Stepdaughter Revisited - FamilyEducation
Stepdaughter Revisited
04/16/2008 at 14:39 PM

Hi All. I appreciated the kind words to my post of last fall. I wanted to get/gather more advice before tackling the current slate of issues with my 17 year old stepdaughter, so here goes:

1) She is a senior in high school, always a pretty good student, but has experienced senioritis and her grades have slipped. Not far, but she really doesn't seem to care, and recently confessed that the only reason she took AP classes in the first place is to be able to get a 4.0 grade for 3.0 work. She now does not want to take any AP tests in order to collect college credits for the classes she has taken. She wants to go to college, is accepted at one, but refuses to engage her real father with his (very real) committment to provide 1/2 of the funding for college. The 'real' father ignores my wife's pleas for communication and discussion of this key issue. What to do regarding that? Help!

2)She broke up with her 'sex-partner', only to start seeing his (now ex!) best friend, and start to have sex with the new guy. In fact, one morning not long ago, my wife and I woke up to the 'new' young man getting up from her bed, across the hall. That didn't play in Peoria. Now that 'new' relationship is on hold, while the 'old' relationship is rekindled, and the 'old' one is in the dark about the 'new' one still being in the picture. My stepdaughter simply does not understand the nature of her own actions/manipulations.  Help!

3) My wife continues to be powerless regarding her daughter...well, essentially powerless, because she puts up a good argument and is firm, but generally, caves in to whatever it is her daughter 'needs'. This includes cosmetics, clothes, gas money, fees for school, etc. Her daugher (remember, my step-daughter) works and is supposed to (by written agreement) provide for the maintenance and repairs resulting from negligence to her car. She has been in two accidents/incidents where no other cars have been involved, which leads me to believe she just can't steer very well. I do not want to be an ogre here, but I truly believe that my step daughter entered into an agreement regarding this vehicle and should live up to every stitch of it. Just like a real adult. How should I proceed in enforcing this 'agreement' with both my step-daughter and my wife?

4) The rude attitude(s) and ugly demeanors have not abated, either to me or her mother. I have taken sound  advice (thanks again to all who responded last fall) and have bitten my lip. I only speak when spoken to, or when asked to participate, and I really try to be friendly and show respect to my step-daughter. It is not reciprocated. Should I, at this point before she is off to college in the fall) demand behavioral change from my step-daughter?

5)This 'texting' thing is out of control! I know there is one of you who has a solution to this. My step-daughter used almost 6000 (yes, six thousand) minutes in one recent month, and is not inclined to stop using her phone for texting. Help!

Thanks in advance. Your advice, thoughts, and help is greatly appreciated.

Because of the step dynamic, I don't know how much power you have. My children already know that I would have no hesitation to remove any privilege that they abused. Maybe you and your wife could go to a "tough love" meeting and find out how that works. Apart from that, just continue to model responsible behavior, and keep chugging along. I know a lot of us have focussed on the "when they're 18" thing, but unfortunately the emotional obligation continues even when the legal obligation is over. If you could get your wife to believe that she needs to help her daughter grow up to be responsible and capable, then your life together would get better.

The same stepdaughter, yes....And the latest is this: We received her interim report card ( a 'progress' report which shows....drum roll, please!...3 F's and an A, in choir... She has all the excuses, but the reality is, she has skipped class 8 times in four weeks (this quarter), she is failing her classes, and she will not abide by rules she agreed to when she received a car (for staying on the honor roll). Besides that, she is having sex with two (2!) different guys, and is emotionally, well, a train wreck. And now,,, no surprise here...she is blaming it all on me (the mean step-dad) and others. Her mom and I talked. I own the car, so it is going away, but her mom just refuses to do more than 'talk' with her daughter, my stepdaughter. That's okay with me,and I respect my wife's decisions to handle these problems a certain way, but I sense that I am about to fall into a hole that includes, among other eventualities, supporting a pregnant teen for years! Is a 'tough love' discussion with her Mom and her the right approach? Should her mother be set straight by me regarding my (very) limited impact and my being blamed? Should I leave the house? What should I do? Thanks!

Definitely take the car, you should have taken it when she did not stick to the agreement she made initially. Also, if she is ditching school then she has had plenty of time to socialize with her friends, she does not need to gou out at night and on weekends. She should be spending her time doing school work and extra credit to get her grades to passing. Every person in your home has a contribution to make and her responsibility is to go to school. If your wife won't stick to this now, you will be a "step"Grandfather soon. I say tough love is with your wife, if she will not stand with you and make her daughter comply then leave. She has all the power to save her kid and her marriage, but she's gonna have to be stronger.