Torn Between What to Do

I am a private person. I rarely try to post my problems, but I am torn at what to do. I love my husband and enjoy having a family with him. My step-daughter has been living with us since October. I take care of her as well but her behavior has escalated. She has been violently shoving the infant walker while my son is in it. We keep telling her to stop, both lecturing, punishment, and even rewarding for good behavior has failed. She despises authority and even gives teachers a difficult time. She will be twelve as is getting bigger. I fear no one will be able to control her. Thursday night was the final straw. My hubby was helping me move Jonah's crib. I heard him scream and cry like he does when he gets hurt. I thought something fell on him or he tumbled so I rushed to the living room. I find my son face first on the floor, crying in pain and my step-daughter covering herself up. (She does this when she is guilty). I picked him and and he was shaking and hysterical. It took me about five minutes to calm him down, more than usual. We asked her what happened. She made the motion of moving her foot, pushing him down. I said, "You kicked him or pushed him?": She said, "I did nothing!" So, her dad asked and she confessed. She pushed him down, forcing him to hit his eye on the corner of my hubby's lunch box, which she was using as a foot stool. It is a hard plastic, heavy duty one. My son now has a small dot-sized bruise in the corner of his eye. I feared it would escalate to this. My hubby is upset over it too, but still makes excuses for her. I am tired of the excuses. She is rude, mean, bullyish, and now is hurting her baby brother. She wants to live with her mom, which isn't the best for her right now so she is taking it out on me and her brother. She also wants her father to herself and does whatever she can to overt the attention away from me or Jonah, whomever he is giving it to at the moment. She gets more attention than Jonah and myself but still wants it all. I have tried almost three years, relentlessly, to treat her as my own, only for her to reject me and treat me worse than dirt.

The final straw was her hurting my son bad enough to cause a bruise. He is my son. I am his mother; it is my job to protect him. I have no relationship with her anymore. I feel bad but I know I tried, more than what I should have. I love my husband and do not want to leave but my son factors in and I refuse to allow him to grow up in a household where he is being hurt. My step-daughter shows zero remorse for her actions and grants me evil, cold-blooded stares. When I catch her, she grins at me. Whenever she is here, I can feel a lot of tension and stress. Whenever she is near, something about her makes my skin crawl and I cannot pinpoint what. I am not comfortable around her anymore and cannot leave my son alone with her, which creates a problem because I watch her when my husband is at work.

I do not want to leave, but I fear it may come down to it. I have to and will protect my son.

I do not want him to end up hospitalized or worse next time. I tell my husband this but he just says, "We have to endure it," or "We need to stop this." The thing is, we have been trying. She also sees a therapist in the home, twice a week and has another therapist. Therapy isn't working.

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Melissa MiddletonPennington Gap, Virginia
02/28/15
Melissa Middleton
Yes and goes with her mother as well. She will put on an innocent and sweet act in front of church members and other people. And they tell me, "She is so sweet and loving. You must be proud." And I think, "If you only knew." Jaina will then giggle and smile and put on her show. It is like church doesn't help, either. I do not want to leave because it would break God's law. I also wonder if God is made at me for the feelings I have towards my step-daughter. I feel like I have failed and disappointed Him.
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    02/28/15
    I understand your frustration I've been having the same problem with my husband's daughter who lives with us, which I raise as my own. In this I have made some connections such as the attention wanting. She is a child and since you and your husband are both together with your son it may upset her that her mother isn't there. When Madison started getting violent with my son it was like a switch went off. We were cleaning her room and my son was handing me things from off of the floor, I told him "oh you're such a good helper" she walks over to him grabs his chin with all of her 8 fingers and screams MY MOMMY SAYS I'M BETTER THAN YOU I'M THE BEST HELPER I'M CUTER THAN YOU I'M THE BABY YOU HEAR ME and let go of his face put her hand on her hip and sauntered off with a voice like a snooty person YOU HEAR ME MY MOM SAID. Now idk if she sees her mother but you have no clue what is being said to her. Madison wasn't like that with Ryan until a couple of days after she did this. I sat her down (after she got a good swat for grabbing her brother like that) and told her that they are not different in any way. She told me "but my mommy told me" and I asked her "you're mommy told you what?" she said her mom tells her that she is always better than her brother that she is the cutest and the funniest and the best at helping and playing with toys, basically everything. I can totally understand your feelings for her at this moment I've had to work through that myself. I don't want this to sound like an excuse but she is a kid, and I know youve mentioned that she has down syndrome. I came from a broken family and can remember acting out at any of my dad's girlfriends because I felt like if they weren't there I could have my mom and dad TOGETHER. And you're right if it puts your son at risk do what you need to as a mother. My mom tells me all siblings hurt eachother, I believe that but it is different when it is out of malice. I hope you and your husband can come to some sort of agreement.
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    02/28/15
    Melissa Middleton
    She has high-fuctioning Down Syndrome. I strongly believe she is aware of what she does. I think she has some mental disorders.
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      02/28/15
      5Tabitha
      I'm sorry. I know how you feel. My daughter gets like this. The first few visits she came here she was horrible. I refused to let the yoingers be around her if I couldn't watch like a hawk. She got bad enough it came to the point where I sat her down and told her she would not see me again if she couldn't be nice. It was the hardest thing I did, but it needed done. When she is mean now, she gets sent to a room no toys no books. We made a list, you do this you get this consequence. And we both stuck to it. Hers was more verbal abuse (which is what her dad does) but she has hurt Andrew a few times.
      1
      02/28/15
      Melissa Middleton
      We did the consequences thing, we still do. We even tried a Star Chart. She just says, "Well, well. I am going to my Mommy's this weekend anyway."
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      03/01/15
      5Tabitha
      Ultimately, your husband has to be on board with any changes. For our house, Adrianna is my child, so I was the one who had to put my foot down. Dennis literally told me if the abuse didn't stop (she would tell Andrew mommy hated him and he wasn't good for anything) then she wouldn't be able to come back here before it got through my head. Can you get away with your husband or your husband and Jonah and talk about this? If he expects you to be the disciplinarian, then do it. If she needs a consequence while he is home, put Jonah in his lap and do it.

