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.