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How do I find the balance between my sanity and being a good person?

ladylizard's picture

I just found this forum, and it's already making me feel less like a monster, so thank you to everyone. My SD15 came to live with us about a month ago. She and my DH are from a developing country, and I sponsored her for residency, investing thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of effort to give her a better life. Her BM lives with a dangerous, abusive, alcoholic man who would take the money my DH sent away from her. There's no official custody or child-support arrangement because my DH and his ex were never married, and their country's court system is terribly corrupt in any case. My DH was terrified that his ex's boyfriend was going to abuse his daughter, which is why he asked me to sponsor her to come live with us. I am a citizen of the country we live in, and DH is not, so the sponsor had to be me. Literally thousands of people from their country have died trying to make it to my country, so I was glad I was able to help at least one. I was so excited for her to come - I carried her photo in my wallet for months as a constant reminder that I needed to make space in my heart for her, and I spent hours crocheting her a blanket to make sure she knew she was welcome as a part of our family. I had met her once on a visit to my husband's country, but I didn't know her well before she came. I promise I only ever wanted to do the right thing and be a good person! I love my husband, and I was sad his daughter was growing up in poverty and violence. I just wanted to help.

Stupid me. She's ungrateful, rude, disrespectful, and constantly angry about everything I do. No matter how much I tried to help her when she first came, something was always wrong, and everything was my fault. She's a bully with no compassion - when she made me cry with her insults, she just made fun of me and then told her BM I was a crazy, evil bitch who was yelling at her. I know I wasn't perfect, but I always had good intentions. When I try to explain or apologize for whatever it is I've done to her, she just lashes out more about all the ways I'm terrible. When she isn't lashing out at me, she pointedly ignores me, even turning her back on me if DH, SD, and I are trying to have a conversation. It's been hell since she arrived. I've started staying in my office until late at night to avoid SD. She's told me in her own words that she will never respect me or speak to me civilly, and I believe her. DH apologizes to me for her behavior in private and says I don't deserve it, but when he tries to talk to SD, she just claims she hasn't done anything to me and that her relationship with me is fine. If he insists that's not true or tries to defend me at all, she cries and says he doesn't love her, that he only loves me, and that we should send her back to her home country so DH and I can just be happy together. It makes him feel guilty and like he has to prove that he loves her. If I cry, he gets angry at me and says it isn't fair for SD and me to put him in the middle. I don't want to put him in the middle, or for there to be "sides" at all! I want DH and me to both be on SD's side, helping her grow into a strong, independent, educated woman. That goal is starting to seem impossible, though.

The problem is that there are many things only I can do for SD; my husband just can't. I'm highly educated, I'm the primary breadwinner, and I speak the language of the country where we live (I also speak my DH and SD's language fluently). My DH is kind, funny, patient, responsible, and all-around wonderful, but he had to drop out of high school to support his family and doesn't speak my country's language well. He makes half what I do, even though he works much longer hours, and he sends nearly all of his pay to family in his home country. I know moving to a new country and culture and learning a new language is a huge adjustment for my SD, and at first I was totally ready to support her through it in the ways my DH can't. I researched classes and activities, found tutors, and generally busted my butt trying to make the transition as easy as I could. If she can just learn the language and stay in school, her future here will be a million times brighter than in her home country, but she refuses to see that or accept my help, and she's never once thanked me for any of my efforts.

How far can I disengage before I become the monster who abandoned a poor immigrant teenager in her hour of greatest need? What do I absolutely have to do for her, and what can I refuse to do? I've tried so hard to be a good person, but it's just made everyone in my life furious at me and left me a quivering bundle of misery. I know it's only been a month, but if I'm this exhausted and despairing after a month, I can't even imagine where I'll be in a year. Please help!

Aunt Agatha's picture

This sounds so painful for you.

But honestly? Why isn't your husband taking her to task for this?

You don't have to do anything for this kid, and if he didnt have a come to Jesus meeting about her behavior, and she didn't improve, I would ship her back.

You are not her parent, and if her father can't do the minimum and discipline her, then that would be it for me. What if she starts really acting out and does something illegal? Would you be on the hook for that?

Is this the life you want?

I've learned the hard way not everyone can, nor wants to be saved. She might be one of those that prefers misery.

