July 1, 2001
From: Seacoast Woman
Subject: Stepdaughter Hell
i have a stepdaughter i have raised sisnse her elderly grandparents dumped her in my living room
5 yrs ago at the marvelous age of 13. without going into too much crap,she has been a handful,
been to therapy,was running with gangs before we got her,drugs,etc.when she got here,had to go
thru months of rehab,etc..turned into a rotc student,passed high school by the skin of her teeth,
we were very close,i supported her in all she did,sided with her,compromised with her,...she ran
away and came back 6 months later and i took her back in...she turned this household upside
down constantly...when she turned 18 she moved out one weekend we were gone,had given her
the choice of college and a car,just don,t move in with boyfriend of a year..she chose to move
out...said that i was too controlling and that i wasn,t her mother..she has been gone a year now..
had surgery,didn,t hear from her till 3 wks later,forgave her,i left for a month with my husband
and she wanted to stay here,i said no,that caused alot of problems...we just had a major altercation..
she basically spit in my face when i asked her to have a little respect for me..i put my hand on her
shoulder and she went ballistic,told her dad i tried to kill her,etc...he and i are fine,but she is a
constant rift between us...i want him to have a relationship with his daughter,but i don,t want to
be disrespected...he says i am the adult and that we just have to wait for her to fall on her face
and she,ll be back..i don,t want her back..i have bent all i can...i feel he should stand up for me
with her and tell her if she can,t be respectful that she is not welcome....i don,t want my marriage
to end with this...what can i do?
too tired to bend
Those questions are very relevant to your plea for advice. Based on what you've said,
(or not said) I'm not sure why you think she'll be back hoping to stay.
That said, I think as more mature adults, you (and your husband) need to shoulder big adult loads of responsibility. It sounds as though your husband has not taken the responsibility he needs to for her, and he's not doing it particularly well as a spouse either. It should have been his responsibility to raise his child, and it's now his responsibility to be a partner in the relationship and work together for his now-adult
child, who no doubt still has some issues.
How awful it must have been for her to be living with grandparents rather than either parent, as well as finally to be shoved off on a parent she knew didn't want her.
Of course she was distressed and disturbed and difficult, and of course she
took it out on you. If it helps, your closeness with her made it safer for her to
act out some of those feelings of abandonment and betrayal.
Step-parenting is really difficult, and it sounds as though you had a really hard
time and did the best you could. I can appreciate that you don't have additional
energy and don't want to take her on again, however, I'm not seeing any indication
that you'll HAVE to take her on in terms of living with her. In terms of just getting
along, you need to get past your own anger at her for the difficulties you two went
through with one another.
If she hasn't lived with you for a year, I'm not sure what the problem is or what,
exactly, you're saying. Are you saying you don't want her in your home at all, not
even for a visit with her father? Is HE saying that "she'll be back" to LIVE with
Of COURSE she should be allowed to visit and work things through with you (both).
The very first thing *you* should do to facilitate the process is sit down and really discuss the issues with your husband, possibly involving a counselor if necessary, and ideally involving her as well, so that you three can move forward rather than re-hashing old fights and hurt, from a teenage period that has to have been very distressing for all of you. Perhaps a counselor could help emphasize to your man the importance of his taking responsibility as well as setting appropriate boundaries with an adult child just out of a rough adolescence.
I especially advise this as it's very unclear why this should be so threatening a situation
a whole year after she moved out, and that suggests there are a lot of other issues
present, and not just hers.
I hope that you can all come together as a family, and move forward as adults.
Good luck, and feel free to update me,