or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Preteens and Teens › Stepteen Nightmare
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Stepteen Nightmare

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
There are so many things I want to say and so much swirling around in my head that I am confused....I am sorry if this doesn't all make sense but I need to vent....

About 3 months ago my husbands children came to live with our family. They are 17 and 19 and we have a 3 year and 1 year old as well.

At first things were panning out ok. We gave them a huge amount of freedom and treated them like adults. I soon realised that this was and would only lead to abuse of trust and inevitable teenage problems.

I tried to tell him that we needed rules to follow before they arrived but he wanted to give them the chance to behave like adults and be responsible.

So, here we are 3 months later....my work load in the house has trebled. They are barely able to do the dishes, they sleep until mid afternoon every day and then get up and make breakfast and leave the dishes for later...and all the crumbs and mess. In the meantime, I am chasing 2 toddlers around and washing and cooking and cleaning as well as finding time to take the kiddos t the park or entertain them in some fashion. I am tearing my hair out.

I am just worried that these 2 kids who are supposed to be adults are going to stay and sap us for the rest of their lives....1 is starting a job tomorrow, after much prompting and pushing and nagging....it has been 3 months and they have made no contributions to the house of any kind. I think SD has cooked twice and then managed to aviod doing anything else that has been asked of her. She has baby sat but we have to pay her....money that is then spent on ciggeretes and going out and meeting boys... I know that she is sexually active adn has been for sometime....that worries me, only because I remember being 17 and if she is doing half of what I got up to your toes would curl...The big bad city is a worry. Also, we know that she is dishonest, she was supposed to come home at 1am the other night and a friend saw her out until 3am...she still told us she was home on time....(we are so tired from all the extra work, we don't hear a thing at night, except the baby crying)

Then there is SD, who barely leaves the house, let alone the bedroom. He has in the past suffered from Mental illness. There is a lot of history relating to that. Having now lived with him, I wonder how much of it is contrived and convenient to not wanting to get a job or a life and just being lazy. It worries me that he has no life skills...little things like, when he does the dishes, he does the saucepans ect first and then the glasses...I thought everyone knew that you wash the clean things first and then the soiled ones.....bad assumption.

In all of this, the hardest thing is that their Dad is really pandering to them, this is the first time they have 'lived' with him since he left their Mum. He feels so guilty about leaving all those years ago. He is trying so hard to make up for his mistakes and in so many ways he is just making more. It is too late to go back and change the things that are done...

I want to have a family conference and make rules that everyone has to live with....there should be punishments, grounding no tv...if they are going to behave badly then why should we let them get away with it...this is our home and they are running riot......ahhhhhahhahahahhahah


Help from other parents and step parents please.......
post #2 of 16
Oh, I feel for you.

I definitely feel that some rules need to be established. Things like, everyone (except the little ones) should be responsible for washing their own clothes, and should help with preparing or cleaning up after meals, and should pick up their things in the house.

If you're doing all the extra work that the teens are generating, and your husband is relatively free of the extra work, then DELEGATE! If he is having to work extra hard cleaning up after them, he might be more willing to establish rules.

You might want to go to what we have called the "Elizabethan System." Everyone has their own plate, bowl, fork, spoon, glass or cup, etc. And everyone is responsible for keeping their own plate, fork, etc., CLEAN and PUT AWAY. Everyone has a designated location to store their items. Put all other dishes in boxes temporarily, until all the adults (or almost adults) have the habit of cleaning after themselves.

Maybe you could establish certain nights that the teens are responsible for preparing supper. For example, SD cooks on Tuesday evenings, and SS cooks on Thursday. And please, make them both do it - that boy needs to know how to cook if he is ever going to live on his own. You may have to teach and oversee them until they are able to do it themselves (including how to wash dishes). And I know this is harder than doing it yourself, but like you said, you're afraid they're going to be a drain on you forever.

It sounds like you may have to teach these two the life skills they need to survive on their own (like cooking and cleaning and contributing to the household). Their mom didn't teach them, and your DH seems to assume that they already possess them.

You might want to take the girl to a doctor or family planning agency to make sure she knows birth control and STD facts. And breaking curfew must have consequences.

OK, I'm having a bad case of insomnia, and I'm in a bad mood. But I think your husband either needs to help you establish rules and enforce them, or HE needs to be the one that has to clean up these almost-adults' messes.

Can you get your husband to a marriage counselor? Maybe if you talk about it with an impartial third party, he might be more likely to see how this intolerable situation is affecting you.

