Older step children take advantage

pwrgrlDecember 20, 2007

I'm new here, and I've searched for a similar post and didn't find one, so forgive me if I'm repeating someone else's issue...

I am 38 (no children), and have been married to my 54 husband for two years. He has a daughter 21, and son 24. I get along good with his kids, even unexpectedly well with his daughter. But, it seems that they can do no wrong, and even if they do, it's never addressed by my husband. He hates confrontation, and puts off any kind of "grown up" conversations with his kids. I'll probably vent about his son some other day but today, I'm worried about my SD. She is very naive, and immature, even speaks in a baby voice (especially around "Daddy" which she still calls him). She is away at college, has never had any sort of job, her father puts money in her bank account for her, she drives his truck, and he pays her cell phone bill. He pays for her to fly home for every holiday and basically anything she wants. She was home for Thanksgiving and my husband made flight arrangements for her to come home for Christmas. She shared with me that she wanted to go out for New Year's with her friend at college, and wanted to ask him to change her flight back to school so she could go back earlier and out with her friends. This isn't the first time we've paid to have her flight changed for her. Well, my husband is totally against drinking (has never had a drop of alcohol in his life) and his daughter told me that she was worried he wouldn't change her flight just so she could go out partying. A week later, he tells me that he was changing her flight because she was moving into a different dorm at school. Did I mention that he's also extremely against lying?? Anyway, I was upset that she had lied to him, but chose not to tell him, I knew it would crush him that she lied. Well, she's not good at lying. He asked her the other day when she was moving dorms, and she said that she was already moved out. He then said "Then why did I change your flight?". She stumbled around that somehow and then said "well, it's still ok, because my friends and I are going to Dallas for New Years". He raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. She left pretty abruptly 10 minutes later. He then asked me if I knew what was going on, and I confessed what she had told me. He sent her an email telling her that he was disappointed, and they talked the next day. Then she sent me a sort of apology email, saying that she was sorry that it "seemed" like she was lying to us. And that it was all just an "accident", she thought she had told him. WHAT??? I wrote her back and told her that I didn't think it was an accident and that it would be much better to just admit that she didn't tell her dad the whole truth, own up to getting caught, apologize and move on. But, after that, she gave her dad this big, long explanation of how she thought she had told him, blah, blah. He believes her and has explained to her that I was raised differently. How my parents made me pay rent to live in out home once I turned 18. That I was expected to work and make my own way, and how I disagree with some of the decisions he makes regarding his kids. It's almost like he's apologizing to her for what I had said! Heaven forbid his daughter should be talked to, or treated like an adult! I agree that I was raised different, I did not get everything I wanted and nothing was handed to me. The bottom line is this: She will graduate college with at least 20k in school loans, have to get a job, pay her own bills (I wonder if he will continue paying the truck insurance and her cell phone), and is in no way prepared for it. I don't think she believes (and I probably don't either) when her father tells her that her loans are her responsibility (he has told her this on several occasions). Whenever a situation comes up where she needs money, he tells her that we're blessed enough to help her financially, but that she needs to figure out how to do things if we couldn't help her. When will she ever have to "figure it out"? He's never made her figure anything out for herself. I don't like that her answer to "figuring out" how to get something has now become lying to her father, with no real consequences. How will she be prepared to live as an adult if everyone still treats her as though she is 12, not 21? My husband and I are very happy and communicate well, with the exception of issues with his kids. I have disagreed with some of the things he does for his kids, and he's hesitant to talk with me about things that involve his kids. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just jealous...

