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Dear Chump Lady, My daughter wants to show me pictures of the OW

Dear Chump Lady,

Please help! I do not know how to navigate this entire divorce mess with my two teenage daughters. My youngest sees her father every other weekend. This includes time spent with the OW. This weekend they took a day trip and she took many pictures on her phone from the day. She wanted to tell me all about it. Fine! She wanted to show me her pictures. Fine! With those pictures came selfies of her and OW. Plenty of them. A group selfie….her, her father and OW. One big happy family!!!! No pictures of daughter with just her dad. I said nothing. Seeing that was like driving a stake between my eyes. I excused myself to the bathroom for a moment to gather myself and to try to decide if I should mention to her how seeing those photos hurt me. I decided to word it in a way that wouldn’t hurt her feelings but would explain my boundaries and to let her know that I wasn’t ready to see pictures like those yet.

My words were (and I held in my tears and emotions) “Can I say something to you briefly….and please don’t take this the wrong way or be upset?…..I am not yet at a point where I can see pictures of you and OW. I wanted to hear about your trip and see your pictures but I am not ready to see you with OW. This is a boundary I need to have in place so I can continue to heal from the hurt”.

She rolled her eyes at me. She said “Whatever Mom” …..”I can never do anything right”….”Those pictures were just there”. I am not stupid. She knew those pictures were coming up. She could pull her phone back and pass over them before continuing. She is 16! She isn’t a toddler. She knows how much it hurts to be cheated on. Has happened to her with boyfriends. How does she not see how this would hurt? Did she do it on purpose? Did she want the drama? Why couldn’t she say,”Gee Mom, I am so sorry. I did not do it on purpose. I will be careful next time.”

Why do I feel as though I should be silenced about talking about my feelings?

I don’t know how to handle this. Now she is angry with me and she won’t talk to me and she was verbally abusive this morning to both her older sister and to me. And…..she said that her sister and I gang up on her. “Everyone sees it”!

This is why I held on for five years (knowing of the cheating) and tried to reconcile my broken marriage. Because I saw what was going to happen to my children and our family. This feels hopeless. I feel so damn defeated. I didn’t want any of this!

How do I fix the mess?


Dear Kimmy,

It’s not your mess to fix. You set a boundary, and when you set a boundary you let go of the consequences. People may not like your boundaries. They might lash out. They might get ugly. It’s your boundary. Stick to it.

I don’t fault you for having the boundary and I think you went about it the kindest way you knew how. That doesn’t mean your daughter is going to like it.

She’s a teenager. If she’s like most young people her age, she resists all boundaries. Given the narcissistic age they’re at, never show your vulnerability to teenagers. You think toddlers are manipulative? (I’ll just bat my eyelashes and look cute here and mom will give me a cookie!) Teenagers have had the last decade to perfect their skills of button pushing. You just handed her your button when you said this hurt you.

You can’t expect your kid to understand your pain, but you can expect her to respect your boundary. I would suggest a simpler boundary for now — what goes on at Dad’s house stays at Dad’s house. You don’t need the particulars. I doubt you wanted to see her pictures, or hear about her fabulous day out, so don’t put yourself in that position. If she goes there, don’t agree to see her phone. Just utter a pleasant banality and change the subject.

A wise person once counseled that all conversations with young people could be reduced to “cool, bummer, wow.”

I spent a terrific day with dad and his mistress!


I’m got fired from my internship, but it’s okay because I’m got a job as a tattoo artist!

Bummer. Wow.

Look at my sleeve tattoo! It’s the Battle of Gettysburg only with zombies!


Teenagers don’t want to share everything with you. Don’t share everything with teenagers. If she pushes you on why you don’t want to see 40 selflies of her and the OW, you say “I’m glad you had a good day.” If she keeps pushing you just state your boundary. “It’s better for me now if I don’t hear about the particulars of your time at dad’s. Hey, want tacos for lunch?”

Look, she is 16. Whatever her kerfuffles in her dating life, she has absolutely NO IDEA how you feel. She hasn’t the foggiest notion of what it is to invest decades in a relationship and have kids and a mortgage and entangled family. She has no idea what it is to be gutted by adult infidelity.

From her perspective, she knows her family fell apart, and if she can’t have her intact family, then she’ll go with the next pleasant narrative We’re All Happier Now and Everyone Can Be Friends. The reality of your pain, of your boundary of not feeling friendly toward the cheating ex, doesn’t play well with that narrative. She’s grown up watching you eat shit sandwiches. Why won’t you eat this one too?

Because there are consequences for abandoning your family. Because there are deeply hurt feelings. Because it is a terrible loss and you’re going to grieve it. Eventually, I trust you will get to meh about the ex and the OW and their trips to petting zoos or WTFever they’re up to, but you’re not there yet. Because this pain is fresh and raw. Don’t be inauthentic, but don’t discuss your emotional slop with minors either. They just need to know you are still IN CHARGE. You’re mom, this is your boundary. Respect it. Next subject please.

I know you wish your daughter could respond with compassion, but maybe she’ll get there at some point years from now. But don’t predicate your relationship on it. Your pain isn’t her job. And hearing about it probably makes her feel disloyal to her dad, and guilty about enjoying time with the OW. She’s got to work those relationships out on her own and connect the dots for herself. And that shit takes YEARS. Your job is to focus on your new life and parent your kids.

Part of which includes not taking shit off teenagers. She’s verbally abusive to you or her sister? You shut that down. Not acceptable. Boundary. Consequence. Enforcement.

Chumps have this codependent notion that sharing our pain will compel other people to not do certain things. I can tell you about my pain! And that will (guilt them, make them feel bad, and compel them) to not Do The Upsetting Thing. No. Cut to the chase and be direct with people. Here is my boundary. Do Not Do The Upsetting Thing.

It’s much more effective that way and shields you from further hurt. Then your vulnerable underbelly isn’t being rejected.

If the person persists in Doing the Upsetting Thing? That’s good information to have. That means you have been clear and they are indifferent. So you enforce the consequence, whatever that is.

So, in summary — keep your pain to yourself around your kids best you can, but get that boundary right out there in front.

Did your teenager do it to stir up drama? On purpose? Who knows? We’re talking about teenagers. Their brains aren’t fully formed (as I keep telling mine). Drama is part of the gig. Steady on and keep parenting.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “You set a boundary, and when you set a boundary you let go of the consequences.” Best advice ever. Something that is difficult for us Chumps I believe as we are used to trying to fix everything and/or make everyone happy. Identify what your needs are, set the boundary and then maintain (and enforce) the boundary. It will be hard but the sooner you do it, the sooner they will learn to respect the boundaries. Plus, it’s the only way

  • I realize this might offend you, Kimmy, but stop letting her be in charge. I think you should tell her just how devastated you are, and that the less you hear about the piece of shit and his schmoopie the better. You are the adult. You can use less offensive words but you can still stop that behavior by ignoring or leaving the room. The argument that you and her sister pick on her is just another manipulative behavior typical of teens. Don’t argue with her. She is trying mightily to make somebody the bad guy here. Guess who. Don’t buy into it. I raised 3 teenagers and the crap they came up with to get their way boggles the mind. I never took it personally. I am a good mom. I had my rules, they knew them, they keep bumping into them and I won. It is necessary for you to win. They have shit for brains at this age and have no common sense at all. Just keep on going and stick to your guns.

    • Yep. The sooner you can stop feeling sorry for your kids, the better. Don’t let them walk all over you. They need you to be the boss.

    • Ending a relationship is tough, and kids being involved makes it even more difficult. Good words of wisdom and awesome advice on how best to handle teens, who occasionally try your patience even in the best circumstances. Hugs…

      • Not for nothing but it’s just one more way your asshole ex is allowing for triangulation. Your daughter, ex husband and his slutbag are all developmentally adolescents. Your daughter is appropriate in her narcissim. The rest of them are not. So go ahead and treat that selfie as if it’s a selfie of her and her BFF’s a the mall. Sadly, that’s the assholery you are dealing with.

  • Yes! Teenagers are incredibly self-centered. Only a very unusual teen would be compassionate towards you. Next time she offers pictures of her day with dad and the tramp, just say NO.