Good luck, and post back here to let us know how things are going.
post #3 of 16
def time for their dad to wake up
no good advice for you ((((HUG))))
I guess I would try to sit down with dh and lay it out on the table, make a plan for how long they will be staying, what the house rules are, what you can expect them to contribute as members of the household. Can you go to a counselor to help sort this out??

One thing I do know is that your lil ones will be watching this whole thing and learning by observing the older ones how far they will be able to push you. We had my dh's youngest brother living with us as we married and there were some hard feelings till things got sorted out. My oldest learned some negative things from his uncle (junk food, swearing, dropping dirty things around) that we had to work on after bil moved out.

mom to ds15, ds10, ds7, and dd 4yrs
post #4 of 16
I talked this over with my DH, probably because it is similar to a situation in my family's past that eventually turned into a disaster. I just really feel for you.

DH said that if the teens want the freedoms that come with being an adult, then they also need to have the responsibilities that come with being an adult.

Like cleaning their own messes and clothes. And contributing (through work and/or money) to the household.

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you....I felt so empowered knowing that wonderful mothers would be there to read my post. I take your words of wisdom and advice, they all mean so much.

Yesterday, I took my little ones to a picnic with a group of other parents and babies...(it was a beautiful day in the park!!) I really like to get out of the house and away from the tension a lot...in fact sometimes I hate coming home!

Anyway, when DH and I arrived home, him from work and me from the park, the teens had not even left the house, it smelled and all the windows and doors were shut and curtains drawn...the pizza boxes from the night before were on the table in a pile where I had left them...the trash can was overflowing and DS laundry was half done in the laundry room with a load in the machine that had finished hours ago....

Dh lost the plot at them for using his computer and then I followed suit and lost it at them and told them that they have to start pulling their weight and to start showing some respect....this of course resulted in slammed doors and sulking....we had some friends over for a late dinner and I didn't expect to see either of them out of their room....

Oh course SS emerged and apologised to me for not taking the trash out, just in time for dinner...he thinks with his stomach! SD said nothing but her mood lifted when she saw that I wasn't holding my anger and I had just needed a release...we'll see how long it lasts...

Thank you again....

post #6 of 16
First, Boy, do you need a hug!

Second, tell Dh that letting a 17 old come and go as she pleases is a good way to have a grandchild moving in also. There's no excuse, regardless of how tired you may all be, for her to be able to get away wiht missing curfew. My mother, a smart lady, put an alarm clock just outside her bedroom door. It was set for 5 minutes after you were due home. When you came in, you ran and shut it off. If you didn't make it, you were grounded. (My mother said if you didn't make it, she assumed you were dead or injured and would worry.) And a week is not a long time to be grounded for making your parent s think you're dead!

Rules. Everyone, no matter how old, needs them. You and your dh have them...like you both put your dirty clothes in the laundry, or dishes in the sink, etc. A family meeting explaining how you are exhausted and could use their help might thelp. Assign tasks. I'd try not to make them the worst chores. In fact, I'd ask for preferences! And I'd rotate cooking and cleaning! You eat, you cook. Or have one of them responsible for making a salad and setting the table for a week at a time.

Also, if you (the kids) put a load of laundry in the washer, you have to dry it and fold it, or start using a laundry-mat.

They need jobs. McDonalds, Target, a summer camp, it doesn't matter. Tell them, no jobs, no money. Nothing like needing a bit of cash to motivate you. Don't pay cash for babysitting, pay with time allowed to use the car, or extra time at curfew. When they do work, 20% goes to the household for expences. Dont' like it? Try an apartment! Don't ahve a job, no problem! Explain that those weeks are adding up, whether they're working or not!

And tell DH to get over it! He wasn't there, now he is! Letting them be spoiled brats isn't helping! Tell him it's time to step up to the plate and BE a parent!

Your the mean stepmother. You can only be wrong. Don't let it bother you! Just hang in there, they will, eventually, move out!

I have teens. Best wishes!
post #7 of 16
I have a 19 year old and a 3 year old. My dh is a step parent to our 19 year old.

I agree with Red. Have a family meeting, and have it fast. Give everyone time to prepare. Suggest that everyone who is able write down what they are going to say. Have an agenda to follow.

Everyone has a turn to speak without interruption about their feelings, needs and wants regarding the new living arrangements.

Include your 3 year old (of course the one year old probably won't have a lot to say ). He/she can contribute in some way.

Try to keep the discussion calm and focused.

After everyone has had their say, have an item on your agenda that addresses chores.

Tell them that there needs to be a distribution of workload. The only way for this to really work is for your dh to have some jobs, as well (you might want to clue him in on this BEFORE the meeting so he is in on the plan).

Ask for input into what type of job they want.

