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Odd Step-parenting Question (Older/Young Adut Stepchild)

(14 Posts)
FrauMoose Sat 29-Jun-13 19:59:06

My stepdaughter who is in her early(ish) twenties will move out after having been in residence for the last year. In the short term she'll live with her boyfriend and his parents. But their intention is to buy somewhere together. They have never actually lived together before - though they've been 'going out' for over four years. Two and half years at university, followed by two years living in different parts of the country from each other.

My inclination would be to try and advise her rushing making a major shared financial commitment, until they've actually found out a bit more about how they negotiate domestic chores, expenditure etc. I'd want to suggest renting in the shorter term. However my stepdaughter will probably be thinking, 'No. We are in Love.' And her boyfriend will probably be thinking Property Ownership = Investment. In my circumstances would you stay shtum or try and utter a few discreet words of caution?

tribpot Sat 29-Jun-13 20:09:34

How long have you been her step-mother, and what does her dad have to say? It would be better coming from him.

Are they really likely to be able to afford to buy somewhere? I thought the yoof had been effectively priced out of the housing market. However, if you think it's a real possibility then, as a friend, I would suggest it's a big step when they could rent for six months and (a) find out for sure if the area is right for them before buying and (b) if they like living together.

FrauMoose Sat 29-Jun-13 20:25:30

Daughter is coming up to 24 and boyfriend - I think - 25. He's landed a good job (don't know exact salary) in accountancy firm, after having been self-employed for last year or so in a business that has done well. Only son of well-off entrepreneurs. So I think he could do a deposit/get a mortgage on a flat, especially as we're not talking home counties. My stepdaughter has done a post-graduate training course of a type that should lead straight into a career. Even if a full-time job doesn't materialise, it shouldn't be hard to get temporary posts in her chosen field. (Boyfriend had raised the question of my stepdaughter getting some legal advice from a family member who is a solicitor, about their arrangements when getting a mortgage - so in this respect he is, once again, being businesslike.)

Agree it might come better from my husband/her father. He is often a bit more tentative than I am about potentially difficult conversations. Perhaps the ideal thing would be to raise it when the three of us are around, so that even if I start the conversation off it's not just me ahd her.

I just think my stepdaughter is a bit naive. She believes that she and her boyfriend have 'lived together' because she used to stay over quite a bit in his shared student flat. And her boyfriend would also come and stay for periods of say, a couple of weeks, the year after my stepdaughter had graduated and was living in her mum's flat.

Also as she hasn't yet secured a job - and has been quite ill during the final part of her training course which has got in the way of making a lot of job applications - it can't be very clear yet, how they might work things out on a practical level.

FrauMoose Sat 29-Jun-13 20:26:02

Oh, yes and been her stepmother since she was 6!

badguider Sat 29-Jun-13 20:29:39

I'd advise her to rent but not say it's anything to do with their relationship - frame it as trying out different areas or types of property or something... I rented all through my 20s so I had flexibility for work to move if required. I don't think it's wise to buy till you're VERY settled in one place as the cost of selling and re-buying is high and the reality of renting out is hard work and risky.

RandomMess Sat 29-Jun-13 20:30:55

I would just remind that there is always a home with you if she needs it.

fedupofnamechanging Sat 29-Jun-13 20:57:46

The boyfriend sounds very aware of the legal aspects of all this and, call me cynical, I would be focussing my attention on making sure my step dd didn't move into a place that was solely in his name or where he had more rights than her. Esp if she is likely to get caught up in the romance and he is not!

olibeansmummy Sat 29-Jun-13 23:00:39

I'm not sure why you're so worried tbh? I think she's old enough to make her own decisions and they have been together for 4 years. I was married with a 2 year old son and had lived with dh for 4 years when I was 24...

I'd just let her know she's always welcome back if it ever becomes necessary.

daisychain01 Sun 30-Jun-13 00:05:34

I think you are wise to think carefully about giving advice. that said, you and your DSD has been in each others' lives a very long time (similar to me and my DSM) and it is highly appropriate you should feel concern and want to give motherly advice, how lovely! Some would say she is old enough to live her own life and make her own mistakes but I see nothing wrong with a few words of wisdom which you can give with the knowledge she is free to disregard or adopt.

It seems as though her partner does have a sensible head on his shoulders, they are both well educated which means they will know how to seek good quality independent financial and legal advice especially they decide to buy a property together.

