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Adult step daughters

kathryn2009's picture

Hi, I have just gotten married after a five year dating relationship. I have three adult daughters; 24, 20 and 19. My husband has two adult daughters; 22 and 20. His 22 yr old hasn't spoken to him since she was 12 so she has never been an issue, but the 22 year old and my girls are really an issue. I am lost on what exactly to expect from him in terms of rules and guidelines, etc...We both now have resentment and issues between us because of the children. I went from "she won't speak to you because she's just shy and that way, be patient." To " Well I don't see you trying to have a relationship with her" to " I don't see what the problem is, she's going off to college now and a non-issue". My girls get along great with him and they have an ongoing relationship, laughter, arguments, advice, activities etc...But his daughter won't speak to any of us and certainly won't particpate in anything whatsoever. When I say she won't speak to me I mean I have never heard her say my name once. If he is around and I ask her something I may get a one word answer. She just went away to college and he says its' a non-issue. He chooses to ignore the whole thing and won't discuss anything with her. I think its largely out of fear that she will stop speaking to him. She has done it before for 6 mos or more at a time and it kills him. I feel like he should make her be polite, invite her to things, include all of us in events, talk to her about it, etc...Since we got married a couple months ago the situation has escalated now where he regularly bashes my girls. This gets old really quickly ecspecially since anything with his daughter is completely off limits. It seems in a way that he is on one hand resentful of my open and regular steady relationship with all of my girls and so now he is wanting to sort of 'compete'. He says things like 'well at least my daughter doesn't do such and such' , etc...The things he bashes my daughters about are personal things too, like things that don't really have anything to do with him or affect him at all. He bashes them for their choices in boyfriends, schooling, jobs, etc...relentlessly. And all of this behind their backs and I'm just supposed to listen to him be hateful and agree or whatever and let him beat a dead horse and go on and on and on about them and how imperfect they are. What is this and what the hell am I supposed to do about it? Recently he went out of state to visit his mother and we were supposed to go (not my kids, just me and his daughter) and at the last minute I was uninvited. I thought at first, well better off, tension is high when one of the people in the car won't speak to another. I personally allmost hate her now. But he won't discuss her or her life or giving her money, etc...with me at all. He is secretive. What should I do? I'm going crazy and getting so hateful and resentful now. I can't sleep at night! Anyone? Ideas?

KittyKat's picture

My H and I have been together for 7 years, married for just over 4. He has three adult Ds (now 30, 29, 26), and did they ever hate ME when we first got together. They still don't really like me, but I have learned (largely due to this site) to just ignore them and live my own life.

The part that really hit a nerve is bashing YOUR kids. My H just started doing that last year with my D (now 17 and pretty much lives with us full time)....he resents having her here, and it is becoming a major issue. She is a very athletic, popular, honor roll students, never has caused any problems. She can keep her room messy, but if told about it, she'll clean it up. (I was a teenager once, too, and I know I didn't have the cleanest room in the world).

Where I am now, K, is that I just let the chips fall where they may anymore. BUT, if he is picking on MY kid, there is NO WAY IN HELL I am going to play "happy couple" in front of his kids. One of them wants to come here in a few weeks with her SO...and I told H, there is no way I'm sitting here entertaining them and making them feel at "home" when you treat MY daughter like you wish she'd just move out already. (That's the way he thinks...she is here too much and we don't have any "privacy"...if that were true, I'd admit it, but it's not. Of course now it's summer, so she's here more than during the school year.)

And, I'm sticking to my guns. If his daughter comes here expecting dinner and conversation, I'll go to the movies or make plans with my OWN daughter. And, thanks a lot to this site, that's how I've learned to handle things. Not with "emotion", but just practically....I used to get upset and feel "hurt" when I wasn't invited ("daddy" only!!), but now I just pretend they don't exist. Fortunately, due to their ages, the constant annoying phone calls and whining has simmered a bit. But, in the end, they are NOT "my kids"...they are HIS. My daughter does not act as they do, so I cannot compare them.

