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Update: Helping teen stepdaughter adjust here

stepping up to stepmother's picture

Update to my previous blog post.

SD sees the Christian school as punishment. It's a huge hurdle in working towards establishing any kind of trust or cooperation with her. But her father sees it as a last chance effort to put her in a more protective supervised environment where she can turn her academics around.

SD was getting involved with older teens, she craved their attention so much to the point where she was allowing herself to be sexually exploited. She looks older than 15, and she would lie to boys saying she's anywhere from 17 to 19 years old. DH took her phone away because she was using online dating sites pretending to be older. She's not allowed to have a phone now, and she is only allowed Internet access on our family room computer which has parental blocking software.

DH has taken the lead, but when he's at work, then it falls on me to deal with her. I'm trying to be there for her, listen to her, and empathize as best I know how. It's difficult when she feels I'm just here to enforce her father's rules.

I've asked her about counseling and she resists anytime I bring it up. She thinks whatever she tells them will be used by us as more of a reason to restrict her freedom. Her father thinks she will eventually start to soften up towards counseling at the school because they are aware of her situation and are willing to work with her.

Up to this point from everything I've observed, I think she's going to really resent her father initially, but I'm hoping she will calm down as time goes on. School is starting soon and she throws a fit about it every time the subject comes up. 



ESMOD's picture

I think the message can be that you understand that it's hard to make changes but that her father just wants to help her live her best life and wants to help her reach her potential.  That he was scared and concerned by the things that she was getting involved in at her prior school and that he wants to give her the chance to succeed and get back on a more productive tract.  That she has such potential and he doesn't want to see it wasted.

She also hasn't actually gone to this new school right.  So.. it's "I know it may not be exactly what you are used to but it might surprise you.. I'm sure you will meet kids and it won't be strange and different forever."  Your dad wants to try this for now and if he sees your grades improve and other issues get resolved, he may be open to discussing other options. 

Basically, "yeah, change can be scary but everything is new to us at one point or another.. all we can do sometimes is make the best of our situation.  Just because something is different doesn't mean it will be bad."

stepping up to stepmother's picture

I definitely am going to try your messaging advice with her. It strikes a positive empathetic tone, is hopeful about the future, and doesn't allow her to use what I may personally think as justification to turn around to her father and say I agree with her over him. Thank you!

Disneyfan's picture

I hope you and your husband realize that kids Christian schools deal with the same social issues that public schools deal with.

There will be sex crazed kids in the new school.  Alcohol, drugs and poor grades will be an issue.  There will be a bad crowd at the new school. The new friends she make will help her gain access to the internet.  

Don't the let the fresh pressed uniforms, forced prayers, strict code of conduct....lore you into a false sense of security.

stepping up to stepmother's picture


I agree with all that you said. No school in particular is immune from social issues. I think I'm more sensitive to your points than my DH is, unfortunately. We have met parents with kids at the new school, and from what they've said, the small church based community along with upfront parental buy in to the rules of conduct and discipline allows staff and teachers to assert authority without fear of parent pushback.

Parents sign acknowledgments to support staff in asserting authority and enforcing rules. Parents also agree upfront not to automatically assume a student's grievance is true without first consulting with the school. The Christian school she's going to has a much less permissive culture than her previous public school. DH has really bought into that, thinking it will reorient her behavior. I'm more hesitant, and concerned this type of environment might be too much too fast. I personally think it more likely works for kids who've been going to this or similar schools from the start, but SD hasn't experienced anything like this before. 

stepping up to stepmother's picture

The required uniform is a lightening rod issue for SD. She hates it. And  I have to take her to pick them up this week. 

fourbrats's picture

went to Catholic private school per their dad's request. There were kids having sex in the bathroom, smoking pot, attending parties, there was drama, and all of the same things that come with public school. Actually there may have been more of those behaviors compared to public school. They still had internet access and yes, the kids know how to get around the blocks at school. 

Is your SD a Christian? My kids are not Catholic and they were not particularly happy attending Catholic school. They were academically minded and did very well but it also pushed them further from religion. 

advice.only2's picture

Lol right, I had a friend in highschool whose family was very wrapped up in the baptist church, and she was heavily involved in the youth group and boy was she a mess. She drank, did drugs and slept with a ton of guys, but her parents were totally fooled that she was this meek good christian girl.

fourbrats's picture

in college and we would attend nationals in New York every year. Here we were just normal public community college and university students just doing normal college things (yes drinking happened) and then would come the kids from places like BYU. Oh boy! They did everything to excess. Drinking, smoking, drugs, sex, lots and lots of sex. It was nuts. We used to call it "Mormons Gone Wild." 

advice.only2's picture

To be fair and honest your SD has been raised in chaos her whole life, to her that is normal.

For you and DH trying to show her normal and make her understand that this is somehow better for her isn't really going to work the way you hope. Right now SD is incapable of understanding how the life you want her to live is better than the one she was living before.

Really the critical time when you could have made a huge difference is past. At this point all you can do is limp along and hope that a few things sink in before she runs away back into that lifestyle.

We got custody of my DH's daughter when she was 10, we fought in and out of court with Meth Mouth for 7 years until Spawn aged out and she ran right back into Meth Mouth's bony arms because drugs, drinking and dysfunction was what she was weaned on and understood the best.

notarelative's picture

. Her father thinks she will eventually start to soften up towards counseling at the school because they are aware of her situation and are willing to work with her.

Her dad needs to realize that a school counselor (here at least) is mostly concerned with the child maintaining academics. As long as the child functions in school, as far as they are concerned, all is good.

I've asked her about counseling and she resists anytime I bring it up. She thinks whatever she tells them will be used by us as more of a reason to restrict her freedom.

SD is concerned with good reason. Most school counselors are certified not licensed, so legal privilege does not apply.

If she were my SD, I'd insist that her dad take her to a licensed counselor who would explain confidentiality  (legal privilege) to her, with both dad and her in the room. Dad would then leave the room and not return to a session until invited by SD. SD might be more amenable to counseling if she knew what was said would be kept between her and the counselor.