Don't be a martyr. It never ends well even for kind people like you who have the best of intentions.

notasm3's picture

You need to have a come to Jesus, how the cow ate the cabbage, it's now time for brutal honestly talk with this SD.

If she wants your help she has to act like a decent human being.

DreamingBig's picture

What does DH do when SD is treating you so badly?
Does he see it or does she only do it when he his not there?If so you need to record what is happening somehow. She needs to feel reassured that she has a place there. It sounds like she is testing things out big time and using you to do so. She probably feels very vulnerable in a new country with a new mum and life and not speaking the language.
If you and your DH can sit down together, just the two of you, and come up with the house rules and boundaries around her behavior and then present that to her together and show a united front while also reassuring her that you both want her there and do not want her to leave, it might help. He has to give you full authority to discipline her and tell her that in front of you.
No matter what they say, kids like structure and rules as long as they make sense and are basically fair.

So lastly, what do you have to do for her? Absolutely nothing baby. She is not your BD. You have no responsibility for her whatsoever. If she disrespects you, which you didn't give any examples of, you can simply chose not to do anything for her. At 15 she can cook, clean and walk to whereever she needs to go. As long as she is not giving you basic respect, you do not have to do anything for her. She needs to learn you have boundaries and she is crossing them and that there are consequences for that. Taken to it's nth degree this means you don't even have to provide a space for her in your home. Her father can start paying rent for her, doing her grocery shopping, her clothes shopping, and cooking for her. Everything actually.
You are not being mean. You are setting commonsense boundaries for respect in your home. And if she cannot comply and he won't enforce it, especially after everything you have done for her and him, then they probably both need to find a place to live close by.

ladylizard's picture

Thanks for the advice! Some of her behavior is normal teenage stuff (hoarding plates in her room, texting constantly, etc.), but some of it goes further. I'm also an extra-sensitive person; I can't stand it when people are mad at me. My SD is always, always mad, so I'm sort of just rubbed raw, which makes me overreact to everything. The worst fight so far started about a dance class I was taking her to. It's an hour and a half drive from our home, but it's with kids from her culture, so I was excited to find it and sign her up. She was very unwilling to go, though. It was a huge battle to get her ready and out of the house on time, and sometimes she would refuse to participate and just sit on the side when she was there. If I was watching, she would keep coming over to me and asking when the class was going to end. They were preparing for a performance, and even though she arrived only two weeks beforehand, the teacher modified the dances so she could be part of it. I thought she didn't like the class based on her behavior, and I was worried she was just going because she thought we'd be mad if she didn't. I sent my DH a text asking if he would tell SD that it was OK for her to quit the dance class if she didn't like it, but that we preferred she at least wait to quit until after the performance, since the teacher had already modified all the dances to include her. He did that, but she freaked out and claimed I had lied to him about her, since she never actually said she didn't like the dance class. She refused to speak to me and started running away from me in public, even when I tried to apologize. When I finally got her to talk to me, she told me she would never respect me and said many other hurtful things about what a terrible person I am for thinking something wrong about her. I just wanted to help and was worried she was only going to the dance class to please us! But I should have known better - she has no interest at all in pleasing me and virtually none in pleasing my DH.

She also has refused to eat anything I cook, because it isn't like her mom's cooking. I bought her the foods she requested and said she was welcome to make her own meals, although she could also always eat what I made if she wanted to. She now sometimes just refuses to eat all day and says it's because I don't call her and tell her when it's time to eat, like her BM does.

DH has tried several times to talk to her, but she just gets angry at him and says terrible things that hurt him - apparently her BM had told her a lot of nasty lies about my DH over the past 14 years. My SD also interprets any defense of me as a sign that my DH loves me more than he loves her, and when he tries to explain that you can't compare romantic love between adults to the love of a parent for a child, she just screams and sobs louder and accuses him of "failing her." DH is trying, but he's at the end of his rope. He's never really had to be a parent, although he's been involved from a distance and has always sent all the money he could. Part of the problem is that BM's boyfriend used to take a lot of what DH sent; BM would then blackmail DH for more money by refusing to send SD to school until he sent more money, even though he'd paid the school fees already. SD was struggling in school anyway - failing classes and getting suspended for being in physical fights with other students. Those were among the many reasons we wanted to bring her to our safe, stable, reasonably middle class home in a developed country.