Don't let them upset you. I'm sure your kids are wonderful, and he is resentful that they didn't talk to him for years so he "missed out" on all the great experiences YOU are now having. (Long story, but that is the issue with my H). Don't feel guilty!! But, I am sure this site will help you immensely!

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."-Eleanor Roosevelt

kathryn2009's picture

Thank you. Yeah, I feel better already having read all these postings! I feel so not alone for one! And yes, my youngest daughter has just moved in with us, she was trying it with her biol. dad for the last year and a half. And she is home more because of the summer, etc...too. But heres' the thing too, how much of her life do you involve him with? I mean, the bashing of my kids all the time has made me think, I will not tell him what they are doing and saying, their lives anymore. Its an instinct I think. I hate that it has to be that way. And my kids have no idea. They are only bothered by the fact that "princess" as they privately refer to her, (his daughter) won't ever come around and he won't make her. In fact, my two older children have never even laid eyes on her once in five long years. My youngest met her four years ago when I took her camping with us so they could meet thinking it would be wonderful and the little brat ignored her and me ABSOLUTELY THE ENTIRE WEEKEND! It was awful. They are all around the same age and in college too and could have such fun and things in common, but noooo, here we are. I just think he should have stepped up to the plate a long time ago and now even more since we are actually married. What will happen down the road? You know? Marriages, grandchildren, God forbid- funerals, etc....We eloped secretly one weekend since I knew it would be horrific tension and misery at a wedding. Anyway, thanks again and PS) I always say that Eleanor R. quote to my girls and here I need it! hahahhahahahha And PPS) Don't you think this would be a WHOLE different EASY ball game if they were BOYS instead of girls???!!!

KittyKat's picture

OMG, so did we for the same reasons....not MY family, but HIS "girls"!! And, of course, one of them DID have the nerve to call him for something ridiculous. (How DARE daddy go away with another girl??!! Ha ha!!)

Luckily, two of them ARE now married (I guess they realized "daddy" wasn't coming back...), and it's been much better. I was invited to both showers and weddings, but it would have looked cheesy on THEIR parts if they did NOT invite me.

And, K, I had those same "dreams" of "one big happy family"; I was thrilled that my daughter would have "big sisters" and that my son (24) would have "siblings" his own age. None of that happened. I tried, and I know H tried, too, but personalities are TOO ESTABLISHED (in our case anyway), and you can't make other people want to share in YOUR dream.

I really tried with my SDs, as they had it rough. Their mom (with whom I DO get along, although I rarely see her....I met her at one D's shower, and she was very cordial to me) left for another man when they were teens, and she was estranged from them for a long time. NOW they have a relationship with her, but their teen years were horrible. THAT'S why I know my H is resentful of my D....her MOM is here and hands on, his D's mom was working on her "new" relationship and the D's were not welcome to live with her and her new H.

And, K, as sorry as I am over that, in reality, it is not MY PROBLEM. They are now well into adulthood, if they have issues with it, they are old enough to seek counseling, etc. And, yes, I think it is more difficult with girls. As I said, in my case, I felt as if I stole someone's BOYFRIEND when I met my H. They DID NOT want another "girl" in daddy's life. And, since two of them ARE married now, it is better in that area.

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."-Eleanor Roosevelt

Mystery23's picture


I am 26 year old stepdaughter. I think she felt so pushed out and to be honest with your two girls she maybe thougth she was not daddy girl no more. The closest he had with u and daughters really probably made her feel out of place. So she probably kept everything to herself.
She probably felt unloved from her father and now maybe he realises his mistake. Infact its probably not u or your daughters just maybe he want them to have time on their own. Did they have many times one on one with each other?
I just think as he was doing stuff with you and the girls and now he is not your nose is out of joint. Realise her pain to be honest. Maybe she resents u for all this.
I am not trying to be funny but maybe he got lost in his fun with and your sisters he didn't think about her. So maybe now he just want to build his relationship with her and keep quiet. I don't think its any of your business what money he gives her. This is probably what she wanted to be involved with u and your daughters just him.
Maybe you try and talk to her and tell her she is apart of the family aswell. Maybe she don't feel like she is.

stepblu's picture

This made me laugh... my SD's comment was... it was MY money before it was YOURS! Funny how wrong she could be since more than half of our money at that time I brought into the marriage. That was several years ago, I'm still fighting to keep her 24 year old paws out of my purse.

