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Divisive adult stepdaughter

TN_Stepmom's picture

I've been reading the blogs and searching for answers. What I have found is validity and support. I'm not alone and it's not personal even though the attacks are. So for those of you that think you've seen it's more.

I have two stepchildren and one daughter ages 21, 18, 17. When I met my husband (and yes we are still married 4+ years now) my SD was 15. Thier mother died. They have an extensive, very involved, family from their mother's side. When my husband married me they blackballed me in our small town and because they were an old established family they had a long reach. I'm talking stores, schools, church doctors other parents ... For the first few years I was treated horribly by MANY people in this community. Not only me but my then 12 year old daughter.

My SD was livid. Too many stunts to name but here are a few:

She wrote chalk notes all over the driveway telling me to go away.
She pulled up flowers my daughter and I planted.
She was mean to my shitzu.
She went to everyone in the community for counseling including clergy, teachers, actual therapists, all of the family's friends and all of my husbands in laws.
She kept poisoning her younger brother opinions.
She was constantly critizing my daughter to her father.
She actually took her senior picture with love letters saved by her mother.
She also did all the very typical things, talk only about pre-me times, isolate her father at every given opportunity, not allow me "to even watch" her at home prom pictures being taken. Cutting me and my daughter out always.
She promised, "If you marry my Dad I will make your life miserable." She said this in front of her Dad and even years later hasn't come off it.
She told everyone she was suicidal while on the teen board and an honor student that was voted two superlatives so had to chose between Most Likely to Suceed and Most Dependable. Very active social life and surrounded by support. She became a PROFESSIONAL VICTIM and was enabled by the entire community.

Here's the topper:
She sued her father. That's right, with the full support of wealthy grandparents she filed a legal suit complete with a guardian ad idem (which she strategized daily) to give her grandparents Co-Parenting rights because he was incompetent. She lined up all the people she had been crying to as witnesses on her behalf. My husband and I were doing everything possible to blend our family in this horrible and hostile environment. We had a family counselor, we did family activities, we had family meetings. I kept things in the house nearly exactly the same for the first 3 years to respect their moms memory. We let her vent. Her meanness went uncorrected by me for 4 years and her father for two.

There was and still is nothing I can ever do that will be good enough for her. And I quote, "she's just not a Talbots kind of woman."

Regretfully, my husbands family, lawyer and shamefully myself talked him into giving her what she wanted to drop the lawsuit. I thought it would hurt my husband more to hear his daughter saying horrible things about him along with all her witnesses that didn't approve of him marrying so soon after wife's death (1yr). I wish I had said go ahead. Expose her for her manipulation. She graduated highschool with honors, teen board, prom, boyfriend, acceptance to a very prestigious school paid for by grandparents but dad does supplement $500 spending money a month, parking passes, storage containers and additional spending money as needed. She just finished a trip overseas hospital assisting. She's a senior in a soririty and is looking at medical schools.

But... She's still as bad as she was initially. I had a light bulb moment during her last conversation which was on speaker phone. She had refused to talk to her father for the past 4-6 weeks because her dared correct her. She is so intelligent she can spin a person into confusion. After an hour of debating her father he was weakening so she went in for the kill... I'll call myself Kate. She starts insisting that she doesn't spend time with him because of Kate. He always wants Kate around and they can only be together when she's not there. Now keep in mind I also have a stepson that I have a wonderful relationship with as well as my daughter and we love doing things as a family. He reminds her that we enjoy being together and she's not around. I'm not around because of her, I love you dad but...

Lightbulb moment. I step in and speak.

You love him CONDITIONLY! On your terms or none. On your terms or you will sue him. On your terms or you're not coming home for Christmas. On your terms or else... Her response was typical, this is a private conversation between me and my dad. Im not from your womb!
My response, I know that's right or you would behave a lot better than you do!

