Emotionally Neglectful Child Abuse

by Jose
(Oklahoma, USA)

I'm at my wits ends. I was abused as a child, but honestly I'm not posting this about me. I've dealt with my past. But I'm in a situation that is completely different and I don't know what to do.
I came across this site searching for some kind of help. I have two step-kids that I believe to be neglected emotionally and they are displaying symptoms. I feel for them yet at the same time I get angered. They are 10 (girl) and 12 (boy) but emotionally and maturely act 4 & 5. Their mother and dad adopted them and they are aware of it. They are biological siblings and adopted at the same time. The 12 yr old was 2 and the 10 yr old was 2 wks old when they were adopted. They were removed by the state. During my wife's first marriage their dad (adopted) would pick on the boy claiming it would "toughen" him up to the point it would make him cry. This at the age of 2 to 4.
The girl was always "dolled" up. Before we got married my wife claims she always did everything for the kids by never teaching them to pick up after themselves or simple manners,etc, claiming that is what mom's do; you do everything for your kids. During their marriage, her and her husband lived separate lives. They each did different things with separate friends. The kids dad was uninvolved and treated them more of a nuance. Claiming they interrupted his sleep schedule and social life. During that time, while married to her ex-husband, my wife did everything for the kids but they were toddlers. But my wife was not affectionate to them. They were simply part of the "family package."
Then she got divorced. The kids dad was almost completely out of the picture except for when he and the kids mom would trade the kids off irregularly. When the kids were at their dads he was distant. When they were at their mom's there was no structure. It was more like slumber party time. She continued to clean up after them, never teaching them any form of responsibility. They had begun school by now.
By the time their mother and I married they were 6 and 8. Their dad had been so inconsistent with them that they had learned not to count on him nor trust him. He had failed to show up many times or show up late, up to a day late on numerous occasions. He never called them.
My wife, their adopted mom, is their biological aunt. So their family is biological. Both sides of their family, mom and dad's, show their love by monetary value and material gifts. By now this is how they have come to associate loved ones.
Currently they have two sets of parents. My wife and I and their dad and his wife, their step-mom. The problem is that my wife, their dad and his wife are all neglectful parents. They have been and continue to rob these children of their emotional needs and it is seriously causing detrimental problems. None of them are affectionate, involved, interested, engaged, loving, caring, etc. None of them take the time to teach these kids any form of responsibility. They expect nothing from the kids. No discipline. Not even punishment, dare I say. That I don't believe in. Teach yes, punish no. At the least they will yell at the child when they reach a point of anger. The only limits they set are if they impend on their own freedom.
I'm not speaking bad of the kids but instead the facts. Without any prior structure or modeling they have become lazy and seriously do not believe they should have to do anything. They have no self-esteem, academic problems, bully others smaller than them, argumentative, lies, pout and sulk when they don't get their way. They either don't get or refuse to accept boundaries such as other peoples personals belongings even though they will through a fit if someone touches their things. They will beg and nag to spend the smallest amount of money they get. The boy is prone to depression and anxiety over the smallest medical attention. The girl is prone to temper tantrums when she doesn't get her way. She frequently likes to speak in baby talk to get attention and show off. Both take any form of reprimand as a personal attack and often cries, even over the smallest thing.
The boy's best friend is 8yrs old who stays with his "nana." She treats this boy like he's fragile and is very protective of him. So she winds up treating my step-son the same way.
Both of my step-kids act differently with my wife and I. They crave her attention and will resort to the baby talk and practically climb on her and follow her around. She gets very aggravated and snaps at them. Her son will literally sit closer to her than I do making her uncomfortable. He will start behaving all giddy and talking jibberish and prancing around. My step-daughter wont leave her alone and talks baby voice and calls her "mommy" instead of mom.
My wife only responds in anger and frustration.
I'm different than the other three parents. You see I have three kids of my own. And I learned long ago parenting is child centered. No I'm not perfect, but I've tried to my hardest to be what these kids need that these other parents are not giving. But I'm out numbered. I try to teach them responsibility. I try to help them in school. I try to show them love. I try to build their self-esteem and all the above. The problem is that these kids don't want it. They want me to be like the other parents. They want me uninvolved; at least involved just enough or when they want something just like everyone else. And I'm not blaming them. It's a learned behavior.
Everything I have done has been fruitless. Unfortunately they see my efforts as more of a bully than anything. And it's not my methods because my own children are loving, caring, selfless, affectionate, responsible, etc.
I know this isn't my story. I thought, hoped, someone might help me be able to help these kids. I feel helpless and outnumbered. The efforts I do always seem void and fruitless. I'm concerned and worried about their future. The countless discussions I have had with their mother are all empty. Maybe it sounds to presumptuous, but I feel I'm all these kids have. They are emotionally neglected.

Darlene Barriere: author. speaker. survivor. coachNote from Darlene: If I have not left a comment on your story, please understand that it is not personal; it's just that my hectic schedule no longer permits me to do so.

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