    • I guess my teen is very unusual, and he always has been and is a great kid. When he caught me crying one time, it really got to him and he cried, that was the only time he saw me crying, he was 13 I think. He couldn’t bear the thought of me crying or sad. We have been always very close. Even though he adored the asswipe and loved doing things with him, when he found out the truth he cut him off completely, he wont even reply to a simple text, wont even read it most of the time. His girlfriend adores him like crazy, because he is kind, thoughtful, honest and treats her really well. I mentioned here before, This one girl had a huge crush on my then 14 year old son, she wanted to date him so badly, my cheating asshole X said to my son, “why don’t you date her and get some until you find a girl you want to date? Its not like you’re going to marry her” my son looked at him and said ” I cant do that, I feel nothing for her and that would be using her and that will hurt her feelings, that’s just wrong.” yep, my 14 year old son with integrity– versus 46 year old pig!!

      • Nicolette. God Bless him! He sounds like my son…I call him a true man of integrity even at such a young age. Happy he is not like his dad.

        • Thank you Thoughtful, yes he is a wonderful young man with integrity and someday he will be a great husband and father. My cheating ex is not his biological dad, my ex-husband is and I am truly happy, he is nothing like his biological dad or my cheater, since my cheater ex was the only male in his life for almost a decade. Have you ever watched the movie “Sleeping with Enemy” with Julia Roberts? That was me… I basically ran away from my abusive ex-husband, except in my case I had my little man with me, then I met a “good guy” just like in that movie, who pursued me relentlessly for a long time, saying he will never hurt me, put your walls down, just give him a one chance etc., so I finally gave him a chance. I was with him for almost a decade, he proposed 3 times, him and his family repeatedly pressured me for marriage, even though I had no proof of anything, and he seem to be such a great guy all around (except supposedly broke ass freeloader, never contributed a penny to anything, not even for his own food, who always complained his ex-wife and kids were draining him financially, but telling me in time things will get better) my gut feeling kept screaming at me, even though he was always so loving, affectionate, sweet but I could sense something was wrong, that something was off but I just couldn’t put my finger on it, so I wouldn’t take that step for marriage. This “good guy” I met after running away from my abusive ex-husband turn out to be a serial cheating, pathological lying, gaslighting, free loading, mooching, deadbeat con artist. His love for me was a lie, I made him look good, I was of use to him, I was a good front while he screwed anything that gave him the time of the day while playing the “good guy” and he was after my home, money and everything that I owned. I count my blessings every day that I listened to my gut feeling and didn’t marry him. When I finally dumped him, after being gaslighted cruelly first, for about 3 years by him and his family, he and his family tried to stake a claim to everything that I own, but quickly realized that they don’t have a leg to stand on. I dodged a bullet and having such a loving, supporting son made everything so much easier. I am so proud to be his mom!

  • Am in the middle of some big doodoo enforcement with my own teenager right now. It’s so hard because it’s firing on so many chump behaviors. Thanks sooooo much for this column today, am planning on stalking the comments for this one.

  • You WILL get through this. My teen was 11 when the shit hit the fan….and it took a full two more years for her to mature a little to see the reality of it all, because at first ALL she cared about was keeping her dad. He had thrown her into the deep end and the insecurity it placed on her was ALL that mattered. But, in the years since, she has witnessed on her own who they both are…and she has matured. She gets it pretty well now, she is 15, and we are closer than ever. We would have never been this close if she had not been exposed to all their nonsense, selfishness, his rages, all his issues….You have to let time go by and stick to your boundaries. AND not feel quilty about it. Don’t try to make her pick you….just be mom with all its good and bad and trust that she will eventually get it. And as others say, don’t overshare your pain with her. It only twists her up more than she is. But, that doesn’t mean you let her trample on your delicate emotions.

    • Great advice–don’t “pick me” dance with anyone, including the kids. Remember that she doesn’t see her dad very often and is probably desperate to show that she loves him and wants to be part of his life. As your letter points out, your X makes his parenting time involve the OW, so she either gets confrontational with both of them or accepts what is and tries to stay connected with her dad. Showing you the photos might also be a way of saying, “Dad isn’t so bad,” or “Try to get him back! Be jealous!”–all because she can only try to manipulate the two of you to get the intact family back. Lots of nutso teenage behaviors in situations of infidelity/separation/divorce involve acting out to get the parents back on the same page. It doesn’t work, other than to create more chaos and craziness, but kids are otherwise powerless; they use what they have.

      CL’s advice is right on the money (and I speak as a former step-parent and an educator who has worked with kids from 14-22 for many years). I would be most upset about ANY verbal abusive from your kids. And once again–don’t over-react. Just raise a hand and say, “Stop. Your words are abusive. When you get home tonight, the three of us will have a conversation where I will explain what verbal abuse is and why there will be major consequences if you behave in that way.” Then go on about your business. That night, sit down and remind her what she said, what makes it abusive, and why that won’t be tolerated. Don’t get into a discussion or a debate about what was said, etc. Say calmly, “This is not a town meeting and a family is not a democracy. I am your mother and I am here to teach you to be a decent, honorable person who can get along with others. I’m making a statement, not asking you to explain yourself. The next time I hear you speak this way, you are grounded for a week (or you lose phone privileges, whatever). Back in the day, my stepchild used our home while we were away to hold a huge drinking party, where kids had sex in our bed, played in our en suite shower, etc. Huge boundary violations. Our family therapist walked us through how to confront her with her behavior and how to set the boundary, which was, essentially, “you can never be alone in this house again until you are at least 18.” But we learned how to separate discussions about behavior and other problems from moments where we set the boundary. Set the boundary and say “think about your behavior and we will talk about what you did when you are ready. Meanwhile, know this is not acceptable.”

  • I needed this post today! My teenage daughter is so self centered that I have wondered if it’s because she’s a teenager or because she’s inherited her dad’s narc personality.

    Even her boyfriend has told her that she only cares about herself and isn’t loving or caring toward him. Instead, she’s bossy and demanding. When she does something nice, there’s usually an ulterior motive. I’m trying to coach her on this since she asked me for my opinion after he said it to her but she usually argues with me about her intention or agrees just to stop the conversation.

    If it’s teenager crap then hopefully she will continue to mature and grow out of it. But my fear is that it’s inherited. Either way, it puts me on edge just like I was with STBX, which is not good.

    • Have been a little on edge lately too and wondering the same, whether it’s just teen hood or inherited narcissism. I’m glad to see the comments about teen narcissism as it gives me hope that it is just a phase. In any case, everything we learn from having been chumps can only help us recognize narcissistic tendencies easier and keeping firm boundaries with our kids will help them learn respect and hopefully gear them toward growing into compassionate adults.

      • Hey, guys! All teenagers are narcissists. Comes with the age. Your slow, steady communication about right and wrong takes until the 20s to be absorbed. They have iffy consciences at this age, with some exceptions (Nicolette, yay you!). Please do not take ANYTHING they say to heart. We humans manipulate others all our lives and it is up to our parents to teach us the right ways to go about it. They will learn. Don’t over share but you have the right, in your own home, to leave conversations about the cheaters out. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. They are going to bump into a bunch of them as adults. They have to learn that sometimes people say “no”.

        • My teen turned 20 this year – and still narcissistic and selfish. Some day her brain (and her heart) will turn back on. I just hope she never had to experience the gut wrenching side of infidelity.

        • let go do you have a blog? I’m dealing with two teenage girls 17 months apart on my own and struggling mightily as I have a very strong codependent streak and your words are exactly what I need to hear! thank you

  • I haven’t got any kids, so what would I know…. but, I’ve been around a lot of teenagers (used to work at a crisis intervention centre for kids in care), have 10 neice/nephews and, crucially, was a teenager myself once! Tracy’s advice is absolutely spot on, we know Tracy gives great advice always, but these are pearls of wisdom, Bravo!

    Remember: she’s a teenager ergo she’s mental (comes with the territory – I shudder at the memory of my teen years and my poor folks). More than ever, teens need firm boundaries now, they help them feel safe – safe enough to be utterly obnoxious, granted, but rebellion is being piped in with the hormones and she’s obviously feeling safe enough to be nasty to both you and her sister. Keep calm, firm and MUM. Hopefully, in years down the line you’ll both look back to these ‘challenging years’ with humour.

    Tracy, you’re a star!

  • “Chumps have this codependent notion that sharing our pain will compel other people to not do certain things. I can tell you about my pain! And that will (guilt them, make them feel bad, and compel them) to not Do The Upsetting Thing. No. Cut to the chase and be direct with people. Here is my boundary. Do Not Do The Upsetting Thing.”

    Excellent advice!

