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Future 18 Year Old Stepdaughter Concerns

museumguy's picture

I’m 64 years old male and my fiancé (who is 59) has a daughter 18 years old. Her daughter can be likable and is smart, but exasperating in the way she disrespects her mother. She won’t lift a finger to help and expects to be catered to in every way. She constantly belittles her mother.

When the daughter is around, my fiancé transforms into a completely different woman. She becomes subservient and her body language changes. Her physical appearance actually looks smaller and bent over. If she disagrees or dares to challenge her daughter in the slightest, she is met with outrage and insults. The sadness in her eyes breaks my heart because it’s obvious her feelings are hurt. I want to protect her but she wants me to remain completely passive to avoid the least bit of conflict. She occasionally expresses fear that her daughter, who is trained in the martial arts, will harm her but I have never witnessed any threats or such behavior.

The daughter has a long-term boyfriend but absolutely no girlfriends. I’ve wondered if being improvised and the fear of being discovered causes her to avoid other relationships. Also, she suffers from OCD which could be the reason for black and white thinking. She is an attractive young lady but only sees defects in the mirror. She is leaving for college this fall. Despite the verbal abuse, it is also clear she loves and protect her mother. The daughter and I get along and she can be fun to be around at times.

Some additional background. My fiancé is a widow who emigrated from Russia about 20 years. She earned a degree in civil engineering in Russian but unfortunately, differing US engineering regulations and age play a big role in limiting her professional job prospects. She lost her American husband to cancer 5 years ago. Since then, she and her daughter have lived in near poverty. Both work minimal jobs to maintain a basic existence. Their home has been foreclosed on and they must move out within the next 20 days.

The current plan is that both will move into my newly rented house in mid-May. My fiancé and I have been together for 9 months and plan to marry and buy a home this summer. I want both of them to feel welcomed and safe but don’t look forward to the conflict that is sure to rise. My fiancé agrees with the above interpretation of the situation.

Thoughts or suggestions and appreciated.

BTW, I have four of my own children from a previous marriage. Three are young adults and successful - none living at home. Very sadly, one is deceased.


CLove's picture

You can do this:

Its called disengagement. Read through this a few times.

You could also try talking directly to the STB SD18, whom we can refer to as "Bully Girl", because that is what it sounds like she is doing to her mother. In doing this, you can state clearly that with this move-in, that as the head of the household, everyone in the household is deserving of respect, including your bride, your co-head of household, her mother. If she gets angry, that's too bad. Also express that everyone helps and contributes to the household, and that it will be expected of her to help out as well. If she doesnt like that, too bad.

Your bride needs to grow a backbone, perhaps try some therapy, to help "retrain" herself, to be The Parent. Too many times, as I have seen on this board, the bio parent refuses to parent the child, the child acts out, and this acting out is actually the child begging to be parented.

YOU are not the parent. Just remember that. But as her mother's partner in life, your wishes must be respected.

She might be angry for a bit, but with her life improving she will hopefully "get it"

I currently have an SD18, whom I have known since she was 15. And she is so lazy, she wont eat if she has to cook it herself. She is too lazy to get her license, so she walks or has her parents take her places (because of my disengagement, I don't shuttle her around), she is too lazy to get a job, so she always has to ask for money, she is too lazy to do her laundry, so she gets new clothes from her female cousins. Her room is a disgusting mess and she is so lazy, when SO tells her to clean her room, she just shoves items under the bed and in the closet. She is so lazy, that even if she is home all day long, I still have to feed and water the animals, because she will "forget".

SO has told her that when she graduates she will then need to get a job and pay rent if she is to stay at our house full-time, and I certainly hopes he keeps to that. But so many times, our partners "cave" to the wishes and demands of their children, our skids.

Keep us posted.

ESMOD's picture

You have only known this woman 9 months. I think you need to slow down and let things happen at a more natural pace.

I would NOT move them in. I would wait until the child is off on her own, doing her own thing. You won't be able to stomach watching her belittle your future wife. Disengagement is a possibility, but honestly that really works better with people who don't live in your home. It's harder to be detached.

ESMOD's picture

I went back and re-read and it seems like the driver for moving so fast is that they are not in a good position financially. I honestly think this is even more of a disaster ready to happen. I think it's fine to try to help them find ways to become better off, but taking them into your home after only knowing her 9 months? Seems rushed. Remember we make decisions in haste, we will repent in our leisure.

The first order of business is to get her daughter out of the house and independent.