I know maybe this seems like small potatoes, but she's rude even when she doesn't use her words. Sometimes when I'm trying to talk to her, she'll literally turn her back on me or hold her cell phone up in front of her face. I've never once yelled at her, although I've cried in front of her several times, out of desperation and exhaustion. SD just tells her BM I'm sick and crazy, which makes BM think that I'm too dangerous to be around her daughter (or at least, that's what she's told my DH). I would never hurt my SD; all I've ever tried to do is help her. If I'm crazy, it's because I'm losing my mind trying to figure out what to do. I've gently asked SD to be more polite and respectful to me, but she refuses and says, "That's just how I talk. I talk that way to everyone, and I'll talk that way to you, too. I'm never going to change." She doesn't say that in English, obviously, but that's essentially the translation of what she's said to me on multiple occasions. We've sort of disengaged by default, because I can't stand being around her anymore. She seems perfectly happy to give me the silent treatment for the rest of her life, but I can only stand the tension for an hour or two before I have to leave the house and have a long cry.

I could never live with myself if we sent SD back to her terrible home environment just because I can't find a way to get along with her. DH has offered to send her back, but that would be doing her a terrible wrong, which no one, not even someone like her, deserves. Her home country is violent and dangerous, and she lived in terrible poverty there, without even her own bed. Here, SD has not only her own bed but her own room, a laptop and cell phone that I bought her, and the opportunity to go to decent schools where they'll help her learn our country's language. I've also tried to help her with that, but she says she refuses to learn the language and that all she wants to do is scrub floors for a living when she grows up. No one in her immediate family has finished high school, and she's already said that if she goes back to live with her BM, all she's going to do is wait until her boyfriend gets out of prison (long story there, too), and then quit school to go have a baby with him. She claims DH and I told her she was only coming here on vacation, even though we clearly told her, many times, that I was applying for a residency permit for her, so that she could come attend high school and maybe college here, and eventually become a citizen if she wants to. I was happy to use my money to make my DH's dream possible - it was expensive, but I have a good job, and it wasn't going to bankrupt me. DH loves his daughter and was so worried about her when she lived with her BM, and for good reason. But he would never have been able to pay the lawyer's fees to bring her here himself, and his residency status would have meant it would have been nearly impossible for him to petition for her, anyway. He's a wonderful person, and he's trying, but he doesn't know what to do either. He gets sad and desperate, and we're just both miserable, which isn't great for our relationship. So far, we haven't drifted too far apart, but I know he can't just continue the way things are, either. He feels torn between his love for me and his love for his daughter, which is the last thing I want for him. I just can't keep giving and giving to someone who either takes what I give with no gratitude or just throws it back in my face. Both those reactions hurt.

Sorry for the long tirade, but those are some of the specifics. It's been a really awful month. I love my DH, though, and I can't stand the thought of losing our relationship over this. We were so happy before SD came, and now every day feels like I'm dragging myself through broken glass.

twoviewpoints's picture

She's scared, lonely, confused and a bit of a brat. Of course you don't do things like her mother, you aren't her mother and you don't know how mother did things even if you wanted to do those things.

Seriously, I think in time it will get better. It's going to take some hard core thick skin on your part and a lot of tears and temper tantrums on her part. She needs to learn you don't have to be kind and generous to her. You are being so because you wanted her to come and you wanted to give her a home and a better life. She doesn't have to like it. It would be easier for you and her if she tried a bit harder but she needs to know she can hold that darn phone in her face all she wants and you aren't going to poof. That's right. She can cry, pout, hid in her bedroom , pretend you're not standing there. Sure , she can do all that. But she can't make you disappear and you aren't going away.

Understand what I'm saying? No matter how much she wishes you gone, no matter how 'naughty' she is, you are not sending her back and you are not going away. And neither if she. You're going to live together and do this. She can stop the boo-hoo Daddy loves you and not me all she wants. All that is is an attempt to intimidate you and her father. From the sounds of it, it appears she really never had her father much. He's about as strange to her as you are.