    I suppose I am still learning this one. And I certainly fell into that chump trap in my first marriage (to the cheater). A mentor of mine reminded me that if you get whacked when opening the proverbial door…next time only open it a crack if you don’t want to get whacked. In other words, be aware of the behavior of others, put up healthy boundaries, and be direct. Don’t give them more space to hit you harder if they’ve already done that emotionally. That’s just not wise with a teenager or not.


  • Kimmy….Yikes. “I can never do anything right and then the eye roll.” Pretty dang manipulative. Ugh. I’m so glad I’m done raising teenagers. I’m sorry Kimmy. You just have to remember that they do have shit for brains at this stage in life and please don’t take anything personal. And yes, unfortunately the narc behavior can be heredity, but I wouldn’t seriously consider that until your child is older.
    Stick to your guns on your boundaries and do NOT let her disrespect you or your other daughter. You ARE the mom!!

  • My heart goes out to you. My son who is 16, will be 17 in couple of months, took my side completely and he also went NC with the asswipe. He wont return his texts, emails and when he said, “what man in his right mind would ever cheat on a woman like you? I hope to find a woman just like you someday, who is beautiful inside and out, kind, thoughtful, wonderful in every way and that idiot doesn’t deserve to be near you, not even within a 100 feet, I love you mom” then he gave me a big hug….that, right there… We are now both happy without the life sucking parasite in our lives and having his support made everything so much easier. I hope your daughter will eventually come around and understand your pain. Big hugs Kimmy.

    • Nicolette, I lucked out, too, with my son who is a young adult. Never had major issues with him as a teenager and he always had empathy. He has also chosen to go NC with his dad – said he couldn’t be bothered with the complicated mess that he chose. He told me a few months ago that he believes his dad has zero empathy. And yes, having my son’s support has made definitely helped.

      • Uniquelyme, I guess we both were very lucky. The key word is “empathy”, that we all have and our sons have it too, which is such a blessing, unlike our cheaters and my cheating ex didn’t have any empathy for anyone either, he pretended he did though. My son asked me recently, if I will ever date again, since he knows couple of guys are still pursuing me and told me there are still good guys out there and he wants me to be happy. I told him that I am happy, peaceful and wouldn’t change a thing. It’s just two of us now and life has never been more happier and peaceful. I told him I am done dating and never again will I even consider dating another man, let alone marry or live with one and take that risk again. Life is too short and it’s not worth it to me anymore, so I will live the rest of my life the way I want, do things that makes me happy for a change. I am not going to sacrifice or waste my years for any men ever again, I wasted enough of my years already and now it’s my turn to enjoy whatever years that I have left. Get this, I turned down one very persistent guy down recently, again, and this time he accused me of being selfish and told me I was thinking of only myself by refusing the share myself/my life with someone else. WTF!!! No dude, it’s the other way around, he was/is thinking only of himself, so he could get in my pants, my house and not respecting my decision that I don’t want to date his ass and he was playing the nice guy all that time until he got it through his head that I will not date him thus he is not getting whatever he was/is after thus showing his true colors. Now, seriously, whytf would I ever date or want to date again?!?!

    • Wow! nicolette14! your post made me cry! what a wonderful young man you have for a son!

      • My 17 year old son has also been very supportive. Sadly I think it’s probably a cross-gender thing at this age – the teenage girls are probably much more damaged by the cheating. The girls are modeling their future relationships with men and in order to keep Daddy she’s got to suck up to the shiny new glitter covered turd. While it’s nice to have the support from my boys, I also wonder what the long term consquences of this shitpile are going to be on them.

      • IHaveHate, thank you! Yes he is wonderful and I am so blessed to have him, he is my pride and joy! 🙂

  • Ouch! its a tough one but I believe you got some sound advice. You are important ….somethings our children have a hard time remembering that…and why should they? They are children and can’t begin to understand the Shit Sandwhiches that have been eaten…with a side of Suck- It- Up Slaw.
    We buffer our children so much at times and try to play fair that our kids dont realize what we do to protect them. I never understood ” this hurts me more than it hurts you” until I had a child…and my mothers words flew out of my mouth. Your daughter is sixteen and well, is an idiot…as all sixteen year olds are…she just wants it to be over already! Please remember they break up and make up in 5 minutes…and stop talking to Amy Whats-her- face “CAUSE!”.but next week are BFFs. Its exhausting. And all normal and really they just want normal. Trying to explain your “feelings” especially about her father is futile. I would feign disinterest. Look once..pick up your phone..scroll thru something random and and say” thats nice hon, glad you had a nice time” and then ” what do you want to eat for lunch? By sharing your feelings you are putting your child in the middle and asking her to understand something she could not possibly understand. Then she will tell her dad your response and then who gets to gloat then? You are MOM! and you have the wisdom to know that this child before you just wants normal,not at your expense,not at the cost of your feelings. I had to suck it down deep last week when Idiot put his whore bags sweat shirt on our child because she was cold. In bounces my smiliey faced child so happy to see me, wearing the whore bags hoodie.Part of me wanted to give it to our dog as a chew toy. It took everything in me not to react. But I didnt. I did explain to my child that it was kind for whore bag to lend her a shirt and I would remember next time to pack her one. Just live the better life. And when she is a grown woman she will come to you when and if her dirt bag husband screws around.and you will be able to give her your wisdom to be a smart confident woman.

  • Thank you for this today. I have my own teenaged daughter and a MOW who has wormed her way into my children’s lives.

    Lucky for me, she is miles away and looks like Miss Piggy. But I get sick and tired of stbx and Miss Piggy’s fabulous-ness. Especially when it involves my children!

  • I think TheClip has a good point, that kids just want it to be over already, want “normal.” They have to be “OK” with it – the parents divorced, two different families now, having every other weekend of their lives scheduled off for them, being around new partners/new partners’ families. They have no control over any of that, no say in any of that, and since they have to be “OK” with it, they want the other parent to be “OK” with it. Because the alternative is divided loyalties, one parent upset with them over hearing about information about the other one, awkward funneling of information – “Can I mention to mom that I saw really cute kangaroos at the trip to the zoo? Or is it going to upset her because that involves dad and his new girlfriend?”

    Believe me, I get it. My kids have brought home gifts/went on outings with dad and his latest whatever, and it always feels awful. I just say, “Oh, that’s nice” and then change the subject. I know for a fact, though, they do it to him too. I’ve heard them on the phone with him talking about going on an outing with me and BF, the cool gift BF got them, etc. I have a feeling it bugs him too, though he’s always been coolly pleasant to BF in the few times they’ve met/interacted.

    Hang in there, Kimmy, believe me, I know teenage years are tough, especially with divorce in the mix!

  • Well… is an update! This morning after she was verbally abusive and said that her sister and I gang up on her….I told her she doesn’t have to live in our house if it’s so bad. She said she wasn’t going to school. I told her she absolutely was going. I just checked the school website and she isn’t there. I called the school. She was picked up early by her father. I called her. No answer. I text her. She said she was with her dad.

    He never called to tell me he was doing this. Neither did she.

    He has taken away my ability to parent!!!! If every time I try to correct her behavior, she runs and cries to him and he rescues her…..I DON’T HAVE A LEG TO STAND ON!!!!

    Now what?????

    • If it were me I’d call the school counselor and make an appointment to talk to her about the situation. You should have been alerted by the school if your daughter was leaving. Perhaps the counselor can make some suggestions on how to handle the situation, I’m sure she’s dealt with similar ones. I’m sorry your ex is undermining your authority, that sucks. Sounds like your daughter is manipulating both of you.

    • I think you should just let her live with her dad. She is otherwise triangulating you with her dad/OW and manipulating you and will likely continue to cause you pain and grief with no upside for you. She is old enough to know what she is doing. Let her dad and OW take care of her and be the disciplinarians. You need to protect your psychological health first and foremost. You have a lifetime to build a relationship with her, but without setting boundaries and consequences now, I’m afraid that she will feel entitled to treat you with disrespect (and cause you pain) going forward.

      • I completely agree with young. Let her live with her dad and the OW and we will see how long that will work out and she wont be able to manipulate you like she is doing now.

      • Yeah, I agree. Let her go live with her dad if she is going to be skipping school and he is endorsing it. She is 16 and you cannot control her. You do not need this crap.

