My 13-year-old stepdaughter recently told us she would like to spend the entire summer living with her biological mom (who lives about 8 miles away from my husband and me), instead of spending every other week with us in our home. My husband told her this was not an option and that we are not going to alter custody arrangements. I agree with him; we are not going to change our schedule (and potentially increase child support payments - which are already substantial) just to please a teenager. And as we all know, you can't really please a teenager anyway.
For as long as I've known him, my husband has had a rule - cussing/swearing/inappropriate language is not appropriate or tolerated in our home. We do not use this language and we expect that his children follow suit. It's not that we feel they aren't mature enough or free enough to express themselves using such language; it's simply that both my husband and I feel that swear words demonstrate a lack of intelligence. Therefore, we have a rule: "If we say it, you can say it", and it's been strictly upheld.
...until this week.
My step-daughter is allowed to have a faceb*ok account at our home; something her biological mom does not allow any of her children to have. I don't agree with the bio-mom's prohibition of faceb*ok, but I do respect her wishes. However, during our custodial weeks, my husband and I allow his two oldest children (ages 16 and 13) to use faceb*ok as a way to socialize with their friends. There are a few rules:
- Appropriate behavior/language is essential
- No using this service after 10pm on school nights
- Homework and chores must be finished before the child(ren) access faceb*ok
- My husband and I must have access to everything the children do/say on their and their friends pages
That's it. Simple, straightforward rules (and nothing too outlandish or controlling, if you ask me). Since I use faceb*ok more frequently than my husband, I tend to be the parent monitor the my step-kids' use of this site to ensure they are being responsible and they deserve the permissions they've been granted.
Last week, my stepdaughter posted on a friend's faceb*ok thread, and for some reason (although I can't determine the reasoning from the context of everyone's messages), she decided to post "f*ck you" on faceb*ok. I saw this, and brought it to my husband's attention. I didn't handle it or address it beyond that, but I did want him to know that his rules were being disrespected.
Tonight, at the start of our custody week, my husband told my step-daughter that he was not pleased with what she wrote, and that it was very inappropriate for her to use that language. She instantly became defensive and argumentative. I stayed out of the conversation, but observed her becoming increasingly upset and argumentative.
The bottom line: she feels she's not given enough "freedom" here to express herself and use whatever language she sees fit, and her biological mom gives her that freedom. She wants to live with her mom so she can be free to act how she wants.
Keep in mind, this is the same biological mom who allowed no freedom for this teenager to even access faceb*ok; the same woman who won't let her 13-year-old daughter to attend high school sports/functions because she's not truly a "high schooler"... it is obvious to me that we're dealing with a girl who will always see the grass as greener on the other side.
What to do? Do we hold to our values and expect her to do the same? My husband is adamant that his daughter not be allowed to live full-time with her biological mother. I agree that she's making a purely emotional/hasty request. However, part of me wants to see her move in with her mom full-time. Knowing the biological mom as I do, I have a feeling this will backfire in a matter of weeks (if not days). I'd really be curious to see how that would play out.
We're scheduled to vacation with another family over this 4th of July weekend, and my step-daughter is incredibly upset that we're making her participate in this family event, when she's been invited to another friend's house to spend the weekend. I'm absolutely dreading her attitude and the horrible demeanor she's sure to bring with us on our pleasant weekend; not to mention how she could ruin the other family's vacation.
Please say a prayer she's on her best behavior - for everyone involved.