Updated: Dec 24, 2021

"Having my daughter was really a selfish choice."

This was said to me during a heart to heart with #3. She then inserted a half joke, "I had her for me, so sorry not sorry!", then finished with a heartfelt, "But I am really sorry for those whom my choices affected." She continued, "I am telling my kids to go to school! I do not want them to be like me where I'm stressed out all the time so that I can earn money to support them."

I see eye to eye with her on parenting. The last thing we both want is a pregnant teenaged (bonus) daughter that we'd have to step in and help. #3's reality is that if the roles were reversed and our 6 year old had babies without being stable, she would not be able to step up and help her as #3's parents have stepped up to help them. My reality is: I'm not sure I'd want to help with that! As much as I love my bonus children, I'm not exactly thrilled to be raising children that aren't biologically mine. I realized about two months ago that I really needed to talk to #3. My boyfriend's level of communication with #3 really seems to be minimal. A lot of the time, I can barely get information from him about our youngest because some parental points that are important to me don't occur to him to ask. Really, what it looks like to me is that he just doesn't want to talk to #3. He'll ask her questions about how she is from time to time because he does care about her, but only in the capacity that she is the mother of one of his kids. I know that #3 does care about my boyfriend and I, and I definitely think she cares more about my boyfriend than he does about her. It's a little maddening, not because of jealousy, but because it's just freaking dysfunctional. #3 will text my boyfriend about something regarding their daughter, he won't respond to her and he won't always tell me what's been said. So I just bit the bullet and reached out to her. The second reason why I felt #3 and I needed to talk was that our (bonus) daughter had figured out how to pit her parents' households against each other. Perhaps it's the Scorpio in me (I have mutiple houses in Scorpio), but I rage when I find out that someone's been manipulating me, I don't care if she's a toddler!

In this talk, #3 and I compared notes, we nailed down a timeline to when the bathroom accidents started happening, when the lying started happening and had a "What the Hell is going on with desserts? Why is our child throwing tantrums when she doesn't get desserts? Do you serve desserts after every meal??? WTF???" moment. We bonded over this. I told #3 about my Honesty and Potty charts. She's adopted her own versions and is doing them too. We figured out that our daughter snuck a tablet that belonged to her dad to her mom's house and had been sneaking in extra screen time, we figured out how our daughter comes up with excuses to not eat food, or to eat extra snacks - our kid is smart! We really bonded over an "Excuse me, you do not tell the adults what to do, little girl!" mentality. We are working together to nip this entitled behavior in the butt before it manifests into habits that are difficult to change. Both households have decided to cut back on desserts. The message we're telling our 6 year old is that desserts are only for celebrations or because she's earned it (getting 5 starts on her Honesty Chart, earning some award, achieving a goal, etc). You don't get desserts just because you exist! We have both had conversations with our child, separately and together, regarding her attitude and talking back. We've revealed to her that we talk, we'll compare notes, so when she lies or behaves badly, we'll know about it! I have been given the green light to put our 6 year old in time outs if I see fit.

Another component of this discussion was acknowledging truths. #3 admitted that she brought her children into the world prematurely. She wishes she had waited until she was stable to have had them. She wishes she had made smarter choices, that she wasn't such a people pleaser, that she had furthered her education and gotten her college degree before having kids. She also expressed that she struggles when it comes to priorities and dating. She did mentioned that she needs to work on balancing her time better between her boyfriend and her children. (To be honest, that's the point that my boyfriend and I feel is the cause of our 6 year old's bathroom accidents; our daughter isn't getting enough time with her mother, but it's only speculation. Sure, these accidents could have been provoked by stress from COVID happening, it could be that our 6 year old started Kindergarten in August, it could be something on her dad's side ... I mean, I'm open to all the possibilities, but I do have my biases.) I bring this up because if someone can be honest with me about past mistakes, flaws, can show self-awareness, the ability for self-reflection and the desire to heal past traumas, I'm more inclined to be compassionate and help with the consequences of poor judgement (this applies to my boyfriend's past indiscretions too).

I haven't forgotten about the lies that have been told to me about my older bonus daughter by #3. The lies are to embellish the relationship that #3 has with my 17 year old and I take them with a grain of salt. However, when it comes to my 6 year old, I will believe her mother fully. We're working towards the same goal of raising a well-adjusted child in a fractured, but blended family.

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