I can't believe I'm writing this. Since I can't contact the object of this post and let them know what I think of them and their tactics, I have to vent somewhere. I also have to make note that there are a lot of specifics that I can't talk about in this post, so I have to say things in general terms because if I don't then I am likely to get myself into trouble. With that in mind, read on if you must....
My wife and step-daughter are going through a really hard time, and they have been now for the better part of the past 15 months. It all started in March of 2006 when my step-daughter, at her father's house, had a meltdown.
Wait - I better back up first. My wife M and I have been married for nearly 4 years, together for nearly 5. I met her in 2002, a little over 2 years after my first marriage ended, about the same for her. She is a wonderful human being - my soul mate, best friend, partner, lover, the person I never thought I would find. K, her daughter, is a joy; I love her as much as I love my own children, but she is a handful. She is now 15 years old, extremely intelligent, warm and compassionate, generous to a fault, but she is, after all, a teenage girl with a strong will and a mind of her own.
Well, her father didn't put much stock into his relationship with his daughter for a very long time. He started to realize just about 18 months ago that he maybe made a mistake. In my opinion, this was too little, too late. He started to want more input into her life than he had previously had - his choice, not M's - and this ended up being more like an attempt at gaining some control into his daughter's life. Again, my opinion, but this is not the way to win the heart and mind of a then 14 year-old girl, even if she is his daughter.
This situation has escalated since then. Lately there has been involvement by the courts, a child psychologist, and the girlfriend of K's father. The girlfriend, A, is a teacher in one of the school systems in the Merrimack Valley. Probably a good and experienced teacher, but she is opinionated, really bossy, and she has been dumping on M during this whole episode, calling her a bad mother who never finishes anything she starts and how she lets K do "whatever she wants", which I can attest is not true. To add complexity to an already bad situation, K has had some problems during this time, notably with school. As I see it, issues she's had with school have been made worse because she's been unable to concentrate on getting things done. This past quarter has been much better, but she's had to make a rally to come back. And even now she's not out of the woods because she did have some failing grades to deal with; those grades may haunt her by the end of the school year.
Overall, my position on this has been what I will call uneasily neutral, and the reason I've taken the position I have is at the request of M. If not for her, I would have committed acts that I'm sure would land me in jail in many of the 50 United States. My problem is that what I am seeing is really bad judgement on the part of B and A; they are making accusations and statements that I believe to be untrue. Additionally, they are not taking responsibility for their own actions with respect to both K and M, and they have taken many statements that were made in their direction out of context. Further, they accuse M of committing acts that they themselves have committed, which I know M has not done.
Surely mistakes have been made on all fronts in this situation, but the bottom line is that the situation at hand has gotten ugly and is back and forth in court. There is another court date coming up soon, and it will likely get escalated further. The psychologist actually has been a lifeline for K, as much as she would like not to admit it; he has been good at helping her work through some of this stuff that she's been dealing with in terms of her father. And B had made a statement recently saying that he didn't think therapy for K was helpful. I believe he said that because things are not going his way with K's therapy; B's bottom line is that he wants K to spend time with him, which is not unreasonable, but he is going about it the wrong way. He thinks K is a pathological liar. That's not true; K, as I said earlier, is a teenage female who is coming into her own as a young woman with a mind of her own and a sense of what she sees as right and wrong. And she has come out and said - point blank - she doesn't want to see her father, much less spend time with him, because she sees him for who he is.
B, on the other hand, doesn't want that to happen. Part of me doesn't blame him; after all, he is her father. But I can see many of the same things that K does. I can also see the sort of influence A is having on B, which is leading to much of what is going on now as it is A that, as I see it, is "running the show", in a manner of speaking, not B. Neither of them would admit this, I suspect, but any interactions I've had with them have been such that it's been clear to me that A is in charge. And as I said, I find her way to be unpleasant at best.
I guess the only way to resolve this situation is to keep doing what is necessary: pursuing whatever legal remedies that are available, ensuring that K continues to do the work that she needs to do to make herself emotionally healthy, and continue to hold my peace. Unless someone shatters it for me. If that happens, then I suspect that all bets will be off.....