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Stepdaughter may be coming to live with us - need advice

(10 Posts)
decaffeinated Tue 02-Oct-12 17:06:43

So, I have been with my partner since DSD was 2, married since she was 6, and now she is 12, with a brother and sister (mine and hubby's).

DSD lives abroad with her mum, and comes to stay with us most holidays. On the whole she's a great girl. On the flipside she can also be very very difficult, shouts, hits, is venomous, and horrible. She goes through stages of being very clingy with DH, which is understandable and I encourage them to spend time together, we've discussed me having some little girlie dates with her etc and on the whole things jog along quite nicely.

Lately, however her relationship with her mum has been in difficulty, culminating in her mum telling her she's going to send her to boarding school as she's had enough of her awful behaviour. Then realising that practically (or financially) speaking it isn't possible.

DH has always wanted his daughter to live with us, and since she was young has always said that the beginning of secondary school would be a good time. DSD's mum has always said she can come when she's 14.

Anyway, through recent discussions about the deteriorating relationship, DH and I, and DH and DSD's mum have been discussing her coming to live here.

I have always said that having a difficult teenager thrust upon me would never be my ideal. But on a good day, I feel that although it it would take some adjustment, we could cope and that it would probably be in DSD's best interests - I envisage us finding a way to all rub along together in our new integrated family, and working our way through the difficulties we might face.

DSDs mother is open to the possibility of DSD coming here now, but now it's all becoming more real, today is a bad day, and I am filled with a feeling of dread, and I feel so selfish!

I fear DSDs angry outbursts will upset my kids aged 2 & 4. I'm not sure if I'm ready to share my evenings with a clingy, shouty teenage girl slobbing on our sofa. I don't want to give up my spare room for her. God, I feel horrible saying it.

It's a long old story - DSDs mum can be very shouty and difficult herself so most of DSDs behavioural issues have been learnt, but do I really want it all in my life so constantly? There are some visits which are fantastic when she comes and others when I've been so happy and relieved to see her leave.

Can anyone give me a perspective on it?

I'm also getting fed up with husband spending 2 or 3 nights a week talking to DSDs mum about the situation - it all feels like it's taking over our life.

I haven't been able to face talking to DH about my massive negative feelings as he's trying to act in his daughter's best interests, and I want to support him in that too. I feel so bloody torn. Just needed to share I think. Thanks for listening.


Revelsarethebest Tue 02-Oct-12 17:20:55

My step children can be difficult and they only come once a week.

One of them wants to live with us, shes 8years old. But she wont do as shes told by me, and isnt respectful of our house. DH has said he wants whats best for his daughter and if it makes her happy then he wouldnt mind her living with us.

My response? Over my dead body! I wouldnt have her living with us, no way, why should i have a child living in MY home who doesnt respect me or my home ?? DH accepted my decision, and accepts that SD will not live with us.

In afew years if things change, i will re-consider my decision.

I think you should speak up, explain why you dont want her living with you. Also explain to his daughter why she cant live with you, and if in time her behaviour improves then you will re think things.

NotaDisneyMum Tue 02-Oct-12 17:57:20

I'm facing a similar dilemma - only my DSD is 15, and has been estranged from me for 2 years after giving her Dad an ultimatum about choosing her or me!

I have made it clear to my DP that I will support his DD - BUT, we will present a united front and I expect the first few weeks/months to be boot camp as she finds out where the boundaries are and we have to ensure that they do not move an inch. Rules & expectations will be set out clearly in advance, and transgressions will be addressed. Consequences will be most severe for lying and disrespect. We know she'll make mistakes - but we will deal with them.

Unless you have the totally backing of your DP (and his ex, if possible), I wouldn't consider this at age 12. She will be at her most rebellious at this age - and many step-families which have been established for years break down when a step-child reaches this age; it's not easy.

notnowImreading Tue 02-Oct-12 18:12:38

Are you actually me? I've been where you are - my DSD is now 18 and has lived with us for five years while her mum lives in France.

I'm not going to lie: it has been bloody difficult and I felt like giving up at times. Things that worked for me (and I know I risk a flaming) are:
Lowering my expectations way down and taking a parenting backseat to my DH even when I thought he was really wrong
Becoming friends with her mum - visits, family drinks, she stayed at ours, dinner together, the works. Really weird but definitely helped with loyalty issues.
Being sinisterly nice - midnight lifts, pampering when ill, small gifts in the shopping.
Putting my own needs way down the list.

