What kind of relationship should my fiance now have with his former stepdaughter from previous marriage? - FamilyEducation
What kind of relationship should my fiance now have with his former stepdaughter from previous marriage?
05/14/2010 at 19:47 PM

My Fiance was married for 10 years to his ex wife. When they married she had a daughter from her first marriage, not long after they were married they had a biological daughter together. Anyway, there are 2 girls (a daughter and stepdaughter from his previous marriage that are involved).

He never legally adopted the stepdaughter and has no legal rights/custody of her. Does not pay child support or anything of that nature.

He knew the stepdaughter since she was about 3 and has raised/taken care of her ever since like his own. Her own, biological father never paid child support and rarely saw her and/or had anything to do with her in the 10 years my fiance was married to his ex wife.

Even after the divorce 2 years ago, when he would get custody of his biological daughter, he would have BOTH of them. The stepdaughter has been to our home every single time along with her sister, we have shared holidays with her, spent just as much money on her, given her as many gifts, etc as the biological daughter. Treated her exactly the same. She is ALWAYS included in everything. She recently turned 18.

However, the last few times she has been to our home, she has reminded my fiance over and over again about how he is NOT her Dad, has no rights to her and must ask her mother's permission before he does anything with her. (i.e take her to get her hair cut etc)

She also has become cold, she won't call him Dad like she used to. Won't hug him anymore or anything. She acts like she's only visiting because she has to, just because her sister is. She loves when we give her gifts and celebrate her birthday and holidays, but it has become apparent that perhaps she just likes the benefits of gifts.

In conversations, she also has told us that if we have a child together (my fiance and I) that it won't be her sibling and she won't have anything to do with him/her.

My fiances biological daughter has expressed resentment towards the fact that her sister always comes along and she doesn't get anytime alone with HER Dad. She also seems upset that when we send care packages, we send her sister just as much as we do her.

When the stepdaughters dad does see her, he never takes her sister, like we do. Never buys her anything or has anything to do with her. To a 13 year old, naturally this seems confusing and unfair.

The ex wife has also been extremely bitter in the divorce. There has been strong evidence that she has been brainwashing and turning the biological daughter against her Dad (my fiance) and myself. She won't answer her phone when he calls and tries to keep both the girls away from him as much as possible.

As far as the stepdaughter goes, we will have our own child together eventually, this raises several questions about whether he should continue his relationship with his now legal adult stepdaughter who has increasingly distanced herself yet, continues to manipulate both him and me for gifts, etc. We feel as if this is something that could make our own child very confused and even strain his relationship with her sister, his biological daughter.

The ex wife doesn't think I have any rights or should even see this daughter...and revokes any legal responsibilities from my fiance, YET insists she comes on every visit and behaves as though it's my fiances responsibility and duty to continue to support her and buy her things.

I am beginning to find this very obnoxious and increasingly disturbing...what do we do or think?

Also, to add to this dilemna. The stepdaughter has cerebral palsy. She very intelligent and smart, graduating at the top of her class. So though she is physically handicapped, mentally she is very aware of right from wrong. The ex wife, does not send her a wheelchair or a walker 99% of the time and she can not walk by herself. Most of the time, the girls are picked up by my fiances sister, who drives to TN to get them and brings them back to KY where we currently live. So, when we do have her, it is nearly impossible to do anything or go anywhere with her. She crawls around the house (this deeply saddens and disturbs us because she is a beautiful 18 year old young woman). This is where most of the resentment comes from as well from his own daughter, because her sister keeps her from ever being able to do anything (like go to a thempark etc) Also, because of the CP she needs help bathing, going to the bathroom, etc. Her mother does not take good care of her, I have to end up helping her shave her arms and legs when she's here. We do SO MUCH for her and sometimes it is such a strain without the proper equipment needed. Yet, she has developed such an attitude and her Mother still continues to behave as though we should really have nothing to do with her, but somehow still expects us to care for her...... This is very straining and it's to the point where we're both ready to accept the fact that maybe we should cut the string and just care for and get custody visits of the biological daughter. Is this wrong or selfish?