My husband is committed to his family and his marriage. He sees this as a sad indication that his daughter is cutting herself out of our new family by demanding moments of alone time (which he has always given she just wants all his time) instead of unifying time with a new family that in no way wants to replace her old one. It's painful for everyone but it comes down to ACCECTANCE. Acceptance of the path you choose and accepting the paths our love ones chose even when it's away from us.


Acratopotes's picture

ding ding you win the award of worst SD..... :jawdrop: :jawdrop:

I would never stay with SO if this happened to me

TN_Stepmom's picture

It's an unfortunate award I wish I could give back lol. I love my husband and she gave me fair warning. I just have to let it go but it's hard. When she senses I'm at peace she will kick something up and I have to start over

Acratopotes's picture

disengage Hon, never show her she hit the right button....

that ticks them off even more and they get worse but then Daddy starts seeing it....

TN_Stepmom's picture

That's great advise. I will try it. I'm usually successful until she attacks my daughter or her father. I'm a protector by nature

TN_Stepmom's picture

In fairness maybe he was in the beginning. But he has learned as we all do. He just spent 4-6 weeks with her giving him silent treatment without contacting her because he sees she is wrong. It's never easy losing a child even when their is troubled and choosing her own path out of some kind of self righteousness

TN_Stepmom's picture

He did endlessly it just makes her madder. One night after midnight this summer when she home (and we both had to work next day) she came into our bedroom to blast me about "You're not a mother" just out of the blue. It was crazy. My husband went head to head with her explaining all the ways I was besides the obvious daughter of my own. It went on so long with him calmly explaining and self righteous indignation trembling with rage and crying. I told them to leave and discuss it but my husband refused. He wanted me to know what he said.

JustAgirl42's picture

Has she ever had any counseling to deal with the death of her mother and being able to accept that her father's life won't end because of it?

TN_Stepmom's picture

An endless supply of counseling has been provided to her. She had her private coulee for a year before we switched to family counseling to work on blending. She also met with the clergy at church where we were married and her father was a longstanding member. So much so that the husband/wife ministers that also gave us private premarital counseling (which came back great) were divided because the female minister said she had been counseling SD and would have no part of our ceremony. Her husband avidly disagreed and performed the ceremony. Since then SD immediately quit counseling with them because it didn't work. The female minister did apologize. We ended up switching churches anyway because after the lawsuit was filed the grandparents started attending and it made the kids chose who to sit with.

TN_Stepmom's picture

Am I not doing the same thing then? Making my husband choose? I agree that I don't need or want to hear about her drama and schematics but saying she can't be in my company is the same thing she's doing.

not2sureimsaneanymore's picture

There is a flaw in your interpretation of this principle.

Everyone has the right to decide if they do not want someone who hurts them (real or imagined) in their presence--your SD does as well as you. And sometimes, unfortunately, it has to be a choice between the lesser of the two evils to achieve a life of more peace than what you have currently.

You can, of course, remain the martyr and suffer for the rest of your life over a principle you believe you want to uphold (to not be like you SD in making your DH choose) but she's already making him choose.

You, however, are not--by removing yourself from her presence but NOT demanding your DH do the same is apples and oranges to what she's doing. She wants both herself and your DH to leave you--you only want to remove yourself without forcing your DH one way or the other. This is why you would not be doing what your SD is doing.

TN_Stepmom's picture

You're right thank you. I'm not hurting her or attacking her. I certainly don't want to be a martyr. And sounds a whole lot better than putting up with it

LONGTIME SM's picture

Not2sure.... Your comment "Everyone has the right to decide if they do not want someone who hurts them (real or imagined) in their presence--your SD does as well as you. And sometimes, unfortunately, it has to be a choice between the lesser of the two evils to achieve a life of more peace than what you have"

Really helps reaffirm my own situation I'm dealing with right now. Thanks for saying it so eloquently.

