WITH IT OR NOT.

SHE will figure it out.   

child_of_fire
by Bronze Member on Oct. 30, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Thanks guys. And I appreciate the advice to just let her go-- she needs that and sometimes it's hard because she tries so desperately to please all the adults. So I did one better-- told her she could always talk to me, obviously, but put her on the phone with my mil too, who is really good at this stuff (degree in behavioral psych, etc). She's brought up several things, and I think she's processing pretty well. She's been doing revisionist stuf still-- "I loved so and so"-- but then immediately follows it with "but he threw away my things" or "but I never saw my mom" etc. I think you're right-- I need to back off completely and let her come to the conclusions on her own. She has had a habit in the past of rewriting history (I've heard versions of her third birthday where I was there-- didn't meet her until she was five, stuff like that) and I know se of that makes sense developmentally, but I also want her to be able to deal realistically. This situation is just SO different than what we normally deal with. This has been at once a huge relief for her and horribly traumatic.
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lancet98
by Member on Oct. 30, 2013 at 11:14 PM

 

thank God she has you.

Quoting child_of_fire:

Thanks guys. And I appreciate the advice to just let her go-- she needs that and sometimes it's hard because she tries so desperately to please all the adults. So I did one better-- told her she could always talk to me, obviously, but put her on the phone with my mil too, who is really good at this stuff (degree in behavioral psych, etc). She's brought up several things, and I think she's processing pretty well. She's been doing revisionist stuf still-- "I loved so and so"-- but then immediately follows it with "but he threw away my things" or "but I never saw my mom" etc. I think you're right-- I need to back off completely and let her come to the conclusions on her own. She has had a habit in the past of rewriting history (I've heard versions of her third birthday where I was there-- didn't meet her until she was five, stuff like that) and I know se of that makes sense developmentally, but I also want her to be able to deal realistically. This situation is just SO different than what we normally deal with. This has been at once a huge relief for her and horribly traumatic.


 

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