Rent a walker/wheelchair.

Renting a walker/wheelchair if the slightest of our problems concerning the issue's with this girl... The question was not what to do about her being unable to walk, but whether or not it's appropiate for my fiance to continue a relationship with her, considering she's technically the "ex stepdaughter" whom he has no legal custody of and she and her mother have made it very clear that she's not his daughter and yet, he's still caring for her like his own with increasing opposition..... Give some thoughtful advice please.....

For 15 years, he has been her dad. She knows he has no obligation. She is testing him. I hope he rises to the occasion. I hope you do, too.

Agree, dad needs to understand that this child, though she may tell him otherwise, needs him. The resentment and disrespect she shows is nothing more than her being an audience to her mothers bitterness and resentment. This is not the childs fault, she is merely repeating what she has heard. At such times dad should talk to her and remind her that he loves her and that no matter what she hears, to him she will always be his daughter. The games the mother is playing are sickening. To undermine the feeling of family and security for her own selfish wants, and for nothing more than to get back at the father through the child. You brought up the wheelchair issues because it must be an issue. You say that the daughter has to crawl around the house which deeply saddens the both of you. You also stated that this is where the most resentment comes from because they are not able to do much without the wheelchair. When a solution is given, you simply brush it off and say that it’s the least of the problems. It makes me wonder of you are done with her and are looking for advice to support your views. Divorce papers only dissolve a marriage; they do not dissolve the love this man has for this young lady who has regarded him as her father. No, the answer is not to give up on her. What parent gives up on their child? Get her a wheelchair so she can have mobility and feel like part of the family. If her crawling around the house deeply saddens you, how do you think it makes her feel? What anxiety must she feel to know that every time she visits she will have to crawl, or ask for help from someone? I wonder if her attitude would change if when she arrived she was greeted at the car with a wheelchair? Seems quite simple to us, but may mean the world to her.

I sounds like you and your fiance have done a wonderful job in continuing to make this young lady feel a part of the family. Developmentally, emotionally,and physically she has some things she has to work out for herself. Time will let her know that she IS his daughter too. I agree with the others, you will have to develop patience and ride it out. She will come around. As for the ex. That is a different story, she may never come around, but the girls will grow to learn that their father has been a CONSISTENT part of their lives and regardless of what has happened between their dad and thier mother; Dad will always continue to love them both unconditionally.

Okay, I need to clear one issue up. The walker/wheelchair. This girl has had CP her whole life, a child usually starts walking around the age of 1 to 1.5...her Mother has allowed her to crawl her whole life and infact, actually encourages it. So, this is something that the daughter actually prefers and so does the Mother,(even at home WHEN SHE DOES have the walker or wheelchair she crawls) my Fiance and I are against it. We do not like it nor do we deem it appropiate for her age, especially at 18. With that said, the very first time the girls came to visit us after we had been engaged and started living together, she brought her walker with her. That one and only time. We suggested she use it and highly encouraged that as her way of getting around. Her Dad especially, really made sure she used it. After she got home that weekend, he recieved several hateful phone calls from her Mother. She was very upset and charged us both of being "mean", "cruel" and "pushy" on the daughter for making her use her walker. Mind you, this is from a woman and a situation where, this poor girl has no muscle left in her legs whatsoever because her mother prematurely pulled her from physical therapy as a young child and won't take her back, she has not had the surgery she needs either. Crawling has been her way of life and her mother has even told her before "you want people to feel sorry for you!" This is a very complicated and multi-faceted issue...like I said and I will say it again, however, this one issue is the least of the issues compared to others. The overall health, hygiene and safety of the child are issues along with brainwashing, etc. These things have been reported to CPS, but never investigated. We don't know what to do. There are no legal rights held to her by either of us.