TN_Stepmom's picture

I'm trying to be fair and honest here. For most people a year and a half is not long enough. However, she died from a prolonged terminal illness that had no other outcome. And we broke up briefly to see if it was for the best but things never changed only got worse. My husband is in the medical field and had been grieving the entire time. It's unfortunate that you make the same assumption as most people in this community. My husband is not a cheater! Not on me or his first wife. We never met before. I never knew him or his wife. We are just old enough to know a good thing. She continues to act this way 7 years almost after her moms death and nearly 5 years of our marriage. SHE CHOSES TO REMAIN A VICTIM BECAUSE OF THE ATTENTION SHE GETS. THATS WHAT I MEAN BY, PROFESSIONAL VICTIM. People are finally growing tired of the same old song and dance.

TN_Stepmom's picture

Of course, excuse my sensivity please. People here do know the illness was prolonged with an inevitable conclusion. We managed to take two teens devastated by the loss of their mother and one transplanted into a hostile environment and turn out two very successful college students. My stepson started rowing because of my daughter and my influence. He now row for a D1 school that is very tough to get into. My daughter is a junior in highschool and an honor student and rower as well who will probably also get a D1 scholarship. For a parent and stepparent that was sued for incompetence I'd say we have knocked it out of the park in just 5years of turbulence. And by the way, my husband and I have had little support until recently.

ntm's picture

He needs to disengage from these conversations. As soon as you come up, he needs to let her know the conversation is over.

She walks in the door and walks into your room and announces that you are not a mother, he tells her to leave. The more he engages, the more it encourages her behavior.

Spending an hour on the phone defending you, while admirable, is counter-productive. "I will not listen to you say these egregious things about my wife. When you are ready to have a civil conversation, please call me."

Thumper's picture

The mothers family is NUTS....SD is just doing what they did. You said the community had a far reach and for a lack of better words shunned and branded you.

And your husband although had full legal control over his kids, had put up with utter contempt about you from his former inlaws.

It would have been better to leave that town in the dust and moved 100's if not a thousand miles from those crazy people.

Since dh wont set proper boundaries, you can. It is hard to forget what you experienced and I can tell you some families are just like your DH's former inlaws. They are not as few and far between as you may think. What your sd did also fits the mold very nicely..again not uncommon. But few people talk about it.

What you wrote about is usually seen in Pathogenic parenting dynamics.

Remember you are the captin of your ship, not your dh, surly not his adult kids and most diffently now his former inlaws and their flying monkeys.

TN_Stepmom's picture

My husband came in briefly before going to the cabin. I've been home sick today. After checking on me, he asked what I've been doing. So I showed him my blog and your responses. He paid close attention and even laughed about flying monkeys. He ended with a thumbs up and a I support you. That's why we stay

Disillusioned's picture

It's amazing that you have such great support, so many SM's don't, so happy for you for that. Next step maybe is to speak with a counselor with or without your SD, for a professional opinion on how to move forward

Your SD may feel remarriage one year later was too quick, but who can say really what the timeline is for that? Is it not also about her father, his healing?

Regardless, the SD needs help in growing up, and getting a grip...and you and your DH need support in coping with it all as well

Rogue's picture

At least your husband is standing up for u. Mine is a spineless wuss! Feeling sorry for his daughter cause shes been through so much! Bloody hell, shes not the only one from a broken family. They divorced 11 years ago! They cant blame her bad manners and crap on that! Damn I hate my SD

Is_What_It_Is's picture

I agree with some of what the others have said - and not to heap coals on your DH but he really did allow this (or at least his daughters treatment of you) to happen. But it sounds like he is now seeing and understanding what his Dd is doing to you and is making changes in his behavior. This may have been stated previously and I just missed it - but have you ever sat down with her as woman to woman and air your dirty laundry - or have a come to glory meeting? Such as telling her that you're not there to replace her mother, she had a mother but rest her soul, she's no longer there. You are only there as an adult to help guide them into adulthood and you will not put up with her bad behavior and if you have to, you will address her bad behavior anywhere and in front of anyone? And tell her to think of things from her fathers perspective - he has dealt with sickness and the passing of their mother, he has worked through more crap and harder work (potentially 2-3 jobs) than anyone to keep their family going and needs met. He was exhausted, he needed help and companionship, it is difficult to lose a spouse and have youngish kids to raise.

