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Teen Step Daughter

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hello. I am new here. I am 24 years old and I have 2 step-kids, my step daughter is 15 and my step son is 18. I am having problems with my step daughter. She is extremely disrespectful to my husband, she cusses all the time, is sexually active, smokes pot, and I recently got a phone call in the wee hours of the morning asking me to pick her up from jail. And to top it off, she blames me marrying her dad for her behavior. Last weekend she was being very disrespectful to my husband. It was bothering me so I asked her to stop. She later told him I shouldn't tell her what to do, that I am not her mother, and I had no right to say that to her, ect. Normally when she is being disrespectful I don't say anything, although it hurts me. I am not her mother, she already has a mother (if that's what you want to call her). However, I am a member of this family. To keep the peace, my husband wants me to hold my tounge in front of her and tell him when I am bothered by her. I don't know what to do.
post #2 of 25
I agree with your dh. It is not your place to interfere. If she is disrespectful to your dh, that is his problem to deal with. I can sympathize with your position, though. I know that it is hard to listen to. I have a dsd (she is 22 now) and when she was a teen she was pretty mouthy to her dad.
post #3 of 25
Your husband is 100% right.

you have entered into a family that the 'children' are basically old enough to be adults in the sense that this is the age where they do not need to be micro managed by parents so much as they need their parents as bouncing boards for advice.

i dont know the dynamics of your husbands divorce, and you havent listed who is custodial and how much time you spend with your step children but to be honest if you try to be a disciplinarian in any way shape or form for these two people BEFORE you have gained their trust and respect all you are doing is setting yourself up for an epic failure of a relationship with these two people.

I am not calling them children because they are not. One IS an adult and the other is a young adult, and they are not your children in the sense that they have that maternal/parental bond that happens when you raise someone from a young age.

How long have you been married to your husband?

You should be treating your step children as peers more than children in need of raising. I don't take disrespect from my peers and friends, and you shouldn't take disrepsect from your step children. But your husband is right, that unless the conflict is directly between you and your step children? Let him handle it.

For more specific advice I'd need to know.

1-How long have you been married.

2-How long were you in a relationship with your husband before married.

3-How long did you have a relationship with your step kids before you became a step parent?

Basically what I am getting at? Is how much time have you had to form a relationship with these 2 people? If it hasn't been long at all, you should be building up that relationship before anything else. When I first started dating my DP my step son was almost 4 years old. I never disciplined him in any way shape or form for the first year of our dating. That might not seem like a long time, but that first year I spent building up a relationship with him. I couldn't imagine how hard that would be with teenagers, and you have alot ahead of you to build up. But make it a positive experience. Even if your DSD is rebelling now? It will only last so long as she has someone to rebell against. Don't give in to instincts to butt heads. Harder advice than it sounds, but that is what I have for you.
post #4 of 25
Regardless of what kind of parenting your stepkids received before you met your dh, for better or for worse you've walked into a situation where the "raising" phase is almost over, and the "peer relationship" phase is just beginning. It probably doesn't HELP that you are closer in age to the children than to your husband, but that's not the core issue.

Be friendly. Be approachable. Keep it low-key, and if you get another call requesting a pickup from jail, contact whichever parent you think will handle it best. It sounds like there is a lot a teenage angst here that is poised to spill into the adult years, and you don't want a starring role in that little drama.

This is something you can't fix - not because you aren't capable of being a good and loving parental figure, but because you've joined this family too late (and frankly, are far too young) to establish a parental role for yourself in your stepdaughter's life.

But as a previous poster said, 15 is a difficult stage and it's reasonable to hope for a better relationship later on. You are never going to be an authority figure, but who needs that anyway? Be a good role model instead.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
I have known my husband for 4 years. We have been married for a year. She was fine until we got married. Now all of a sudden I am the reason for all her problems.