      I've been hearing the 'well daddy/grandma lets me do it!'... I respond with 'this is NOT grandma's house! The rules are different.' There are still some weeks here Adrianna feels like Cinderella because her discipline is chores. And when she gets in a mood, she's doing a lot of chores. A LOT.

      For awhile, it did help Adrianna to get some one on one time-but it hasn't helped much. I do let Adrianna call somebody to get her frustrations out, or she gets a journal to do it. Either of her choice.

      I'm sorry you are in this position. It's a bad place to be in. I agree with the ladies that you need to do what you can to protect Jonah, but it's hard for me to give advice such as telling your husband 'it's me or your daughter'.... That's a hard place to be put in.
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      03/03/15
      Melissa Middleton
      I never want to put that on him or put him in that position, but then my son factors into this so it makes things difficult.

      She seems fine today and yesterday. She has been pleasant and doing as she is told without problems. It is like out of nowhere someone flips a switch and she becomes a completely different child. I am thinking even more know that there is more than just anger issues, maybe a chemical imbalance or bipolar disorder. Her father thinks she may be bipolar.
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      03/03/15
      5Tabitha
      It could be. Will she swallow vitamins or drink tea? Red Raspberry tea helps balance out hormones (my sis is giving it to her 13 year old during her monthyl to help keep the hormones balanced). Magnesium helps with mood swings. Ashwaganda root. Punching bag hung in basement or garage? lol

      You may be already doing this, but are you guys reinforcing this good behavior, telling her how much you appreciate the helping out? I know if it's bipolar she really can't control it, but if it is something she can-maybe that would help? I don't know. Hugs and prayers.
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      03/03/15
      Melissa Middleton
      I prefer the natural remedies as you suggested. Her parents want to medicate her, but I grew up in a family where we used natural remedies. I may have to look into her taking magnesium and red raspberry tea. We were giving her chamomile at night to help her sleep, which works sometimes.

      We praise her for good behavior but she does not do it long enough--hope I made sense. For instance, we say "That was really great of you that you did_______. You did such an awesome job." And she gets happy but then stops it. We had done a star chart but it backfired and she began abusing it. She would say, I did this so I get a star. Her father and I agreed she could earn stars back, and that did not work. So we did the balance things where if she had more stars than bad, she would get rewarded. I should have saw that coming. She would check how many stars she had and realized she had room to be naughty. Her father was the main part in that. He would give her stars for about anything.

      I have not heard of Ashwaganda root. I am going to Google that. Thank you for the suggestions. As I stated, I prefer natural remedies--if I can.

      I, honestly, do not want out family torn apart. I am a Christian, so I fear that if I leave, I am breaking God's commandment about marriage.
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      03/03/15
      5Tabitha
      I understand. :) I know my brother's son has anger issues.. He started going to a therapist an it's helped some. Adrianna only has anger issues when she is not at her grandma's house, she just doesn't like chores and having to mind.. So I'm shooting in the dark.
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      03/04/15
      Melissa Middleton
      I am sorry you are going through that, too.