My situation is very similar to yours - without all the court drama though. Even though the mothers family may be influential in that small town, keep living with dignity, integrity, and excellence. Moving out of town was not an option for us - but I can say that time tells all things and lots of things done in private eventually come out in public. People will start to see things as they really are. If Sd is really that psycho she cant be that successful and keep up the charade for that long.

As for Dh giving money for spending, parking passes, miscellaneous spending - why? She graduated high school and wants to be a twit - she is no longer on your dime. Being from TN surely you have heard of Dave Ramsey. Get Dh in board with that - he is in a way enabling her bad behavior due to him still forking over wads of cash - even though she is extremely disrespectful to his wife. That may jerk a bit of a knot in her tail. Hugs to you.

TN_Stepmom's picture

I have sat down and tried to reason with her. I moved into her home and didn't change anything for three years out of respect for her feelings about her mom. Asked what favorite dishes her mom made, talked about special memories of hers and reassured her that I was just there to help not replace but she just wouldn't accept me in any form. She has no concern for her dad. She says she could help him and until me he did encourage that. He let her grocery shop, furniture shop and make decision about her brother who was only 3 years younger. She told him when to do his homework, brush his teeth, go to her opinion they don't need me.

ChiefGrownup's picture

My mother married 18 months after my father suddenly passed away. I was 12. She did not cheat by any stretch of the imagination. Adults can and do make perfectly sound decisions about moving on.

Nobody gave me grief counseling. I stumbled along like every other human being.

I guarantee I was not unkind or disrespectful to my stepfather. Here's why:

1) it was UNTHINKABLE to treat adults like that

2) it just wasn't in me to be hating and aggressive. why would I hate him?

Which isn't to say I didn't have deep grief, insecurity, and a whole host of intense feelings. I just never thought about taking it out on him.

This girl has been enabled to grow into a monster by her gps and her community and to some extent her dad and even yourself. Undoubtedly, everyone's intentions were good, especially yours. You thought bending way over and so forth would be the right thing to do.

But the best thing this girl needs is boundaries. My husband has promised me at age 18 I can treat my own monster sd as an adult, which I will hold him to in 42 weeks. In the meantime I've put up a barbed wire boundary which she approaches at her peril.

At 21, yours is long since a legal adult. Daddy should cut off the funds for a litigant who sues him, not a daughter who loves him. She can work for spending money like millions her age work for tuition and living expenses.

He should also say, "You're my darling baby, my first born, I will always love you. But you need to do some growing up on your own now. It's an important step for all sons and daughters. Starting with you treat my home and my marriage with respect. Period."

Then, as someone upthread said, he needs to cut off any attempt by her to get him into the ring. She can shadow box all she wants, on her time. He will be busy having a happy life and raising productive younger kids.

The lawsuit is a giant giant giant dealbreaker. That young ADULT needs some tough love.

TN_Stepmom's picture

Thank you so much. Your similarity to my situation has been an eye opener. I keep rehashing ways she has tormented my daughter and I without punishment. We went to a favorite vacation place of me and my daughter. We agreed to let her take her boyfriend. She was seventeen at the time and my daughter was 13. She spent the entire trip sabatoging every bit of time my husband and I were together but the worst was the crabbing. My daughter is very soft hearted and thought crabbing was cruel. So I separated us from the group who wouldn't stop regardless of my daughters tears. We had no choice but to ride back with them and their catch. SD kept talking about all the things she was going to do to the crabs just to torture my daughter. When we got back to the condo I ushered my crying daughter to her room to calm down and get away. My husband came in while I was comforting her and I blasted him with how inappropriate his daughter was being. Before he could leave his daughter runs into the room holding a crab and thrusting it in my daughters face. My husband did get her out of the room but spent the evening with them laughing at their antics. That was my biggest moment of second guessing my choice. It took us a while to recuperate from that vacation and the feelings still linger. I really believe my husband has seen the light since then but he still makes mistakes. If we have an argument he tells her about it and to me that feels like betrayal. Only this past summer has he come to see my point of view. I'm super protective of my daughter when she's around and even my dogs. She has this super fake personality for everyone else. But she's shows herself to me and my daughter. I don't trust her at all. I want my husband to have a relationship with her just away from me and my daughter. She's broken and warped and self righteous and sometimes I wonder if she's a sociopath.

