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Advice on adult SD please

Stepmummingfun's picture

Hi all,

First time poster, but have read for a while and found the posts very helpful!

I really would like other peoples perspective. Essentially I have helped raise my SD (now 28). She lived with us since she was a tween. Throughtout that time we have had som many ups and downs. I have felt she has been in competition for me even though she says how much she loves me. She has very little to do with her bio mum (who I have never met - and I met DH after they had separated).

The issue is that I have found her behaviour manipulative - almost like she is setting her dad up to choose her. She was asked to apologise on something - and she did so in a formal way. Her dad has maintained a boundary (but has struggled with this over the years). We even attempted to go to therapy for but she either refused to talk, cried or stormed out and has now refused to go back. 

So, the question - I have drawn a line in the sand and don't want to contact her since she has refused to go to therapy. Do you believe her father shuld keep in touch by either having a break from her behaviour for a period of time, but then getting in touch to see how she is - or do you think he should stay away until she decides to make more mature decisions. I have been with him for 20 years.

TIA :)   

Winterglow's picture

So she's no longer living with you? I'd let her make the next move and just get on with enjoying my life (and I don't call that taking a break or cutting her off). She's an adult and doesn't need someone to keep an eye on her.


Stepmummingfun's picture

Thank you for your response. Smile No, she doesn't live with us. She lives with her partner. I think her dad would feel like he is chopping her off if he does not keep in touch. She is not close to her mother at all. I agree with you though. :) 

Winterglow's picture

Has he considered that by "keeping in touch", that he can be seen as invasive and lacking in respect both to her and her current reopening? He really needs to back off and let her come to him. FFS, she's an adult, treat her like one! 

Stepmummingfun's picture

That's a really good point.. he does need to consider her space. I think the issue is his guilt - and I also think she has set it up so he comes to 'claim' her - something that she has constantly needed since she was a young child. He really struggled to maintain boundaries with her. 

Tried out's picture

in therapy, or acknowledged by your SD and/or DH?

"and I also think she has set it up so he comes to 'claim' her - something that she has constantly needed since she was a young child."

This is a really warped interpersonal dynamic and one that should stop. As it has become a pattern it has the potential to screw up her future  relationships. What guy - other than a guilty father - is going to put up with placating the princess ad nauseum? She needs to grow up and dad needs to let her.

tog redux's picture

I think he should decide what kind of relationship he wants with her, and you decide what kind you want with her, they can be different.

Stepmummingfun's picture

Thanks for thoughts.. :) 

I agree - they can be different. The thing I would struggle with though is her need to compete with me - so should he get in touch after her spitting the dummy then I am concerned I would feel like she has manipulated him. If she wasn't manipulative I think I would feel a whole lot better about it should he do it.

tog redux's picture

Spitting the dummy is a tantrum, I assume? Love British slang. Smile

Well, it's his daughter - so it's fair for him to stay in touch while still requesting an apology for her behavior.  I mean, in theory, parents don't cut their kids off for any reason - unconditional love and all that.  He shouldn't give her anything, or give into any demands - but that doesn't mean he can't be in touch with her.

Stepmummingfun's picture

Yes! Biggrin haha -  it's a tantrum. 

Thanks again. Smile  Yes, all for unconditional love. I think I am just really tired of him giving in to her manipulation and also not putting boundaries in place - and we turned up to therapy a few times - and she as a pain in the *** about it. So, I am feeling like she needs to take responsibility for her choices and come back to him/us rather than him reaching out to her. I do agree with your thoughts though - just feeling frustrated!

tog redux's picture

Yeah, what he needs to learn to do is express his love without giving in, that's the hard part.  Even if she does come back to him on her own, it will be with more demands.  So the tough balance is being able to put out there that he loves her and welcomes a relationship with her - on HIS terms, not hers. 

hereiam's picture

Whatever he does, it needs to be his decision.

He can keep in contact, without encouraging her bad behavior. He just needs to keep some boundaries in place.

She may never make more mature decisions, so I'm not sure that should be a pre-requisite to being in contact with her or not. But, he doesn't have to let her manipulate him or let her call the shots in their relationship. He can be in contact but still keep her at a distance if she continues to cause problems.

You don't have to have ANY contact with her, if you don't want to.

Stepmummingfun's picture

Thanks hereiam. Agreed. Problem is - logically I understand this. Emotionally I feel like he needs to put a boundary in place and let her sit with her decision - as I feel like she has manipulated things so he has to chase after her. But do understand the 'keep in touch' but without inviting her back in.

Harry's picture

Start making this stop happening.  You have to stop inviting her over.  Don't do trips with her.  Stop doing thing or going places she warns to go.  No to going shopping, no to going to the fair, no to going to dinner .  Start slowly and turn it up as time goes on.

Rags's picture

None of the above.  You demanded an appology. She applogized... "formally".

An appology does not forgive crappy behavior.  Future stellar behavior with zero back sliding into past behavioral crap is the only thing that can move a blended family situation eterally forward in a positive manner.

Zero tolerance for crappy behavior works. 

As you apparently have determined. This is a hill to die on IMHO.  SD behaves and DH makes sure she has clarity on this.

Good luck.

MissTexas's picture

tossing pond in you honor! Congratulations!

She is manipulative and she is making her dad choose because IT HAS WORKED FOR HER. They all do this! 

SD even manipulated the counseling session to try to turn it to her advantage. Let me guess, when the subject turned to her and what her role is in all this, she stormed out, or stonewalled, saying nothing.

Though your husband required her to apologize, he struggles with making her accountable, because they have been doing this dance of dysfunction all of her life. I admire your DH for making her apologize, though it was distant and formal and probably not sincere, at least he addressed it! Most of us would probably fart and fall where we stood if our DH's actually made their adult lepers accountable in any way!

Be glad she is out of your life. Encourage your husband not to fall for her manipulative mess. The more bad behavior is rewarded, the more of it you will see and be on the receiving end of.

You're doing great!

Stepmummingfun's picture

Thank you for your thoughts. Really appreciate it!

I agree - patterns of behaviours are maintained because they are useful. We have had really good times as well - I have just had this overarching feeling that she wants to be seen as the number 1 person. I think my DH has been shocked that she was not able to be more authentic with her response - i.e., more empathic - and I think that is what has shocked me too.