She does NOT have anxiety over crawling or feel out of place, that's just it! She enjoys it and likes it and prefers it. She has done it her whole life....and throws a fit about using any other way of getting around because her Mother has made her think it's okay. When we do go out, my Fiance drops us off at the front door, I hold all her weight and walk her to the inside where I put her on a motorized cart. As far as the resentment goes...that is NOT from us, it's from her sister, the biological daughter. AND isn't even really from visiting with us, it's in general, being at home with her everyday and living with it... See, their Mother won't allow them to go anywhere. The girls are hermits at home....everytime she goes shopping or to the store, she goes alone and leaves them home. Why? Because she's too lazy to deal with her daughter's CP and the fact that she needs help getting around. My Fiances daughter has even told me, "Mom said *name* was too slow and can't get around, so it's better she stays at home." Therefore, I think the daughter is simply just looking for a small break from home where she come and visit us and just have fun and do whatever she wants without worrying about her sister...it's the only time she ever gets the chance to be a kid.

changed my mind.

When one makes the decision to have a relationship and make a family with another person, one takes on that person's entire family, no matter how obnoxious or bothersome that might be. If this is disturbing to you, you should rethink your decision to continue in this relationship.

Good call, mayamay, though those of us who had the opportunity to read your post might agree with your now deleted sentiment.

If it is not an issue, why did you post this? ""The ex wife, does not send her a wheelchair or a walker 99% of the time and she can not walk by herself. Most of the time, the girls are picked up by my fiances sister, who drives to TN to get them and brings them back to KY where we currently live. So, when we do have her, it is nearly impossible to do anything or go anywhere with her. She crawls around the house (this deeply saddens and disturbs us because she is a beautiful 18 year old young woman). This is where most of the resentment comes from as well from his own daughter, because her sister keeps her from ever being able to do anything (like go to a thempark etc)"" I feel like there are two different people posting here.

Miranda82, In your profile, you state your fiance has 2 biological daughters. You do not mention his other daughter in your post. Does he see her or have contact with her?

Yes, 2xstepmom he does have 2 biological daughters. The oldest one is now 16, we both have an excellent relationship with her. We see her very often, talk to her on a regular basis, he pays child support (even though it wasn't court ordered) and commuincate on a regular basis through text messaging, IM'ing and Facebook, etc. This daughter is in a completely different situation, she is cared for and taken care of extremely well. She lives with her Mom and Aunt and they have been very respectful and pleasant when it comes to me and my Fiance, infact I am close friends with the Aunt now and have a nice relationship with her Mom.

The other 2 sisters, however....the ex wife is very difficult and bitter and makes communication and seeing the girls hard. I couldn't possibly explain it all here... I am also very aware of the fact that when you're with someone you adopt and take on the whole family not just that person. I knew that from the start before we officially even began dating, he made it very clear he had children and did not want to be involved with someone who couldn't love them and help care for them. If you were to ask anyone (of course except the ex wife in the situation) they would ALL tell you that I am a damn good Stepmom to those girls, never once has it crossed my mind to ever be anything to them other than loving, patient, caring and an excellent role model, I have always treated them exactly like I'd treat my own. Read my statements carefully please and before giving me advice which I came here out of sincerity to get, if I didn't give a shit or just had the intentions of "dropping" someone as one person put it, I wouldn't be here, put yourself in my shoes and my Fiances shoes....I'm not the only one reading these posts, this is for BOTH of us. I never described the Stepdaughter as being obnoxious or a hassle, I described the Mothers attitude as being obnoxious... It bothers me that she sends her here to our home, knowing I will be caring for her, yet completely disregarding me and making comments to people and acting like I have no right to even see this child.... I care for her, not because I have to, but because I want to...I help her bathe, shave, go to the bathroom, I help her do everything. Yet, her Mom throws a fit when I send an Easter package to their house with an Easter Basket to her and her sister?? That's what is obnoxious.... It hurts when my Fiance has raised and cared for this child almost her entire life and we both have gone to the extreme treating her just like the other 2, making sure she feels like a part of our family even though the dynamics have changed with him and I being together, and yet, she is constantly telling him and reminding him in so many ways how he's not her Dad. This is the issue, this is what we're looking for advice on....he doesn't know how to tackle this, what to say, what to do, etc...neither do I