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I have the same issues. My SDs are given everything I had to work for. Anytime I point out that it would be better for a child to earn things, DH says MYOB. I suspect X has told all inlaws that I am a "golddigger" and want more for me. No one in DHs family will treat me with respect.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 6:24PM
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Your DH seems to be parenting out of guilt. I see my BF doing it to some degree, not as severe but still his grown kids do trick him into paying for stuff and changing plans all the time. My BF admits that he sometimes babies his grown kids simply because he does not know how to deal with them otherwise. Feeling jealous is normal, but your stepdaughter does sound very spoiled. Maybe you can just tell your husband that you are concerned of her being unprepared for adulthood, so you don't sound like you are critisizing his parenting skills. Is her mother in the picture? maybe she can help. My boyfriend's exwife is much better in saying: "no, you have to figure it out yourself". But then they run to him and he does it. I wonder if your husband and his x are on the same page in regards to kids. Good luck. It sounds like you see it like it is but he doesn't.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 6:29PM
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I thought guilt was the reason too at first. He and ex-wife were married for almost 30 years and even though she was the one who filed for divorce, he has said that he will never forgive himself for splitting up their family. But then he has also told me he and x have always done these things for their children, that he believes any parent would do the same. I guess that's why his kids seem to feel that they are entitled to these things, and not have to work for them. He has said (not in a mean way) that I don't understand because I've never had children and I judge things on how I was brought up. I think I'm just trying to look at these situations with his kids as what would be reasonable. After this last thing, we had a good talk about it and he's encouraged ME to have a talk with his daughter about her debt after she finishes school because he doesn't think she realizes. He said that he doesn't want to dump all of this worry on her about money, because she will worry so much that she'll make herself sick. That he wants her to focus on getting good grades and finishing school. Now she wants to go to Europe for a summer semister and is planning to tack it onto her school loans. Of course, her first thought was to ask the family for money for the trip, not getting a part-time job to fund it. We all helped her when she decided to go on a mission trip to Australia last summer. I feel that the reason she doesn't understand any of this is because of how he and his x are still treating her. No one seems to treat her like an adult, but then they're going to expect her to be one all of a sudden...

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 7:38PM
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On the other hand while they are still in college you can't expect them to pay for everything. They do have to work though at least part time jobs. At age 21 she has to work.

Actually when my DD started college my X insisted that she does not work the first year and focus on her grades. I was happy she did not listen, now she is much better with money because she works. I don't know if my X insisted she does not work out of guilt, we are divorced since she was 4.

As about paying tickets, my BF's daughter is 26 and has a very very good job well paid professional job, her college was paid in full-no loans. And daddy still pays half of her airplane tickets when she visits for holidays. He still pays for a lot of stuff for 26-year-old and it is not because she is in finacial need. She asks and he pays.

Your DH wants you to talk to SD about loans. It sounds like he does not know how to deal with his own daughter. There is a big difference between being a giving parent and being such a pushover. But it is tricky for you, you know that you are right but how can you convince him without sounding critisizing. Dilemma...

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 8:26PM
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Dilema is right. She's now almost done her third year of college. It's almost as if he wants SOMEONE to talk to his daughter as an adult, just not him. I know he has talked with her, but as I mentioned before, she's treated like a child. His conversations with her consist of calling her cute nicknames, then telling her that she will need to figure things out for herself, her answering in baby-voice, and then him giving her what she wants. All he has to say is "we'll see" or "maybe we can help" and that means yes. Do you think that as long as this doesn't directly affect us, I should not let it bother me? Some of my friends say that, and others think I need to get a handle on this before it gets worse.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 9:29PM
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What's with baby-voice? Annoying.

It does effect you, if not, then it will later. If she is this way in 21, she will take advantage of you when she is 40. I mean you should help a kid, but within limits.

I wonder that if you cannot change it, you should give up and let them do what they want.

I know how you feel though. i am not married but am involved with my BF who has two extremely spoiled grown daughters. I find his treatment of his daughters ridicilous, he suffers of it himself. The only thing I say when it directly effects me such as him changing our plans to please his daughters. That's I cannot tolerate. Other than that i say nothing. But once again if I would be married I would probably struggle with it way more. You should make suggestions but I don't know if you can change it.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 9:42PM
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I hear you. I think it's better for me to "pick my battles" so to speak, carefully. At least he is open to my suggestions, although I have a hard time keeping the disgust out of my tone sometimes. Thanks for the input!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 11:19PM
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There are all sorts of family dynamics and implicit expectations in different families.

In my family, it was understood and expected that the parents would support the children financially through 4 years of college and possibly graduate school. We were not spoiled in other ways -- It was just "understood" in my family that paying for college was an important part of being a good parent. And once we graduated from college, we were expected to get a good job, live responsibly, and support ourselves financially. (And we all have.) That's how I was raised, and the same standard I am applying to my nearly-colleged-age son. His college fund was opened before he was even born, and completely funded years ago. DS knows this, and expects to go to college for four years, then graduate debt-free but otherwise broke.

My husband's family didn't pay anything towards college. (Guess what? Nearly no one went.) But everyone is proud of how hard they had to work for everything they ever got. IMO, they could have gone much further in life with more education, but I keep that particular opinion to myself.

