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Feeling stuck..

hregal2011's picture

So this is my first post to this site.  I am so upset and confused about what I'm supposed to be doing.  We are a blended family, have been together 10+ years. We got together and our kids (all girls) were 4(My daughter), 5(his daughter), 6(my daughter).  We later had a son together.  My husbands divorce was a bad one.  My step daughters mom tried killing herself, was committed and her and my step daughter had a Very codependent relationship.  My step daughter was struggling so I made the decision to sell my home and move to a different state so that my husband would be closer to his daughter (we originally were going to live in my home).  My step daughters mom is a mess and we are constantly picking up the pieces of it all..lots of legal fees and tears. My step daughter frequently was not cared for and her second husband was acused of abuse to which her mom told everyone the child was lying( she was not and since admitted).  Fast forward to now- my step daughter, who was always told by mom what to like(made her wear dresses, wasn't allowed to like anything we did in our household)..now is in a crisis and doesn't want to be a girl or a boy-wants to be neutral on Everything and has found herself content with ignoring our everyone-including family, being absorbed in social media and neglecting her own needs (won't eat/bath/use the bathroom)...she had always had problems with all of these and her ADD which made her suppress hunger/needing to use the bathroom...etc.  Now a lot of it is willful.

My stepdaughter has gone to a MH facility and is back about a year now however has decided that she is going to be 'who she wants' to be.  Fine and dandy-she wants a new name and no gender identity-whatever-we will always accept her, however the version of her (now going by they/them) is a person who does not participate in any family events/conversations, who doesn't eat much/bathe or keep up with hygiene and will now rarely even talk to anyone in our big family-2 yrs ago she was a bubbly kid with ADD but we had lots of great moments as a family.  She is 16 now and suddenly I am the 'evil step mom' and she talks to me only when she Has to.  She has resorted to being rude to me and won't listen/help..our kids have always been brought up with routine/chores and now unless you literally give her step by step directions, she won't do Anything.  And she reports that this makes her happy.  Not having to worry/do anything-makes her happy.

I recently told my husband that I had to disengage from my step daughter.  For years I did everything kid wise, school/medical/ activities-even for my step daughter because her mom almost always 'forgot' about these things.  Now, I can't keep up and keep my sanity.  I disengaged-however my husband, chooses to help by ignoring it all.  She does nothing she is supposed to and we still hold the other kids responsible..Not Cool.  I've talked to him about it and we are addressing it again this week.  We had a family vacation planned and went to San Antonio..I did not think she should come because she intentionally bought her mom Xmas gifts and bragged about it to her father of whom she did not do anything for and then did not even come see us for Xmas for about 2 wks after. She is failing school and had quit her job as well. I didn't think she should miss school and go but hubby thought she should. We went, she cried multiple times for various reasons-she is antisocial and at times we couldn't get her to order her own food and then every activity we did she would tell the other kids 'the orcas/animals are being abused..' (went to sea world and a rodeo-and we explained they weren't)or some other untrue negative thing.  She then talked crap about me To My Kids while we were on vacation.  And my husband didn't even want to address it-and I was hurt (he did but she cried again saying she just says things and that's it..no intent, but said them when we weren't there and it was very mean)

(Girls are now 15,16,17) now we have a yearly trip coming up and I don't think my step daughter should attend.  One of my daughters who loves everyone, and used to be best friends with my step daughter, has even asked if she can stay back as well.  I told my husband she shouldn't go because honestly she makes things more difficult in any situation and we don't end up having a good time/usually argue.  It would also require her to miss more school and she is not doing well there either.  I understand he wants his daughter there but honestly we have told all the kids that certain behaviors don't fly and they are irate that he lets them fly because it's her.  Ugh..I don't even know what to do at this point but I'm just fed up! Anyone have any suggestions? I'm at a loss..

ndc's picture

What is the custody schedule for your stepdaughter?  If she lives with you and your husband, it's hard to exclude her from family vacations.  If she lives mostly with her mother and is only with her dad every other weekend or so, then it's different.  I personally would not be willing to go on vacation with her, nor would I allow my daughters to go on a vacation with her where she'd likely talk bad about me.  That would be the end of family vacations, and I'd take my kids on a vacation without SD (and without husband if he wasn't willing to go without his daughter).  I know this sounds extreme, but there is no way I would be willing to give up my limited vacation time and hard earned money to go on a trip that would make me unhappy and uncomfortable.  Also, does your daughter want to stay back from the vacation to be with the SD if she also doesn't go, or to avoid the SD if she does?