TN_Stepmom's picture

He is learning not to do that. He hasn't done it in nearly a year to my knowledge. He does the same thing to my daughter or his son. Anyone that's around really if I get mad at him he involves other people. We are working on that. He really is improving daily. We both are learning to communicate better. If there was nothing to work with I wouldn't be here. I'm striving for the 80/20 rule. 80% compatible and in sync to the 20% differences. We are getting there. He has to accept my idiosyncrasies too and there are many. It would be a real setback if he showed this to his SD. Right now she's not talking to him again because he defends me. He says she's working her way out of our lives with these tricks but it saddens him as to be expected.

TN_Stepmom's picture

I am done with her. I am totally disengaging and my daughter is to although she was never involved with her just one of her targets. I don't want to know anything or hear any conversations or even play nice if she does decide to visit. Her father can have his relationship with her but it doesn't involve me or my daughter not even for discussion. I have no hope for her changing as its been 5 years and she's 21 now and still acting the same. I guess my biggest fear was how it would affect the rest of this family. My SS and I get along great and we continue getting closer even though he's at school now. He calls and we talk just as often as he calls his father.

But she's never going to come around. It doesn't matter what I do or don't do. And her mean girl stunts just continue. I hope my marriage can survive this. My husband says he's fully committed to our marriage and future.

Acratopotes's picture

it's possible to disengage from one skid and not the other....

if DH talks about his wonderful daughter, pretend to listen and nod your head and say mmmmm aahhh now and again.

SS treats you like a human and with respect, so why should you treat him any differently...

ChiefGrownup's picture

1. Your marriage CAN survive this. It sounds like you are both trying and he sounds a decent fellow. I think the 80/20 rule is perfect. Sounds like you are mostly there.

But, as great a guy as he is, your husband has had some serious blind spots with his firstborn. NEVER discuss your marriage speed bumps with kids. NEVER. He has made a mini-wife of her. Very bad. If he wants to spill his guts like that and there's nothing wrong with that, he needs to cultivate an adult male buddy. Or join a forum as you have done.

My sd has never seen a single tense moment between her dad and me. We are united and strong in her presence at all times.

Next, I am disengaged (mostly) from my SD. But I am quite engaged with my adorable SS. It works fine. When I do engage with SD17, 9 times out of 10 is to protect SS from her. She has cut way back on her bullying of him because she knows I will slice and dice her. My husband supports me in this. He often seems incapable of noticing her bad behavior on his own or its impact, but if I speak up he will back me up. If we need to talk about it later behind closed doors, she never sees that.

Last, the one thing your marriage cannot survive is you being eaten alive by this girl. Your resentment and your depression (which are both inevitable) will kill your marriage. So you must defend yourself.

My situation is far from ideal but so much better when I dropped my husband's policy of treating her with kid gloves and always keeping an open heart. I tried it his way for a certain amount of time then no more. I felt cannibalized and miserable. He could not ask any more of me.

So now SD and I have no relationship whatsoever. I do next to nothing for her. I plan birthday parties for her brother and make certain she is not invited (she will ruin it). Any more I rarely even get in the car if she will be in it.

I've had to accept my dh simply cannot understand how to nurture this girl into a decent human and he's had to accept that I won't ever be the doormat to her that her parents seem to enjoy being. So, yeah, 80/20. Detente.

Which is far, far better than unmitigated oppression and harassment. No, you and your marriage cannot survive those.