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Adult step-daughter being very, er "Challenging"

(28 Posts)
Mariannedreams1 Mon 11-Apr-16 16:28:31

My stepdaughter (my partner and I are not married but we are committed, so I'm saying SD even though we're not married yet...) was 18 when we got together and is now nearly 22. She lives with us (despite having a good job) and it's very stressful, but it's a long story....is it OK to post here? I don't have any friends with older step-children, and I don't have any children, so sometimes I find it hard to find the level of patience needed, and I feel very alone too. I'll try to keep it to less than a page of A4!

JapanNextYear Mon 11-Apr-16 17:23:58

There's quite a lot of support and advice on here so it's probably worth posting. I

Findingpeace Mon 11-Apr-16 19:44:00

Maybe we'll have some of the same struggles. My DSD is 18 too, but we've lived together since she was 12. I'm finding this a very trying time right now!

Findingpeace Mon 11-Apr-16 19:44:51

Oops sorry, yours is 22 not 18!

Penguinepenguins Mon 11-Apr-16 19:49:27

Hello smile

I am a "step"mum but was also an adult stepdaughter to my dear old dad who sadly passed away last year. I miss him dreadfully.

I was 19/20 (memory fading) when he met my mum, had already moved to uni.

Not always plain sailing my mum had been very hurt before, but maybe I can help?

I think tip-tap away, the step-parenting board is filled with some wonderful people who have many many years of experience between them!

Penguinepenguins Mon 11-Apr-16 19:53:57

finding peace my brother was 12 when DF moved in with my mum, they had some grumbles when he hit 18.... But he has recently decided to change his surname as he relates to DF more than his own.

In hindsight the grumbles were just like any grumbles with a parent at that age with the "your my not my father" thrown in, he discussed with dad a few years back as he felt unbelievably guilty for those comments.

Findingpeace Mon 11-Apr-16 20:12:34

Thanks for sharing penguin, I think that's lovely how accepting you and your brother were of your SF. I hope I get there with my DSD 18. My DSD 21 seems to already be there and tells me she loves me after every call.
DSD 18 has never told me she loves me, this was the first year she wished me a happy birthday (she doesn't do anything for her DF either).
I never really heard 'you're not my mum' until recently! Now she loves to say it. Trying times.

canyou Mon 11-Apr-16 20:17:06

Findingpeace my DSD is 21 in Uni and if she needs anything rings me not her parents. DSS is 18 and while we get on his is a disrespectful so and so but even worse towards his parents. Older DSC can be far more challenging the younger DC who just accept the situation/family format.
wine and cake helps

Wdigin2this Mon 11-Apr-16 20:21:57

Go ahead tip it all out on this page, loads of advice, similar situations and ideas for improving things!

Penguinepenguins Mon 11-Apr-16 20:49:43

finding it took me a while, to really accept him as "right" for my mum - not because of feeling she should be with my father, just that she had been so hurt, I was also young and niave and at that age you really do think your an adult. Hindsight is a very powerful thing! I learnt quickly that my mum could decide for herself and was very happy to see my mum so happy. He was very much the love of her life, she was the love of his I wish they had, had more time together. (Tearing up a bit)

My brother has a different story to tell but I know he "pushed" dad away and to his limits he will say with his hindsight that it was because his only biological father had hurt him so much he was actually scared to let someone in. His dad left when he was 8, and he had years of being let down. I think he found that so hard, he just felt it very hard to trust my mums (at the time) new boyfriend soon husband.

I was much older than my brother. I didn't live with them so much, stayed during holidays and things. Took me longer to see him as my dad, I was early 30's when I realised he had been my dad for about ten years. I never called him dad, but was so glad that just before he died (he died very suddenly) we had, had a long chat and I had told him that he was to me my dad and really had been all those years.

When I fell in love with my DP, his experience of being a step dad was invaluable to me, I miss him so much.

As an older step child I can imagine it must be so difficult for some of you, but hang in there! Older step children turn into adults and hindsight can be a very powerful thing!

Mariannedreams1 Tue 12-Apr-16 15:24:44

Hello! I was so touched reading these that I teared up a bit. I'm trying to summarise in my head what's been going on, and think of the right questions to ask for specific advice. Thank you so much for your kindness, everyone.