It sure seems like your husband is failing here.  SD doesn't get to "be what she wants to be."  She can be neutral, and have her pronouns, and I think the family should respect her desires on that front, but she doesn't get to be mean, rude, dirty and disobedient.  What is her father doing to keep her in line, make her do the things she's supposed to do (like chores, schoolwork and personal hygiene) and ensure she behaves like a decent person who is respectful to others in the family?

hregal2011's picture

My step daughter originally was living here after she left the MH facility and seeing mom on weekends.  Since things have been so bad and my husband started working evenings, she went back to be at moms during the week and now comes Friday after school and leaves Sunday after he goes to work.  She had fought hard to not be at our home because she dislikes rules and moms is 'whatever goes'.  She spends less time here because of the issues we have been having.  -but she continues with the issues in that little of time. My daughter asked if my SD could 'not come' because she feels like my SD ruined our last trip.  This is the same daughter that was my SDs best friend..but they are more estranged now. Since I disengaged, my husband just smiles and tries talking to her when she is around but then when it comes to chore time or something, would be totally fine with my daughters doing their chores and his Not.  I understand she has problems but it's weird, she says she has anxiety around people but is selective about those situations.  School and family events make her anxious but vacations/performances/movies don't (she likes these things).  She is on meds but claims she feels 'better'.  I just feel like now that I e disengaged, I either deal with the SD being treated like she doesn't have to do anything Or I micromanage my DH to manage my SD...in that case I might as well just manage the kid again myself.

Rags's picture

At most I would limit it to EOWE.  SD's crap and DH's parenting failures should not be tolerated to ruin your life and the lives of your children.

Gemini's picture

She needs to be guided by her father to behave better. It's not acceptable for her to be acting this way.

However I get the vibe that her issues run deeper than just teenage hormones and her being a brat. She was abused by the stepfather and her mother suffering from mental health issues leading to an attempted suicide. She also said she's happy when doing nothing and not having to worry about anything.

I started exhibiting signs of major depression when I was around 15/16. Anhedonia, constant feelings of emptiness and sadness, loss of apetite.

I'm no psychologist and it could be I'm totally off base , but I find it strange that 2 yrs ago she was bubbly and happy kid, and now she's the opposite. Maybe there's something more going on here, so maybe she needs some form of therapy.

hregal2011's picture

She does have some seated issues.  She is on meds, sees a counselor and psychiatrist as well. I'm a nurse and all for getting people help. What amazes me is that she claims she is no longer feeling depressed or upset as she once was-but it coincides with her being this 'person' who is mean/dirty and uncooperative.  I also feel like it's a big step but she is unfortunately a very impressionable person and about 2 years*ago is when she also got a cell phone and access to social media (which we painfully try to monitor/regulate without help from bio mom)..it's all very strange really.

stepmomnorth's picture

My steps were very, very impressionable as well and the same thing with social media... I swear it screwed them up pretty bad. I know there's studies about how social media is damaging on kids and I don't doubt it at all. Tik tok is their source of all information and what they reference for everything and it is scary. My step will counter arguments with things she saw on Tik Tok. 

stepmomnorth's picture

I've been in a similar scenario myself. I have 3 bio kids and 2 step kids, all teens. My house was the house with the rules and bio moms house no rules, apparently this is common!! Of course I wanted rules and the step kids didn't like coming here because of this. But I was so mad that my kids had to do chores and have rules and his kids didn't because they weren't made to. So they'd come and sit on their butt all weekend and be rude to us. Eventually I told my partner they NEED to start doing things and he had to be the one the one tell them to do it. Did he do this on his own?? Nope. Each and every time I had to speak to him privately and he would then go tell them to do the dishes, clean up their big mess etc. But I would have no less. It bothered me to no end to have them sit around useless, and the rules somehow didn't apply to them. Id be darned if I had to clean up after them all weekend so I made them do it. 

stepmomnorth's picture

We had the vacation problem as well!! Last vacation we went on with the step kids went as follows. They complained loudly if they were not able to charge their phone enough. They left candy wrappers all over my car and my partner didn't make them clean it. They both had friend dramas over text, one ended up in crying, the other in a tantrum. Step kid complained about my cooking even though I made her something special for her vegetarian diet.

So.... After this I told myself I would not go on another trip with them, and my partner understood. And I won't. I think if the partner did more to shut down the rudeness it would be a different story. But I seriously don't blame anyone who doesn't want to go on a trip with step kids after they've proven to be rude and disrespectful on trips.