Okay, so over the weekend we had an incident with our 13 year old daughter not coming home when she was suppose to. Basically she was going out with a friend, to the mall and was suppose to be home at 1pm. So, at 1:30pm I am trying to call and text her cell phone but she had it turned off. She finally turns it on at 2:30pm to call and tell us she is running late and is on her way home. They arrived home at 3:30pm. So we had to have the conversation over responsibility and her turning off her phone was unacceptable. She said she didn’t realized she needed to be home at 1pm and I challenged her on that. I also said she should have let us know that she wasn’t at the mall that is close to the house. So we decided to ground her from her iPod and phone.
The Plot Thickens
While we are sitting there with her & holding the iPod, the screen lights up with a text message and I was puzzled because I didn’t know she was texting on her iPod. So I asked her to unlock it and we noticed right on the chat screen text messages to her dad and his wife. Seeing the text messages wasn’t so bad as the fact that she appeared to be hiding this detail. (Plus, we have had problems with this in the past which I posted at Abusive Ex-husband Texting Our Daughter.) She later admitted that she didn’t intend to not tell us but decided not to mention it later. Then comes the conversation about ‘Lying by Omission’ or ‘Lying through Actions’ which is the same thing as lying.
So officially I am my mother now.
Text Messaging Content
Anyways, we did look through the chats between her father & her as well as the ones between her step-mother and her. The ones with her father were typical and had the occasional one-upping or a very subtle manipulative comments. For example; she asked him if she was here or there during Spring Break this year. He said you are at your moms. Then he sends another text that says, “Don’t be sad.” (What, don’t be sad to be away from him or here with me?) She replies, “I wish I could be with both of you for Spring Break, but I get to see you next year.”
The chats between her step-mother were stranger. It was like she was communicating with another 13 year old not a woman who is almost 50 years old. Mostly comments about shopping and her step-mother asking her to send pictures of her new skirt. Or that her father had just bought her another right from Jareds. It seemed extremely age inappropriate. On a side note, her step-mother told her that she needed to find someone rich like her father to marry. (Really, is that what she really believes?)
Trusting Your ‘Gut’ Instinct
So, yesterday I looked in her settings because I wondered what apps have been installed. I am not sure why I was looking, I just had this ‘gut’ instinct that there was something wrong. I noticed her Bluetooth was on and there really isn’t a reason for it to be on as she doesn’t have one and it eats up the battery life. As I was about to disable Bluetooth I notice it was trying to connect to a Blackberry. Nobody in this house has ever owned a Blackberry phone. However, her father use to up until recently when they got iPhones. So this bothers me because there seems to be so much sneakiness going on.
Apparently my daughter gets teased if she doesn’t reply to his texts fast enough. She also gets teased about texting me on weekends which has made her stop completely. So this all bothers me. When she is at his house she is not allowed to text me. Then when she is here with us she has to keep in constant communication with both of them? Certainly a double standard and some seriously manipulation going on with a 13 year old child.
So I am bothered by this Blackberry connection. I know the Bluetooth settings do not seek out a connection like the Wifi does. They do keep a memory of that connection. So when she got home after school I asked her about the iPod trying to connect to a Blackberry. I let her do most of the talking & thinking about why that might be. Eventually she did say, “Well my dad use to have a Blackberry and so did my step-mother.” She seemed very puzzled about this connection. Of course I am really worried that she might have his old Blackberry upstairs in her room (hopefully not). It wouldn’t surprise me based on his threats to get her a phone so he could keep in constant communication with his daughter.
We also thought back to the time when my ex-husband told our daughter that her step-father shouldn’t be saying specific names to her, I think he called her ‘tird’. It took me a few minutes to figure out that obviously my ex-husband was reading her text messages. (You can read that post under Abusive Ex-husband Reading Daughters Text Messages.) So, now she is not allowed to take any type of technology over to her father’s house. I also have told her that she is not allowed to bring any devices from her father’s house. My ex-husband has made a career out of lying and is very good at it. I hate the thought that he may be encouraging our daughter to be sneaky & not tell the truth (hence lying).
Examining My Motives
So, I am spending some time examining my motives here. Do I have a problem with ‘him’ texting her? I have never blocked my ex-husband from contacting our daughter. I probably should have because of his constant manipulation, negative comments about me and that her own father is a really bad influence. The secondary reason I should have blocked him is because it is clear she can’t handle texting him without getting a major attitude and her grades drop. Do I have a problem with his wife texting her? Not as much except that it does seem a bit creepy that an adult is communicating at a teen level.
I am pretty sure my daughter does not catch his subtle manipulations. Although, I would imagine she might get the negative emotions that come along with manipulation. I kept hoping as she got older she would figure out what he was doing and not play along with him. However, his behavior is helping her become a very difficult teen to deal with. In fact all this lying and sneaking around has really got to me recently.