I do not believe my age has anything to do with this. I will give respect when I get respect. That's how it works. If she wants respect and to be treated like a "young adult" she needs to act like one. Plain and simple. I can clearly see this is not the place for my situation. I really didn't think this was for people who think 15 year olds should be adults and have no respect for the people they live with. This is what's wrong with society. She is a CHILD. NOT an adult. I will continue being silent and not let her know what a spoiled little brat she has become. I'll just let the resentment eat at me until it destroys my marriage. Yeah, that sounds like a great plan. Thanks for the advice.
post #6 of 25
I am the stepmother of an 11 year old girl. I think one of the most important rules I follow is that her father and I present a united front, we are a team, and she knows it, but as far as the actual disciplining of her, in large part it is up to her father. I am lucky that she is a good girl and generally respectful. She knows she has to respect me just like she would her own mother, because it is what her father expects of her, and he will tell her so. You are right, that respect should be given, if it is expected to be received. However I think that she needs to see you and your DH be on the same page exactly, and it is up to your DH to set her straight and make her toe the line for now, until she learns she doesn't have a choice when it comes to respecting you as an authority figure.

And I understand that age might not be an issue to you, but are you absolutely certain it is not an issue for your stepdaughter? When I was 15 I probably would have had serious, if unspoken, issues with my father marrying someone a mere 9 years my senior. There might be some discomfort with it for her, even if there isn't for anyone else. Especially since you sait it got worse when you got married. I actually think your husband's idea for you to tell HIM when you have an issue with her, rather than going to her, which clearly isn't working anyway.

Just my .02. Sorry you aren't getting the answers you want, but I have found this group of blended families to be very helpful and knowledgeable.
post #7 of 25
First of all, welcome to MDC

Second of all, I am 26, my dsd is 15, and she has not always been respectful with me as she is right now. Two years ago we hit rock bottom, and I was desperate to save our relationship and my own sanity. This is how I actually found MDC, I was searching advice on working it through with teenagers, preferably from a stepparent perspective. And here I am, TADA!

Now... DSD still has her arguments with her dad, she still does things she shouldn't be doing at 15, and she's not always an easy person to interact with. But! I can't recall last time she was rude to me. If I had to find an incident it would have to be as long ago as last summer over the guidelines on seeing her boyfriend. But that's it, really. We get along just fine.

Last time she said the words "I hate you" was two years ago when I decided something had to change, and I realized two things:

* #1. I can't change my stepdaughter. I can't. She a whole other person with her own mind, feelings and motivations. I can't change her just because I don't like the way she behaves. So this is not the route to rely on if I want things to be different, and I want peace in this house. We can scream, swear and yell at each other until we are blue in the face, but it's not what I wanted for our family life. So what's left?

* #2. I CAN change how I interact with her, and I CAN change how her dad and I work on parenting her, because I have a wonderful partner who will listen to my concerns and loves his daughter enough to never give up. He supported me on my decision, and we've had wonderful results. So much so, DSD asked to move in with us a year ago.

If you would like to get where I am in my relationship with my teenage stepdaughter, then I strongly recommend:

* Do not disciplining her. Do not jump into her discipline conversations with her dad when she gets in trouble. Do not reprimand, do not ask her to do her bed, do not tell her to do homework. You husband has to put in 110% in this area for now. Your words mean nothing as your relationship has no solid base. She doesn't see you as a parent, that means all the things you'll say will have exact opposite effect. Can you tell her she acts like a spoiled brat? Sure. But what will you accomplish? Peace? Improved behavior? Gain respect? I'd guess, none of the above. So you have to examine your options.

* Does it mean she should be allowed to cuss at people? be disrespectful? smoke pot? Nope. It means YOUR HUSBAND has to make it a priority to get his daughter out of self-distractive mode. Clear expectations, simple consequences. Adults should never be yelling in the house. If you know she is smoking pot with her friends, then she loses the privilege of seeing those friends. It's his rules, and he enforces it. She's gotten herself in jail at the age of 15? How late does she stay out? Where does she get pot? This is where her dad steps in and sets the rules. To be honest, if I were in his shoes, I'd say no friends for a while period. School, sport (if she plays one), and home. If things improve, then friends can come over your house. If they are disrespectful - then no thank you. But it's his discussion, his rules, and his firm hand that she needs.