From the "82" in your screen name, you are possibly 28 years old? My advice to you, which I also gave to my own daughter who is now 26, is for you to remove yourself from this situation. This is a man who is already paying child support to 2 of his 3 children. His time and energy is being taken up with these 3 children and their lives and extended family. You state you plan to have children of your own. Do you really want to bring your children into this chaotic and fragmented situation? Once you do this, you will forever have to deal with this man's time and attention being focused in too many ways. You deserve to have a man who will be able to focus on only you and your children. Think about what your life will look like, then sit down and write it all down on paper and really look at what your life and the life of your children will be. I gave this advice to my then 25 y/o daughter when she was beginning to see a man with a 17 y/o son from his first relationship and a stepdaughter, who had only ever known him as her father, from his 2nd relationship. Luckily my daughter was not living with this man already and after a great deal of reflection she made the decision to break off the relationship. Over a year later she is now in a relationship with a very nice young man with no children with whom she can build a positive relationship. You know you deserve that chance also! Am also quite curious, what does your family think of this whole situation?

I have already given advice on why I believe the daughter is saying the things she is. Consider the source of her information; she is merely repeating what she hears. If the mother does not respect you, even for the things you do for her daughter, why do you allow it to bother you? She is not going to welcome you with open arms. The thing to do is toughen up and not allow the rest of the world to get under your skin so easily. You say that she acts like you have no right to see her daughter. The reason she acts like this is because you don’t. Step parents do not have rights to step children. In most state step parents are considered “legal strangers”. Stop worrying about what she thinks, says, or wants. There will be people in this world that do not like you; just as you may not like me right now. Don’t spend your time and energy wondering why, in the scheme of things, it does not matter. You can only control the things that happen in your home, so that’s where your energy should be spent.

2Xstepmom, I think ya nailed it.

Also, this girl is 18. Although you, Dad, don't have a legal right, it would be generous of you to invite the girl to live with you, since she is of age. You could help her find the resources she needs to become more independent. If her primary residence were with you, she could access community services in your area. I don't know if there are residency requirements, perhaps you could look into that. I don't know if physical and occupational therapy will make a huge difference at this age, but it is certainly worth a try.

Wow, you people amaze me. Look at your original posts, my replies and your recent posts....talk about 2 different people posting....you have the nerve to act as if I'm some sort of witch because you thought it seemed as if I wanted to "drop" the girl and then you tell me how when you're with someone you're with the family as well....now your advice is to rethink my relationship and leave him because he has children? WTF?? I no longer seek your opinions or advice if those are the sorts of things you really have to say. Looks like your true colors really showed and what kind of spiteful people you really are. And FYI, I didn't come here for relationship advice. We're getting married next Saturday, and our relationship is very much extroidinary, we've never been happier. This is not about us, this was about the stepdaughter and what to do about her recent behavior..... You people really twisted everything I said.....and you have absolutely no idea what's really going on. If I hadn't of posted the second part of my original post about her having CP and everything, you people would have very different opinions and you know it.

If you are set on putting yourself into this less than optimum situation, then please at least take the advice of mayamay, take this girl in and teach her to be self sufficient. Hope you don't look back in a few years when you have children of your own, wonder what you were thinking and regret this choice. You did not reply to my question of what your family thinks about this situation.

