Seeking a better relationship

Our family hit breaking point this year after a long time of being trapped in a cycle of manipulative adolescent behaviour and dysfunctional blended family dynamics. Todd has two daughters Kasmira(18) and Rosebrie (13) to a first partner and we have a boy Tasman (8) and girl Evie (6). We have been in a relationship for 10 years and shared time week on week off with the older girls for 5 years. With Earthquakes stress, loss of house, and 2nd relationship break up the Older girls mother; then moved them up to Blenhiem and we would have them during holidays and odd weekends during term time.

Kasmira started practicing divide and conquer tactics early on during the week on and off relationship and the situation got out of control, age 10. There was constant disrespectful behaviour towards Flora and button pushing to get blow ups then running to dad or her mother to paint the picture of Flora losing the plot again. When Kasmira didn’t get the desired outcome, (trying to make dad feel guilty, pulling heart strings because of family break up); and sually ‘poor me’ and ignoring the naughty disruptive behaviour she would turn to her mother for attention and peg her against us. She would also do the same to and peg us against her mother and install the blame game cycle. We used to have these huge talks and discussions to try and sort things out with kas, but nothing ever got resolved just hot air. By age 14 and the move up to Blenheim there was still not much change in behaviour in fact it got worse the more she moved into teenage years. There was much lying, and lazy attitude. Lack of pursuits and more in the world of social media which she guarded aggressively. Of course there was times of love and affection mixed in but it was hard to see these because of being on guard for a fall out, manipulation and always suspecting lies.

I hate everyoneThis behaviour reached a head early this year and we turned to Tough Love to try and break out of the cycle. Flora had given up parenting Kasmira, and told Todd to deal with her. But finally came to a head when she made a stand unknowingly at the time to Kasmira. That she was not allowed to stay at our house as she was too aggressive, rude, lazy, disrespectful and treated us like a her personal bank account and hotel. When Flora investigated a behind her back deal Kasmira made with her father to get the latest I phone on the business account and pay it off by AP. She failed to do this and exceeded her plan and racked up $2000.00 in four months through extra data. At this very same time she came asking dad to take a $11k loan on his mortgage to get a better car than the one we had bought for her the year before. And that she would repay this?! All with a very ungrateful and grumpy attitude when we said no. This was way out of control. Flora stopped the plan, stopped access to extras app with spark, and also cancelled the petrol card and gym membership as these were regarded as privileges. With Tough love it gave us the confidence that yes we can make a contract with our child and hold them accountable. We made a repayment contract that she has kept to.

We have found the program to be fantastic! It has given us clarity and given back the power and broken the cycle for us. It is not all plain sailing now but we have a great team approach and are parenting our other children in a different manner also which has helped improve the family dynamics immeasurably. We feel more and more in control of our family not our teenager.

The program and support from the weekly meetings has enable us to feel empowered and break the problems down into little manageable pieces. We have then been steadily working towards a more harmonious family and not tolerate bad behaviours. Our relationship is growing stronger with us both knowing and tackling our family problems with a unified approach. We don’t feel stuck in ground hog day any longer. We are giving ourselves our humanity back, we deserve to be treated as human again.

Kasmira has re- evaluated life and went back to do a pre-health school program and now has full time job in sales living with her boyfriend, so some positives goals. We don’t have much of a relationship as yet but with small steps we feel more positive about the future.

Tough love has also showed us that there are steps in the transition to becoming an adult and the better boundaries, consistency and consequences the better identity and independence they will achieve. And that by us changing our behaviours of responding and not reacting, overcoming obstacles such as guilt, excuses and fears that crisis can be minimised or avoided Finally, the group parent support

facilitation has been the most beneficial. We are able to ground our situation and realise that we are not an isolated family and realise that others too had been struggling in the real pain. And that with tough love support we may be better parents who are seeking a better relationship with their teenager.

Christchurch, 25 – 09 – 2016