* What can YOU do? Find a moment when she is approachable, and offer something she can't say no to... Find easy, one on one things to do with her, for yourself and your husband. DSD and I bake, we also go out and do our nails together once in a blue moon, we've just been to the movies (which I'm thinking will become "our" thing as well), and her dad takes her out for hot chocolate about once week. Kids need that. She might not be allowed to see her friends, but she still needs to know she is loved. You might have to look for that half a minute when she is nice, but spending time doing silly things together is how relationships are built and rebuilt. You and your husband clearly need it in regards to this child.

* Ask for an advice from a guidance counselor. I bet you are not the first one with a tough kid in high school. DSD has been seeing one since this fall, and I have seen improvements in certain areas of concern.

* Just because you don't discipline, doesn't mean you have no input. I weigh in on consequences and discussions her dad has with his daughter, BUT the rule is she has to be out of the room. I say if I agreed with his decision, or not, we talk about it, and I always leave the last word to him, since he is her father after all. But I know he listens and respects my input.

* Expect the change to be slow. Relationships are not built overnight, and bad habits are hard to get rid off. To speed things up, you can only do one thing (and I am suggesting it only because I did it myself). I wrote a letter to dsd and apologized for trying to parent and discipline her. I told her I wanted a second chance for our relationship, that I was leaving all the parenting to her dad, and while I will stand by his decisions 100% (if he said no going out today - I'm not taking her to see her friends), I would like to be just a person she can rely on if she needs help. I told her I had no expectations of her, just that I love her, and will be there for her, but from this point on it was up to her as to how close she wanted me in her life. Two weeks later, she gave me a letter thanking me for what I wrote and for the change in my actions. We've been doing really well ever since.

None of this will work if your husband is not willing to take his role seriously, I don't think you have too many options. You can continue down the road you are on, but it will only get worse with time. On our part, I know for sure that it would have never worked if my beloved taken hands off approach.

I wish you the best.
post #8 of 25

Yes, Welcome to MDC. You will find a gentler approach to parenting in general here, and I do hope that you stick around and test the waters a little more. We have a lot to offer.

I agree wholeheartedly with what Oriole has to say. She put it beautifully! And I have seen that approach work more than once in Step-parent/child relationships around me, as well.
post #9 of 25
Sorry that you didn't find what you were looking for. 15 is a hard age. I got along much better with my parents and step mother at 11, than I did at 15.
That's pretty common.
I'd try to draw on whatever inner maturity you might have. You have a long way to go yet. Good luck.
post #10 of 25
A few more words on resentment... Your comment struck a cord with me, as again, I've been there, done that.

Whenever I would hear dsd say something mean about me, I would always feel crushed: how can she, after all the things I've done for her and her father?! (right?).

My solution to it is "at home therapy" with her dad. I find him, confess that things bother me, and he comforts me. He reminds me that "she'll grow out of it", or "remember when she said this nice thing about you?" or what have you! You have to be each other's support system. It allows the outlet, and resentment doesn't build up.
post #11 of 25
Originally Posted by Aja3 View Post
I have known my husband for 4 years. We have been married for a year. She was fine until we got married. Now all of a sudden I am the reason for all her problems.

I do not believe my age has anything to do with this. I will give respect when I get respect. That's how it works. If she wants respect and to be treated like a "young adult" she needs to act like one. Plain and simple. I can clearly see this is not the place for my situation. I really didn't think this was for people who think 15 year olds should be adults and have no respect for the people they live with. This is what's wrong with society. She is a CHILD. NOT an adult. I will continue being silent and not let her know what a spoiled little brat she has become. I'll just let the resentment eat at me until it destroys my marriage. Yeah, that sounds like a great plan. Thanks for the advice.
I don't think YOUR age has anything to do with it either. However Her age and Her place in the family does. And your place in the family does too.

