17 yr old stepdaughter breaking us up - FamilyEducation
17 yr old stepdaughter breaking us up
02/08/2008 at 11:18 AM

As I have read many hours of articles on this topic I am seeking advice. It seems to be a very common story.... Marrried 1 year this month my husband and I were introduce by both our daughter (were Friends) who are 17 now, 2yrs ago. of course we expected challenges and decided to move in together in my home first about 8 months prior to getting married . We sat down with the girls and discussed challenges of how and what was expected of them. Both being only children found it difficult and it became competitive but in all fairness better than expected. Now things have turned to the worse. I admit that my stepdaughter had a difficult life moving from relative to relative until she was 9 yrs old when her dad took over. The problem is that she has never had any rules or responsibilities and also has never been held accountable for anything. Trust me my daughter is a pain in the neck at times too, but being her parent i follow thru and PARENT!
My husband does not and of course whenever there is a problem I go to him for help and since things are getting worse all he can say is.. "What do you want me to do I've talked to her and she doesn't listen.". She is a slob leaves dirty stinky laundy all over , feeds all her friends does'nt clean up ignores me when I ask her to do it, I could go on but I am sure you know where I'm heading. The real problem is that along with caring for a family and home I work 3 jobs and feel I really need the help. Also we have been fighting so much that he keeps telling me that he will ask her to leave but he will have to go to! Its not what I want, but I'm losing my mind. He has also told me that I should get over it because hshe is his responsibility and intends on having her stay here as long as she wants so she can have a good start through college.Can you believe this. As of today I have made an appointment for counseling he said he would go also my daughter, his said she will not. Help

Find someone who wants the work and hire them every afternoon for an hour ($15 to $25), to clean up after the stepdaughter.  Then when she wants to do something that costs money say you are sorry, but you are spending the money on household help.  I know that's $500 a month.  I bet it wouldn't take too many weeks for step-daughter and husband to gain perspective on the situation.


Gail, I find myself agreeing with you. I think the help idea is a good one. 


Hi gail I did think of that smae thing an I thinking I should try it even if 1times a week but is this really teaching her anything well i suppose it does'nt matter as long as it gets done and solves the problem. She is pretty self sufficent other that the $5 daily for lunch at school so that would't make a difference would it? I am getting to the point where I hardly talk to her. Still think we need counseling as a couple he really does'nt see where I'm coming from and it makes me feel unimportant.

I'm wondering if the household money going out to household help wouldn't be a great eye-opener for your husband.  Just leaving it for him or for his daughter to clean up probably wouldn't make any difference, but there's something about spending money on these things that makes them suddenly more important.

  $5 for lunch?  That is where I'd get the money.  "Sweetie, I'm sorry that we don't have that money anymore.  Here's the bread, the peanut butter,  the carrot sticks and the baggies. "


Oh another weekend is over and stepdaughter returns with a packfull of dirty laundy from wherever shes been more to add to the pile. anyway brought up that solution to hubby and he said"deprive my daughter from food cuz she doesn't pick up, I don't think so". I was making both of them lunches in the first several months together until she told me she doesn't eat it anyway So now I just help get my daughter going . I never really minded helping either out but I refuse to do anymore . This morning after she left her weekend pile on the floor along with her shower towels on the bath floor. I picked them up (after suggesting that she throw them in the washer before school)and put them in the front seat of her fathers car. He was not happy when he was ready to leave for work. I am acting childish I know but I really feel that by making him accountable for her behavior or her mess that maybe he will tire of it and do something. Is this crazy?

I don't think you are crazy.  You are in a crappy situation.  A marriage is different than what you are describing.  Even a business arrangement is different than what you are describing.  I would find a place where you and your daughter can live.  If you are already working three jobs, I hope you are making enough that you can afford that.  That is so sad.  But you can't make people be different than they are.  Whatever the dynamic is between your husband and his daughter, he is not helping her to grow up into a competent adult.  And right now, neither are you.  Whatever your marriage contract was, it isn't working for you, for your daughter, or for his daughter.  It needs to change, or end. 


well the living arrangements are in my home and I/ve gotten by before by taking in a roommate(have a inlaw apt thats where the kids are)Tomorrowo I see a counselor myself , he said he would come later. I don't know what to expect Will she have advise for us will he take it . I'll have to see. Maybe I'm in the wrong and I have to step back? My daughter questions what is happening although I think at 17 she knows and also asks me why there are different rules for the stepsister. My feeling is I am not going to take 17yrs of what I taught my daughter on how to be independent and responsible and considerate of others and throw it out the window. I know the stepdaughter will not change I'm just hoping he will if even 10 percent.

I have had some good results with counseling.  I will be thinking of you!


I agree with Gail, he is not helping her grow up to be a competent adult.  Its not at all about the dirty laundry, it is about disrespect.  Her father allows it which just doubles the disrepect.  You cannot change the dynamics of their relationship and how he is with her so you have to accept it and let her be the horrible adult she will be because of it or end it. 


Wow! Although I think these individuals have some great ideas about getting paid help and using the lunch money to pay, I do not agree with ending your marriage.  Did you say they lived in your home for 8 months before you married?  I think people end marriage too easily... the girl is 17 she should be on her own soon ... She may not be a well adjusted respectful adult, but she will not be your problem.. or not as much your problem anyway ...