Your idea of holding a three-way conversation is a good one because, as you pointed out, it does take the focus off it just being you giving advice. This is what I have tended to do with my DSS - I normally consult in advance with my DP (his DD) and we agree a time when we think DSS is most likely to be receptive to what we want to say (timing is important - we don't do it when we know he might be tired or has other diversions - especially if we want the message to 'stick' :-). We try to make it feel more like we are informally 'bouncing a few ideas around' rather than him thinking we are singling him out! Keep it light, not too negative, after all it is an exciting time for your DSD and her partner, so just give a few well chosen words which will show that you care and will support them, whilst giving her some insight into the value of not rushing into things until she is sure its really what she wants!

I hope it works out well for your DSD and you!

daisychain01 Sun 30-Jun-13 00:07:26

Oops sorry typo "you and your DSD have been ...."

FrauMoose Sun 30-Jun-13 08:32:53

Thanks everyone. Yes, it's important that young people try different things, and grow through that process.

A friend who visited me recently commented that my stepdaughter did seem a bit younger than her years, and I think there are ways in which this is the case.

I suppose that although she and her boyfriend have been 'together' in one sense for a long time, there's another way in which they haven't. I think relationships at university are a bit different. There can be lots of mutual friends and as they both lived in (separate) shared houses, they didn't have to deal with any of the issues that arise when people start flatsharing etc. Since university then they've lived apart for two years, phoning and visiting at each others' parents houses. So the issues about dealing with jobs and chores and income and property are all new.

There's also some doubt in my mind, because this is the first bloke my stepdaughter has ever been out with. Now I'm aware that some people meet the 'right' guy when they are in their teens and live happily ever after. But I think there are aspects of my stepdaughter's family situation - poor communication between parents after divorce, her brother taking up most of her mother's attention and energy - that have meant she has grown up with a particularly strong need to imagine an ideal 'happy ever after' situation for herself. For this reason she tends not to ask herself - or her boyfriend - too many hard questions, preferring to airbrush the obstacles other people might foresee out of the picture.

My husband and I will do the conversation about the possible advantages of renting until she gets a settled job/passes her driving test etc and knows which parts of the city she's going to would then make the most suitable base.

stepmooster Sun 30-Jun-13 08:47:42

Well the only thing I would be concerned about is putting money into a property I didn't legally own. And as the boyfriend has suggested DSD gets legal advice with family seems to me he has his head screwed on too. Its no more cynical than you are being.

If the property is in London then rents tend to be more than mortgage repayments. So perhaps your DSD can then put by more a month than if just renting. I spent many years renting rooms in London for ridiculous sums of money, you have to deal with letting agents, dodgy landlords trying to put up rents/steal your deposit etc.

3 years ago I bought my first place, before that I lived with my ex and paid him a bit of board each month to go towards bills etc. Honestly even that was so much better than just renting somewhere.

She is old enough to make her own decisions, doesn't sound as though she has made any bad ones so far? Got into a career that will look after her by the sounds of it. Support her instead and encourage legal advice.

hiptobeclaire Fri 26-Jul-13 10:38:44

This is exactly the situation which is being explored by BBC Three at the moment.

They are currently looking for couples who would like to road test living together for one week who are currently living together but in one of their family homes.

It would mean that they wouldn't need to sign a lease or commit to a mortgage and they would get a free week in a flat within their budget to see how they cope.

I hope this is useful. smile

Here's the link:

brdgrl Fri 26-Jul-13 12:09:04

I think you should say to her exactly wht would you say to her if she were your own daughter.

I realize that might sound over-simplistic and I don't mean to be flippant. I understand why you are posting this in step-parenting, too. But Fraumoose, you sound very sensible and careful, and your concerns (about her maturity and about the situation) sound spot-on. You've been her stepmum since she was a small child. You should be frank with her. Like you say, maybe bring it up with her dad present so that you can have a three-way conversation about it all - but why shy away from talking to her? You've surely parented her in lots of ways up to now, and this is important and you could give her some good guidance.

It also seems to me (and granted, maybe I'm wrong in your case), that this isn't an issue that will affect her alone - there are posters saying "tell her she's always welcome home" - well, that may be true, but certainly, having to take in an adult child because they've made some poor financial or lifestyle decisions has an impact on the rest of the family. If there is even a chance that this decision will have financial or logistical repercussions for you and the rest of your family, then you certainly should weigh in now.

With regard to those saying "tell her she's always welcome home" - I wouldn't be rushing to say that to my daughter or my stepdaughter. For a couple of reasons - even though it sounds supportive, it could also sound like you expect her to fail. The other thing is - well, it isn't necessarily so - people move to smaller homes or out of the area, people have their own financial struggles, bedrooms get given away to younger siblings! But again, that's why it is best to talk about it all ahead, so that she will know what sort of practical support you'd be in a position to give.

Maybe a better approach would be to help her come up with a back-up plan in case it doesn't work out?

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