Immature 17 year old stepdaughter - FamilyEducation
Immature 17 year old stepdaughter
11/20/2008 at 13:19 PM

I am recently remarried.  My husband has two daughters.  Both have been tremendously sheltered, which isn't a bad thing.  The 16 year old is a little immature, but the 17 year old has ADD (she takes medicine for it) and acts more like an 11 or 12 year old.  Other kids her age don't want to be around her; she is very impulsive and can't seem to control her behavior.  She drives my friends' children close to her age crazy with her needy, extremely immature behavior.  It is obvious to everyone outside the family (and some in the family) that she has major problems. The difficulty is that neither of her parents, nor her grandparents, will acknowledge that she has any significant problems.  I have raised a child with Down syndrome, who is now 22, and I think that there is something more wrong with this 17 year old than ADD, but my husband acts like I'm crazy if I mention it.  She is a senior in high school, but has very few friends her age, and is rarely asked to do anything or go anywhere.  I want my husband to notice and point out inappropriate behavior to her so it can be corrected, but it may be too late for that???  I have consistently done this with my Down's daughter so that her behavior in public is socially appropriate.  I am at a loss as to how to deal with his 17 year old.  She refuses to do anything we ask her to do when she is at our house, saying "she doesn't know how."  Trying to show her how to do something is equally frustrating, and usually ends with tears so she won't have to do it.  She is often disrepectful to me, but acts like she doesn't know what she has done on the occasions when her dad confronts her (and he usually believes her).  I don't want this to become more of a wedge between us than it already is.  I also want to help her mature and develop socially acceptable behavior so she can have friends and act appropriately in group  settings.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Bearswife, I am in a VERY similar situation. Through trial and error, this is my best advise to you...the only thing that you can really do is to be yourself and if you are having no results with what you are doing then it is time to re-evaluate. First, I would sit your husband down and tell him how you feel. Tell him that the two of you need to be a united front. Explain how the children's actions are making you feel. And that because you care for him and the girls that you want to see a change so that loves does not die. Second, enforce anything that the two of you come up with. OR If there is no resolution then you are in for a lifetime of heartache. And if that is the path that your husband choses to take then you need to find something to do that is for you! You need to get a book or a craft and stay as unengaged as you can. Don't be rude but act indifferent. It will be hard at first but it will become habit and easier. Third, make sure that the girls know you care for them and that because you do care for them that their behavior upsets you even more. You are after all in your house. You have the right to let your feelings be known. If you do not feel you can do this, tell your husband. And let him tell them. But ultimately if your husband doesn't respect you (it sounds like this may be happening) then his daughters won't respect you either. I hope this helps.

Bears, I believe you were brought into these girls lives for a reason. Because of your own experience with your daughter, you have skills and knowledge that a typical stepmom might not have. You can be such a blessing and a help to this family. Hopefully their parents will let you be that. Because I do agree that you can do nothing without the approval and support of the parents. There has to be a unified front. But sometimes it is hard to hear things we perceive to be negative about our kids. Makes us feel like we didn't do a good job raising our kids. So choose your words carefully and wisely, and deliver them with as much love and concern that you can. If you don't have them backing you up, then yes, distance yourself from it. You can't push too hard or it will cause hard feelings toward you. Welcome to one of the most taxing jobs there is...being a stepparent! I have been married 5.5 years now. We have our problems, its not perfect, but we are making it work, and are happy for it. It can be done. Keep the faith! p.s. have you read any books about blended families by Dr James Dobson? Good stuff.

Thanks so much for the advice. I am fortunate in that my husband is very respectful towards me and sets a good example for the girls in that way. The main problem is that he and his ex-wife have tolerated, overlooked and excused the daughter's behavior for so long that the patterns will be hard to disrupt. I do believe that God has a purpose for bringing me into their lives, so I pray about this nearly every day. I will try to point out specific instances of inappropriate behavior to him so we can present a united front on this. I know her mother will be upset, but someone needs to help this child grow into the young woman she is capable of becoming. I sincerely appreciate the comments and advice.

I have read a few Dobson books, but none on blended families. Is there a particular one you would recommend? I have read some other books on remarriage and stepfamilies, and am currently reading the love languages of teenagers, but none of them seemed to address this specific situation. Thanks for your comments and for letting me know that it can be done. I love my husband dearly and he is a wonderful man and father. He is just too close to this situation to see the dynamics of it right now. I think with time, and with carefully chosen words, I can make a difference for her and help her mature into a young woman, but I know it won't happen over night.

My oldest stepdaughter graduated from high school in May. Her grades were awful because she was on facebook and sending text messages until the wee hours instead of studying (at her mom's house.) The past nine months have been great with my husband, except when she is with us. She is manipulative, untruthful, and tries to irritate me anyway she can. I planned a nice brunch for her after graduation, inviting my husband's family and friends - she told her mom we never told her about the brunch, even though we discussed it with her before invitations were printed and she agreed that it would be fun and a nice thing to do. I got a very nasty email from her mom (she also copied my husband and his mother on it) about planning a brunch without informing the guest of honor. When my husband confronted his daughter and ex-wife about the situation, the daughter said "she didn't remember" discussing the brunch - AND HE BELIEVED HER! To him, she never lies, she just "says what she hears her mom say, or tells people what she thinks they want to hear." Sometimes, I feel like I am losing my mind. A couple of weeks ago, she took the sheets for her bed and either hid them or took them to her mom's house. She then told her dad there were no sheets when she was supposed to change them and made up the bed with no sheets on it?? I guess so we wouldn't notice. There was an extra set of queen sheets (other than the ones she took) in the linen closet. I couldn't figure out where the sheets were and spent two evenings going through every linen cabinet in the house, thinking I had misplaced them. The next time she came to the house, they mysteriously appeared in the girls' linen cabinet. She never said she had them or even mentioned it. I asked my husband to ask her about the sheets and he refused, telling me "they are back now, so what is the big deal?" I am seeing a counselor next week to try to learn some coping techniques, because, although her dad says he sees the issues and wants change, his behavior towards her has not changed, and I don't anticipate it changing. I love him dearly, and know he is very sensitive about any criticism of his daughter, so I have nearly given up on that avenue. Right now, she is taking one college class on one weeknight and "can't find a job that she wants," even though there are lots of jobs in our area. She still expects us to pay for her gas, etc., even though she has nearly $1000 in the bank from graduation. I pay for her medical insurance and cell phone and don't think my husband should give her money for gas or activities so she will be forced to find a job. While he agrees with this in principle, he won't do any thing to make it happen. Just writing this helps me some, and hopefully the counselor will help me learn to cope.

Does your step-daughter have an IEP? If so, you shld talk to her parents about requesting social skills training through the school. Also, have you tried counceling? That may be helpful as well. Hope this helps.