It's really good now but it's been a loooong time coming.

notnowImreading Tue 02-Oct-12 19:07:38

The other thing I would mention is that she may not say that she is missing her mum, but she will be - especially if she is 'sent away'. I found that this comes out in strenuous boundary pushing and tests of love, which are not much fun for anyone.

decaffeinated Tue 02-Oct-12 19:47:19

Thanks for your replies - feels so good just to know I'm not alone, and not the only one who is / has been in this position!

Revels - I think you're right, I do need to be totally honest about how I'm feeling. It's not helping me to bottle it, and DH obviously knows I am holding back. When he started waving school applications about having had the go ahead from DSDs mum it all started hitting home what it could all mean. I do think there would be a 'contract' of sorts saying that sorting bad behaviour is a condition of living here - not on her own, with our (and outside) support.

Her mum supports this too - in France they don't have the services we do here, and she's not actually willing to go through any counselling herself as she thinks it's all down to her daughter.

Notadisney - we had talked about all that stuff as well as going through a 'programme' of self-initiated family counselling to help her sort out her behaviour and help us deal with it, set all the boundaries, but with an outside ear/eye to help us when times are tough. It does seem to me that 12 is about as bad an age it could be.

notnowImreading - thank you for being refreshingly honest. Nice to hear that six years from now it could all be ok, although a bit through the mill. Do you have younger kids too?

Me and DSDs mum do get on ok - she's alright really, it's interesting to hear that it worked - and I can well imagine it being weird, but would be up for getting on with it/her more to help with the situation.

Interesting what you say about taking a backseat, because I always have done, and recently husband asked me to step in more (when she's hitting / being verbally shitty with him) to help calm things. It's a tough dynamic, but it mostly works - I'm never too hardlined, just re-iterate that we have rules, one of which is no hitting and abusive behaviour when you're in the house. It's no doubt different when you're at the coal-face every day and I spose we'd cross that bridge if we get to it.

She is basically being 'sent away' - and I can imagine that she will miss her mum - especially in these formative years. I have no doubt we'd see quite a lit of that behaviour with her too.

I spose selfishly, I just want to enjoy these young and carefree years with my own children and not have to deal with teenage nightmares just yet.

slambang Tue 02-Oct-12 19:54:40

Urm - is it me or have you completely failed to mention what dsd feels about this plan?

Her opinion on it will have the biggest effect on whether it's a success or a disaster.

decaffeinated Tue 02-Oct-12 21:02:50

Yup forgot to mention it (not because I don't think it's important, but because I wanted to air my own feelings on the situation).

In previous discussions she's said she thinks it could be good coming to live in England, but as it's an unknown quantity, a big change, and a move away from her mum she can't say for sure, and she doesn't feel she can make the decision on her own.

She likes being here in England, and she also likes being in France - wherever she is, whether during term time or on holidays she's always a little torn as she misses part of her family mum, dad, brothers & sister.

She thinks it could be quite exciting living here, but she'd miss her friends, but recognises she'd make new ones and be able to catch up with hers in France in the holidays.

So, I think she'd willingly give it a go if we all decide it's a go-er - and as a family living in two parts of the world, we're all agreed that we have her best interests at heart.

theredhen Wed 03-Oct-12 07:06:36

As someone who has gone through this, and now has dsd living with us, I would say that saying an outright no is unreasonable but saying yes with conditions is the way to go,

If you want time at home without dsd for a few hours on a regular basis, your dp needs to commit to it.

And you certainly need to come up with a consistent plan for dealing with her outbursts.

scootle Thu 04-Oct-12 13:45:55

I think you are being heroic to consider this - but crazy not to have voiced your real feelings before now. Of course you should be sharing all your worries with your dh - you should have done this when the idea was first mooted because it is very hard to stop things now.

Basically you need to get really really clear about what you can and can't tolerate in your home and family. You and dh need to tell dsd what it is going to be like - what the groundrules are etc etc. And you need to know that the hitting is not going to impact on your own small children.

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