Jackie.Myers's picture

To Mystery23,
With all due respect --- This is a forum "where stepparents come to vent." Stepparents. Stepparents are here to support each other. We have heard the stepkid's point of view ad nauseum. I am sure there are stepchild/adult stepchild forums somewhere, but this one isn't it.


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

kathryn2009's picture

Well I have alot to say on this Mystery. I appreciate your posting your position and thoughts and respect that. There are some real possible issues in your words for me I guess, but I don't think my situation is exactly there. Ecspecially because we are talking about adults here, not seven year olds. Since I met him she was 15 years old. And I have tried sooo hard to talk to her. She won't speak to me. She won't even stay in the same room with me for longer that 10 minutes. When we have gone hunting together she puts headphones on for the long truck ride and stays asleep or eyes closed the entire trip. Here is the thing Mystery; I don't resent him giving her money really at all because he doesn't do it too often and it really is his choice in my opinion as long as it doesn't completely break us or something like that, although AMEN to the sister above 'StepAside' with regard to the legal side of things and the ETHIC involved, nearly as much as I resent this:
If I ever give my children ONE LITTLE THING (such as buying tampons or helping with cost of college books or clothing occasionally, and I mean OCCASIONALLY not as a RULE or NORM that happens all the time, I get my *** chewed out. And mostly the issue is that he is sooo vocal about my kids and their choices and my choices with and for them and everything; yet, his daughter and his choices and her choices and things going on in her life are ABSOLUTELY OFF LIMITS. How could any of us ever possibly get 'close' to her when he is guarding her and allowing her to act like a spoiled child all the time. The actions now that occur, such as him going on trips with her alone, dinner alone, etc...are the result of years of trying and giving up finally on both our parts I think.
However, I resent most of all, the fact that he won't even talk about her with me now or relate any information or circumstances hardly at all and on the occasion that he does, I am only allowed to process the information quietly with a smile. NO COMMENT, SUGGESTION, QUESTIONS, OR DISCUSSION ALLOWED BABY! That just kills me. Try and think about it like this. I am running a checkbook where I pay bills, expenses, etc....we both use it regularly. I discover last week some weird $300 transfer to some account that we don't have. Before I call the bank to claim FRAUD I text him at work. "honey, do you know anything about this...etc...??" After THREE DAMN HOURS (which is a total headgame) he writes back. Yes I did it and whats the $53 charge to the grocery store in the town of your mothers nursing home?????? NOW, Finally I get it out of him that he gave her money by transferring it to her account and thats what the $300 was. NO problem, but did we have to go through the whole secret thing, not write it in the checkbook, trying to make me feel guilty for buying my mom some supplies at the grocery store, total defensive bull-shit???!! No. We didn't, but we did anyway cuz thats the way some men are with their princess daughters. Had he just said, "hey I transferred some cash to my daughter last week in case you come across the charge when you are balancing the checkbook etc.." there would have been no problem. I would have either asked how much so I could write it in or just looked it up online to add it. But the fact that he went through it that way and tried to act like I spent too much money at the store was sooo ridiculous etc..
I have tried to put myself in her shoes and thoughts and feelings many times. And maybe she could be jealous that I have girls and she has been the only one for so long. I see that, but five years honey??? PA-LEEEZE. And he doesn't do anything with my kids that she isn't invited to, doesn't know about, or whatever.
She can't possibly feel out of place when she acts too good to do anything with any of us. She put herself in this isolation and my problem is that HE ENABLES AND ENCOURAGES IT! Instead of trying to include everyone and be a team. She is twenty years old, refuses to work, has never worked and he has no problem with it, however the kicker is that when my kids have been in between jobs on occasion or whatever, (my two older ones are 20 and 24 and I haven't supported them in a long time) HE comes unglued and does nothing but gripe and complain about them and how they live their lives, etc..
Imagine you are married and you talk to your husband everyday about your job, the dog, the kids, your health, your friends, etc...And he does the same. You both support each other and get along for the most part and carry on a healthy relationship where you are involved in each others pains, struggles, goals, values, successes, achievements, etc...Then all the sudden one of you decides one of the areas of your life (the biggest one) is OFF LIMITS for the other person. Oh, but that area in the other partners life is up for all kinds of ridicule and criticism. Say for example all the sudden he couldn't discuss my job, yet I was allowed to bash his regularly. "You and your ridiculous banker job!...I don't know how you can do it. Its just beyond me. That job is just a failure and a ridiculous way to live....But my salesperson job is just fantastic. At least I don't have to stoop as low as your job, at least my job pays more...etc..." Just imagine it honey. It IS NOT CONDUCIVE TO A GOOD RELATIONSHIP. Its almost a DEAL BREAKER to me! And for the record I have blamed myself, examined myself, questioned myself, but you CANNOT have a relationship with someone who is unwilling. You cannot play a damn game of tennis all by yourself. And HE is the only one in the position to make a difference here and talk with her and continue to try and include her and so forth and he refuses. Again, its' almost a deal breaker for me, it may be one pretty soon if something doesn't change. Along the lines of what Stepaside says above, you marry a man to share his life with him and he the same for you. I don't know how old you are honey, but I doubt when you get married and the man you marry pulls this number on you, that you will feel so like "coddle her, think about her feelings, maybe she's JEALOUS and feels left out...." Oh no, it will be a whole different ball game. A parent who singles out a child and enables them to be so spoiled and self absorbed and not responsible for their own actions and face their own consequences certainly won't be able to take this kind of shit in a marriage.