Marraige changes things from a childs perspective. You can say 'that's how it works' but you are the one who joined into this family, 5 years is quite the while to build up the relationship so at least you have that on your side. But if you decide to butt heads with her then you are setting up your own problems for yourself and asking for help isn't going to fix them.

You calling her a spoiled little brat is not the voice of a parent. I would never call my children, step or otherwise a spoiled little brat, and using those words is indicitive of a volotile relationship that will build up and blow up eventually.

YOU are the adult in the situation, it is YOUR responsibility to recognize the conflict and act accordingly. Feeling snubbed because your step daughter is rebelling is not the way to handle a situation like this. It is her age. It is the changes in her life. And it is most importantly? A phase.

It is up to you to handle it however you decide to handle it. But stowing down your resentment isn't going to do you any good. What MIGHT do some good is talking to a counselor about your resentment at having to "I'll just let the resentment eat at me until it destroys my marriage. " and letting that counselor train you in ways to better understand why your daughter is reacting the way she is, instead of letting "the resentment eat at me until it destroys my marriage. "

Sorry you are going through this. but how you handle it is going to determine what you get out of it. And if you are already planning to let it destroy your marraige? Just get out and save everyone the pain of dealing with years of angst, anger, and resentment.

Or you can do what the rest of hte parents do with teenagers. Learn to accept them for who they are and guide them through this time that they are seeking to find a way to define themselves.

And they WILL most assuredly define themselves by rebelling against their parents. If their parents give them something to rebel against.
post #12 of 25
Great post Oriole

Much more articulate then I could have mustered but exactly what I was trying to get across.
post #13 of 25
I think you need to take a big step backwards. She probably IS very angry at your father for marrying somebody so much younger than him, and it's natural that she'd take out her anger on both of you. It's also very likely that much of her misbehavior is "acting out" because of this anger.

You're not her mother and she's too old to accept anybody else in a "motherly" role in her life. Maybe someday she'll accept you as a "big sister"- but for right now you just need to get her to tolerate you.

If she's speaking disrespectfully to YOU directly, then by all means speak up. You have every right to be spoken to with respect and consideration, even by somebody who doesn't like you and wishes you weren't there. But don't interfere with the way she interacts with her dad.
post #14 of 25
One more note.

All teenagers rebell to some extent until they feel they are their own people.

Step parent aside, because it has little to do with what I am about to say.

In 10 years, when she is 25 she will have one of 2 stories to tell.

1-When I was 15 I hated my step mom so I put her through hell.

2- When I was 15 I put my step mom through Hell but no matter what I did she was always there for me and that is what I will remember.

No matter what you will feel the teen angst no matter if you are a parent or a step parent. This is a stage of parenting that everyone goes through on some level. It gives us, as parents, a chance to relive what we put our parents through and it gives us a chance to help our kids grow into what they are going to be.

No one here is attacking you or telling you to bury your resentment. Sorry if it is coming across that way. What "I" am trying to say? Is that the resentment isn't worth having. Let it slide off your back because in 10 years this is going to be a phase that is well good and gone.
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
I apologize for my recent posts.

About that "spoiled little brat" comment, I would never call that to her face, or tell anyone who knew me or my family that. And it's not how I really feel about her.

After reading other people's posts and done some reflecting, I think what I am really mad about is the way my husband raised her. She doesn't have any boundries or rules, so she's just behaving the way she was raised to behave. That's where my anger lies. And I shouldn't take that out on her. That's my problem.

I am not her mother, I don't want to be her mother. I do not try to parent her, I never have. I don't tell her what to do. That's not up to me. I just want respect.

And I hate it to see her go down the road she is going down and not being able to say anything about it. I do love her.