College age? Get her some financial aid. If her father was a citizen, she may well even qualify for SSI benefits if she hasn't already been getting them and they should look into that.

Otherwise she can join the military, find a job, find a room mate situation. She doesn't need to stay with her mother.

Once you have the child off and running, then you and her mother can consider next moves.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

I agree with ESMOD.

Moving in with someone you've known for such a short time is unwise. She may appear to be a damsel in distress, but if you insist on playing the part of rescuer you will never know if she loves you for you or for the financial help you provide.

Additionally, it's a generally held belief on this site that it's a huge mistake to allow adult children to live with you. Once they're in, it's incredibly difficult to get them to move out, especially the socially awkward ones. Having an adult skid in the home can drive a wedge between partners and destroy relationships, so this is another aspect of your plan that is very risky.

Timing is everything, and it just seems as if there are many red flags waving here. I think you would be better served by slowing down, prioritising improving your girlfriend's employment skills, and assisting her to become more self-sufficient before taking your relationship to the next level. That would help to make your relationship more equitable and give her daughter time to launch, thus increasing the odds for a successful long term relationship.

Rags's picture

Welcome. This does not sound like a situation that will make your blended family adventure an easy one.

In my career I have worked in engineering and related executive roles for many years. I have worked with several Russian and former Soviet block nationals who are engineers and they have been very good at what they do. Their education and experience was largely gained in Russia/eastern Europe.

Your future bride should be able to initiate a career by starting in a support role (document control and editing maybe) and then leveraging that into an advancing engineering progression.

Of course the two of you will have to live in a location conducive to that type of opportunity.

As for the 18yo FSD... you and your bride need to align on teaming to get her launched and off onto her own life.

My condolences on the loss of your child.

Good luck.

2Tired4Drama's picture

I'm confused are renting a house in "mid-May" but plan to buy a house with your fiance later this summer?

In any case, I think you are moving too quickly. You need to wait and let this situation with the daughter resolve itself, when she moves out in the Fall.

After the daughter moves out, only then you should discuss cohabitation with your fiance. One of the important discussion points needs to be what the rules are when the daughter comes home from school for a visit, and what should happen if the daughter drops out for some reason. Otherwise, you will be right back where you are now ... with a smart-mouthed kid disrespecting the adults in the home.

Oh, and by the way, what do your friends, family and children think of your relationship with this woman? Are the supportive? Have any of them expressed concerns that you may be taken advantage of? If so, listen to those who love you carefully - they can often see things that you may not.

museumguy's picture

I'm renting a house until we find a house we want to buy.

I have read the disengagement link and the case made for doing so seems well thought out and sound. It alleviated some of my concerns as it offers a solution. To date, I've avoided trying to parent my future SD and have no intention of intervening between her and her mother.

I also agree that my future SD is a bully and that my fiancé daughter could use professional help to regain her authority as a parent. She lives in constant fear of her daughter's wrath and goes as far as masking her true personality around her. Her daughter has no clue just how smart, wise and witty her mother is. I realized this the first time I saw them interact.

After reading the comments above I'm wondering how and when to introduce the household rules. Certainly, this needs to happen before they move in.

Thanks for the advice with respect to my bride trying to get a job in her field. I will pass it along to her.

2Tired4Drama's picture

When to introduce rules? It's simple ... BEFORE they move in. You also need to discuss consequences if the rules are not followed. Such as, you will be asked to leave within a designated amount of time.

While you say you won't intervene, that's a lot easier said than done. I would find it very difficult to sit idly by if I was watching my loved one regularly and routinely be cowed, humiliated and disrespected in my own home.

The first, last and only time my SO's daughter did that to her dad (when she was a smart alecky 16 year old) I made it damn clear to her that she did not talk to her father that way in front of me, in OUR home - ever!

She never crossed me again, in that regard.

museumguy's picture

Yes, it's already very tough not to interverne but doing so will only upset my fiancé. She has pleaded with me not to interject my opinion about the behavior.

museumguy's picture

I do accept my bride as she is. She raised this matter with me as she has been struggling with it for some time. Also, I don't subscribe to other peoples arbitrary timelines for getting married. My wife and I were married for 31 years after dating for only six months. I'm not a child and I do not make decisions lightly.

ItsGrowingOld's picture

The minute that little snot insults and degrades her mother in front of you step in and immediately correct the situation. Do not back down. Let that little snot know you will not tolerate her behavior in YOUR home.

Good luck!