Penguinepenguins Tue 12-Apr-16 15:47:24

You really will find some very kind and helpful people here

Keep your chin up your not alone xx

Findingpeace Tue 12-Apr-16 18:37:45

Marianne, you're not alone so post away! Im Having a really hard time right now, as you've read, and everyone has been very kind with their posts. It's nice to 'talk' to pp who understand what it's like to be a step parent. Very few in rl understand!

Mariannedreams1 Wed 13-Apr-16 09:18:40

I wrote a massive post but realised it would be the most selfishly long post on Mumsnet. Everyone else summarises really difficult situations, so I should be able to as well.

Right. Astonishingly, this is the short version.

Until last Saturday, my adult (just about to turn 22, 18 when DP and I got together. DP had been very unhappy for years being married and waited for her to safely get her A levels and get her university place. But I must admit that DP left the family for me) SD lived with DP and me in my house. I don't have children: it's just the three of us.

This has been going on for nearly a year, since she finished university at 21, and has been very hard, mainly because - and I completely understand and sympathise with this - she is not nice to me unless she's in a good mood, because she resents me and wishes I didn't exist. So my home doesn't feel like home any more and I've been very unhappy.

She recently announced that she needed to stay with us until September 2017, because that's when her best friend comes down from university and she only wants to live with her (!). Although DP has been in denial about my unhappiness for a long time, he did man up and after an incident of quite spectacular rudeness a couple of weeks ago, agreed that 18 months more of this wasn't possible. We told her last week that she needed to find somewhere by September this year, not next year.

She went nuclear and said some awful, awful things to poor DP and has said she is never spending another night in this house. She is very controlling and gets very angry when she doesn't get her own way. I don't think she means to be or do this: she's been indulged (DP admits this, she is an only child from a very affluent family) and she is young for her age.

So what advice am I actually asking you all for.....?

I think it's: How can DP and I resolve our arguments better? Last night I put my foot down for the first time and said that I was not going to leave my own house just because the SD wants this so she could come back to get some clothes and not have to see me. This ended up with me feeling volcanically angry that I was even asked to do this, and DP feeling angry that I wasn't more appreciative that he manned up and told her it was a no. He gets pissed off when I say "The last six months have been so hard that even a small thing feels like the last straw" because he feels I should let it go and stop hounding him about it, and I get pissed off that I feel I've been walked over for so long.

And: How can we ever recover from this? I really wanted to give her a warm welcome and a lovely home. It's all gone tits up.

And: How does any parent learn how to stand up to their very articulate, very confident, very entitled and very angry child? The things she says go straight to poor DP's heart, she won't stop shouting at him even if he is in tears, and I feel so desperately sorry for him.

I really love DP: he is the love of my life and I only found him late, so I am very grateful for my happiness with him. I am 46. I am totally committed to working hard to make this better. BUT I AM SO ANGRY ABOUT SOME THINGS STILL.

Sorry this is so long.

Desperate for advice. Thank you.

Lunar1 Wed 13-Apr-16 09:45:53

Poor dp? What do you mean, he cheated and broke up her home. She's angry and has probably shed enough tears of her own. Did he stop cheating when she cried? How long was it going on for before he left? After everything that's happened I think if all she wanted was to collect her things without you there you could have done that much.

Sorry if I've got anything wrong here but I'd wish the OW didn't exist too. Why did she end up living with her dad?

Mariannedreams1 Wed 13-Apr-16 09:59:55

In my haste to not say too much (which I know is ridiculous given the length of my post) I should have added that although DP and I knew we wanted to be together before he left home, I took a contract to work abroad for the period between us realising this and the actual leaving, so that he and his wife could go to Relate and give it the best go possible, and also make the family home as peaceful as possible when SD was coming up to her A levels. We weren't having a torrid affair! My lovely friend on Mumsnet said I should have made this clear.

Lunar1 Wed 13-Apr-16 10:02:08

Sorry that makes it a bit different then! Has she moved out permanently or just flounced off to a friends?

RatherBeRiding Wed 13-Apr-16 10:12:44

Regardless of who left who, the marriage was obviously over.