Once she learns she is stuck with you and you are stuck with her, I think things might improve some. It's only been a month. She needs to learn she can trust you and that you are not the enemy. She also needs to learn the nicer she is to you, the nicer you will be to her. She also needs to know you are boss. You are the lady who brought her here, the one who is taking responsibility for her and she has no choice but to put up with you. Her Dad did not agree and sign those forms, you did. What happens from here on out and be good or you can both be miserable. You'd like to be her friend. She quite honestly needs one. Life with you can be good, or she can make it bad. The choice is hers. Then she quickly needs to also learn you will not tolerate her running off. You will not tolerate her not eating. She will be required to learn household tasks and expected to carry the tasks out. No ifs and or buts.

Change your tune with her until she changes hers tune with you. Dad isn't much help in this, so basically I wouldn't depend too much on his help. If things don't improve in six months, she will have to find a different sponsor if it is possible (I don't know what all your contracts you signed agree to).

still learning's picture

Sounds like SD didn't want to come and doesn't want your help. Back off and tell her that if she wants help and all the things you've offered then you're here for her, otherwise it's all on her and her father. Regardless of her circumstance she can still be respectful in your home. What a brat shooting herself in the foot.

You are the woman of the house, take back your power!

Booboobear's picture

What is the procedure to take back your sponsorship? Did they give you options in case it did not work out? Is there a time limit or a requirement of her to do something? Why does your DH get to be not supportive to you but supportive to SD?

Evil3's picture

What happens if you kick the girl and her dad out of your house? Would she get sent back to her birth country? If not, then what are you waiting for? I'd tell your SO, that he yanks your SD's chain before the sun sets today or they can both find another place to live. Most people wouldn't even care if it resulted in the girl being sent back to the old country. They would say it's not their problem. However, you seem to feel guilty, so I wonder if it's because you're worried that this girl will be sent back. At the very least, I would tell your DH/SO that you are already frazzled and use the line you told us about how it's only been a month and you don't honestly know how the hell you'll manage in a year. Put the fear of God into your DH and tell him that if this continues, you would hate to have to do something like evicting your SD and possibly your DH from your home. You will not tolerate being abused and disrespected in your home, especially when you're the one paying for it.

StepUltimate's picture

^^This. Girl needs boundaries and her dad needs to shut down the disrespect. You don't have to live like this.

ybarra357's picture

Sorry, you do sound well meaning. But your DH is FARRRR from wonderful and quite frankly? He sounds like an a$$. I would seriously reconsider your marriage – or lack thereof. No way should you put up with this situation. Her behavior is on HIM!!

DreamingBig's picture

So...I hear you on the sensitivity thing. It can be horrible for empaths to live with tension. I am the same. I find it draining.

Now the dirty dishes, and texting. Teens seem to like hoarding dishes. This is her father's job. He can either tell her to get them and wash them herself, or do it himself but you should not.
Texting: pick your battles. At the dinner table maybe not but why try to stop that most of the time. Who is she texting?
Holding the phone in your face? Unacceptable. Cut the phone off. Same is she refuses to follow texting boundaries at meal times.
Doing things differently to her mum? Own it. Say yes I do. And? If you want to eat...and let her know how she needs to act. If she chooses not to eat, that's on her and is just more emotional teen blackmail.
Honestly you could not have picked a worse age for her to come. I have done 4 15 year old step daughters now and they all go through a very difficult and not very nice stage of being really bitchy.

Dance class: why force her to go to something she doesn't want to do? I mean you meant well obviously but she didn't want to do it. So let that one go.

I feel like she may have PTSD. She has lived in a warzone basically and is likely in fight or flight mode. She needs a counselor to help her sort that out.

Lastly, does she really not want to be with you guys? Did she really think it was a vacation? Maybe she feels like she's in a prison and so is in anxiety mode again from possible PTSD.

My sense is that if you both sit down with her and explain that she is free to go back any time she wants, she may relax. Say that you feel she has an opportunity for a better life with you and you want to make that happen for her, but she can go if she feels strongly about it.

Also if her dad just owns that he loves you dearly and will not allow her to hold him emotionally hostage for loving you she will stop with that too. The easiest deflection of that type of emotional blackmail is to own it. He can also ignore the whole more than me thing. Just repeat that he loves you dearly and doesn't feel bad about it. and then tell her I love you dearly. And walk away.

