HELP--step-daughter ruining our family

wantingafamilyOctober 31, 2007

This is my first time joining this forum. I am at my wits end and did a search on the web trying to find some help. I am seeking a place to vent and get advice on my situation. Sorry this is so long.

My husband and I dated 2 years before getting married. We both have been divorced before and wanted to be extra careful. I have a son and he has a daughter. The four of us got along wonderfully before we got married. I would have never dreamed his daughter would be able to cause such pain and stress in our lives.

We have been married almost 5 years. After our first year of marriage we got pregnant with our son. This is when the majority of problems began. I was caught off gaurd because my step-daughter begged us to have a baby. I was so saddened that such a joyous event in our lives became tarnished by pure jealousy from his ex-wife and my step-daughter.

I should have noticed before we got married how my step-daughter was spoiled by my husband and his parents. I knew they felt sorry for her, as I did, because her mother is a drug addict and a theif. My husband had custody, but she had no visitation schedule and was able to dictate where, when, and how long she would stay at each house. Basically, if she said,"jump," my husband and his parents said,"How high?" If she didn't get what she wanted from one home, or a conflict arrised she would simply move on to the next house.

I also saw them trying to ease her pain with material things. This child wanted for nothing in this world, and had no chores or responsibilities. Everything went her way until myself, her step-brother, and her half-brother entered the picture.

When we got married she had to share her dad's attention with me and then with a new brother. This did not sit well with her. My husband and I went out of our way to make her feel comfortable, but nothing worked.

It got to the point that if my husband would do something special for me, then he would do something special for her. We would even get the same presents on Valentine's Day and other holidays. He refused to hug me, kiss me, hold my hand, or show any affection toward me when she was around.

I can't count the times she has trid to fabricate things to her dad or grandparents to try to break us up.

Currently, she has dropped out of our local highschool and is attending an alternative school 3 hours a day. She has been at the alternative school 2 years and only has 3 credits. She is suppose to be a Senior, but is currently a beginning Freshman. She now lives with her mom who allows her to skip school. Her mother is unemployed, on drugs, and stealing. She has several boyfriends that commit various crimes and have been on probation. I don't know if she is sexually active or not, but I would guess so. She has no job, but has been given a car and gas money from her grandparents. We have paid thousands of dollars in car repairs and increased car insurance because of her reckless driving.

She tells her grandparents and dad that the reason she is no longer living with us is because she does not like me. She is getting in a lot of trouble over at her moms. Her mom frequently joins them in the constant partying and has no rules. We have gotten calls at the house from other individuals saying she and her mom are vandilizing homes.

She is playing the marter now quite well. Everything with her grandparents is poor, poor Step-daughter. And the evil step-mother, me, is the one to blame. Her dad is very secretive about everything that is going on with her to me now. When she, her mother, or mother in law calls he hides and whispers. I know it is tearing him up inside to see his daughter turn out this way. It hurts so bad to watch him in such disstress.

I have honestly gotten to the point where I detest her. I do not want her or her mother around my children. I detest the fact that she and her mother have a key to our house and know the password for our alarm system. When she comes to the house I cringe. I keep a great distance from her because I am afraid of conflict. I feel like I can't be comfortable or myself in my own home.

I hate being this way. I hate feeling this way. I hate the feelings I get when she comes over. I hate that we are not one big happy family. My house is not a home because of her and I don't know what to do.

My husband and I have been through so much with her. There is a noticable distance between us that wasn't there before. He is stuck in the middle. His anger about her situation has trickled over to my son, his step-son. Prior to all of this my husband was at least friendly with my son. But now he seems to look at my son with hate in his eyes. He seems to go out of his way to find something that my son does wrong. I do not know what to do. I love my husband. We have a child together. But right now I don't see this situation ever getting any better. Any advice or suggestions?