It really kills me because when we got engaged, she was my maid of honor. She went with me to all my dress fittings, we did lunches together, I took her to my wedding shower and I told everyone to keep all the gifts "clean" so she wouldn't be uncomfortable. I really thought things were going well. I don't know what changed, except that she's 15.

I really do want to do more with her, but after this past year, I don't know how she will take that. I really do want our relationship to change. I guess I'll just have to be the adult here.

Maybe I'll see if she wants to see a movie this weekend. That's a start, right?
post #16 of 25
Originally Posted by Aja3 View Post

Maybe I'll see if she wants to see a movie this weekend. That's a start, right?
Yes, it's a good start. It really can hurt your feelings when you've been close to a stepchild, and then they become teenagers and suddenly act as if they can't stand you. It will pass. Good for you, for making this overture. You may have to make many of them in the next few years, but she will remember that you stuck with it and someday you'll be close again. You might not be happy with how she was raised, but you can model gracious behavior to her now and maybe she can learn by your example. Hang in there!
post #17 of 25
I can feel pretty crushing when one's relationship with a SD changes with adolescence. I can get pretty sentimental when I think that only a little while ago, my stepdaughter, who is nearly 14, laughed and joked with me with ease, and cried on my shoulder at times and let me hug her. I can also hardly believe that only about 4 yrs ago she jumped up and down with excitement when I came home! Now it's Sullen City in Monosyllabic Land. It feels impossible to talk to her. At times I can feel her thinking that I am just the most ridiculous, uncool person, etc. She is more grouchy and sour than outright rude, but it is still hard to bite my tongue, esp. as such behaviour was certainly never tolerated by my own parents. However, perhaps my parents were biting their tongues too. My father, who raised 3 girls, said once with great feeling, years after we were all grown, "is there anyone more self-absorbed than a 13 yr old girl?"
Unfortunately, stepmoms are the perfect target for young adults who are in general discontented. More discipline may be what she does need, but coming from you, it just won't work, no matter how great your relationship has been.
I got a smile out of her today, though, and even a laugh. One thing I always try to do during our short visits is to deliberately make eye contact. I had read about that, and believe it or not, it seems to work. Sometimes!!
Good luck.
post #18 of 25
Going to a movie is a great start. But be ready for these times to last the next 3 to 5 years.

I butted heads with my step dad until I was out of the house paying my own bills and realizing what it meant to be a 'grown up' and how lucky I was that there WAS someone there to help my mom out.

That being said, remember we are on the other side of the screen and it is MUCH easier for us to give advice to someone on the other side of the screen than to be able to live by that advice too.

What I mean is every parent has a feeling for what they 'think' they or other people should do in certain situations. But as a parent in the heat of the moment we often fall short. Right now I am dealing with trying to let go of control with my 6 year old.

He is a smart kid. Awesome brother and a fantastic son. But things I would normally say 'oh, they are just a kid and that happens.' with OTHER peoples kids, I have a hard time NOT pointing those things out to my son and holding him accountable.

It's sorta like because they are our kids we expect more out of them, I have to remind myself that it is OK to expect more, but it isn't ok to focus when things don't line up exactly with what I want for him.

he is his own person. and I am having to train myself to see him that way, instead of a child that should be molded into what I think he should be.

Good luck and stick around. The ladies and gents here have great advice. You don't have to take it ALL, but you will get ALL different kinds of advice and that is what makes this place a haven.
post #19 of 25
I agree that step parenting is hard, with your situation the PP are right you shouldn't be the one disciplining and even if she was your kid not your step kid at this age im sure you would probably be experiencing the same things. Dont you remember being a teen. you cannot continue to think of her as a child she is a young woman, and the best thing you can do for her is be someone she can count on. It seems like she is getting herself into some trouble and its her parent's job to take care of that. going to a movie is a great idea and i think that building your relationship and making her know she can trust her will be the biggest benefit to you and her.
post #20 of 25
"After reading other people's posts and done some reflecting, I think what I am really mad about is the way my husband raised her."

I think that's a pretty common realization around here.
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