I do think that if she actually wants to be there, then things will improve. I don't think it will be easy necessarily she is quite damaged by life but yes, you need a slightly thicker skin. NONE OF THIS IS PERSONAL. She would treat any woman in your position the same. Try to be somewhat of an observer as much as possible and don't allow emotional blackmail. You have done so much for her already. You have nothing to feel guilty about even if she does go back, at 15, she can make that decision. She would like go back and then change her mind and want to come back. in fact, how about you two offer her a vacation back there at the end of the school year or Christmas or whenever?
Hoping it gets better.

No Name's picture

Your heart was in the right place and one would think that this teenager would be grateful. She is acting like a real brat. I guess she's never heard the expression "don't bite the hand that feeds you".
I guess you could all sit down and have a family meeting, just like a business meeting. Have an agenda of everything that you would like to discuss. Have it at the dinner table. All quiet, no cell phones allowed. Tell her what your expectations are. Ask her what she would like to see change. Maybe do some fun team bowling. Sounds odd I am sure but when I had battles with my kids as teens it kind of worked. Take her places as a family and do things that she has never done. Horseback riding is another one. Not only is she trying to fit in she is also a teenager trying to fit in to another family and another country. Yikes!
She sounds angry and she is directing her anger at you.
Don't be weak, stay strong. This is either going to work out or it is not. At this point it is really her choice. You deserve to be treated with respect.
All kids even teens need rules and limits. They need to know what you expect of them and they need to know that there are consequences for their actions.
Sounds like her cell phone and computer are important to her. That's what I would hold over her head. My son loved video games. So if he did something my punishment would be to take all electronics from him and he would have to earn them back. That is what worked for him. For the girls it was their phones. I wish you all of the best. Keep us posted on how you are making out.

steppingback's picture

You are a reasonable and caring person.
Your stepdaughter does not want to be reasonable, she wants to go home and have a baby with her boyfriend.
She doesn't want your care either so nothing you do will be right.
She knows what she wants and until she sees that this is better you are the handy target for all her woes.

Helping people is difficult especially if they don't want to be helped.
Maybe when or if she finds a cute boy where you are she might change her mind.
Back off on the trying so hard.
This is not a quick fix.
If and when she finally figures it out, then you may choose to try again.

Take time away she doesn't see you as a person but as an obstacle to getting back home.

fairyo's picture

I read all that and then realised she has only been there for a month! Cut this girl some slack please- she has been uprooted from a country that has a different culture and way of doing things and all the people she ever had any close contact with are gone. How traumatic must that be?
I know that you have done what you thought was right- but try swapping the situation around and think how you may have felt as a young woman being taken almost to another planet even with all the teenage hormones swimming around and causing havoc with your mind and body.
I think your expectations of what life would be like for her were slightly rose tinted. Did you get any support (I mean apart from the language and the academic side) from the agency? Are they supporting you all now? I would get in touch with people who ave experience in these matters and look at it from an objective instead of subjective viewpoint.
I agree with others on here that this girl is testing your commitment but she is also probably wondering about what a useless man her father seems to be.
You have done all the planning it seems to me and that comes with expectations of how things will be- it didn't work out how you thought. In the end she has to start to make some decisions for herself- but only when she is ready.
You are far from being a monster- you are a good person who tried something which didn't go like you thought it would. This girl needs space and security- she also needs her father. I suggest you back off a little, seek good advice from people who know about emotional trauma and not just about classes and courses, and take off your badge of goodness for a while. We all make mistakes- this is a steep learning curve for you too.

ladylizard's picture

Thanks for the good advice! I don't have any bio kids yet, so parenting is totally new to me. I've tried to be empathetic - I lived in SD's native country for a few years, so I have some understanding of the culture shock. I was in my early 20's, though, not a teenager, and I hadn't grown up in the kind of traumatic environment she has. I've thought about a therapist, either for my SD or for the whole family, but I think the language barrier would make that impossible right now. We don't live in an area where many people speak SD's language, and I think the odds of finding someone who speaks her language and is also a child or family therapist are basically zero. We didn't bring her here through any sort of agency. She's my husband's biological daughter, and my home country gives step-parents the same rights to file residency petitions for children that biological parents have. My husband can't file a petition because he's not a citizen of my country, though, so I had to do it. We found an immigration lawyer, and I paid a ton of money and spent a year doing paperwork and reminding my husband almost every day to get his ex to send us the many documents we needed from her end. The immigration lawyer's involvement ends once the client has immigrated, though.