kathryn2009's picture

Thanks for your comments and the book insight. I guess thats it. And I've never read that book. OBVIOUSLY I need to get it. I mean, his daughter lived with him and then later us for a while and both times she just waited until he went to work when she was mad at him and he came home to find her room empty and not phone call, nothing. Both times after months of trying , begging, emailing, calling her and leaving messages on the cell phone that he pays for she finally graced him with a little moment of her time.....just when she needed money or something from him. It is awful and heartbreaking to watch. I guess I just have to resign to the staying out of her life part, fine....but the issue of my children from my previous marriage and him bashing them so much is another one. I just think maybe I need to try as hard as I can to keep him out of the loop with them, but they really enjoy him, their own father is a piece of work so he presents some normal type relationship. They don't know how badly he harps on their choices and behaviors, etc...I'm just in a quandry about that one.

kathryn2009's picture

Thank you, that is helpful. I am certain he won't read anything if I bring it up in the context of his daughter and their relationship and mine. Rather than lie or be manipulative I will buy the book and read it myself. Perhaps he will see it and wonder why and maybe even pick it up or ask me about it which will open the dialogue. Cross fingers and thanks again!

no fairytale's picture

I SO understand where you are coming from.. My fiance has two grown children 22 yr girl and 23 yr old boy.. My boys are 16 and 13 and live with us.
His daughter can do no wrong!!! He actually compares my 16yr old and her together. If she does do something and I bring it to his attention he will turn it around on my 16yr old. I have reminded him time and time again that she is a grown child and the 16yr old is a minor and he can not compare them. He disagrees and tells me she is still his child and in her last semester of college (because she is now a 5 year college student.. and no not for anything special just because she is lazy so she is not an adult.
Well we have had so many fights about the way she treats me and him and he gives me the same excuses.
1. she feels bad for her mom because she sees what we have and her mom does not. (the Ex got the house and everything in it when they got divorced 9 years ago and still has not re-financed the house so ruining his credit)
2. She has not dealt with the divorce (it has been 9 years..and it was not a nasty divorce)
3. She is a girl
4. He feels bad that he got divorced and is guilty. (Most parents are)
He can defend her for anything...
So we have not spoken for almost a week due to somethings his daughter said to me considering she feels she can say whatever, whenever she wants to.
We finally began talking again on Saturday and I swear not 15mins later she called cause she was in town and was mad at her brother and mother so he invited her down to us.. (does no one see the pattern she fights with EVERYONE) but he defended her saying brother and mother always pick on her.
So, I had to bite my tongue and put up with her and her boyfriend all day Sunday.