Everyone is expected to pick up after themselves if they are old enough in addition to any chore.

At my house when someone doesn't pick up after themselves, I pick it up and it goes on their bed. The mess is theirs to deal with a that point. Pizza boxes and dishes are included.

Jobs are a must for teenagers, particularly during the summer.

I'm assuming the 19 year old is out of high school. If so, that child needs to have focus on the future. Part time job, vocational training, community college, etc. If you can't afford to send him/her, there is financial aid.

Good luck!
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you

Thank you for your ideas...you are all so smart and cool....

I will defintely try these ideas and get DH on side....I may have made him out to be the baddy...he is actually working so increadably hard to make ends meat and provide for us all. I know he is feeling swamped, he is feeding 6 mouths and not reaping any rewards for all his hard work...it is hard when you work hard and get no where....

This is all going to get better and I am sure we both know that...I just hope it is sooner rather than later....

Thanks again.....

post #9 of 16
If you can afford a family therapist......get one! They will help you set up contracts with the family as a whole, and get everyone on the same page....and help dh get over the guilt or whatever he is going thru. Do it NOW!!!

When my ds was 17 and my soon to be dh moved in, we all went in to therapy and thank god we did. It really helped us alot to have an outsider help us talk things out. ANd sounds like your ss could use some help too.

Family meetings, weekly, are a must.

Good luck......and keep us posted!
post #10 of 16

These smart ladies have great ideas! I hope it works out QUICKLY!
post #11 of 16
First off sweetie - *HUGS*!

I was one of those hellacious stepkids not too many years ago .. and although I don't have experience with teen stepkids of my own, I know what MY family did.

Firstly ... do either of them work - at all?!?!
To be honest, taking away priveliges from a teen never really works because (at least in my experience/doing), they'll start to sneak. We had wages assigned to every household chore in my family (there were 11 kids including fosters and steps, so it was BUSY!) Things like .. if you left clothes in the washer, and someone else had to dry and fold them to use the laundry machines, it was a charge of $2 to dry and $2 to fold/put away. Don't have the money? You don't get the clothes. Same with our dishes - we each had our own plate/glass/bowl/silverware .. if it wasn't washed after you used it, you either used it dirty, or had to "pay" $1 if someone else cleaned it. There were also "values" applied to everyday chores - took out the trash without being asked? $1 credit. Washed/dried/folded/put away towels in the bath hamper? $5 "credit". Credit could be used to pay off "charges" for "forgotten" chores, or extra curfew time or car time, or "saved up" for later. It's kind of like a bribery/debit system, but no actual cash lol.
Mornings? You got up. If you don't want to get up, get out. The only exception my parents had to this rule was once I turned 17, because I was working third shift. Noone has a reason to stay up all night and sleep all day unless they're either making money for it, or shift sleeping because of newborns.

A lot of people so far have said it, and it's true - if they want the advantages and priveliges of being an adult, they have to assume the responsibilities of one, also.

As for SD staying out after curfew ... I'm sure you know it already, but it HAS to be stopped - and you shouldn't have to pay her for babysitting - she's living in YOUR home, eating YOUR food, and wasting YOUR time and money. It may seem like a cruel suggestion, but change your locks. My parents did it with me knowing I'd either have to knock or ring the bell to get in, thereby waking them up and they'd know exactly what time I came home. And PLEASE - have her talk with someone, ANYONE, about the impact of STDs and whatnot on a person's life - AND pregnancy.

And for SS .. Well, honestly, a lot of times mental illness CAN seem contrived or faked - my mother insisted my bouts with depression and anxiety were hypochondria all through middle school and junior high, until in high school I was finally able to convince my dad to help me get treatment - counseling and medication. If SS is refusing to get a job because of "mental illness", have him evaluated by a psychiatrist - not psychologist or counselor. If it's truly an illness, and not malingering, there are so many treatment options - and as his guardians you would be entitled to SSI and disability for his upkeep and care.

If all else fails, or whichever stepkiddo is working decides not to keep the job - look into this option - Job Corps. GED, general household living skills like cleaning and laundry, driving lessons, budgeting, AND vocational training - it made a huge difference in my life, and for a lot of other people too.

Don't tiptoe just because you're "only" a stepmother - there is no "only" with teenagers. Trust and respect are something that are earned, not a Goddess given right, and they need to understand that - it may be years before they realise what you do is for their greater good (I'm 26 and only recently have been able to repair my relationship with my mom). I can't really help you with DH, but I think the two of you DO need to talk about limits and rules for the kids before having a family meeting, and make your decisions, and then talk with the kids about their thoughts on it and REASONABLE suggestions from them to be talked over with DH in private.