As an update, my husband took his daughter out to dinner last night, while I was still at work, and tried to talk to her again about her behavior towards me. When we all got home, she briefly sat at a table facing me, mumbled a few civil words, and ate about half an ear of corn on the cob that I'd made. She was texting the whole time and had her headphones on, and she kept pointedly showing stuff on her phone to her dad only, but still, progress! I know she's been through things I can't even imagine, but it's hard to even want to help her when she's angry at me all the time. I think everyone who's said I need to back off is right; she needs to get to know her dad before anything else, and I can't keep bashing my head against this wall.

One last question - when I ask SD to do something, she usually just refuses. Can I just stop asking? I feel like asking and then being ignored reinforces the fact that I have no authority over her. My DH has told SD she has to obey me, but if he's not there, she doesn't. I'm not going to get into a physical altercation with her, so I can't force her to obey me. Her BM rarely disciplined SD at all, but when she did, she just hit her. I absolutely reject corporal punishment, but it's common in my husband's culture. DH and I are struggling to find consequences for misbehavior that are humane but that SD will take seriously. We've tried cutting off internet access, but we want her to be able to contact her family in her native country (it's a poor country, but internet access is surprisingly common there). I would never dare try to take SD's laptop away. She has a history of beating up other kids in school, and I worry she'd physically fight me if I tried to take something she considers hers. DH might be able to do it, but not me. I think that's basically the answer right there - my DH has to take charge of all discipline and the majority of everything else. I'll be polite to SD and will buy her food, ensure she's registered for school, and make her medical appointments, but if she wants anything beyond the necessities of life from me, she needs to ask respectfully, or I just won't do it.

still learning's picture

DH is going to have to actually parent for this situation to work.

StepUltimate's picture

Don't take the phone or laptop. Instead, change the wifi password and shut down all data service and let this girl know that you will grant those privileges again once she ups the respect, but not one minute sooner.

That said, I think the girl is blessed to have someone like you- you seem so kind & truely concerned for this girl! You have taken major action and sacrificed lots of time, energy, money and space in your home to "rescue" her from a bad situation. I have no bio's and enabled DH to "rescue" my SS17 (then 13) when he sought & was granted primary custody. Different story than yours but the same exact feelings and dread of it never getting better due to the similarly horrible training he'd gotten from 13 years with his bio-mom. SS moved to a new town, suddenly had a Step Mom (me!), lived with his dad for the 1st time since he was a toddler, had a new school where he didn't have any friends, etc. Even though we bought him every nice thing he could want or need (xbox, smart tv, smartphone, good clothes, tennis shoes, hiking boots, sports sandals, hats & beanies, bike & bike helmit & lock, skateboard, nice backpack, chores where he earned cash, etc.), SS acts and thinks in toxic ways BM acts & thinks, and I am also very sensitive (= adult child of an alcoholic: anxious, untrusting, hypersensative). So while the details are different, the feelings & fears are very similar and I'm glad you're posting here because there is a lot of experience, understanding, and encouragement here.

fairyo's picture

This sounds like some progress! It sounds like DH is trying now- and you are right to stop bashing your head! (Although there is a lot of head bashing goes on around here!)
On the discipline side I'm with you- corporal punishment is ineffective with young women- she sounds like a tough cookie anyway and is probably trying to suss you out- giving her a few alternatives to what she has previously experienced may throw up some surprising results.
Your last paragraph shows common sense- I wouldn't ask her to do anything- but if she does, make a comment- 'that was great' etc but I wouldn't thank her- not for doing something she ought to do anyway. It sounds as if this girl wasn't praised for much in her life, so finding something to praise may surprise her!
Yep- hand over as much as you can to DH- and if you are more relaxed then maybe everyone else may be.
I don't know why, but I'm really hoping this works out for you all. Please keep us in the loop!