What gets me the most is the things he expects from my children that his children did not have to do at their age.. (pay for car insurance, work part time, clean)

So, YES I really do understand where you are coming from!! Good luck

Mystery23's picture

Hi kathryn2009,

It must be very hurtful for u that your sd won't speak to u but if she don't want to then leave her. Your Oh must know why she is like that towards u but will not say why.
If she wants a separate time with her father that u got to try and accept it. Its not easy thought when maybe he got an arrangment with her and it spoils maybe something u have planned.
I can't tell u why she like that towards u but all I can say is one day she may speak to u about her reason for not liking u or your daughters.
If your younger daughter is living with u then at some point she will realise he is resenting her. I can't remember if u said they all lives with u. This is something that really u need to speak to him about. Plus that its unfair u cannot speak about his daughter.
Otherwise your marriage will end.
I can understand all the secrets that get to you aswell but that probably something your Sd knows will cause problems and dont rise to it.

My experience with my stepmum was good when I met very young then as I grew felt the resentment I was the only girl. She had a son from previous relationship. I went through a stage where I myselt didn't want to chat to my stepmum at all as she upset me.
I was 22 when I gave my stepmum the silent treatment couldn't put up with her anymore. All I can say she went behing my back trying to find out stuff about me. Then my friend accidently while talking to her informed her I had been to the doctors and she moaned at me when I rang why didn't I tell her. For me it was its not her business and the fact I had even told my father certain things aswell.
All I can say if she want to be private about her life and he wants to not speak of her life respect his wishes and hers. As long as he does the same for u and your daughters.
Although if u live together is going to be hard.

Mystery23's picture

If u can resolve the issues of him being negative about your kids then can u just not chat about your stepdaughter and keep well out of what they do.

I just feel don't lose sleep over her and if u can't take the situation step out situation theres going to be alot of things he will go too for his kids and you will be left out of. You will have to get use to it.
Before your got married did you not realise what u was getting involved with.

kathryn2009's picture

Mystery, yes I did know what I was getting into to a point when I finally married him a few months ago, however, his daughter was away at college and I naively thought their relationship was really pretty much over this time as far as her living with us ever again. And I thought too that once we were actually married it might be different. She wasn't speaking to him and inherited a bit of money from her other side of the family and so I thought well thats the last of her for a long long time. Apparently she didn't inherit as much as we thought because the second that she found out he sold his house and moved in with me, she was calling, texting, playing him like a fiddle. And now he says "Oh, I'm closer with her than I have ever been, I think she just realized how much she loved and missed me cuz I moved away and she thought I would always just be there for her in that house and not be married." " It has made us closer". He was giving her money within a month, "...but she didn't ask for it, I just knew she needed cash for books and so I gave her some". He has no idea how he is being soooo played. She just wanted to make sure that daddys girl wasn't forgotten. Well, nooo problem. But I will never feel anything towards her but resentment because of the way she treats me and my kids. She is self serving to no end. Their relationship is just take take take take on her part and never giving. She is no longer 7 or 12 or 15. She has all the rights and priveleges of an adult but NONE of the responsibility of one.
And Carol. YES YES YES YES!!!! There is a different set of STANDARDS for my kids versus his. Mine are expected to clean, have jobs, report in, etc....but his daughter can and does do just what the hell she wants when she wants with absolutely no consequences. He certainly would never sit at the kitchen table and listen to me rant and rave about her and her ways, he does about my kids. We can watch her be hateful, use her family, use her friends, be snooty, snotty, lazy, HAVE NO JOB AT ALL, but thats ok.....yeah....thats allright because she 'different'. There is always some ridiculous excuse. 'She's shy', 'her mother treats her like crap', 'you have to understand how hard it was for her when we got divorced when she was FIVE'. !!!!! HAHAHHAHAH What a damn joke. Her mother remarried immediately and she doesn't and never has gotten along with the step dad. I think to myself, 'hmmm,....could it be that she has always been spoiled rotten and overindulged and shallow and petty?.....hmmm..." hahahahha All she has pretty much ever known is them being divorced you know? Its not like she was a harmone-ridden teenager in the throws of rebellion when it happened. Oh well. I just think its like StepAside says, we need to just sequester, or partition, both those parts of our lives and forget the possibility of a happy life with all together. We are going to be buying a new house in a month or two and my daughter will move out on her own for college. (SHE has a job like my other girls) And with Princess back at college it should be smooth. When she comes home for visits (cuz she had to go away to a fancy college, the local ones werent good enough), she will no way stay with us becuase I'm there. She will stay with her mother and then ALLOW her dad to take her out to dinner or to see her grandparents, etc...I dread Christmas though, I think it will be that I have to go out of state with both of them away from my family to visit his. I think I will for sure carry a flask of Crown or Vodka to get through it. heehee

