Dealing with Dependent Step Daughters

ARmomApril 18, 2013

I've been married four years -- I have four grown children, he has two. We've had very little alone time in our house since we married because one or more of the kids has had to move in due to financial issues from time to time.

We raised our kids very differently. I pushed for self-sufficiency, he raised his daughters to be dependent. My divorce came after three of my kids were grown, his ex-wife ran out on the three of them, crushing his daughters' hearts when they were young teens. What followed was a series of bad decisions, depression, chaos in their lives. My divorce was after 27 years of marriage -- he cheated, but we handled it fairly amicably.

What is stressing our marriage is our different ways of dealing with our kids. Neither right or wrong, but very different. Recently, however, I have lost my cool. My youngest daughter and her two toddlers had to move in with us for about two months. Her husband stayed in another city to work; financial issues forced them out of their home. They have finally gotten back on their feet, made an offer a home and will be out of our house in about three weeks. (YAY)

My step daughters moved in about five months ago because they had become unable to afford their rent (they moved to a more expensive duplex and then were unable to make the payments). The plan was for them to stay a couple of months, save up deposits, etc., and move out. They were going to help pay some of the increased utility costs, but have only been able to give money twice -- and not in the agreed upon amount.

Now my problem. The SD won't come to me with issues, problems. They call their dad -- who is on the road during the week. Last week the younger SD lost her car keys. She blamed the toddlers. She couldn't find her keys for three days, but swore she had looked EVERYWHERE. I finally had time to look for myself and found them in the recliner where I had seen her sitting the day she lost them. No apology to my daughter or her daughters. Not even a thank you to me for finding the keys.

Today the other daughter called their dad to tell him that her shampoo was missing, and her special eye drops (did I mention that neither girl puts away anything ... ) The implication was that my daughter had taken both items. When I get home this evening I'll look for the items -- fairly certain that the shampoo is on a shelf in the bathroom (I had to move it to bathe my granddaughters a couple of nights ago). The eye drops are likely not far away from her mess on the bathroom counter.

Yesterday when I came home from work our garage door was up. My husband's prize show car is in that garage, along with tools and other valuables. I mentioned it to him when we talked later. Today he told me that it's possible one of my kids came by and left it open since they know the code. His daughters were home at the time. Asleep in their rooms (they are night owls). I'm getting a bit tired of everything being blamed on my kids. They are FAR from perfect, but they are usually pretty straight forward with me. I'm trying to be even tempered about it all, allowing a lot of things because of his daughters' past hurts. But at 23 and 27 ... they need to grow up.

If I try to talk to him about it, he goes into defense mode. He's so used to protecting them that I become the enemy if I even consider they might do wrong. It's very tiring.

How do I approach him and get him to talk? These are just a couple of incidents. Trust me, I could go on for pages! I don't want to be the mean Step Mother, and I love my husband, but this is stressing me very much! Thanks!

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Living with adult children is not easy. Living with someone else's adult children who have been raised totally different than one's own children were , well, it's a total WTH experience.

No, don't play Evil SM. Instead figure out household rules and expectations between DH/you and hold a 'family' meeting. No pointing fingers and spanking hands during meeting. It'll turn badly quickly. Instead keep it neutral.

Heads up kids. From now now beginning right this minute, each and everyone of you are responsible for your own possessions. Organize yourselves. Find a place in your private area and put your belongings there. AND keep your belonging there. If you get something out, put it way. If you have not and item is misplaced, WE don't want to hear about it blah blah blah. If you open it, close it. Garage doors can not open nor close themselves. If the door is an issue then stay out of the garage blah blah blah. Little ones are off limits in someone else's private space. Respect each other's privacy. If items are in your private spaces the kiddies can not play with and/or run off otherwords, if it isn't left out kiddies can not access them.End of problem. Period.

Here's your household chores. Here's your household bill/rent (or if necessary, what the indivisual is responsible in place of bill/rent). Read it. Learn it. Do it.

You get the idea. Time for DH and you to take back control of your home. Others living in it is a privilege, they abuse it, they lose it.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:37AM
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1. Make the agreement with your H that ALL children are welcome back to the house as temporary living arrangement while they are moving onto their own space.

2. Make sure there is an end date to their staying. You must force them into writing down their plan to MOVE OUT - how to make money, how to save money and how much to save in order to move out and when to find a place to move out. Have a regular meeting (so to speak) to see the progress of their plan and by such you let them know that you are serious. The moment they slack off, give them 30 days warning.

3. They are responsible for their own stuff. for example, when they called your H about the missing shampoo and eye drop, he must say "well that is your stuff, and you need to figure them out. If you were on your own what would you do? ". He should not even discuss that with you to give you the HIDDEN messages. Those hidden or misinterpreted messages will destroy your marriage.

4. They must adhere to your house rules - you don't have to treat them like kids here. But certain rules must apply like house safety, cleaning up the shared space (kitchen, ....)

5. They are dependent children because you both treat them like DEPENDENT children, instead of equal adults. People will push their garbage onto your yard, IF YOU LET THEM, so you & your H must let them know the boundaries.

6. Don't expect PERFECTION out of them. Accept them as they are but yet don't let them dump the consequence of their imperfection on YOU. Be business like in dealing with the boomerang children.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 8:28AM
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I am trying to figure this out too and the advice is very helpful. My situation is a bit different. I remarried and moved in to a house my current W had already established with a slew of enabling and disrespectful issues. My SD is 21 and has a 2 year old daughter. after a few years of noticing and catching and reporting to my W all of her sneak the boyfriend in in the middle of the night, leave doors unlocked (even after we had been robbed after she left the door opened), leave messes all over the house and not clean them up,leaves lights fans and tv's on and just leaves the house for the day, takes 1/2 hour showers, turns shower on when she has to have a bowel movements, and leaves faucet waters on and just leaves the room, leaves daughter in our care without even informing us that she is leaving, etc...My W sees and agrees that what SD is doing is wrong but blames the lack of my relationship with SD on her disrespectful ways and it ends up being my fault. Although a few seconds after I come home she goes upstairs and closes her door, unless she needs something: which she won't ask but demands and receives.
Although our bills have increased and we pay SD cell phone bill (even though she has a job that she works when she feels like) I requested to my W that SD pay $100 rent that will go into a special account for when SD leaves or emergencies for SD. My W totally disagrees. With my money now involved in SD wasteful ways and my being a man that is not wasteful at all what am I to do? I feel like because I moved into an already established home with those issues going on before I was there and not ever being corrected that I have no power, no say so no nothing in the home.
I have suggested and am looking for family counseling but m W is somewhat against it in regards to SD and thinks it's me that has the issues and not SD.
My 4 children have been with us so far this summer for 6 days and SD has completely shut them out by closing her bedroom door and spending the entire day and night in her room unless she gets tired of her daughter and wants my daughters to ocupy the baby.
Trust me I feel your pain.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 5:49PM
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I think there has been some great advice on here. I would like to add that some times when a couple gets married especially when there are children involved, a real solution is to move. If one person "owns" the house not everyone feels a sense of ownership. Adult children are smart enough to know whose name is on the mortgage and deed. I think some of these issues are because the children that lived in the home prior to a step parent and their children feel like they are being invaded.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 8:07AM
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