    • Kimmy,my first thought when D said you an older D were ganging up on her is that dear old Dad put that in her head. So, I do think you should have a serious talk with her about the rules. Also, call your ex, if you can be solid and calm. If she is wanting to live with father, that might be the best thing to do, only you can decide that. If she lives with you, having her Dad bail her out of school when you told her she must go is a serious problem. He’s fucking with you through your D, not cool. Your D is taking advantage of the chaos but that’s to be expected in a 16 year old. Jedi hugs, it sucks!

      • Has she actually told you she wants to live with her Dad? If not, I wouldn’t agree with sending her to him.

        • She has not said she wants to go live with him. Yet, she is there right now because I made her go to school. This is her way to say…..HA!…you can’t make me STAY there!

          I tried to talk to her over the phone and she basically would not allow two way conversation to take place. She continued to shut me up with “whatever”. So I told her goodbye. She is at his place. Now one of them has to reach out to me and let me know the plan. If she chooses to go with him…..I will let her go. I will let OW pack her lunch every morning. I will left exH get her to the school which is out of his way because he is not in the district.

          ExH and OW ran from the parenting and responsibilities years ago!!!! They certainly do not want a hormonal 16 year old. My exH flat out told me he never wanted to be a parent…..he did that for ME!!!!

          • It’s hard, but letting them experience life with dickhead dad and his sidepiece might be the best discipline you can give. There’s no place like home, and she will figure that out fast.

          • Aw Kimmy, this sucks. My advice then is to talk to her straight up, either she adheres to your rules or she can ask her father if she can move in with him. It’s quite possible if you make it a deal breaker to pull this kind of stunt she will ask her father if she can live with him, if he says no, that’s going to hurt her short term but will show her who cares. If he says yes, then let her go. Major Jedi Hugs Kimmy

            Meanwhile, I don’t know how much traction you can get with your ex, but you need to have a convo with him as well about not undermining your authority. But not in a fuck you way, just a calm, we have to be on the same page with daughter way. your daughter probably told him you were fucking with her, I’m not saying he’s not a shit, but at 16 your daughter is capable of bullshitting him too.

    • I second Lynn. Bring it up with the school counselor. They need to be aware of custody (if they’re not already). Document this too. That might be a black mark for him as the court sees it, especially if this is during your legal custody time. I dunno. You can call your lawyer to double check that. Is she talking about not going to school one day or dropping out altogether? The drop out age varies by state. My state is 16 and you can drop out. The counselors will want to know what’s going on so they can work with the kids to try and prevent them from dropping out (if that’s the case with your daughter). Most schools also only allow x # of passes for leaving school early or missing school. Missing school has consequences for her that will be imposed by the district too. She can’t escape consequences for her actions, regardless of who’s enforcing them and she needs to get used to that.

      Teenagers are just like toddlers when it comes to brain development. The prefrontal cortex goes through 2 exponential periods of growth in one’s lifetime: birth-18/24 months and then again from puberty through the 20s. An overgrown toddler is what she is basically. Thinking ahead, long term planning, impulse control, empathy, perspective taking, all out the window replaced by impulsive independence and risk taking without weighing the pros/cons. Babies learn that the bed doesn’t continue on forever by falling off of it, they learn boundaries by first pushing through them and learning that the fire is indeed hot and you shouldn’t touch it. Toddlers learn to walk and then run by falling down, a lot. Teenagers learn the same way. If she wants to run before walking then she’s going to be falling a lot and will have to deal with that. It’s hard to watch as a parent but there are stupid risks that she’ll take regardless of what you do and she probably won’t learn unless she falls on her ass of her own doing. Experience is a hard teacher b/c she gives the test first and the lesson after.

      You’ve got your other daughter, the two of you still need to heal. If the one throwing a fit really thinks it’ll be that much better with dad, it might be worth sending her his way for the time being. You told her she could leave and then she switched subjects and said she doesn’t want to go to school. That’s interesting. Maybe a wake up call of seeing her things packed in a suitcase so she can go live with dad since the grass is just so much greener on the other side? She’s sending the message loud and clear that she wants to be the boss and live with dad by her actions. What if you called her on that? She may be trying to run from her own pain, doesn’t want to face it. It’ll catch up with her one way or another.

      You set a fair boundary, you need to set your boundaries. So do your daughters. The one acting out is trying to throw daggers and manipulate. What if the next time she goes on a rant at home you turn the tables, look her in the eye and tell her to cry, scream, right there, right where she’s at, face her pain? Or maybe find a place to go away from lots of people where she can beat into trash furniture with a bat or something?

    • “A child needs your love most when he deserves it least.” I don’t think you need to make a decision about living arrangements rightnow. Everyone should abide by the custody arrangement in place. Pause and hesitate; don’t react. At this point, I would drop the OW/picture issue. The fact of the matter is that she is acting out and the behavior is unacceptable.

      I might be all Pollyanna, but I just think she is really struggling. This does not mean, however, her behavior is acceptable.

      Neither is her dad’s.

      • She is struggling! I know she is. I am not making any decisions about living arrangements.

        I am not doing anything as of yet. The ball is in her court. The ball is in her father’s court as well since he got himself involved.

        Once when she was visiting with her dad she text me and asked me to come get her. She DID NOT WANT to stay there anymore!!!!! They were obviously fighting. I told her I was sorry she was having such a rough time but if she is having an issue with her father, she needs to talk to him about it. I told her I would not undermine his parenting or his time with her and that unless he calls and asks me to pick her up……she was going to have to stay and work it out.


        • Yeah, she wants a ride home after she skipped school? I think chauffeur service is now dad’s job. She really is trying to play everyone off each other, isn’t she?

        • “I told her I was sorry she was having such a rough time but if she is having an issue with her father, she needs to talk to him about it. I told her I would not undermine his parenting or his time with her and that unless he calls and asks me to pick her up……she was going to have to stay and work it out.”

          That’s perfect. Keep enforcing that, especially since she’s with him now. They’ll end up fighting again and she has to learn how to address it. She has to learn how to address it with you too. I agree with CL below. The green grass will fade pretty quickly on both sides, for her and dad. I agree with you, if he’s got her now then he has to figure out getting her to and from school out of district. He got himself involved, he’ll just have to figure it out then. He’s a schmuck for undermining you (not surprising, those cheaters never know what it is to be a decent person).

    • Keep parenting. Your house, your rules. She is 16, however, and if she gets a mind to, she could go live with dad. I seriously doubt he wants that, much more fun to sow chaos in your life and get cool dad kibbles. But if it worked out that she chose to live with them, I don’t think it would be the worst thing. It would not be fun day trips, it would be REAL. And teenagers are annoying to live with and would seriously cramp the style of the love nest. I predict you’d look pretty great in time.

      You don’t pick me dance for kids. You are the MOM. Keep being the mom and if she tries an end run around your parenting? Let go of the rope, IMO. Let her live with dad.

      But I hope for your sake it doesn’t come to that. I think the school counselor advice is great too. Tell her what she can expect at your house (we don’t verbally abuse each other, we don’t skip school, etc.) And live that.

      • If the boys lived with Groceries and chainsaw man it would kill their relationship within 90 days but it would also cause the boys unmentionable grief.
        Cheaters just want access to their children as if it’s some god given right. They are just entitled arseholes.
        BTW they have now purchased a house together just on a mile from our house. The boys still only stay when chainsaw man is away. Their relationship is not endorsed by the boys so how they go forward with any legitimacy I don’t know.
        The property settlement documents will hopefully be served this week on her so we’ll see how that goes down.
        The boys are actually excelling. It obviously not the ideal family environment but they are just getting on with life, seeing their mother when it’s convenient for her and insisting everyone respect the boys boundaries. Been a roller coaster ride for sure!!! You guys are suck an inspiration

  • Here’s a radical “old school” idea that doesn’t cosset and coddle the teenager: Sit her down, talk to her calmly but with emotions visible – and tell her that life is full of tough situations caused by bad people and bad choices. That if she wants to be part of that – it is her choice. But not you – you don’t need the play-by-play. But ALSO tell her that as she grows into adulthood she will have to make the decision of whether she is a good person with a strong moral compass – or not. Tell her her father has exhibited blatant bad behavior that indicates he has no moral compass of any real value outside of pleasing himself. Tell her that she will have to decide for herself if buying into the behavior of her father and playing galpal with a woman who didn’t think twice about having an affair with her father and breaking up her family is condoning and supporting a good or bad morality or not.

    And then tell her that at the end of the day you hope she learns one thing from you – that character does matter because it’s the only thing we have that is completely ours and tells our story.