      Yeah, Jaina wants to have her way and not be told what to do so she gets mad.
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      03/03/15
      Why don't you want to medicate her? Sometimes that's the only way to help the child at least in my case. It took me 4 years to take the hard decision but I had to medicate he was to much! to aggressive constant school suspensions, complains and aggressive towards staff. biting, hitting etc I feared him getting arrested of being kicked our of school. The only thing that worked is his medications he is a totally different kid now and my chest don't hurt so much now from the constant arguing lol you and your husband could maybe reconsider to give medication? to keep your baby safe and her under control. Hope it all turns out great for you and your family!
      1
      03/04/15
      Melissa Middleton
      Thank you, Jennifer.
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        02/28/15
        As sad as it is there are some kids and some times that kids need specialized people to take care of them. As much as you love her, you have to protect your son who can't protect himself. There are treatment places that are great and can monitor her one on one as long as it takes, even if it's just to get her on a program that works for her so she can come back home. It may not be that she is intentionally being disobedient but that she does not have the skills to really know how. I have a few friends who have had to place their kids in facilities due to anger or behavior issues to protect their other kids. Some have stayed a few weeks and some have stayed a few months, but it seems to have helped them and made them better. Sometimes when the kid is only around doctors or therapists a certain amount of time it is easy to hide the behavior, but it's harder to hide it when they stay with them, that way they are able to better understand the issues the child is having. So many times as parents, the hardest choices to make are the ones that are best for everyone.
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        02/28/15
        Melissa Middleton
        My husband won't go for that. My mom had to put my little sister in a home because she was abusive and tried to kill me a few times. I was thinking along those lines but he won't do it.
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          02/28/15
          Where is her mother? she cant go live with her mom or another relative? It sounds mean but if I we're you I would tell your husband to take her to another relative to live Or I would just leave with my baby! I think if 4 moths have gone by and her behavior is still so bad something needs to be done. Does she go to a psychiatrist? sounds like shes really tough and you will always have issues with her and it can escalate to the point your baby might get seriously hurt. You think she is jealous of the new baby? If she is you have to keep a eye on your baby 24/7. I understand she is high-functioning Down Syndrome but that's no excuse I have a high-functioning autistic 10 year old and takes great care of Elise and has NEVER hurt her only taken care of her. I think your husband needs to be a little more tough on her because it will be worst if he doesn't. Good luck I hope everything gets resolve.
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          03/03/15
          Melissa Middleton
          Her mother was deemed unfit. If she goes to another relative, the courts will put her with her mother because they told my husband and his ex-wife that she needs to live with a parent. I agree, she does not need to live with her mother. That was a horrible situation. She treats her like a toy. When she is done playing with her, she tells my husband that Jaina wants to come home (when she doesn't). She has a three year old half-brother at her mother's whom she mistreats as well. One of the main problems is that she does not want her mom or her dad paying attention to anyone BUT her and will act out if they do or say, "Hey, watch me or watch this" so the person being paid attention no longer gets it and it is back on her. I do not leave my son alone with her anymore, even to shower. I don't trust her. I fear the day he has his own room because it will be right across from her's.

          Some people may think I sound cruel. I am not trying to give my husband a choice but I do have to think about my son's safety. He doesn't think it will escalate to where Jonah is seriously hurt, but months ago, he did not think it would come to a point where she was hurting him. It is like he has blinders on.

          He tells me I need compassion, which makes me upset and mad. Compassion after how she has treated me and has become a bully to our son? I just do not understand how he could say that.
          1
          03/03/15
          I don't think you sound cruel at all. Your just doing what you can to protect your baby. What does he do when she misbehave and hits your son? what kind of punishment does she get? I think he should be more understanding with you and your situation. You are a good wive! I honesty would of left!
          1
          03/03/15
          Melissa Middleton
          He sent her to her room and made her stay there awhile. I love him but he makes too many excuses for her, and I honestly am tired of hearing them. If it keeps going, I fear that is the choice I must make. I love my step-daughter and husband, but if she cannot be controlled or nothing can help her and she continues being out of control, I have to protect my son.
          1
          03/03/15
          What about going to therapy? or a psychiatrist? and does he take away toys, tv, games, etc?? maybe when she sees more consequences with her behavior she might do better. sending her to her room is not going to help.
          1
          03/03/15
          Melissa Middleton
          I have taken toys and we even take away TV time, which is precious to her. She wants to do as she pleases and wants to live with her mom, but that is not what is best for her. That is why I am at a loss as to what to do. She has an inhome therapist twice a week and also sees another behavioral therapist. Therapy doesn't seem to be working. We switched therapists a while back because the other one claimed her behavior is normal and when Jaina went in there, she put on a show so the therapist said, "She seems fine. Nothing is wrong with her." And then the therapist handed us pamphlets and said, "Here. Read these; they will help." She doesn't act like she does here in front of therapists and people she sees in public. She puts on a show, so they all believe she is fine.

          She even gives the bus driver and teacher a difficult time. She hates authority.

          She gets these violent mood swings, so I think something more is going on inside her mind and body.
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          About Melissa Middleton
          Current: Pennington Gap, Virginia
          Birth: April 13
          On Moms.com since: Mar 21, 2014
          Mother of an active son, a precious baby girl, & a diva step-daughter (who lives with us). I am an artist, baker, organic gardener, frugal liver, & a Christian--happily married to my best-friend. Blogger at www.chasingwildhorses.com