SugarSpice's picture

i feel sorry for your sd, but it does not give her the right to lash out at your or project the negative feelings in her life on you.

you have been kind and generous, but you are in no way obligated to take care of your sd. no way at all.

you have overstepped in your generosity and have been abused for it. sadly you became her legal sponsor and that may be hard to get out of.

your husband needs to grow a set of balls and get your sd in line.

you dont need this.

lissylou's picture

I've been known to record my stepsons' behaviors on my phone and show to their father. You should not need proof of what she is doing, but this may be a way to stop her bs. She's playing you and her dad off of each other.

I think that counseling would be so good for her as she transitions from one environment to the next. Have you looked into phone or video counseling with someone who speaks her native language? She needs someone who she can speak to and who has the skills to help her navigate this time in her life. What about counseling for yourself? A therapist might be able to help you (and your husband?) work through this. You need all the help and understanding that you can get. Having someone to talk with, just for yourself, can really help.

**disclaimer: I'm a psychotherapist***

SugarSpice's picture

lissylou, good advice. social services should be able to connect the family with a native language speaker.

fairyo's picture

I think she said the chance of finding someone who speaks the language are zero, but she speaks the language herself. I suppose DH speaks both, so he's obviously best placed to be the mediator here, he just needs to do it.

Disillusioned's picture

There are many factors to consider here

First, your SD is a teenager. And some of her behaviour may simply be just that. A very teenage thing to do - lash out at your parents/step-parents, those who do the most for you and care the most

Secondly, she sounds like she is in competition with you for your DH's love and affection. A very step-teenage girl thing to do. It's a drag, especially when you have tried to care for her and were genuinely excited about helping her and being a part of her life, and turns out she is nothing but jealous and insecure about your relationship with your DH, rather than wanting one with you

Thirdly, she has by the sounds of it a horrible upbringing which she has now been uprooted from, and trying to adjust to a new country, and probably homesick and feeling out of place in her new home

None of these things excuse her behavior, but at least it might give some insight on possibly where she's coming from

I say this to you because I've lived it (not the foreign country part) but the having an angry teenage girl suddenly move in to your life, and like you, I embraced it/tried really hard to have a good relationship with my OSD and to be the best I could for her

And like you, all she gave me was anger, jealousy, competitiveness and what I felt at the time was just downright evil behaviour

What I've learned is that she was angry about so many things that had nothing to do with me, and some that had everything to do with me - my relationship with DH that to this day she is resentful of and thinks replaced hers with DH

It's hard not to take these things personal, but they truly aren't. Her issues, her anger, none of it is anything you've done

She could well be angry for all the reasons mentioned above....just being a teenager is enough, let alone in a new country and feeling like your father - the one parent you have/the only family - loves his wife more than you

Don't expect her to like you, or thank you, or appreciate all you've done for her

She won't.

But don't accept abuse/disrespect from her or your husband either!

I spent years trying to bond with my OSD, I gave so much of myself, and in return received her abuse and disrespect. Not to mention, my DH's lack of support (again, common in these situations, no parent ever wants to admit his offspring is anything but perfect)

I don't regret giving so much, because when I finally decided it was time to disengage, I really felt no guilt at all

I suggest you stop trying to win her over, step up and call her out on her behavior - each and every, single, time.

And ya, I would say to her, and your DH, that the only reason you sponsored her was because you sincerely cared. You tried to step up and make a difference in her life. That she doesn't have to like you, but she needs to show both respect and appreciation. End of story.

Once she knows you won't take her crap, nor do you give a rats ass any longer whether she actually likes you or not, she won't know what to do

Stop wanting her to like you, stop expecting any sort of relationship, stop exhausting yourself trying.

Just remember you have been a good person who did an incredibly thoughtful thing. Her lack of appreciation or respect reflects on her, her issues, and not on you in any way!

lazyday's picture

Might I suggest that you leave this situation! If all the childless step parents met up we would not have to do any of this.

Please contact me if you think you can take no more?


lazyday's picture

Hi there,

It is not law to accept step children! It is natural to disengage. The children also have the same feelings as step parents. Do you really want the children to feel these jealousy issues? It is incredibly painful.

Time to actually start telling the truth.