I still remember the first time I met Anna’s daughter Cassidy (I call her Anna’s daughter only so that anyone reading this know’s who I am talking about, hell, for all intensive purposes I’m her Dad!). She came out from taking a bath, just before bedtime at her GrandMa Amber’s, very sweet, full of innocense, with the “That’s not my Dad” look on her face. Anna and I were getting ready to go out on one of our first official dates in Bakersfield, and Anna’s friend Amber was going to watch Cassidy for us. Even then, I really don’t think I fully understood how much of a defensive wall I’d be fighting for many years to come.
Cassidy doesn’t want me to be her Dad, because any acceptance of me as her Father, on some level, leads to an acknowledgement that BioDad hasn’t been everything he’s supposed to be. …And that’s not something that she’s ready to do yet (not suprising really, she’s only 9 10).
Very recently, things have gotten worse. Even though she is being well cared for, recently started playing the flute, has started having more interaction with her BioDad, she has decided she has justification to not have to remember to do her stuff. I say stuff since this includes just about everything on the freakin’ planet! From her morning chores, bringing her homework home, doing her homework, picking up after herself, cleaning herself in the shower…just about everything that she is supposed to be responsible for lately we have to remind her to do.
I went so far as to even get her a planner, so she can check it in the morning, before she leaves school, when she gets home, and before she goes to bed. I went over how to use it, helped her by showing her examples of how it can work. But, as I suspected, just like any tool, it’s useless unless you use it (sigh).
I wouldn’t be suprised if there is a link between me being the one to follow-up with her (more than Anna), and also the one to be the ‘bad guy’, and her resistance to taking care of her responsibilities.
The only way I know to influence a child to do what they’re supposed to or what you want them to do is:
- Positive Reinforcement
- Non-Interference (not usually successful on its own)=
Since Cassidy was going to go down to see her Dad for her Birthday, Anna and I hadn’t gone out to get presents for Cassidy. But, since Troy’s Mom passed away, we suddenly needed to provide. Anna decided to go pickup presents without me. When Anna came home from buying gifts and came through the front door alone, Cassidy knew she had been shopping for presents (without me). When Cassidy opened her presents, she didn’t thank me, she thanked Anna (only), and Anna didn’t correct her (“These are from both Ben and me”). So, now, I’m the bad guy, AND the presents were from Mom and Mom alone. Granted, to be objective, I should have gone with Anna to get presents, but Anna didn’t ask if I wanted to go with her, and Cassidy was home, so… wasn’t ideal either way, but at the root of it, Anna should have corrected her.
To me, this just serves to give Cassidy more justification for her continued lack of responsibility (when I follow-up with her). I’m talking with Anna about how to best deal with the imbalance (me bad parent, her good parent), because this is getting out of hand. Right now, Cassidy could give a rat’s ass about me (it’s very apparent to me). She think’s I don’t do enough around the house, and think’s she can lie her way out of anything. I’ve spoken to Anna about the imbalance and how the support I’m getting is not enough. One thing I read online was to put up a chore board (as more of a way to show the kids all of the things that the adults do every day to make sure the world keeps on turning, because they don’t usually know).
When I watched her (Cassidy’s) interaction with her friend McKayla while she was over this weekend, I noticed that she tended to show signs of ‘only child’ (lack of social know-how, and arrogance that comes with the lack of social know-how, didn’t say thank you for the gift she was given by her friend, needed to 1up her friends, I realize some of that comes with the age). It looks very much like she’s starting to form selfish traits.
Since we moved to Gilroy, she hasn’t been working hard to make new friends, and spend time outside of the house with kids. Anna reminded her this weekend that even at the old Coniston House, originally, she had to work to make friends. She didn’t just have friends right off the bat.
If anyone reading this has some well-throught-out ideas about how to deal with a 10yo girl not wanting to do what’s required of her, I’m all ears.