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Disengaging is a lifesaver! One of the best things I ever did! I was tired of always being the one to get SD to do what she needs to do: get dressed, brush hair/teeth, bathe, change underwear, have acceptable manners, dress acceptably, etc. SD resented me for always being on her case. DH resented me for treating his daughter "unfairly". I resented the both of them for not appreciating me and all that I was doing! It wasn't a pretty picture.
I read the disengaging essay a few times and then one day just quit doing anything for SD unless DH asked me and I felt okay about doing it. For a while her teeth didn't get brushed, she wore the same underwear home that she wore over here, her manners and clothes were hideous. I had a very hard time keeping my mouth shut, I honestly thought I would explode! But, I never did explode and DH caught on and started parenting her. He realized that he could no longer be the "good guy" dad while the "evil stepmom" did all the work that he knew needed to be done anyway. I think even though he resented me for being "mean" to her by expecting civilized behavior, he was relieved because he was the good guy in her eyes for consoling her when I was being so mean.
Now, as I write this, DH has lost his temper and is yelling at SD because she refuses to wear appropriate clothes and he is taking her to meet BM in a few minutes. BM is taking her to a holiday party and SD wants to wear sweats--which BM will freak out and scream her lungs out at DH if SD wears those. I feel bad for DH, but it's great that *I'm* not the one dealing with her!
This essay was written by daphne and added on December 31, 2003. She is a regular contributor to the StepTogether Message Board