"The ex wife doesn't think I have any rights or should even see this daughter...and revokes any legal responsibilities from my fiance, YET insists she comes on every visit and behaves as though it's my fiances responsibility and duty to continue to support her and buy her things. I am beginning to find this very obnoxious and increasingly disturbing...what do we do or think?" . . . from your OP. point 1. You don't have any rights or responsibilities to this young lady . . . yet. point 2. Your fiancee could go pick up his daughter himself, and refuse to take the step-daughter, as it would be unfair for him to ask his sister to do such a morally repugnant thing. point 3. Although he may have no legal obligation, this girl has regarded him as a father for at least 13 years. He does have a moral obligation to maintain that relationship. What you do is honor the relationship between the man and this girl who has regarded him as her father. That includes supporting her, nurturing a continued father/daughter relationship, helping her to become as self-reliant as possible. Since her bio-mom has absolutely neglected to provide her with appropriate therapies, according to your other posts, and since her 'dad' also failed to do so when he was in the home, it is his obligation to do so now. Not legal obligation. Moral obligation. If you can whole-heartedly devote yourself to this effort, do marry him. If you can postpone having children until his youngest child is 18, jump right in. You'll be, what, 33 then? Fertility rates drop as you age, you may never have a child of your own, but you can surely spend your maternal impulses on rearing his children. It would be a challenge. Not one I would recommend to anyone I know.

You asked for advice and got it. If you do not like the advice, don’t take it. From this latest post of yours, and your previous posts concerning the bio mom, i am starting to see why she has no interest in interacting with you, and why she may not want you around her children. Now that you have gotten the advice you did not want to hear, there must be something wrong with us, not you. If you continue to go through life with a victim’s mentality, this will be a common theme. Before asking for advice, first ask yourself if you are willing to hear the truth as others see it. Part of being a parent is realizing that you are not perfect, and that mistakes can be a learning experience. The fact that the 18 yo has CP did not change my advice in the least. Any child who becomes critical of a parent in a divorce situation is more than likely hearing such things from the other parent. If the CP is not the issue, you should not have brought it up. But then again, if you had not mentioned the CP how could you have told us about all the wonderful things you have done, and how terrible the bio mother is? The fact is, the bio mom has been dealing with it for 18 years, and you, for just a short time. It's easy to be critical of others, especially when doing so can make you look so much better, and especially when you have never walked a mile in their shoes.

Exactally! Well put!

So, I was just noticing your BFs biography. 16 years ago he fathered a daughter with a woman, left her. Met a woman with a young child who had cerebral palsy, fathered another daughter, and after about 10 years or so left that family. Get your tubes tied before the wedding.

@ mayamay: In my 2 years of dispensing advice on this forum have found that many of the people who come on for "advice" really want to hear that what they are doing is the right thing. Will continue to give advice as there are those who genuinely appreciate our efforts. @ miranda82: Hope for your sake you are not entering the place you have so succinctly suggested those of us who gave you the advice you requested should go.

I don't know if Miranda82 will be back, but there were some bits and pieces I wanted to share. One of my children was unable to walk for eight weeks when she was in elementary school. We sent a walker to school with her and instructed the teacher that she was to use the walker, as the physical therapist indicated that it would help her regain mobility more quickly than being carried. It was VERY slow. Around home, she rarely used the walker. Crawling was quicker and also built muscle. For the relatively brief time that my child was unable to walk, I was exhausted. I had 2 other children, a husband, a part time job, and community responsibilities. I handed off the community stuff to my husband, cut back my hours at work, and the house went to--well, I won't say, because my post may be deleted. This was with certain knowledge that my child would most likely become able, not with the hopelessness that CP would bring. My neighbors brought meals and helped with the other kids. My husband stepped up. I never felt alone. I never got depressed. As far as I can tell, I didn't make any irrational decisions. I cannot imagine what it must have been like--is still like, for the ex-wife. The bio-father was not man enough to handle it and ran off. This man, that Miranda82 wants to marry, wanted to ride in on his white horse and make everything better, but it was too tough for him. Having a healthy daughter with this woman kept him around for 10 years. But he got sick and tired and ran off, too. Now, the 13 year-old little sister wants to bail as well. Her dad gave the example of what we do when the going gets tough. We leave the state. We find a chicklet who'll handle stuff that we could hire a CNA to do, and enlist a sister to haul the children. We sympathize with our child's worst impulses, instead of expecting her to do what a good family does--through thick and thin, richer and poorer, better and worse, sick and healthy, even after somebody turns 18. Even after a divorce. Even when somebody is bitter and a little irrational, because LIFE is NOT FAIR.