Two completely different value systems.
And to my way of thinking, they're both valid.

Don't assume that just because he is supporting her completely now financially, that he will continue to do so indefinitely -- especially if he says clearly that he won't. It could very well be that in his mind, so long as she is a full-time college student, she is still the child and he is still the parent.

You certainly have a right to your concerns and opinions, but I'd tread carefully here, because it sounds like you're imposing your set of values onto his own situation. And at this point, it's his money, not plural-yours.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 10:06AM
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Very well written.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 1:00PM
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My step children borrowed up until they were almost 50 years old. I put a stop to it when his daughter tried to borrow money from him after he was into Alzheimer's, he was going to do it without telling me. I would have put a stop to it before, but they always paid it back until the last couple of loans. At first I didn't mind, because children often need help when they move out on their own. When they continued to come back for more I began to resent it, but didn't stop it.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 5:55PM
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SD knew when she graduated high school that she had enough money in her college fund to go to a community college here at home for the first two years, then go away for the last two years so she could graduate from the college she wanted. She decided after one year of CC to go away to school. Her parents told her that she would have to come up with the money for her last year to year and a half of school. Now that time has come, and she's not prepared. She talked with her father over a year ago about getting a PT job while at school, and he was all for it since she was doing well with the school work. Well, its been all talk, she just recently got a job, and its about 5 hours a week which she says she got just for "spending money". What I'm expecting is for her parents to hold her accountable when she finishes school and realizes that she had debts and bills like everyone else. But the track record so far is that she will tell her dad how "worried" she is and he will "work something out". Which so far has meant "I'll give you money". My husband says that he plans to make her figure it out, but it seems sort of mean to me. How do you treat your daughter like a child, give her gentle little reminders about money that no one in the family believes, then expect her to handle it? I really think that if he keeps telling her that she has to figure it out, then keeps figuring it out for her, it will be a mess for all of us. It will be hard for me to once again, have her come over for a holiday, do the baby-talk thing, and watch him hand her money as she walks out the door.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 9:19PM
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I would be focusing on the positive, that she is moving forward in college. If she got accepted into a good college after one year, it may have made sense to make the move then.

PS Depending on the state your DH lives in, the courts may decide whether he should pay for college (excess of amount in college fund).

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 9:42PM
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(I posted this on another forum as well. So many have this issue!)
Daddies instinctively protect daughters. Never make them choose between you and the daughters. The only way to, IMHO, to solve this is to convince the dad that forcing the daughter to be self-sufficient is BEST FOR HER, and this is easy to do if you read up on enabling behavior, teaching self-sufficiency, etc. Summary is that he is HARMING her by NOT teaching her budgeting, self-sufficiency, and the joy of building a comfortable life step by step.

Children are raised in a family such that by the time they are 18 it is typically more safe and comfortable than if they go out on their own. They have to "step down" in living standards when they start out on their own, and build their own life in order to be comfortable. This natural way to build a life is stripped away by enabling parents who have seen to their children's needs and feel their children should continue at that lifestyle level instead of starting out on their own at a lower level.

Remind Dad of his own struggle to become successfully/financially independent, and that he is robbing daughter of this same life journey and the character it builds. The daughter doesn't know anything different, this is what she has been made to expect, so this is, sadly, really ALL the Dad's fault. If the Dad isn't convinced this is the way things should evolve for daughter FOR HER OWN GOOD, then separate your finances, budget for your future including retirement, and require Dad pay his half of your joint expenses. If he can't pay it due to support for daughter, then he is bumming off of you, and you have some hard choices of your own enabling behaviour.

Finally, I suggest strongly that the daughter is not just dumped. A timeline needs to be created, maybe 3 years, with firm milestones on becoming self-sufficient, including training for a career. The milestones need to be met every 6 months such as attending training classes, filling out job applications (if needed) x times PER DAY, with consequences spelled out in writing and carried through. Buy Quicken or similar product for daughter to learn about budgeting. I advise NOT being the career adviser, but pointing daughter to state/federal resources and career counselling to teach her how to get help on her own, although funding career counselling may be wise. Read up on tough love and remember that young people's expectations are set by the parent. They don't know any better than what they've been led to believe. Good luck. You only live once.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 4:13AM
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