Yesterday, I pretty much blew up on her. I told her I was not going to allow this lying, sneaking around and constant attitude to continue going on in this house. She blamed her father for what she was doing, that she is unable to say now. I told her, I agree that she is a child and for many years she was just ‘caught in the middle’. However, I told her that now she is older and is contributing by making decisions to lie/deceive us. I also told her that this was going to stop right now because we are not doing this for another 5 years.
So, she said “Okay I will tell my dad.” I asked her, “What will you tell your dad?” She replies, “I will tell him how I feel.” I told her I felt that was all good in thought. I reminded her that she has tried to tell him how she felt a couple of times and it didn’t work. I told her what she really needs to do is sit back and really listen to what is being asked. If it is a question about me she needs to think before responding. She can reply with a simple, “My mom had a great weekend.” Then go on to change the subject and talk about his week and what they are going to do this weekend. If he starts saying something negative about me, she can reply with, “I don’t’ really want to talk about that. I just want to spend time with you.”
I have no idea if what I am doing is correct or not. I have tried not to put her in the middle but she simply does whatever he asks or goes along with whatever he does. My concern was this, and I told her this, that she is getting older and responsible for her behavior. I told her I was not happy with her father’s decisions sometimes but I cannot control that. I also said I cannot control what goes on when you are at your father’s house but I will not have this behavior going on in this house.
I have to say this, but I really feel tempted to give her to him. She is the pawn and his using her as a weapon only hurts her. I know living with him would probably be unhealthy for her. However, her sneaky & deceitful behavior is not okay. He has such power over her and she cannot say ‘no’ to him. Part of my feeling is if she lived with him, he could no longer use her as a weapon against me. Since he has this continues ‘Win at all Costs’ thing going on… and it has been 8 years since our divorce. I have had to deal with trying not to play his games and teach her how to do the right thing all these years. He encourages her to disobey me and that I am wrong or over-reacting to everything. The attacks are relentless.
Maybe I am just exhausted of this ongoing parental warfare with him. I do not want to play this game he is hell bent on playing. This is upsetting this house and hurting my marriage. My ex-husband’s constant manipulation makes it so difficult for all of us to deal with my daughter. She has been with me/us 70% of the time and she is behaving more like her father than how I have raised her. We have very contrasting parenting styles, basically whatever I do he does the exact opposite. I am encouraging my daughter to take responsibility for her actions. To do the right thing no matter where she is at. To be considerate of other people’s feelings… do unto others.
Unfortunately, there are times you just simply are too tired to deal with a barrage of abusive attacks. I felt this way when I was married and I guess I do now too. In the past I feel this occasional crash and I want to give up. Then I regroup and get strong and carry on. I suppose this is one of those times.
I feel like I was reading my life from two years ago. If it continues, my warning is: it will only become worse. And worse. And worse. Leading to complex litigation and more crap. My suggestion: get her into therapy, for her and for YOU. You may need expert testimony in the future…good luck.
Wow, you are me and my daughter exactly, except my daughter is only 7 years old and I just recently got divorced last year. My ex is emotionally abusive and extremely manipulative and I see his behavior in her all the time! Therapy has worked wonders for us so far, although when my ex found out we were going to therapy he immediately called the therapist and told him he was never to see my kids again and since we have shared legal custody apparantly he has the right to do this and now I have to take it to a judge to give me permission to go back! But therapy has worked for peace at home as well as her behavior at school with her peers and her teachers. Last year kids were calling her a bully because she was acting so much like her father! Now her teacher says she gets along with everyone so much better it’s amazing. So remember that what you do and how you act in your home sinks in just as much if not more than what he does at his house, do not stoop to his level when talking to her or with her, and get professional advice on how to handle things sometimes!
Wow, that is a tough, long term battle. Even in families where abuse is not a problem 13 year old daughters are an emotional challenge for moms. But don’t give up. She needs her time with you, and she needs to bump into your limits. That’s how she learns your values and experiences the difference between honest parental love (from you) and manipulation (from your ex). My daughters are 16 and 14, and my ex-husband tries to use them… but they see right through it, and so do my sons (20 and 15). Keep being straight-forward with her, and DO NOT give up your parenting time. She needs you to demonstrate integrity and strength. She will see it. It will make a difference in the long run.
I needed to read these comments, and I’m so grateful that others are speaking out about these same struggles I am going through. I, too, am dealing with the constant stress and heartbreak of a 13 year old daughter who has been alienated against me, and the temptation to consider letting her go live with her dad, like she keeps saying she wants to do, is a strong one. Notice I said ‘consider’. Somewhere, deep down, I have a sliver of hope that things will get better over time. It’s hard to stay strong and live with grace and integrity when you are under constant and intensifying attack.