I have a first wife, too. She also was a fool. Still is. Quick tip unrelated to the forum: If you break things down to the most obvious base elements, she simply cannot be argue without sounding like a moron.
"So I punish the child for lying and you really think I'm
Which is the ham-handed segue into the topic at hand. What has worked very well for me is reserving spanking only for lying. My kids have known, since they were old enuf to know it, that the one thing that gets your hide tanned is lying to me. 1 swat per year followed by 1 minute per year of time out (really it's a cool down) and then a bit of discussion about why they got it. Consequently, there's not very many spankings in their past, but they don't lie to me either.
I know that somebody is going to downvote me for going off topic, but screw it... The relationship with both the ex and the kid is all kinda tangled in there together. If you downvote this post, don't be a wuss about it... put in a comment.
So What I'm hearing is this: the only time the ex is a parent is when the Significant Other acts, or doesnt, based on what he's afraid the ex might do.
Sound familiar? This is classic bully. A 4 yr old will play on the other side of the room. A 14yr old will use a different bus stop and walk all the way around the school. A 24 yr old will change the things they'd otherwise say and do. And it's all to avoid confrontation and cow-tow to the bully's wishes, especially when they're not around, just so the target doesn't have to deal with the bully's shit.
You guys can't do that. You're both clearly hamstrung by fear of this person's reaction. Eff That. And here's some tuff love: Grow up. Own it.
This part is to your SO mainly because of the pronouns I used
In order to effectively take care of the child, you have got to put your foot down to the ex. You've let her go, now you need to give back the parts that you don't want hangin around anymore... kinda like that slightly burned smell in the air after making grilled cheese sandwiches or when micro-popcorn cooks too much.
Do what you need to do with your child, and tell the woman to her face
"You're not here when she is. This is my house and this the way I run it."
"Well, we'll just see what the court has to say about it."
And walk away. Go get a drink of water, go blow your nose, get your coat on, whatever. End the convo.
Because you know what? If you're very clear VERY clear about the rules surrounding any punishment you mete out to your 5yo, and you make sure the ex knows what they are, there isn't a family lawyer in the world that will try to take that to court. 2ndarily, legal crap is expensive... and would I be wrong to say that she's not that great with money?
So when you say "Bring it." you're doing a couple things
- You establish domain. You're kicking the ex out of your house even tho she doesn't live htere. I've mentioned domain in past posts around here, and in situations with a child, it's very important that domain is clear.
- You diffuse the bully fist called Court. They like to throw that out there. It's like raising a fist. Make sure you have done everything correctly, then call her bluff.
- You show you believe in something. Do you believe that the child's behaviour is so bad that you're willing to go to court over it? If so, you need to fix it.
At no point did I mention 'trying to work it out' with the ex. If she comes to you, then sure... go to a public place and discuss it over dinner where nobody is comfortable yelling or being an asshole.
But the point here is that you do not give her the power of believing that you need her permission for you to do things in your house. Again: domain. Someone will argue that "the 5 yo is a child to both of them". To that comment I say 'you are right,' but that's not what's in contention here... The problem is that he's changing his methods of child rearing and outright not doing things because of fear, not because of co-parenting agreements. You've got to deal with the fear and establish a foundation before you can amicably co-parent.
As For the daughter... (to both of you)
Signs of bullying? No. But it is a sign that she's pushing as far as you'll let her get away with it.
You need to stop putting up with it. If you're aware that she's trying and trying, then you're letting it go on too long. My opinion is that you should start slamming gates on her (metaphorically of course). Snatch her out of the situation and put her straight in punishment.
Just to reiterate, these are the things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but you asked for ideas and I'm just doing my job around this forum by bringing my own experience into the mix.
1) Control the interaction.
She has clearly too much control with you and the SO. If she's able to say some of the things you quoted in the post, then you're allowing her to run the conversations.
Reminder: She's 5. She shouldn't be allow to run anything. You are the parent. Be the parent.
So when you've busted her, don't bother arguing... because she's 5. Go straight to step 2 then 3 and accept nothing less than her acceptance of the full punishment (1 min per year of timeout or whatever it is was always good for me). Again do not converse. She's 5 and it will lead nowhere. Be the parent, lay down the law, tell her what's right and wrong, be prepared for hissy fits, and be consistent.
2) Detail the situation.
What I've done is gotten down on their level, holding them tight by the side so they can't get away.
(pointing) I was standing right there... around that corner. You were standing here, and you said to your sister "Come on! Hack the bank! Nobody will know and then you'll have all that money!"
(turning them to face me) That's wrong. You know it, I know it. Don't forget what I told you about lying... That's what happened, right?
Never "let it go this one time". Do not argue with her thinking "maybe this time was different". Do not become the Court of Daddy and allow her to plead her case. She's 5. Like all 5 yr olds she has a very very short list of goals, most of which have nothing to do with other people.
Make sure she knows what the consequences (punishment) for her actions are then follow thru, everytime, same way. She will look for a chink in the armor, and it will take a while (months of interactions), but you're after the long term goal here and you must be consistent.
Bottom line: You have to change the atmosphere. Hard. Even if you don't do what I've outlined here, some kind of a dramatic change is needed and she's got to know, very clearly, those things that are unacceptable and that mommy (the ex) isn't going to save her from punishments at your house.
I'm a forceful parent. Sometimes I get concerned looks in public when I say things like "what the hell are you doing?" but it works for me because I'm a rather assertive person. And sometimes I've made assumptions and accusations that were wrong. But I apologize directly, just like I would expect of my kids, ("I'm sorry honey. I misunderstood) and we all move on. All taht being said, the above is what I think you should do.
Last couple things on the relationship... the little one may try to tell mom "I don't want to go over there!" The ex, being manipulative, will tell you guys as much. Your SO just needs to remind her that it's in the divorce settlement. And that's not raising a fist, it's raising a rolled up document. Because if there's anything that a court WILL hear and deal with, it's somebody refusing to abide by their part of the settlement.