However, the SD has understandably been left devastated over the split. But I am wondering why she continues to live with you when she is so unhappy? Is her DM living in a different part of the country, not near where the SD's job is?

What comes across from your posts is the sheer level of anger everyone feels. This is really not going to solve anything. I do think your expectations of giving her a warm welcome and creating a lovely home environment were unrealistic. Of course she is going to feel resentment and guilt for living with you (the OW) when her own DM has been abandoned.

On the other hand, the marriage IS over. You and your DP ARE together. These are facts and blame for the marriage split, although understandable, is unlikely to resolve the situation.

I think your DP needs to have an adult to adult conversation with his DD and ask her to find a workable solution to where she lives. She is nearly 22 and you say in a good job. Why isn't she renting? There are loads and loads of house-shares available. I get that she wants to live with her friend in the future but in the meantime it sounds as though she needs her own space. The trick will be to word this in such a way that it doesn't sound as though you are pushing her out.

JapanNextYear Wed 13-Apr-16 10:50:03

The whole being split up thing and working out how to live together is really new in this set up. Especially if she's been away at university. Though she sounds very challenging indeed I have quite a lot of sympathy with her.

In any case the whole time after Uni seems, from talking to friends etc, a difficult time for a lot of young adults now.

Would it be possible for you to go off on your own for a bit, with a friend or something, just for the weekend to get some perspective. I always found that helpful. As was getting away with my partner sometimes just to get some time away from 'The Problem'. And talk about something else. It's not for ever that she'll be living with you, but it is for ever that she'll be part of your partner's life, so part of your life.

Mariannedreams1 Wed 13-Apr-16 11:05:18

Thank you, Japan and Rather. I appreciate your calm questions.

DS chose to live with us because she feels that her father owes her a free home in London, because that's what she's always had, and she didn't want to pay rent. She also didn't want to move out because she only wanted to live with her best friend, who isn't in London for another 18 months - there were no other options that she would consider, not friends of friends, not a flatshare, nothing. However, she is now looking for a flatshare because we have asked that we have a timeline of Sept this year, not Sept 2017. (in the long post but it was probably too long, sorry everyone!) This is what's made her so angry.

And I know the anger won't get us anywhere, but if we could all turn off our anger just because it wouldn't get us anywhere, the world would be a much happier place...and I've taken myself off many times, but feel now that I am allowed to be in my own home and shouldn't have to be leaving it all the time. I spend half my life doing deep breathing and "seeing the other side"!

You're so right about being unrealistic! I was pushed into her living with us and was desperately trying to make the best of it: I probably hoped for too much.

Lifeisgreaterthandeath Wed 13-Apr-16 11:08:13

I don't know if it's any help, but when I met my step mum she was inadvertently awful to me, because instead of engaging with the real me and my sister, she engaged with the 'problem' me that my dad built up by virtue of explaining all the 'difficulties' he had with me ..these 'difficulties' were based on him thinking of me as a child when I was an adult, and being annoyed at me not responding like a child. When I responded like an adult, he saw it as disobedience, and so did she. I realised the narrative they built up between them was that I was 'difficult' and try as I might to be me, they had decided any behaviour like having different opinions or likes and dislikes from them was 'being difficult' rather than being a person. Indicating this to them rationally, emotionally, angrily or otherwise instead of them saying 'wow we really upset that person' they would put it down to 'misbehaviour'. It was awful.

The trick is to stop thinking of her as a child you have to wrest control over, button treat her like an adult, and go with her quirks not fight them until she is the automaton you want. Of course she is going to have bad days, be angry, have different views, and if you fight them all you are doing is minimising who she is.

With the 'till September 2017' it could be she wants to feel some stability, which would be understandable, so as you might with a flatmate who is needing space, give her it. My advice would be don't give her what she thinks is the solution as such, but to try and understand what might be behind it. Her head is chaos so shoving her out might damage her. Treating her like a child and like 'not her but an incorrect version of what you and DP think she should be' is only going to bring more anguish.