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Read the articles on disengaging. You are way too emotionally invested in her behavior.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 7:58PM
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    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 8:12PM
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Disengaging from the stepdaughter/her mom/husband/husband's parents whirlwind sounds like a good idea:

you're probably better off *not* knowing what goes on with that bunch.

but your son shouldn't be a target for your husband's misplaced resentment-
if you can talk to husband at all, please bring it up so he is at least aware of what he's doing.

Maybe he'll change his attitude, but if he doesn't, then you need to get your son out of that hostile environment.

& do protect yourself & your children-
change the security code & the password, & be sure husband knows how important it is to not give it out *to anyone*.

If it "gets out", change it again.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 9:50PM
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Good grief. There isn't one reason on this earth that the ex or daughter should have a key and code to your house. That is sending a very clear message that the house isn't yours. You can be rest assured daughter wouldn't ever put up with that crap.

Your husband really needs to seek counselling. He is getting played like a fiddle and you are paying the price.

Like most men he doesn't understand that relationships between stepdaughters and stepmothers are about a thousand times more difficult because you are in effect sharing one man. If your husband gives her control over you and your home, which it appears he has, your marriage has no chance for survival.

He is punishing you with your son because he believes that is what you are doing with his daughter. He needs to learn that that is just simply false, and stop punishing an innocent boy because he is an ineffective father.

I really feel for you.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 12:03AM
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"Like most men he doesn't understand that relationships between stepdaughters and stepmothers are about a thousand times more difficult because you are in effect sharing one man."

That is sick. Daughters and sons share their father's time and attention with their mother and their siblings, and normally everyone manages just fine. Are you implying that the relationship between a daughter and her father changes to something of a romantic nature when there is a stepmother in the picture?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 7:49AM
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Like most men he doesn't understand that relationships between stepdaughters and stepmothers are about a thousand times more difficult because you are in effect sharing one man.

Thats funny, I recall my 'wonderful' SM saying to me and I quote:
"Like, I know you're getting over the death of your mom or whatever, but I'm not going anywhere. I don't see why we can't just share him"

I could have punched her lol. Like I've said before, you can't pool marriage love and the live for your children in the same category, completely different feelings, there is no 'sharing'.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 8:47AM
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I am sorry you have to deal with it.
It does sound sick but some daughters do have strange reationships with their fathers and vice versa. Very possessive and rather romantic in nature.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 10:48AM
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Thanks for all the advice. I did read the disengaging article. I feel like I've already disengaged, but that she is the one who disengaged me. I am no longer responsible for any of her needs. I am pretty much out of the picture altogether. I feel horrible that she chooses to live with her mother in such conditions. I have tried to make things work. But everytime I reach out to her I get burnt.
The conversation about daughters having a possessive and/or romantic ties to their fathers is interesting. I would have never thought this to be true, but I have seen it first hand with my step-daughter.
When my husband first got divorced he allowed her to sleep with him because she was scared. This continued until we got married.
When we got married, obviously, she had to sleep in her own bed.
He didn't think anything of letting her sleep in his bed. He is not a pervert. He just wanted her to feel safe and then it became a bad habit that he tried to stop, but couldn't.
Also, when we first got married it was a big deal for her that I rode in the front seat of the car when we went on family trips. Before we got married she always rode in the front seat. I had to drag my heals in the mud with this one. I didn't feel I should be riding in the back and let her ride in the front.
It does sort of feel like she wants to play the role of wife. Or maybe she doesn't, but also doesn't want anyone else to either.
Thanks for the advice about the alarm code. I already knew this,but just needed to hear it from someone else. I will talk to my husband.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 3:52PM
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Much has been written about the oedipus complex, whereby a boy develops a sexual attraction to his mother, but virtually nothing has been devoted to the electra complex whereby a girl develops a sexual attraction to her father. Both of those situations are completely normal in a developing child, but typically in families that stay together, the children work through this psychosexual development phase intact and soon become totally interested in members of the opposite sex of their own age.

Most times there is NO sexual involvement but there is a term called emotional incest. Google it when you get the chance.

More often is that daughter thinks she is reserving that space for mother. After all, in SD's mind she was there first and you are just an intruder and father will eventually come to see you as that and get rid of you and go back to mother.