    • Char
      I LOVE this!!! Wish you could do this for me as I know I won’t get the wording right!

      • I think a response like this would be a mistake.

        Kids love their parents. It’s okay for your daughter to love her dad, even though he treated you badly. Saying anything against that will only hurt your relationship with her and it’s extremely unfair to her.

        • Diana, your response is not even one step away from excusing the fathers behaviour.
          Char, well said.

  • Kimmy,

    If your daughter continues to cross your boundaries and knowingly do things that hurt you (I am sensing that she is on some level enjoying the triangulation and causing you pain), you may consider asking her to live with your ex and the OW. If she likes the OW so much, she can live with her. Also, does your daughter know that the OW was an OW? What did you tell her about why your marriage dissolved? What did your ex and the OW tell her? They may be badmouthing you to her, even in subtle ways.

    • My daughter knows the story about the OW. She knows that her dad and I were high school sweethearts. We were married for 23 years. She knows what I went through. Yet……she crosses boundaries with me and pushes. She uses him because he has the money and he takes her shopping for whatever she WANTS. Not what she needs……that’s entirely different. But no 16 year old needs $300 worth of stuff from Victoria Secret. Then come home to shows us (her sis and I) her purchases, knowing that her sister gets NOTHING from him because she refuses to be a part of this sick mess he has created. Then when her sister voices her displeasure at wanting to see the crap…..they start calling names, judging each others choices and I step in to settle the fight. I guess that’s where she thinks we gang up on her. I don’t know.

      Yes…..I think OW and my ex are badmouthing both her sister and I on her visits with dad. Because all this drama starts immediately upon her return home.

      • Kimmy, the drama starting immediately upon her return home may also be her way of dealing with her pain. Her pain could be overwhelming and being angry or creating drama may numb that pain momentarily. Anger feels better than a sense of sadness and helplessness. On the way to your home, she may be going through difficult emotions targeted to her dad for making her life complicated and difficult but she dare not express anger because she might lose him. Then the floodgates open when she enters your home because she is “safe” there.

        • More like shes acting like an entitled brat because shes getting all these ‘free things’ off dearest daddy, and can’t get that sort of stuff from rational mum. Drama queen.
          Sucks because her father was pretty much precisely that, except he never grew out of it.

      • Kimmy: The best reinforcer for kids is attention. She wants to rub your nose in the OW, decline to look/listen (but do it impassively). After awhile, she’ll learn to get your attention another way.

        When my daughter was a 2-year old, she licked the toilet seat waiting for me to help her. I freaked out, made her gargle with Listerine and she cried from how the Listerine burned. But then *did the same thing* a day later. Mom freaks, we use Listerine, she cries again. The third time I cottoned on to the fact that she liked to see me freak out! I went cool as a cucumber, we used Listerine and she never did it again.

        Teenagers are the same, just more persistent. Even if you’re not at meh, pretend you are ; ).

      • For that sort of issue, the 16 coming home with stuff and showing off to sister who doesn’t get anything, there a boundary can be created. Not OK to show off your stuff from Dad to sista, just put it away. Thing is, there is so much more here when you tell us that. Your older(?) daughter has “chosen” you, your younger daughter has “chosen” her Dad, can you 3 do some family therapy? Are you doing any therapy? There may be something to your 16 D’s contention that you gang up/she can’t do anything right. You may be favoring the D who “chose” you without realizing. It does sound like anything 16 D does/says that’s good about her Dad or OW is not being taken well by you or your other daughter. I’m just trying to see it through her eyes…

  • Hi Kimmy,

    I think you are very vulnerable right now, and they are all using your vulnerability to their own advantage. Your EX and his OW like thinking that they are more popular than you. They like rubbing your nose in their happiness. Why else pose for all the photos–they want to be shown off by your daughter or posted on her FB page. They may not know whether she’ll show you the photos, but they love the idea of being part of her happy posse. Your daughter, like most teenagers, is looking for the home-of-least-supervision.

    Right now all of you are playing the short-game. Your best bet is to play the long game. You have to ignore the drama going on today in favor of working toward a stable and peaceful future. You have to refuse to take the bait when your daughter or EX push your buttons. This would be a good time to seek counseling for yourself. Find someone to talk through your priorities and rules for your daughter. What does she have to accept if she is going to live with you? What does she have to give up if she chooses to live with her father? How will you prevent her from ping-ponging back and forth?

    For today, just tell her you are disappointed in her decision to leave school but are happy to know she is safe. Don’t say anything else. Don’t be part of the drama. I know it feels like an emotional emergency, but it isn’t. She is safe, so you can take the time you need to draw the boundaries you want.

    I think this is going to be a long, hard slog because you have an EX who is behaving like a teenager. Keep in mind that you can do nothing to make him parent better. All you can do is set up a good home for your daughter, outline a clear set of rules, maintain a stiff upper lip (at least in front of all of them), and wait it out.

    You do have a leg to stand on–but you need to plant it (and the other one right beside it). Making you chase her is part of the game your daughter and your husband are playing. Your daughter is very likely to make a series of stupid, short-sighted, self-centered decisions–because she is a teenager who is being encouraged to behave poorly.

    Watching your child behave self-destructively with the encouragement of a jackass EX may be the very hardest part of this–in part because it can go on and on. I know I already said it, but finding a counselor who can help you plan ahead rather than be reactive would be one way to treat yourself kindly in this mess.

  • I’m so sorry Kimmy. I’ve always said if kids want to torture you, they sure as hell can. I agree with the above commenters where it sounds like the X and the OW are getting off on the triangulation. Ha! Let’s see how well they like it when/if they get to live with the challenging teenager. Call their bluff. I mean really, how many people honestly want to live with sullen teenagers?? Not my first choice. Your daughter will be deemed an adult in two years. Free to make all the mistakes she wants. Please don’t bail her out. Let her be a grown up. That includes paying her own rent, buying her own food, etc. In my next life I’m not getting married OR having kids.

  • Oh Kimmy – what a palaver! Who was it who said ‘it takes a village to raise a child’? I like Char’s suggestion of going old school and discussing which way she wants to go in life – to the bad (character) or to the good (character). It’s good for her to hear that I think. I think she’s ‘acting out’ at the moment, she could do with some counseling herself – its all drama and triangulation with her, I suspect she’s probably been a ‘triangulator’ in the past and it continues to work for her. While that must have been hard to manage while you and ex were together, how much harder now you’ve split! I figure ex is indulging her because he knows he’s got some ‘making up’ to do. Guilt – and how much are you swayed by guilt too – guilt over the impact on her over the split I mean – I reckon she’s picked up on that and that’s why she’s hurting you with putting the OW in your face – she’s figured it’s your achilles heal, she’s hurting and angry and fearful at heart and I’m afraid she’s lashing out at you because of that).

    The thing is though, for as long as she’s being indulged in her tantrums, she’s going to keep learning that the behaviour works for her. Absolutely enlist the school in dealing with this ( part of the village). Here in the UK truancy is a big issue with threats of fines for parents and, ultimately, child taken into care. I’m not suggesting they’ll take her into care, no doubt they’ll cut some slack for the recent divorce, but my point is, not only is she harming her own education, she may well be causing possible repercussions for her parents. If it’s at all possible to discuss what went on with Ex (I mean the pulling her from school when she threw a wobbly – NOT your trying to set a boundary re OW in your face – don’t let anyone try to make you feel bad for that, you were perfectly within your right to do so, it wasn’t a big consideration you were asking for and you were kind and thoughtful when you put it to her) then I would suggest you do so – if you can bear it, see if you can speak to school and make a plan for managing her acting out in the future with Ex present. If not, you do it. You must calmly show her that your boundaries are firm and that there are consequences and that the world is onto her and WILL NOT continue to indulge her whenever she ‘gets a gob on’. I am sure it’s tough for kids, dealing with divorce and all the attendant issues, but as Char says, managed well, you’ll be teaching her valuable skills for adulthood.

    Eilonwy has got a great point and definitely worthy of fully taking on board – she was safe – it was definitely a hassle and an annoyance – but it’s not a catastrophe, just a pain in the arse drama from a kid who is being lured by the ‘you’re not the boss of me’ hormone.

