Sunday, January 17, 2010


That's what my dear, sweet, 13-year-old stepdaughter posted on her facebook page last night. Who, you might ask, is she wanting to die in this hole? That would be me. Why might she want me to die in this hole? That would be because I let out an exasperated sigh in response to her refusal to take responsibility for her hair straightener being left on for a solid three days. Last night, she asked which of her brothers had plugged in her hair straightener. Of course, neither of them had used it/plugged it in, and as such, she was the one who must have left it on. However, when her dad and I pointed out that she must have been the one who left it on, my stepdaughter became upset and defensive, accusing her dad or I of turning it on. Surely she couldn't be at fault. After a few minutes of her and her dad discussing the the logic of who must have left her straightener turned on (and her denying responsibility), I let out an exasperated "argh" sigh, knowing I was not at liberty (as I've been told before) to express any criticism of her actions/words.

No sooner had she gone to her room, upset about the fact that we would even insinuate she was to blame for the straightener being left on, than "GO DIE IN A FREAKING HOLE." was her new facebook status. I assumed she was aiming this one at her dad, but I was dead wrong (pun intended). After her dad spent some time speaking to my stepdaughter in her bedroom about this statement and how inappropriate it was, he called me to her room and told me that her facebook comment was not directed at him, it was directed at me.

I truly didn't know how to respond. My stepdaughter explained that she was responding to the sigh I let out, and then she gave me the (forced by dad) "I'm sorry". Regret was obviously not how she felt, and she was just going along with what her dad told her to say as a way to avoid any further discussion on the matter.

What to do? For the past year or so, I have tried my best to mind my own business and not get involved in their lives. Since I was last cited for asking one of them to "pick up your napkin" from the dinner table as we were clearing the table, and told that I have no place making those sorts of demands, I have basically disconnected from that part of my step-parenting activities. I no longer ask about homework, school activities, etc... I do what I can keep things going smoothly for my husband behind the scenes (checking the school websites for information regarding class trips, conferences, projects, and the like), but I do not inform or involve the children in my activities.

Anyway, back to last night and my stepdaughter's request that I die in a hole...

What could I possibly respond with. I've been neutered with regard to any sort of parenting activity, since I have never been allowed to be an "adult" in their lives. I've been told to be their friend/confidant, but to not discipline or coach on a parenting level. So, now I have this kid who is allowed to say these things to me as she pleases, and who sees me as the easy target.

Is it wrong for me to feel like I'm on a countdown to the days when the kids no longer live with us? Is it wrong of me to feel like an outsider in my own home? Is it wrong that there are days I feel like I can't (or shouldn't have to) deal with these issues and just want to leave and come back in five years or so? 'Cause honestly, that's how I feel. I'm not sure how to change it, and I understand that my character is defined by how I deal with these types of situations. I guess I'll just take it, and know that I'll only be the "bad guy" for a few more years. I don't think there is anything I can ever do that they will view as acceptable.

One day at a time... unless, of course, that "deadly hole" should come my way ;o)

ARGH (written in the form of an exasperated sigh)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lessons in Life

Have you ever encountered someone who is unable to admit when they are wrong? To me, it's one of the most frustrating experiences; when someone refuses to take responsibility for their actions.

My 13-year-old stepdaughter is absolutely unable to admit she's made a mistake or error. She refuses to say the words "I am wrong" or "I made a mistake" or "It was my fault". Even when all the evidence points directly to her, she still is unwilling to step up and take the responsibility.

Case in point: last night at dinner, I noticed she was wearing a pair of my sock. Not a big deal, but I said "hey - you have my socks on". Her response was, "Well they were in my drawer". To which I replied, "Well your dad and I did not put them in your drawer, you are in charge of putting your own clothes away". Her rebuttal was "They were in the back of my drawer, so they must have been there a long time".

Not once did she say "I'm sorry, I must have grabbed them by mistake". Or "I probably put them in there a while ago, I'm sorry".

After we established they were mine, and she became very defensive, I said to her, "Is there anything you'd like to tell me?", prompting her for the appropriate phrase. Her response was a very angry/defensive/snotty/huffy, "I'm sorry I took your socks, ok?!?". Definitely not a sincere apology/admission of responsibility.

I admit, her taking my socks is not a big deal. It's completely inconsequential (except, of course, that roughly 50% of her socks end up "mate-less" after she wears them). I was not upset they were on her feet, just pointing out that she was wearing my socks and therefore should not place that pair in her drawer after the next time they were washed.

However, as she listed excuses for why they were on her feet - an attempt to not take responsibility - I got frustrated and disappointed. Her dad stepped in and tried to explain to her that taking responsibility for your errors in life, and admitting you're wrong, will only result in others respecting and liking you. The more you are able to admit you're wrong, the more people will view you as honest, human, and likeable.

Yet she sat at the dinner table for over an hour debating the issue and continuing to blame her drawer for having held my socks. She could not understand that there was a difference between saying "I'm sorry, I must have grabbed them by mistake" and "Well they were in my drawer". To her, those two statements are one in the same.

What a frustrating conversation... to help her learn this lesson and see the difference between making excuses and taking responsibility/admitting error.

She still hasn't understood the message. I admire her tenacity and how she is willing to stick to her guns even after an hour of discussion. However, if she doesn't learn this lesson now, it will become increasingly difficult to learn as she gets older.

This isn't the first time she has shifted blame to others, or even to inanimate objects. It's a pattern we've seen in her for quite a while. In fact, not only is she unable to admit her mistakes, she also has double-standards for how she treats others vs. how they should treat her.

But... one lesson at a time. Either we'll get through to her and she'll be more successful in college/career, OR she will continue failing and will remain the victim in all situations where things don't exactly go her way.