It is all very complicated emotional webs and unfortunately in your case the father wasn't behaving as a parent. You have to have the patience of Job to help and guide this young girl, who in a very real sense is making every effort to destroy your marriage.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 5:21PM
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I just wanted to thank Colleen777 for that information. I have never heard of it,and I'm sure a lot of others havent either.It certainly sheds a different light on some things for people.

Wantingafamily,definitely get that alarm code and key changed!!!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 1:30AM
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daughters sometimes act with their divorced fathers like they are replacing their mothers. They play roles of wives. Both grown daughters of my BF do it constantly. Very unhealthy...

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 11:35AM
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I completely share your pain with having to be treated as if you and SD are the same person to your husband/her dad.

In my own situation, the cynic in me started to feel like I was my BF's daughter as well...because when he would show affection to me he would turn around and show affection to her. It's as if he didn't want her to feel left out. But what he didn't realize was that he was leaving me out (or at least that is how I interpreted it).

I have an 8 year old son and we are very close. But he knows that my relationship with my BF is drastically different from my relationship with him. I don't kiss my boyfriend and then turn around and kiss my son so that he doesn't feel left out.

Most men cannot distinguish between the fine lines of these types of relationships. Just yesterday, she made a comment to her dad "Well, your girlfriend is going to get all glammed up for you. I want to get my nails done too." So he gave her $40 and we both went to the same salon and got our nails done. Before leaving, her dad pulled me aside and asked if I would get the french manicure because he really thinks it looks chic and classy. I told him absolutely. His daughter (like most teens do) always got designs, bright colors, etc. but when we got to the salon, she asked if she could get the french mani done. And nothing is wrong with that. It's just that it's annoying to us. We are letting her behaviour and his get the best of us. Is this because we feel like an she will be around for the duration but he can drop us like a hot potato. Does this mean that you and I are insecure? Maybe.

But what it shouldn't mean is anything at all having to do with their behaviour as questionable or incestuous. He has lived this part of his life with her as the only other FEMALE. So naturally, the lines are incredibly blurred for the both of them (my BF and his daughter) (your husband and his daughter) for whatever reasons there are (and most times dad only explains it as being over protective of his little girl).

But what starts to happen innocently enough is that the two have a relationship that mimics the ones that grown ups have without the physical part but certainly flutters on the psychologically romantic overtures but moreso just a pretty normal relationship between one person and another. Like fixing breakfast for the other, going out to dinner, going out to the movies, talking about cars, talking about sports, sharing the bathroom, washing the laundry, going on vacations, etc.

The reason that I believe the trend is not to call us "Step" anylonger, is that it means that we are stepping in, replacing, barging, changing things, pushing away. It will take time (the same goes for me) to see that their relationship isn't salacious and questionable but that it's the only way these kinds of dads know how to treat their daughters. It only becomes wrong when we start making it wrong, when we step in and try to change things and not let their relationship exist and grow and mature.

Yes, it is a juggling act to turn our feelings on and off and to not let things like, getting the same presents or surface affection (like hugs and kisses on the cheek or forehead)annoy us. But that is all that it annoyance to us.

It doesn't mean that dad prefers his daughter over you and we certainly shouldn't be thinking of it that way or in any way at all. What it means is that the daughter hasn't grown out of this attention seeking and re-assurance stage with dad and also that no one (namely dad) has taught her or steered her in a direction that shows that she is still a priority for him but that he has other priorities as well which are just as important to him.

He doesn't want to feel guilty and inasmuch as she wants to be the apple of his eye, he too wants to be her hero and someone that she looks up to.

It's up to you to find your middle ground, pick your battles and make yourself understand that your relationship is as beautiful as you believe it to be...but don't live in a fantasy land. If you let them flourish they (especially the daughter) will come to appreciate you.

At least this is what I'm trying to do in my own situation.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2007 at 5:31PM
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lonepiper eloquently hit it on the head!!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 1:28PM
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Thanks Lonepiper.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 1:50PM
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