    Stay strong Kimmy, get it in perspective, know you are not only entitled to set and enforce boundaries but are actually required to do so as a parent. Good luck (have a glass of wine and a big sigh of relief when they finally go to bed tonight)! 🙂

  • I’m telling you this for only one reason, you don’t say if your daughter is asking to live with her Dad, if she is and you are refusing, please let her go and give her your love. If that’s not it, this little synopsis doesn’t apply. And of course I’m not saying you are mistreating your daughter or not hearing her, or being cruel to her, so please don’t think that! What I am saying is that if your daughter feels strongly she wants to live with her father, it may not serve you to stop it.

    I was a child of divorce, my mother married an abusive asshole when I was 11 and she didn’t stand up for me. I didn’t feel loved by her as I did by my Dad. So, I wanted to live with my father, my mother refused and “won me” in court. I began a campaign to make things very difficult for her and her husband (you think your daughter is hurtful & rebellious, I could give her lessons from my desperation years). Finally her husband told her it was him or me, she chose him, and sent me to my Dad. I was 14 at the time I was allowed to leave. It would have been so much better if my Mom let me go because she wanted me to be happy, rather than because it was “me or him”. One more punishment was meted out, my dog was taken from me, she was suddenly deemed a “family dog” when I was released to my father. A dog I raised, trained, fed, spent every day & night with, my constant companion and no one else’s. She was no family dog, she was given to me by the asshole in the early days, in a bribery attempt where he insisted only I was responsible for her and I was, I loved that dog so much. Despite the pain of losing my best friend, I left anyway – I had to. Mother didn’t stand up for me then either, she agreed with taking my dog away. It took many years before I rebuilt a relationship with my Mom. It only happened when I was an adult, reached a point where I could empathize with her decisions and accept her apologies; and she mine.

    • Oh Dat – that’s so sad, I am sorry. Wise counsel for Kimmy if the situation is similar (as in daughter is wanting to be with her father, and of course, if father wants daughter to live with him too). I’m so sorry your mum didn’t behave better when it came to hearing you and your wishes to live with dad and also not insist the dog should go with you (I’m guessing she was well aware of the stipulation that the dog was yours and your responsibility when she was first brought into the family) – it’s hard to see that willful re-writing of history as anything but maliciousness. It’s yet another illustration that we, none of us, get a ‘rule book’ when we are born and we are pretty much making it up as we go along, so sometimes make the most godawful decisions based on our emotions and not the considered, honourable, appropriate way (oh God, sounding like a cheater apologist with that sentence – NO, NO, NO, honest, not going there – that’s an ongoing campaign not a reactive decision – phew!).

      • thanks Jayne, it was malicious on my “stepfathers” part, I learned years later Mom was powerless to help me, she was afraid to.

        • How sad when we women become ‘scared’ of our husbands! It happens in so many ways–direct (as in the case of physical abuse) and indirect (as when we tiptoe around so as not to provoke their criticism or ire).

          Here’s to relationships without fear!

  • Kimmy, lots of great comments and suggestions here. Couple of suggestions from me:
    1. I would NOT bad mouth her dad or the OW when you talk to her. This can backfire on you and keeps the triangulation thing going. Plus, it’s likely what he/they want you to do so she continues to run to them.
    2. When/if she wants to come home to you, lay down the ground rules for living in your house and stick to them. Put them in writing if you have to so you can refer back to them (I’ve done this!). If she can’t abide by them, she will have to live with her dad.
    3. Show her love and respect the ‘reasonable’ boundaries she sets.

    I’ve tried to stick to these with my 17 yo daughter. She has on several occasions played her dad and I against each other. Even though I’m NC with him, I will contact him if it’s about her. When I did talk with him, we both realized that she wasn’t telling him, in particular, the whole story. He doesn’t want to parent her, he just wants to be her friend, and he doesn’t want her to live with him because he doesn’t want the responsibility, plus I think he likes her living with me so he can keep tabs on me through her. So I have all that to my advantage (and disadvantage – tabs on me). I have on 2 occasions when she has been wayyyyy out of line, dropped her off at her dad’s for the week so we could get a break from each other. Neither of them liked that very much at all. Of course, he doesn’t say that to me or her, but he also sends her back home as soon as he can. There was 1 occasion where she lied about being at a friends house and I caught her out joy riding with her friends at 2am. I told her to go back to her friends to spend the night like she was supposed to and instead she went to her dad’s at 2am! Boy was I mad but I sucked it up and told her to come home the next morning then explained to her the worry she caused me and that she shouldn’t have woke her dad up at 2am to bring him into it because it was between she and I and not him. Aside from that, I said nothing else about him.

    It’s so not fun to deal with and my heart goes out to you. Hugs!

  • Your daughter is not . She is still mentally developing but is more than old enough to realize her behavior is wrong and to her own detriment & to realize her father’s behavior is to her detriment. Your action does not change dictate your actions, and boundaries and allow the year old child and the adult child who is suppose to be her father to react to you. In most school districts there is a policy which states the custodial parent can prevent the non custodial parent from picking a child up from school. You definitely want to look into this policy. Then you definitely want to explain to the ex that while are the custodial parent he does not have permission to pick her up. If he or any other adult should take her from the school without signing her out your actions will be to get law enforcement involved. Make certain you document all of this so if you need to discuss it with a judge later you are ready. I would never mention she does not have to live in your house. You are again handing her the power. Should she bring it up, you and ex have a discussion and hand her a set of options. She is running wild so you will deminstrate you are the parent and in control. Never let teens or disordered spouses see you sweat.

  • I was twelve when my mom and dad divorced. My mother had full custody of us three minor girls (5, 12, and 15.). I guess we were pretty bitchy when we came home from a visitation. I do know that when things got out of hand, she would calmly ask if we were happy or if we would rather go live with my father. That usually straightened us up quickly, because Dad was the bigger disciplinarian, too.

    My mother was the cheater. The other man (only one as far as I know) left his wife and four sons and married my mom. One big Brady bunch when his four boys came to our house. As adults we all got along but at the time it was like a bunch of strange cats put in one room and told to behave. I think that may have helped my decision not to have any of my own.

  • Kimmy, you husband deserted his family. She knows that he did not just leave, he left his children. She is sure of your love. She is not sure of his. He sounds awful. If he continues to undermine you then it is time for a face to face and see what he is trying to prove. If you ask him if he wants her full time you are not going to see him for dust. BTW, once she starts dating, driving etc neither one of you will see much of her. Teenagers! What a concept!
    I hope you are way past meh. He sounds like yesterday’s garbage. Just hang on to your dignity and your morals. She won’t be this way forever but she may always try to win his love. What a shitty thing he has done to his children.

  • Kimmy, I know how the hurt just goes on and on…just when you think you are getting through it another shit curveball comes flying.
    My kids are adults and my ex picked mothers day to introduce OW to my boys…one did not attend…the other did it to suit his dad…my daughter felt awkward cause it was her house…ended up a huge row. More pick-me polka and lots of kibbles and cake to enjoy.
    After that mess and other similar challenges to my status I decided to change the rules.
    No more drama, no more falling into the trap they set and ending up the bad guy, polite disinterest and no questions just observe my own boundaries by keeping well out.
    I suspect your girl is testing everyone around and acting out. You are her mom and that will not change. Even if the tables turn and she wants to gang up on OW do not join in…just detach. Fake it til you make it, remember something you have to do, change the topic, just stay out of that drama triangle that is being set up for you.
    Anything else is too exhausting and and beneath you. Do not dignify their shit by making it yours.

  • First of all, KImmie, kudos to you for your response to the pictures. You said it eloquently and kindly.

    When I read this earlier in the day, I thought teens don’t apologize, but she probably got what you were saying. Wait a bit until she’s calmer.

    The “you two gang up on me and everybody sees it” struck me as something your ex and his jerk are probably feeding to her. It’s also true that families often have a dynamic where one kid is closer to one parent and the other is closer to the other one. It can be hard on the kid when things change.

    My general advice to you is to love your kid and praise her whenever you can. Talk to her when she’s calm and appeal to her better side.

    After reading the update, I think things are a lot worse than just this episode and basically, you and your girls could use a counselor to help you through this time.

    I think it was a huge mistake to tell her she doesn’t have to live with you if it’s so bad. It sounds like you were out of control and saying hurtful things in a fight, not trying to solve a problem. Unfortunately, as nuts as teens get we have to figure out somehow how to stay normal and adult (although we don’t always manage it). Also, that kind of comment is the worse thing she could hear – you’re saying you don’t care if she lives with you and rejecting her.

    You do need to talk to the school and sort this out, but be aware that your side of it does not look great. Your ex might be able to present himself as trying to help in a crisis, especially since the whole thing started when your daughter showed you pictures of the beast.

