In a relationship with an enabler/blended family.. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 06-29-2013, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello single parents,


I am on my way to no longer being a single parent after a very long 8-year solitary road. I met my fiance 10 years ago in another place and time, and we have since reconnected in totally different circumstances, and started dating almost 3 years ago..  


Today we have 5 children {my 3, his 2}, most of whom are in college and high school.  We are very ready to move in and start a new life together, for us, and for our families..


His ex is an alcoholic who was in rehab for 2 years {out of her childrens' lives completely} and then halfway houses and other chaos until finally semi-stabilizing in a home about a year or so ago and "returning" to her daughter's lives.   Both of her children are visibly traumatized by having her for a mother, but she was absent for much of the worst of their processing that...It is easy for her to ignore today.  She wants to be their very best friend and buy them shit and smile the past away..  


The younger one spends a lot of time with her dad and I, and I believe she will be ok. She was much younger when the worst of the family/alcohol traumas happened and seems more resilient and grounded. She is very connected to us, and we have been able to be open with and supportive of her.

Her older sister on the other hand, has gone down her mother's path and now abuses alcohol, pot, and various other "party" drugs..  it is a terrible situation.  She chose to "live with her mom" {i.e. avoid accountability} and spends almost no time with her dad.  In reality she moved in with her boyfriend about 8 months ago, and they live in squalor and abuse substances together while her mother condones/ignores the whole mess.  


In a few short months she will be 18, and I do not believe any of this will end well.  She is incapable of most daily-life things.   


My issues as the wife-to-be are:  I have little say in how this child is handled, except to draw boundaries for myself.  She keeps a big distance from us.  Her own father does not have custody of her, though he loves her and is very concerned for her.  


He misguidedly enables her to live the way that she does, by bringing her food and money at the boyfriend's place when she asks him to.  This has been a huge source of conflict between he and I, because I sit by and watch it get worse..and worse.  Neither of this girls' parents are seeking professional help for her {yes, I chant that suggestion like a mantra}.  Again, she is not my child, there is not a lot I can directly do for her.  I have focused greatly on the younger daughter, who needs me and has a full relationship with me as her father's partner.  I of course also need to look out for my own children, and be sure that the older daughter's problems stay far away from my household.


I love my fiance, but I see so many red flags here..  Recently I told him that I will not move in with him if he is so enmeshed in his daughter's dysfunction.  

Such a fine line between unconditional love and wanting to protect or help a child, and enabling..  it is complex and very saddening.  I am the mom of two young ladies and my heart just breaks for this child that I can't fully help..  


Sorry for the book, it helps just to write it out.  I appreciate all feedback.. 




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#2 of 4 Old 06-30-2013, 10:25 PM
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This could actually be a dealbreaker (it's a difference in parenting philosophy)....but I think how it is handled will be what determines if it makes or breaks your relationship.  Is there a counsellor with experience in parenting teens/older teens who might be able to mediate a discussion about this?  (I'm probably jaded, because someone close to me ended a marriage with someone who's son (from previous marriage) was an addict and it caused all kinds of grief for her).

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#3 of 4 Old 06-30-2013, 11:15 PM
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I understand why you want that girl with her problems and lack of responsibility to be nowhere near your family. She probably also reminds you a bit of her mother, so its easy to assume she will just end up wasting much of her life.

However, i would be weary of giving your fiance the type of ultimatum that makes him have to choose between you and his own daughter. Despite her problems, he loves her, he doesn't want to give up on her and he also wants to know she's loved. As much as it seems like a joy ride, being addicted to drugs or alcohol is horrendous, its incredibly depressing, isolating, terrifying and seemingly never-ending. The good news is she's so young that it'll be easier for her to change her habits than if she was an older addict who has been down that path for years. There is still a lot of hope for her. Maybe she doesn't want help now, but young adults' lives often change quite a bit so in a year or two she might be ready to accept help. Its when people treat young adults like her like they're never going to amount to much that they end up staying on dark paths.

So i wouldn't completely discourage her father from going to see her, but maybe have him only bring food and not much money, if any, because at this point there's no mystery how she's going to spend it. When/if she is looking to change then it might be good to offer money from time to time. Going to see her and letting her know she's loved will go a long way, even if it seems hopeless on the surfacr. Offering to get her help on occasion will sink into her brain and its something that could mean life or death when she has possibly hit rock bottom and doesnt know where to least she knows she can call her dad and he will get her help.
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#4 of 4 Old 07-04-2013, 05:13 PM
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Keep in mind that I grew up with an alcoholic.  I know what enabling is.  And I know that you can't stop your fiancé from enabling his oldest.  He has to do that on his own.  I don't know if his daughter is an alcoholic, but she is on that path. 


Personally, that's one red flag that would end the relationship for me.  Once you are married, any debt he incurs, even if it is to give the money to his daughter, is joint. 

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