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Reclusive 17 year old SD problems

adviceplease's picture

I am new to this and have come on here for advice and as a way of being able to vent anonymously because I feel like i am struggling to cope. My 17 yeard old SD moved in with us on her 16th birthday because she told us she could no longer bear to live with her mother/things were awful at home/she was miserable etc. In doing so she has to a large extent burnt her bridges with her mum and upset her 16 year old brother (who i think probably felt betrayed by her as they didn't know she was moving out until she didn't go home after the holidays).
I was 8 months pregnant at the time but didn't feel like there was much i could do and would just need to get on with it – at the time I thought her life was pretty miserable and genuinely felt for her but was really anxious about her moving in at a time when my life was going to change so dramatically. Also relevant is the fact that she and her brother had not reacted well to the announcement that their dad and I were expecting a baby. Their behaviour was disgusting at imes. I am pretty sure this came about from insecurity but was difficult to know that the baby I was expecting had such negative feelings towards it and I therefore had no idea how things would be once he was born.
My SD joined her new school half way through an important year and only stuck out 2 of 5 subjects she had been doing at her other school. This was partly due to timetable difficulties but partly due to her ‘struggling to cope’. She was reluctant to work and did not socialise. She became increasingly reclusive and even refused to do things with our wider family. She then dropped out of school. This meant that during my maternity leave it was difficult for me to really have the time I had been so looking forward to. Her dad was working around 100hours a week (hotel manager but has since given it up as family time didn’t exist) so I feel like I had a lot to cope with on my own. My SD is at home ALL the time as she doesn’t work/socialise/go to school which means that I never get the opportunity to relax in my home – whenever I am there, she is there. This is particularly difficult because she doesn’t spend time in her room and we only have 1 public room in our house – no space for table in kitchen. When i leave the house she is sitting on the couch, when i get home 8 hours later she is sitting on the couch. I dont know how this has such an effect on me but it really gets me down. This also means that I NEVER get the opportunity to have any form of private chat with her dad or time for our relationship. (our baby is still in our bedroom so we cant even go there to talk – or for privacy/intimacy). Her dad is now studying (which is great for our future but it means that at the moment we are hundreds of pound short every month) and looking after our son while I am at work full-time – a necessary evil. This means that he and my SD have a lot of time at home during the day while I am out.
Between studying and looking after our son my other half is busy – I have no problem with that but he is messy and so is my SD. This means that when I return from work the house is usually really untidy. There is a real lack of standards and i dread anyone turning up at the door because of the state of the place (i am not talking toys all over the floor i'm talking a real mess, cups, clothes, biscuit packets, rubbish etc). Every room is such a mess. We are also short of space and I just find it so difficult to cope. After pleading and expressing how difficult I find the untidiness my SD is now responsible for the dishwasher and washes the kithchen once a week – we have a weekly clean at the weekend which I hate (because i hate spending the precious time i get with my 14month cleaning)but it seems the only way to avoid living in a complete pig sty (although at least 5 days a week we do). I don’t think this is much to ask. Her bedroom is an absolute disgrace and the door can hardly be opened due to the mess. She also never opens blinds/windows and often sleeps straight onto the mattress rather than have sheets. Its disgusting and the room smells. I want her dad to take control of the situation and make her get a grip. She knows he doesn’t really care about mess (and that he and I fall out about it) and completely disregards my feelings. I know for a fact that she is manipulative and is extremely controlling and i am astonished with what he lets her off with and i dont understand why. It seems my feelings/sanity/ability to cope don't matter enough to just put his foot down, ignore the crocodile tears and insist she gets her finger out.
She never gives back chat etc to me but is instead very passive aggressive and in effect completely defiant. She is aware that we are unable to be intimate because our bedroom is above the living room where she has been when we go to bed – when it has been hinted at she still chooses to stay in the living room – I find that incredible and so controlling. Whenever my other half and I get 10mins to ourselves (which is rare) we end up falling out about my SD. It just seems so unfair and as if she has walked in to my life, taken control of it and really messed it up also I am sure she is smug when she sees her dad and I fall out (we cant even have a private disagreement because she is ALWAYS there. I probably cant even begin to get across that she spends her entire life asleep in her bedroom (the only time she spends there)or sitting in the living room. We cant go anywhere for privacy. I am kind to her and don’t want to have a bad relationship with her but I can’t go on like this. I am considering going to my doctor to see if I can get counselling as a way of helping me cope. I am typically a laid back, easy going person who doesn't stress - its not worth it right? but this is beyond a joke and i have never felt so angry, stressed, struggling to cope. I have a good job and am a sensible, reasonable person who tries to be kind to everyone and treat people as i would like to be treated. (I have a horrible feeling i sound like a complete bitch but im really not).
An important part of all of this is that she has been seeing a counsellor for teenagers/psychiatric support. I know she has wounds and in some ways had a hard time in the past with her Step Father and her mother and I was supportive of her seeking this help. However, 9 months on there is no sign of progress, she still will not get a job and just sits in the living room on her laptop morning til night but now seems to have an excuse for it ie ‘she is mentally unwell’. I am not convinced she is mentally unwell as such but is probably becoming so given her lifestyle. She binge eats, is putting on weight, can’t fit her clothes properly, doesn’t socialise or go out (unless with us eg food shopping) and has no work, school etc etc. I can imagine this would make anyone depressed nevermind help to solve it! There is definite laziness in a big way and I think she uses her ‘illness’ as an excuse far too often. I am not mocking mental health issues in any way but I am far from convinced that this is what we are dealing with here.
This whole situation is having a very negative impact on my relationship with her dad and it concerns me that my son is growing up in the negative atmosphere. I try to have a happy and postitive influence on him as much as possible but I am at work full time so am not around most of the time that he is awake (that in itself makes my heart heavy). I care for my SD but I am becoming increasingly resentful of this situation knowing that she controls so much of my life and that her actions/lack of actions cause so much misery for me, my relationship and is creting a poor environment for my son to grow up.
I know i have ranted but I think I maybe needed to. Speaking about it with my other half is having a negative effect on our relationship and is putting a wedge between us. To add insult to injury i think i have now become part of the stress in his mind because my struggle to cope with the situation is i think causing him to feel stressed. I cant describe how this makes me feel. I wanted to let it out because all this is making me miserable and I fear it could make me unwell. Any advice that anyone could offer would be appreciated – please be honest, even if you think I wont like to hear it. I am beginning to doubt if I am the one who is being unreasonable here.