    If you have a lawyer, you might want to talk about all this.

    I’m for apologizing to your daughter for saying you can live somewhere else if you don’t like it here when you were mad. Then tell her calmly that you would prefer to have her live with you (because you love her and like having her in your home!) and will not kick her out. Tell her she does have to go to school and discuss that with her. Make some kind of consequence, the kind you would have if you weren’t in the middle of this mess – something like being grounded or doing extra chores. She should probably be talking to the school counselor anyhow.

    This is not to say that she can’t go live with her dad if she wants, too. That’s her right and you can let her know that it’s okay if she prefers that. Just don’t put it out there as if you don’t do what I tell you, you’ll have to leave this house and go live with him. I mean, if you were still married, you wouldn’t be telling her to go live with grandma if she didn’t like you, right? At that rate, no teens would be living with their parents (which sort of sounds nice, sometimes).

  • Kimmy, I am so sorry for the additional angst that you definitely do not need right now. I noticed in my life that if I don’t give energy to any drama, the drama quickly fades away. Let your daughter be. Tell her you love her and set boundaries. And communicate consequences if she crosses the line. When she reacts defiantly or disrespectfully, enforce consequences with no drama. There seems to be more going on here. She sounds like she may see you and your older daughter as a team, and she feels left out because she wants to see her dad. And maybe, on a certain level, she knows she wants to see her dad for the goodies and feels rotten that she has to role play just to get them. I’m guessing here. In any case, I’m glad you’re waiting for her next month. Give her time to think. I, too, agree with the posts above that living with her dad might be the best thing that can happen. OW yelling at her for not doing her chores may finally make her realize that, hey, my mom and sister aren’t monsters after all.

  • Kimmy–I know it hurts, but give her time. As CL says, she’s a teen, and therefore limits are there to be tested (remember your daughter’s toddler years…. yeah, same/different.) As one of my wise friends once said, they’ve spent their whole lives studying us, to learn exactly which buttons to push.

    It certainly doesn’t mean that she loves you any less, or that your Ex has “won” or any of that…it’s just her way, developmentally, of sorting it out.

    After all, she too needs to live on the balance beam of life with a fucked up dad, his ho-bag OW, and a mom driven nuts by her dad’s awful behavior.

    In my opinion, the closer I get to Meh, the more I feel like the worst of all this has been the burden it places on the kids of cheaters–especially, when, like yours (and mine) they are old enough to comprehend what happened. They get it, but really are not old enough to truly “get it”. They just don’t have enough miles on their odometers yet, which i why I don’t believe your daughter was truly trying to hurt you, so much as trying to figure out how she could navigate this awful mess.

    In the long run, the more you can share your pain elsewhere (like here, in IC, with adult friends and family), and be truthful and neutral–but hold those boundaries–with your daughter, you’ll come out OK as she grows up. I promise. You are modeling behavior with integrity and self-respect, to her, and that’s really important right now (notice I did not say comfortable!) I’m so sorry. Stay strong and know that we all hear you.

    It Gets Better.

  • Haven’t read all of the comments, but I’ll say this dearest Kimmy: my mom was my doormat. The best exchange we ever had was when I was being a BRAT as I stood on her garden hose while she was watering the flowers. She yanked that thing out from under me and I went ass over tin cups. Never respected her more. Stick to your boundaries. Tracey is so right – don’t be sloppy, be tough (and let the sloppy stuff out here). XO!!

  • OH Kimmy, I feel for you! Having your father take you out of school because your mom said you have to go is drama of the highest order.

    Why don’t you make the responsibility of school on your daughter? Explain to her that school is her job, and if she doesn’t go to school, she has to work. You will no longer be financially responsible for her (phone included)if she doesn’t stay in school or if she graduates and doesn’t go to college. She is on her own. You are so being played. Call the school and declare her truant. Let her face the consequences, even if the consequences are twenty minutes in the counselors office lying to the counselor. Make it become a pain.

    You can stop paying her phone bill. YOu can cut cable tv at your house. Make it unpleasant until she realizes the reason it is pleasant is because you make it that way through her efforts. If she can goad you by saying “you gang up on her” you are being manipulated, and she will keep doing it because it works.

    Tell her it is your job to teach her to be independent. She doesn’t have to like it. That bag of $300 stuff from victorias secret is worthless if you don’t have a phone to post pictures on instagram! See how many selfies the OW wants to take with her after she spends all her time hanging around their house because she refuses to go to school!

    She is reacting to other people, and if you love her, which you do, help her focus on actions that lead her to have a better life for HERSELF. Skipping school to spite your mom is not a good plan. Talk to her about her hopes and dreams for herself, and tell her you want to help her reach HER goals, not spend time on the drama of what used to be your bad marriage. Good luck.

  • Just a thought…let the school know that you wish to be informed if you daughter leaves school for any reason without an early dismissal note. Then explain to her that if she cuts school again then there will be consequences. (grounding, taking her phone away, whatever you decide). She is playing the two of you against each other and it really you should try focusing on the school aspect, not the ex. She is manipulating you two and it is working. If you don’t focus on him she will lose that power. It’s simply “you live in my home and you left school without my permission. If it happens again you will (insert punishment). Cutting school is cutting school, no matter who picks you up”.

    Then email her father to let him know that you are concerned about her leaving school and the boundaries that you have set. Let him know that you would appreciate his support. If he choses not to support you then he will have the pleasure of her company full time. Believe me, no one wants a 16 year old girl full time!

    I did this with my ex and he fully supported my decisions. He knew I would send her to him and that would upset his “life is so fun with no responsibilities” apple cart. My ex and I split during my daughter’s junior year of high school. She was a flipping nightmare for a solid year and I thought I would lose my mind. I finally realized that I had put up with her bad behavior long enough and I wasn’t going to do it anymore. My new motto is “do not engage”. Now that she knows I won’t fight with her she is beginning to act like a human again. Mom first, friend second, take your power back. It’s a crappy road that you are on right now, but you can get through this!!!

  • I have had the experience that teenagers (especially FEMALE teens) love drama & will take drama & attention any way they can get it (not all, but most). The divorce or split up in the family I agree is beyond their understanding & they sometimes even resent the position they are in through no fault of their own. They just want everything to be “OK,” because as teens they are already in a state of identity turmoil. It can take them awhile to understand that things will not be back to what they hope for, now or in the future.

    The hardest thing imaginable I know is not to react to her hurtfulness, but I think it will work. It worked on me when I was going through it when my parents divorced, and it worked on my teen when she went through it. They want to be around fun & happy, and it is through no fault of your own that you are in hurtful devastation instead. If you can talk to others about this instead of her & not react to her hurtfulness, I believe it won’t be “working” for her anymore when you make this change & stick to it. Then if her Dad/OW ask about you, the report back is that you don’t react, you don’t ask about them, you don’t show reaction, or little reaction. Then these two ( EX & OW) will have to grow up & get to the business of creating their own life. (Which also may not go well minus the drama and sneaking around, damaging others etc.) Without the drama they may have to make an assessment of their choices, drama keeps people busy.

    The important thing is to stay in communication with her about the things that really matter, like attending school, hanging out with bad influences, drugs etc. By not reacting I retained some power to influence her to make sure this didn’t all derail her life too, because it can. I did do it successfully, she is now 29, and finally understands many things she did not then. She has an advanced nursing degree, married and has a baby now, and appreciates the hard lines I drew & maintaining some “Mom” power for the important stuff. There was a time I wondered if her life would turn into anything but a mess. Someday she will appreciate that you were her Mom & not her “friend.” Kimmy, my heart goes out to you, this is some of the worst shit life can dish out!! God Bless & hand in there!

  • Kimmy-my teenage raising days are over but now I’m faced with whether or not my eldest son is narcissistic like his dad or hopefully because he is still in graduate school and focused all on himself he’s just an extension of a teenager. I really hope it’s the latter.

    My youngest son (who is also an adult) and I have an unspoken agreement. I agree not to ask any questions about his dad and his new life and he doesn’t tell me anything. Doesn’t even bring him up in casual conversation. It’s like he doesn’t exist which in a perfect world would be true.

    If it weren’t for my eldest son, I wouldn’t know for a fact that my ex resides with the OW. I suspected as much but never cared enough to investigate. An investigation would be as simple as asking my younger son because he visits his dad’s house at least once a week. I wouldn’t put him in that position but I could if I really cared about what the ex was up to. I wasn’t any too thrilled when my eldest son told me but he only gets to his dad’s house once a quarter and was surprised to learn of this new development so I cut him some slack.

