Prettt Little Liars Part 2

I know what you're thinking, "there's more??" Well, remember I talked about ex-wife lies and how they effect my littlest stepdaughter. She was 6 when I met her, her brother was 8, and her sister was 10. If 6 years of influence from someone immoral could effect a child so much, let's consider what it did to her 10 year old?

My oldest child was old enough to know that her mom was a cheater. Old enough to see the manipulations. Old enough that when my fiancé told the kids about the divorce she said "it's about time!" Identifying the terrible actions and morals of someone you love is different than realizing you should not follow them. Our relationship has had its tumultuous ups and downs.

At first I thought I could use kindness and love to show her the way. She treated me like her mother told her too-- like I wasn't good enough to be around her and taking another cue from trash talk she was constantly telling me that her mother could do things that I was doing better. Picture an awesome 80s movie montage. The Coasters "Yakity Yak" playing in the background as you see scenes of me cooking, baking, painting, drawing, decorating, crafting, cleaning... in each separate scene there is my eldest daughter telling me how "mom's way is better" and behind her is my fiancé out of her view shaking his head in ridiculous disbelief.

All the while, I'm still trucking along. I'm dealing with my own insecurities about being in a relationship with someone who has three kids and was married for 10 years. I'm dealing with his insecurities about me having had a past marriage from a relationship that had lasted 13 years and was substantially happier than his marriage. We are navigating those feelings. Meanwhile we are fresh on having fallen in love and are trying to enjoy that. We are like a young couple moving in for the first time.

After a lot of quality time, getting her into therapy, teaching her how to journal, beginning a yoga practice with the kids, FINALLY things settled down and we were feeling good. The ex-wife still tries to loom over things and be controlling but she starts to come around in teeny tiny spurts. Then our oldest began her manipulations.

Her: All the girls in my class are wearing Victoria's Secret PINK
Me: You are in 6th grade and that is a lingerie store.
Her: When can I wear it?
Me: Highschool

Goes to Her mother's house for 3 days.
Returns and after giving us laundry we find PINK underwear.

Me: Why do you have PINK underwear?
Her: Mom said I could get them and got me a sweater
Me: But you asked us first and I said no
Fiancé: Did you know PINK is a slang word for vagina? Your mom bought you a sweatshirt that says VAGINA on it.
Her: All the girls in class have them
Me: I don't care. How many pairs of underwear do you have?
Her: Just those

Goes to her mother's house and returns.
Find another pair of PINK underwear in her laundry.
Repeat last two events x3.

Eventually she either got sneakier or gave up with PINK. She has never stopped being sneaky with clothes. Just last week I caught her (now in 7th grade) wearing a child size 8 tshirt to school. She knows her mother won't punish her. She knows her mother is so insecure that she has no rules or expectations. She knows her mom can be manipulated so she does it.

Similar situations have occurred for the last year with makeup. Her mother doesn't really know how to put on makeup (and looks far prettier with none at all to be honest) so she sees no problems with her wearing dark eyeliner on the inside of her eyelashes, over-mascaraed spider lashes and then not properly following up to make sure she is cleaning her face. I sat her down in what I expected to be a bonding moment. Before her first school dance I showed her how to properly use eyeliner and mascara and eye shadow and how less is more with makeup. She still comes over with clown makeup.

The lies have also come and gone with school work. We have had to take privileges away. Take her off of her soccer team for a season. Cancel day trips. Things that were upsetting to her but not upsetting enough to stop her from skipping doing her homework at her mother's house and then lying about it. We are consistent with clear expectations. We tell her mother when she lies so we are all on the same page. It continues.

There's a huge part of me that wants to chalk it up to adolescence but most kids who skip homework aren't as manipulative and deceptive as doing it at a house where it's overlooked and then lying at your other house. These lies take contemplation. And paired with manipulative behavior... I worry she might grow up to be the kind of woman her mother is no matter how long she has had me there as a good influence. What if I can't love her enough to fix those traits? What if I won't ever be able to influence her to be her best because being like her mother is easier? What if she doesn't want to be a better person and that's why we see no change? What if she grows up to be a mean girl? What if she turns out to be someone who would cheat on her husband, get pregnant, have an abortion, and then blame her husband for it all?

What if?

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