Mystery23's picture

I'm 26 year old stepdaugther and not way would I involve my 2 brothers that dad has with how I feel about stepmum. They should never have to see dad mum and there halfsis/bro fight.

no fairytale's picture

I am sorry to hear everyone goes through the same issues however, it does feel better knowing I am not

Princess called her dad this morning apparently little dog (which pees everywhere and yelps all the time) balls dont look at pink as they did before (I know that is a joke in its self) so she wants daddy to pay $200 for vet bill to take him in. Also, she owes the school $500 and does not have it due to the fact she came home to her mothers for 2 weeks and does not have the money. She was out shopping the entire time.
So, I got the call from BF to break the money issue to me. I have recently and JUST recently learned to just say oh ok.. I am so tired of arguing with him about her all the time.

I have really found much relief since I found this website and hear everyones stories and know I am not crazy or alone.
Thanks to everyone!! (even the comments I dont like so much) -)

kk's picture

Honey I couldn't said it better my 38 y.o.SD still "just can't make it" and periodically moves in with friends, boyfriends, family (mother once and father's sister now since June 09). I've put up with her for 20+ years. She won't lower herself to work for minimum wage because she is a physical trainer who can charge $65 hour yet she has never worked more than 18 hours a week."It's just so hard"... She takes off to go on vacations to Europe with her 13 yo daughter 2x in last 2 yr, for 3 weeks or more each time. Takes off for vacations to visit family or friends either in Indy or Florida at least 2x year. Yet "she just can't make it", no matter that her dad has retired with fixed income now, he had cancer and chemo last year and I have recurring tumors which cause increased BP and recurring life saving surgeries. She calls us as she is desperate and he will borrow it to "loan" it to her while she still owes us $5000 from the last loan that she insists I told her was a gift! The lies, the blackmail as she moves to keep us from granddaughter and her (the evil step mother who finally called said my wallet is closed). Now I'm jealous of her and spreading lies about her to the family.
I've gone through the my son not measuring up, yet he works 40-60 hours a week, never asks for money owns a home(he qualified for)and two cars paid for has a wife and two kids. All that he proclaims are his values and principles. So when I object to being her wallet yet again it's because I don't like her and if my son were to be come unemployed (not of his own making) he will remember that we didn't "help" SD so he will not get any either. (As though there is anything left).
After my refusal to borrow money for the princess again he told her that we have our own financial problems and he just couldn't do it. Of course, I'm getting the cold shoulder from him now, as he feels bad.
Word to the wise there are communities where you must be 50 plus to live there, to stop the threat of the revolving door " GD and SD can't make it and need to move in". Sooner or later these little leeches will show up on your collectively owned property wanting to move in, ignore you, lie about you, sit in "daddy's lap", claim status as "always Daddy's little girl" and generally make SM life hell. Look out for yourself as these "little girls" may never be allowed to grow up by anyone. No one will marry her as they see her entitled "little princess" behavior and leave her high and dry, hopefully not pregnant again.
The quotes about emotional "blackmail" were helpful for me. Thanks!!