janeyc's picture

Yes you did need to rant, its your home too isn't it? I had to threaten to leave my bf if things did'nt change for the better, I think you need to lay the law down, your husband is doing his daughter no favours by letting her drift, she sounds depressed actually, part of being a parent is to teach discipline, respect and the ability to be able to take care of ones self, tell him, what will her future be like if she carries on doing nothing?'s picture

Has your dh considered that she might be falling into depression because HE doesn't seem to care enough about her to set limits and get her off her ass? What good parent lets their child quit school and sit around all day? He needs a wake up call. Here in the US you can do school at home. If she can't handle school, then she needs an alternative plan. I would've been long gone if I were you.

ThatGirl's picture

Maybe try to get her to clean her room up and reorganize it into a better hang-out space? That's what I'm going to try to do with SS14, who also spends every waking moment sprawled out on the couch in front of the TV. Also trying to enforce a No TV rule before 9am and after 9pm. Would love to be able to tell him couches are for sitting, not lying.

steptwins's picture

This story sounds familiar -- guilty DH's, enabling the skid to be a loser so skid will "like" him. However, today is one skids first counseling session to address his "attitude". Last time he answered just yes, or no. Nice! BM taking him finally after 4 years ago in counseling she said "is this over, I don't have time for this, I have no problems with my boys" 20 minutes into a family session. Then one refuses to go visit & Dad "keeps" him. BM stops all visits b.c. "not worth the time to get one". End result: swins w/us all the time. But one freaked on her so she's all about getting him the help he needs... May I suggest shock treatment? But not any punishment/consequence for bad behavior omg!

adviceplease's picture

Skids are definitely difficult territory! The thing is I wouldn't dream of letting her off with half of it if she was my daughter. Feel we are totally compromised because the 'psychology nurse' said we should let her leave school, not work etc so she had time to 'chill out and get better' therefore every time we try to make progress we get quoted at us what the psychologist said in our family session. It is useless and I can't believe the outcome of the appointments. Surely anyone knows that allowing a kid to become a recluse and not go out, have friends, not go to school, not have a job etc will make them worse!
I know her dad is trying to do the right thing but i think its a case of a dad being a bit blind to his daughter who manipulates situations all the time!
I arrived home tonight and announced that anyone wanting to be a slob could move out and that got her cleaning the kitchen! Then said i needed a bit of time and could she give us space for half an hour. She has just come back into the room and is being really frosty - i suspect she was listening in but there isnt much i can do about that.
As far as i am concerned she should be working full time but its so hard to enforce when we are being told by the 'professional' in front of SD that we should leave her to it! That was bearable for a temporary measure but it has been a LOT of months now. Its also difficult because she is virtually unemployable and it wont be hard for her to deliberatley not get a job. SIGH
Her dad and i have made plans tonight as to how to get things going so fingers crossed even a little bit of progress will be made. Trouble is that she deliberately doesnt give us time together and its like a pressure pot - we try not to argue in front of her but cant have any quality time together and cant discuss things meaning that a row breaks out that she hears every word of - i think she capitalises on this and uses it to 'divide and conquer'.
We now have a rule that at 10.30 she goes to her room so that we get even half an hour to ourselves before bed and then we will at least have the opportunity for intimacy again because she isnt sitting in the room below fully aware of what she is doing. I am seriously beginning to wonder if her insecurities make her want to be her dads number 1 and that i may be getting in the way of it!
We have said we want another baby and she doesnt realise how obvious it is that she hates the idea. She just keeps saying she would love another brother! - ie she cant bear the thought of a girl because that would threaten her relationship with her dad! Its crazy, however, having reached the end of my tether i have accepted that i will be the 'bad bitch' that inists on things if need be - no more 17 year old SD ruling the roost!
Thanks for your comments guys, they really have helped.