Clingy Adult StepDaughter

skcsmJuly 7, 2014

I have been re-married for over 20 years. My stepdaughter is now 29 years old. We have a pretty good relationship and also very respectful. My problem is, when she is around us she clings to my husband and will only do things with us and not her siblings (1 step brother and one half brother). For instance, we were at the beach and here brothers went clam digging but she stays behind and reads because that is what her father is doing. She literally follows her father around and does what he does. For short periods of time, this is tolerable but when we vacation for extended periods this becomes very frustrating and irritating for me because I can't seem to get any time alone with him. Every time I try to do something with him she wants to go with us an expects us to treat...even stay in our hotel room so she doesn't have to pay for her own room. I do love my stepdaughter very much but I feel she oversteps my boundaries. I have spoken to my husband about this many times but he doesn't want to be in the middle and says he loves us both and doesn't know what to do. Help?

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Does your husband ever meet up with this daughter for one-on-one time? Coffee or lunch? A sporting event or concert? As far as sharing a room on vacation........I would definitely draw the line on that!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 1:06PM
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Thanks PhoneLady...Yes! Initiated by her all the time though. They are in a running club together (every Thursday night plus weekend fun runs), go to concerts, etc. He is sometimes uncomfortable though because she would rather do these things with him than her friends, but doesn't want to hurt her feelings.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 1:39PM
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Well one other unasked question answered........she DOES have friends. So that's good. It's impossible to really know what's in her head, right? But she is spending time with her Dad outside of these family vacations, so it's not a case of the vacations being the ONLY time she has with him. Other than the clinging to Dad, is she otherwise independent? Has her own apartment/home, financially self supporting? Has she ever had a significant romantic relationship?

As far as you paying for her room, was a precedent established by doing that for her in the past? Do the other siblings pay for their own rooms? Do you book the rooms for everyone or does everyone book his/her own?

You have a 20 year history with her......was she always a clingy kid to Daddy?

It would be nice if your husband (not you) stepped up and said " Skscm and I have made plans on Thursday to spend the afternoon together followed by dinner. We'll probably be back late. Just wanted to give you all some advance notice so you can make plans of your own". At that point, if she tries to tag along, just say you are looking forward to the private time but look forward to doing x,y,z with her tomorrow. Then you can expand the theme by throwing in some other private time as you like.

Sorry if I sound nosey......just curious if there are other dynamics going on with daughter and siblings that would cause her to back away from doing activities with them?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 2:27PM
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Thanks again PhoneLady...yes, she does have friends but only 1 she will actually 'hang out' with. She has always had relationship issues and can never find the right guy. In some cases verbally abusive to her boyfriends. So single most of the time. She is extremely successful and is living on her own. No other dynamics with her brothers, she adores them, but just prefers to stay with Dad. Almost like she feels like she is missing out on something if she doesn't stay with him. If she left with her brothers to do something and we decided to go for a walk she would mumble or comment that she would have wanted to go...that sort of thing.
We do end up doing what you suggest but she seems to grumble about it under her breath or acts hurt, like we are leaving her out.
I do know she has issues with abandonment with her dad because he had to leave a small town to find work when she was young but he made sure he visited every other weekend even though he lived 10 hours away. Called her every other day, etc. We also kept her all summer and had her every holiday. Maybe all those issues just never go away once your a grown adult? Either way, from my perspective it seems unhealthy and just don't know how to deal with it. We planned our summer trip this year without the kids and she is already upset that they aren't invited. She is now telling us she is going to the same place but by herself...I am thinking to get her father to feel sorry for her? I don't know. Just so frustrated! Thanks for listening!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 3:30PM
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I think some kids of divorce hold on to slights (real or imagined) forever. My daughter and son were 9 & 7 when their father and I divorced. They are in their 40's now. Despite our best efforts, one rolled with the punches and the other one to this day still has little flashes of resentment. It sounds like your husband -and you too - stayed very involved in her life, making the best of a situation he chose to be able to make a living. You always hope that once kids grow up and start looking at life through grown up eyes, they'll realize things are not always the black and white of their youth. So at 29 years old, if she still suffers abandonment issues, it's way beyond time for her to own them. It may be that she's sensed your husband guilt in this regard and is playing on it.

The fact that you still have family vacations is wonderful. But the fact that a 29 year old woman feels that EVERY vacation you take needs to include her, IS unnerving. I can see how that would be disturbing to you. It's like a spin off of Arrested Development!

You can't really control what she thinks or says or does. You can only control how you react to it. And I think the less reaction, the better? She is likely just trying to call your bluff, but If she is silly enough to go to the same place on her own, just tell her you can probably get together for dinner one night and leave it at that.

Fortunately it seems your husband also finds her behavior odd. Think how whacked out you'd be if he was agreeing with HER all the time!!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 5:10PM
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