Do what your heart leads you to - no matter what they think, it's probably what's right.

*BIG HUGS* and wellwishes
post #12 of 16
For setting up a household routine, consider

You can subsribe to her list of email for chores. I find it helpful, some find it overwhelming. But even if you don't want all her many emails, her web site and book Sink Reflections are helpful for setting up routines.

Also: I would consider a volunteer job worthwhile if a teen can't find a paid one. But with consequences if they don't show up. Candy striper, nursing home, libraries all may want volunteers. Or maybe something in the arts that feeds one of their passions. Depends on if you want them making money to be a requirement or not. To my mind volunteer jobs are just as valuable and give skills for paid jobs later.
post #13 of 16
First of all, I wish you the best. Its hard to mesh families even if the kids are the Brady bunch.

Realize that you will always be the bad guy and so will DH. He has an added burden of guilt and both kids know it. They are very much working it to their advantage.

Next, I know the education system is different in England. Are either planning on continuing or eventually going on to University?

Either way, if in school or not- a job for both of these kids is very important. If they are in school full time, then a part time job is in order. If no school, full time job.

At your family meeting which needs to be a regular event BTW: Lay out the cost of living in your home, food, transportation, etc. Tell them they are now responsible to contribute to this starting the first of next month. Sound harsh? Where are they going to get that money? Thats how life goes. This will encourage them to get moving.

If they fall behind, take away things. If you don't pay your bills, this is what happens as we know.

Please hold your own and make sure you and DH back each other up.

As things start to improve, let the kids know how proud of them you are and how you care about them and want them to be successful which is why you are instilling these values. Also show respect to these almost adults like you want them to to you. It will make a difference. They will look back one day and realize that both of you want them to be the best they can be.

Also, they are still kids even though they think different. Play the grown ups until they can show they can be grown up as well. (This maybe the case for several years) Maybe they need parents now more than friends.
post #14 of 16

You are not alone!!

Go to Stepfamily.net. There is a forum for stepmoms! Welcome and enjoy. Lots of great advise but better than that, a place to vent where people understand!!
post #15 of 16
Red, that alarm clock idea is the best! I'm going to remember that in about 6 years!

Hugs to you, bklynmum. I feel for your entire family. I'm sure it's been hard on everyone, including the two teens. Having a family meeting and setting down some guidelines will hopefuly make a difference. I wonder if they also see themselves as in the way. Dad has this wife and these two cute kids, and we are just sucking off of them, in the way, and a pain in the butt. Spelling out your expectations of them will help them feel they have a place in your lives.

At this family meeting, I think it would be good to tell them how you feel. How it is exciting and stressful to have them around. How you have never been the parent of teenagers before, so you are scared you are going to do the wrong thing. How you want to be a good parent to them, and you are trying, but for them to please remember you are learning. Ask for their help in making the family work. Tell them how wonderful it is to have them there, and you want to make it a wonderful house for everyone. Make them feel like they can contribute to the joy of the house (as they well can) and tell them how you think they can (ie, chores they can do, expectations they can meet). Make sure they see you as a human, not just an authority figure.

Then ask what their expectations are. How you can help them adjust to their new life. How you can effectively communicate with them. If they feel they are a part of the new system, not that it is being imposed upon them, they will be much more likely to contribute positively to your new family.

They are so lucky to have a mama like you! Keep up the good work; let us know how it goes!

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you.....

I want to thank you all for your words, they have all helped so much. Just knowing that there are other Mum's out there doing this makes it all that much easier!

SD has returned home to her Mother and Step Father. It is such a strange circumstance...her mother chose to take a vacation on the day that her DD arrived home after 5 months abroad...what kind of mother is that? So I am dubious about her going home for her own safety.

I took the words of wisdom on board about contraceptives. I took SD to the doctor and she agreed to take the pill. I just worry now about her emotional support at home. I don't think she will want to stay at home and at 17 there aren't many choices are there...I just can't help thinking that she is going to end up in a gutter somewhere.....call me crazy....!

On a lighter note....SD is soooooo happy now that his sister is gone. He has his own room now and she is not constantly bitching in his ear. I think a lot of his issues are about her and her issues....

After SD left, I smudged the whole house and opened all the doors and windows and let lots of fresh air flow in. It is amazing how happy my house feels now. There is a might lighter atmosphere and I am actually relaxed. I am shocked at how much I let SD get to me while she was taking out her revenge on her father.....

So thank you all again.....hopefully this is over for now and our happy family with be able to grow and nurture together,

Love to alll

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Preteens and Teens
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Preteens and Teens › Stepteen Nightmare