    When he recently started telling me a story about how his dad gave him some money, I cut him off and explained that was between him and his dad and their relationship was none of my business anymore. I took that time to inform him that I didn’t need any updates about his dad’s life either. I didn’t ask for his permission and I didn’t tell him that it hurt my feelings. It was more of a “this is the way it’s gonna be if you want to live in my space” kind of announcement. He rolled his eyes at me and I walked away. End. Of. Discussion.

    I think you have to give your daughter the same treatment. I worry about my son because he’s 27 and I feel like he should have more empathy but I ain’t holding my breath for that one. My youngest gets it but he’s also on his own, paying his own bills and has a better sense of the real world. I was a good mom though and I think I set a good example. I hope once the older one is on his own, he’ll grow some empathy and not be so selfish anymore. Your girl is still young and you’re a good mom. Draw the line and don’t let her walk over it but expect her to push the envelope whenever she can. It’s part of the deal when they’re learning how to be adults.

  • Thank you so much for all of your wonderful advice and support!!!! So much of this makes sense.

    My daughter never came home last night and never reached out to me. Neither did her dad. Poor parenting but I don’t have control over that! I text her saying that since she didn’t come home I assume she was staying with her father. Her response was ……”Yup”! I said Ok, make sure you are to school on time. Goodnight.

    I went to the school this morning to see her guidance counselor. My daughter had been there yesterday because she was crying and wanted to tell her what happened. She was hurt by my saying she didn’t have to live with me anymore if she was unhappy. She mentioned to the counselor that she was going to call her father and have him pick her up and the counselor advised her against that. I addressed a letter to attendance this morning to request for them to notify me, the custodial parent on record, if anyone other than myself is picking her up from school.

    I contacted my old therapist and left a message to see if she could see my daughters and I for group counseling. I am waiting to hear back from her.

    I sooooo appreciate the support yesterday!!!!!!

    • Anticipating this response, that is why I left my earlier reply. By no means suggesting you cater to a 16 year old who is acting out, but she wants the attention and acceptance. Again, totally inappropriate and the people here who have kids (I don’t) have great advice. I just remember as a teen being told, “If you think you would be happier at your biological father, go there.” I never wanted to live with my dad, never brought it up, and did not have a relationship with him, so the mere suggestion stung (for the record, I was a complete brat, but a very well-behaved and goody-two-shoes brat).

    • Kimmy, it sounds like you handled everything really well. I’m so glad you talked to the school counselor. They can be wonderful resources and help keep everyone on the same page when it comes to keeping your daughter in school. The group counseling session sounds great too. I wish my kids would have been at the age that we could have participated in something like that. We all just avoid the subject of their dad like there’s an elephant in the room. If I bring him up they quickly change the subject. My oldest son (29) has always had more empathy and gave me some great advice about cutting on contact on Facebook, etc. with his dad to keep from getting hurt. Youngest son (27) has always been closer to his dad, and I feel a lot more distance between him since all of this has happened. It could be that he’s just really busy with his new wife and career. Anyway, best of luck to you Kimmy. It sounds to me like you’re doing all the right things.

  • Wowser!!!! I needed to hear this one. My poor chump kids are some straight suckers! but I cant say I blame them. I have boundaries too and I just started reminding my kids that “mom has feelings too!’ and they need to be more considerate of ME!!! When my stbx azzhole got remarried (yes i said remarried, even though he’s still legally married to me..complicated) my girls came home with their bouquets, bridesmaid dresses etc. I promptly threw that crap out!! I dont want any of that junk and its bad vibes in my house!! And in general, I dont allow any conversations about what happens at dads house, their in-laws house etc except if there is a problem. They are learning but its tough.. may as well learn early… life is unfair and it occasionally sucks. However, they can still learn to rise to the occasion be decent human beings.

  • Let me just say, as the child of parents who divorced, the parent who got my respect was the one who absolutely REFUSED to ever say anything negative about the other. My Dad didn’t saying anything positive either, except “no matter what she is your Mom and you shouldn’t be disrespectful to her.” My Mom, however, bad-mouthed my Dad every chance she got and it only pushed me away from her more and more. Just food-for-thought.

    • Tigerlily, I’m just curious as to whether your dad cheated on your mom or was it a mutual decision to divorce? In my situation my ex “never said anything bad about me” but he sure did plenty of things to hurt me deeply. He didn’t have to say anything to make it clear he had no empathy for me at all. Very hard to pretend like he was a great guy after I found out what was going on. Still, I think my youngest son was upset by me telling him the truth. If I could go back in time I’d handle it differently, but when it happened I was so distraught and devastated I couldn’t think straight. Now I don’t say much of anything about ex in front of the kids. It’s still awkward, though.

  • some of the posts today state that it is not OK to say anything negative about the cheater or OW/OM to our kids. this concerns me. so i want to call attention between the difference of disrespectful language (negativity, crude names, etc) and taking charge of the true narrative.

    when we chumps say age appropriate and respectful facts about the current state of affairs (pun intended!!) to sons and daughters of cheaters, we are giving them Truth. Reality. Respect. (exactly what we chumps did not get.). our kids need truth, reality, and respect. they do not need more lies or gaslighting, especially if their cheating parent has continued to be with their adulterer as if it is a normal and healthy outcome. someone needs to say the emperor has no clothes (another great pun intended!!).

    our kids surely don’t need to be our therapist, best friend, pastor or personal coach. this is where boundaries come in… i support all the great comments today about parents having them.

  • Please don’t mistake what I am saying. I do think that the kids knowing the truth of what’s happened is actually to their benefit in the long run. In fact, I think Chump Lady’s guidance on what to say to the kids is spot on. What I am saying is to not ever make them feel like they have to choose one or the other. I guarantee that if you aren’t the one trying to make them choose, that they are more likely to let the truth and reality seep in.

    And, my childhood situation was probably not your standard. My Mom was addicted to pain killers and other prescription drugs. Manipulation and dishonesty were the norm for her. My Dad was completely irresponsible in supporting our family. Did he cheat on my Mom, possibly. However, my Mom had told so many lies (including about other family members, including her children) that it was hard for us to parse out what was true and what was not. My Dad died of cancer three years after their divorce. My Mom died in her early 60s from heart failure after years of drug abuse. After my Dad died, she continued to badmouth him up until the very end, even to my kids. I know my Dad had faults, but frankly letting me ruminate on those on my own would have made me far more supportive toward her than her constantly bashing him, even after he died.

    • TL – i of course agree what your mom said about your dad to you, and the pressure to choose sides, was harmful. there is so much sorrow around us all… fortunately there is much joy too. hoping you are finding Meh a lovely place to be now.

  • I have two girls also, one is 10 years and the other 14 years. Right after my ex left his family for the OW, he had the nerve to include a picture of the OW in my 10 year old’s homework project. It was on ancestors and where they came from, and the picture was of OW next to a mailbox in England. WTF? Well, when the kids were gone and before the project was turned in, I took the picture and cut her out. When it was discovered, my ex had the audacity to get angry with me and then get the girls all riled up too. So I come home from work and the girls had already been dropped back off at my house. They start giving me a hard time about the picture. I totally lose it, I make them sit down and I just lay it out them so they know the true story. Their father cheated on me and left me for this other woman. I’m not sure they really understood the whole thing until that point. My younger one still seems to like to push my buttons though. She’ll tell me things about her time with her dad and the ow, or she’ll post pictures on her instagram that she knows I’ll see. Sometimes I swear she just says things on purpose to hurt me. I try to remember that she’s only 10. It just sucks so much.

  • Hey Kimmy; Nobody seemed to mention it in a earlier post, but a DAD spending and money whatsoever much less $300.00 on Victoria’s Secret stuff for his teen aged daughter is downright creepy-Am I old fashioned or is this weird? Usually someone who spends intimate time in your bedroom takes you to Victoria’s Secret. (Am I wrong other Chumps?) For a 16 year old girl? Who is she supposed to look good/sexy for? Doesn’t sound like the move a concerned responsible father would make even if it wasn’t about the amount of money spent. WTF?

    Anyhow, it sounds like in the midst of your current pile of CRAP it doesn’t rise to the top of the list, but it is weird in my humble opinion. Sounds good with the school counselor, hope it is a great one who really can/will help.

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