When we have something important to deal with with the kids, my husband and I come up with a game plan. It always works while the kids are in the house, but at some point they have their memories twisted and it's turned against us. We don't care about that other than how the kids are taught to lie about us and are encouraged to only think badly about us and what we do with them or tell them. Another way to put it is that my husband's parenting is not respected by their mother and her located-all-in-the-same-town family, and they do everything to teach the children to not take any character, moral, or virtue lessons from their father because "it's silly" or more commonly, "ridiculous". Because whatever everyone else does...is right. Of course. Being yourself means being thoughtless and living selfishly- didn't you know?
I have my own plans sometimes. I usually revise them a few times before it happens, or it changes on the spot. As I get less upset, I come up with more clever things to do or say to handle a new issue. I, of course, take the female role-model stance. My husband always takes the fatherly stance.
I hit my end with all of the lies. I had to do something to tell my stepdaughter that I would not tolerate her lies to me anymore- while also confronting the lies about me and her little sister's new inability to tell the truth or point out her sister's lies. And, I really wanted to bring it home. I wanted her to internalize it.
I asked her to look in a mirror after I briefly talked to her younger sister about what lying is. I asked her to describe how she feels and what she thinks about herself. I asked her to share what she wants to be and what she wants people to think of her. She had no answers. She just shrugs. I has her sister share her thoughts, before I said what I needed to say. I told her how I see a beautiful girl who doesn't like who she is. She doesn't like how she looks so she wants to hide herself with big jackets and sweatshirts, no matter how hot it is. She wants to be someone else or look different, so she is only 12 and wearing thick, dark make-up. She wants to blend in and look like everyone else, because she wants to be normal. She wants to be normal because she feels like her life isn't normal. She is hurt and confused inside because she has 4 different parents who tell her different things. She has moved so much and has had too many homes, and she wants to hide that she's not normal. So she lies. A lot, to cover up who she is. She doesn't know how to answer or who she is and who she should be, so she lies. She tries to make people happy with her just for the moment, so she lies to get out of the moment, and doesn't care what happens later and who it hurts.
Her eyes teared up the moment I brought up the divorce of her parents. I asked her what people would think of her if she lied to them a lot, for years. I asked her if people who love you ever lie to you- and when she nodded no, I said that they do. I said, "And people who love someone but are lied to for so long- How would they feel? They lose trust in you, even if they love you, it will take a long time to trust them again." I then told her that I will no longer let her lie to me, and she will no longer lie to me. I told her that the thing I hate the most is people who are fake, and lies are making her fake to me. We just told her the week before that she is better than that, that she is not fake, that she is beautiful and smart and has more to offer. So why is she choosing to be fake? I reiterated no more lies. As I left the room, I said, "And you taught your little sister to lie for you, too." Then their dad took them to dinner.
He got the gist pretty quickly and later picked up where I left off, very nicely and in his own way. He's not only fantastic at my damage control, but he also sometimes chooses to go the Dad way and nail it home. Oh, I love him. But he doesn't blog, so he can't pick up the story from there. One thing to throw in: She lied to him a few times at dinner.
We discussed everything after he'd dropped them off back to their mom, whom they are learning the lying and fake behavior from- which they talked to us about how fake she is the week before, actually- Just without that word. Then I told him I had started writing to the kids. I have since added to it. It's this long letter I will read to them the next weekend they're with us, on the first night. It started as me telling my husband I don't want to buy them as many Christmas gifts because of all of the events of this year- which means their pile will severely drop off. I am a gift giver type, so I always overdo it and spend way too much. But I want to. I wanted to show them how much I care and think of them..... Ha.
But I decided to write a letter about everything I feel and experience instead. In their words, I describe how hurt I am and remind them of a lot of things I've done for them- since they admit they don't remember or ever think of anything I do. I'm like a ghost that gives them things and takes care of them. I describe how much I've tried, how much I've cared, and illustrate it. I also illustrate what its like to be me in this position, living with two people who continually act fine with me but then lie to me and about me to everyone else, making me look like someone I'm not. I have written about how I am losing me- because the more you're sad and hurt and allow others to continually hurt you, the more you lose who you are. I wrote about how I want to be myself and not be sad so much so that I can take care of everyone who does love me, love everyone who wants me to love them, and do all of the volunteer activities I do for others where I help other kids and homeless animals. And I state that I want to have a relationship with them, want to be treated like what I am- family- and that maybe one day we can be friends when they stop believing what someone else is telling them but only sees me for me and knows me for me. My husband cried when I read him what I'd written so far.
And that will get us goin' for Christmas. It's the time for caring and sharing. And they think they've already heard what we're upset about....But the tears won't last long. They'll remember they barely see us and move on.