I know exactly what you are going through....it isn't easy living with a slobby, lazy 17 y.o step daughter, trust me I know, I have one too!.....I feel bad for what I had to do to get things accomplished here, call me insane, juvenile or spiteful, but at times we need to do what we have to, I,  like yourself, got tired of hearing "what do you want me to do?" so I made a plan and this is what I did.....I got so tired of her leaving crap for me that I retaliated, but in a sneaky way...she would throw food in the sink and not empty the strainer, so I took the strainer out and what a surprise, the sink backed up, lol.....her dad got mad when he had to unclog it and now he has stopped her from doing that......leaving spilt food on the counters was funny, I would sit his stuff in it and let him deal with cleaning his things from her mess, after a few ruined papers he had had enough...I would also throw anything out that was left lying around, I figured if it was something important or of value she would of cared more about it, it was the only way to get her to put her things away and pick up after herself...the laundry situation was a little harder, she refused to do it and it piled so high, it made her room nasty smelling (like feet and that time of the month) so I always shut her door....this is a little disgusting and made the house smell worse but to get her dad to make her clean her room and do her laundry I would poor stuff that couldn't be seen on her dirty clothes in the laundry basket, then leave her door open, imagine what  raw chicken or meat fluids that sat out for a few days smelt like, the house was rancid for a few days to say the least.....I feel bad for doing what I did but I got so tired of trying to get him to step up and correct his spoiled daughter.....at times we need to do what we have to......

This past few weeks has really been a blessing since I started letting her actions reak havoc on the home and her dad.

I have no regrets, I accomplised what I set out, bad way to go about it , but it worked....I love her dad and am determined she is not going to come between us no matter what, the good thing is her dad is none the wiser, he is even feeling a little better about himself making her do what she should of always been doing......



Shanlyn, I applaud you. I think what you did was an excellent way to get results without too much argument. Very subtle. 


That took a lot of courage.  It can't have felt good while you were doing it.  You are a real mom, to do the scary thing that doesn't feel good.


Your husband (the daughter's father) has to be the parent. If he doesn't do anything than the daughter will not listen to you and even resent you.

Beleive me it already happen to me. The dad doesn't make daughter do chores, or find a job or to respect anyone.

I tried to be the parent and now the daughter doesn't talk to me and doesn't visit her dad unless she needs money or her mom doesn't want to pay for something and she might call him every 6-8 wks or so.

Talk to your husband and let him know how you feel. If that doesn't work than nothing will..


First of all, the step daughter has absolutley no respect for the house in which she lives, for you and your rules as well as your husband (her dad). So it isnt all against you its both adults. Now as far as the dad, he needs to step up to the plate here. Yes he is her dad, but he is also your husband, you are a team. Right now, he isnt being a very good team player. He needs to understand that you need to work together. You are not the neighbood soup kitchen either, these things cost money. maybe having friends over should be limited, because she is 17 she will have friends over and they will need to be fed. You would expect someone to fee your child if she were at their house. When you husband asks you what to do, tell him. Come up with a reasonable plan in your head firt, then tell him how you want him to support your decision if he cant come up with one himself. Yes he really does need to be told dont expect him to read your mind. Quit working 3 jobs, maybe if your home all the friends wont come over and you will be able to have control of your house. Have your husband pay for the food out of his check. If she eats it all then he can take the hit on it. The daughter isnt the problem, its the husband. If he is boss, he should show it.

I agree its definitely the husband!

i know it is an old posting, but i want to thank you for it. i thought i was the only one with this problem, my fiance is the same way with his 2 daughters and i am to the point i do not even want to go home from work at times. i get up very early in the morning so i can have my coffee in peace. i know, because i am not her choice of soon to be stepmom. she is going to fight me mentally in every way she can. she is just like you discribed your stepdaughter, lazy, sloppy, snobby, never listens because of her upbringing, feeds her friends and never cleans up afterwards, leaves her bras on the livingroom table after she takes them off, etc etc etc. again thank you for posting it....goody

The mess is just a side effect...this girl hasn't had anybody to attach to, as all kids should. You are a distraction and a reminder of all the uneasy years she experienced in her unstable childhood. Counseling is the only solution, your husband is the key and he is the only one who will be able to fit you guys into their lives. With the help of a counselor,you and your husband will be taught how to approach this delicate situation as a family. Things will be harder; however, we have to break eggs to make a cake. It will be worth it. Don't give up. c.a

I have a 17YO step-daughter and her mother is similar to the father in these other stories. Her daughter SAM is a great student, active in school and sports and basically a great girl - however, she has little respect for me as a step-father and her mother (my wife) does not support me. I am quickly tiring of the "privileged daughter". SAM never has to pick up wet towels, follow rules, or do much of ANYTHING around the house. SAM tells mom what she WILL be doing. NO consequences. SAM is able to make herself 'unavailable' to do chores. I talk to mom (wife) about this and get "all you do is complain about my kids". Communication about her children is quickly deflected to another topic. Today SAM was supposed to come home from school and help out. Well, that was three hours ago. I asked mom and was told, oh - she went out with friends and she'll do it later. I reminded her of the rules she set last night ... guess what.... I misunderstood them. Typical. :)

I need advice. Been with my husband three years. Married for 6 mos. He has a 17 year old daughter with a very dysfunctional ex girlfriend. He was 17 and she was 29 at the time. He left when the child was 1 year old. Ex girlfriend harasses him in every way possible still! The daughter cant stand the fact that her dad is with someone and neither can the ex. Worse yet his parents are taking the ex girlfriend and daughter's side because they are scared to lose their granddaughter so they are mean to me and have decided to ignore myself and my husband which makes him feel terrible that his parents could do such a thing. I love my husband very much and want this marriage to work but how is this possible? All I am is just some outside intruder.