Mariannedreams1 Wed 13-Apr-16 11:26:26

thank you, everyone. I very much appreciate your kind thinking that's gone into this. I think, though, that it was silly of me to think I could summarise all this into an internet post, and it's wasting all of your valuable time if I just reply to everything saying "actually it's not quite like that" and also makes me look like a nutter who doesn't want to hear anything difficult. So - a massive massive thank you for the care and thinking and taking time to respond and I'll email Mumsnet HQ and get it all taken off! Sorry, really sorry for taking up your time.

Chimpfield Wed 13-Apr-16 12:09:48

OP I could have written this. I really feel for you and the anger and frustration you feel. I decided to disengage from my SD due to her behaviour in my home (and no I was not the OW) - which resulted in the s**t hitting the fan big time - everyone involved at my end (myself included) ends up being angry hurt and resentful most of the time...... there are no winners only losers - if only there were a magic wand.

Penguinepenguins Thu 14-Apr-16 12:37:42

Hi Marianne please don't think you have wasted anyone's time as you really haven't IMO. I also don't think you look like a nutter!

It's very easy to see "OW" and judge, but there are always two sides. I know of at least two couples who continue to "live together" but separately (not married) for the sake of their children, neither of the adults are happy, the children see their parents sleep in seperate rooms it's just "easier" with childcare etc - it's utterly bonkers to me. My mother has a friend who hasn't slept with her husband for donkeys years, they like each other have a meal once a week together - they agreed to live a sexless marriage until children were 18, the husband has decided now to leave he had always planned to leave - the woman is now shocked as expected him to stay, he wants to move on with his life and feels now his children are adults he should be allowed to do this. She feels hard done by.

Personally I think it's better to split for everyone's sake, but that's my opinion.

I'm your case, the "why & how" I think is your business and we shouldn't judge, as we don't know.

Personally I hope you do decide to come back and discuss because I think being a step parent can be so bloody lonely and difficult - from what I can gather is that he and DSD moved into your home - where is the child's mother in all of this?

I think you maybe should have given some space to let her collect some things, but what is done is done.

I think you and your DP going to talk to someone together may help (I personally am not great at this sort of thing but it does help some)

I think after that maybe you could talk to your DSD, openly , honestly and calmly to find out what is going on in her head with your DP.

If you love this man, and I have no doubt you do - then it's worth fighting for and the only way to do that is to talk - he needs to give you time to do that. I would not "Spring" it on him, I'd write a letter explain how how you feel, breaking it down piece by piece.

I have a wonderful relationship with my children but it wasn't always easy - I wrote a letter to DP when we were going through a tough time and it was the best thing I ever did. He read it when he was clam, he digested it, he went into his cave to think about it and I gave him space whilst he did this. He understood after reading and our relationship was much much better for it. I was very very careful to write it in "fact" and "I feel" form, not blaming him for my feelings.

I hope that helps on some level, but if writing it all out on here helps do so! i think most people will just want to help you get through this xx flowers xx

Mariannedreams1 Thu 14-Apr-16 22:12:37

Penguin, thank you so much - this has restored my faith in many things.

In the end I DID go out for a walk, to give DP and SD a bit of space when she came back to get more clothes. (And I would have agreed this immediately on Tuesday if it had been asked rather than demanded! I do actually spend quite a bit of time in all these situations, during the last nine months, trying to think of what would be easier for SD)

Things feel better today. DP was very brave last night and said to SD "I will always love you and support you, and I also feel that I am allowed some of my own happiness" and also he and the ex have agreed to meet up and discuss this - in what's been the most friendly exchange since the divorce. Hooray! And he is also meeting SD for lunch on Saturday to talk other things through.

Just to answer your question, DP moved in with me in July 2012 while still funding the family home from this time until Jan 2015, when it was sold. SD was at university all this time, and only moved in with us when she graduated in summer 2015. It was meant to be just for the summer and her doing an internship, but it grew and grew without anyone really asking me, which was hard. Her mother chose to live in Cornwall rather than stay in the family home in London.

We would definitely consider counselling, and when SD is ready to speak to me again, I will try to talk to her.

Chimpfield, I am sorry you had a bad time with your stepmother. Trying to be as objective, which is obviously not totally possible, I think our situation is very different to yours. I don't think of her as a child: I think of her as a highly competent and intelligent young woman, which she is. DP adores her and - as we all hope our parents would - will always see the best in her, which is a very lovely quality.

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