Newly Estranged Step-Daughter

Barbara - posted on 05/12/2010 ( 12 moms have responded )

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After living with us for the last 3 years my Step-daughter decided to move back home with her mother in December due to us not allowing her to have a boyfriend and wear makeup and basically hang out without any rules or regulations. We really had no choice but to allow this to happen due to her being old enough to tell the courts where she wanted to live and now its been 3 months and she has neither called or anything. We feel that forcing her to come here on our weekend's will just bring more resentment and yet it hurts so much that after being her step mom for the last 14 1/2 years not even a call on Mother's Day. Even though I am angry as well as hurt by her choices and actions...I have not sent an email or called to state my feelings. I know it will fall on deaf ears anyway and we just think that if we react then we will make it all worse. But honestly I just don't see how it can get any worse. Here she was an honor student and went to dance class and had tons of friends and was doing after school clubs and there she is an ok student and comes home to hang with the boyfriend and hang out in the streets. We know she has a boyfriend and has been hanging out with her older siblings and it just kills us that her mother who was a teen mom herself would rather have her daughter there doing that so she can get child support checks instead of breaking the cycle and leaving her daughter in an environment where she was thriving.

We are just waiting it out at this point. I mean what freaking choice do we have. Friends who are not in the same situation don't understand our hurt so I was wondering if anyone else has been down this road and if so how did it turn out. Just looking for the light at the end of the tunnel I guess.

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Molly - posted on 05/14/2010

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Well I Know it hurts to see what you love fall apart right before your eyes. We had a daughter go through the same thing . But I did do something you say you have not done is tell her you love her and no matter how long it takes you will be there for her. I haven't heard you say too much about how the dad feels what is his take Resentment? Hate Love Forgiveness. our daughter finally came back home Now she has a deeper relationship to us than she has to her mom. Every week My husband would take the child support around and let his daughter and let him see and Know he was paying child support every week he got paid and went right up to the door pay child support and hug his daughter and tell her he loved her and then leave Whenever she wanted something He would see she got it. I could see the hurt in his eyes My heart ached with him but I would not say anything because he is a proud man He does not want anyone to see him weep. anyway pray seek God He will subtain you and keep you He promised to never put us through anything we could not stand It gets heavy but we must show love.I'll Pray for each of you let me know how things work out if you will

Linda - posted on 05/14/2010

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It's never easy to know what they are thinking, or what they make of what we say. So many times I felt like I was wasting my time and my breath, that my son never heard a word that I said, or paid any attention whatsoever. Now, years later, my words come out of his mouth, and with conviction. He was listening the whole time, but he just couldn't understand, didn't have the place in his head to put it yet.

Barbara - posted on 05/14/2010

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Jen I hear you believe me I hear you and when she was here I spent alot of time with her and almost neglecting my other children because I felt she needed me more due to her mother's lack of attention for her. Like I said there is so much more to this story and I wish I had enough energy to type it all. See when Kayla moved here her mother tortured her mentally and deprived her of all attention and made her at fault for leaving. When she asked to move here it was because she said that she wanted a better life and didn't like her mom lying to her and not keeping any of her promises. Her mother unfortunately is probably the most self centered person that lives and cared about nothing more than her new boyfriend and making him happy. And believe me there is a history of that. I had a wonderful relationship with her and I think thats why this hurts me more than it would any other step mom. Because we would sit and talk for hours...spend time doing each other's hair. We would go for walks and just talk and talk. All the things her mother never did for her. i have a drawer full of letters from her thanking me for being what she never had and that is the tip of the iceberg. But thanks so much for replying.

@Linda...you have made me consider reaching out to her one more time and making sure that she is clear that we want her to come and visit and that the door is open. I would have hoped that she knew that already but I will make sure!

Jen - posted on 05/14/2010

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Barbara no kidding your daughter wants to use cosmetiques! Look how beautiful her mother (you!) is! Beauty can be intimidating to a young girl and teen! I have five gorgeous daughters and blessedly they all look just different enough from one another that the competition stage seems over!
Barbara you need a mommy daughter date! She is fourteen? Take her out for a mani and pedi! Then a trip to the cosmetic counter and help her learn the right color of lip gloss/stick for her age and coloring and such! Then on to brunch!!! Seriously!

Linda - posted on 05/14/2010

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Your husband used a poor choice of words. Try to remember that you are adults, and as such you most likely understand the nuances of language much better than children (especially teenagers who are at that stage where they think they are so grown up and know it all). "When you want to be part of our family our door is always open..." may have said to her, "When you are willing to do what we want you to do and be what we want you to be and meet our expectations, call us and you'll be welcome." I understand that is probably exactly the opposite of what he intended to convey, but children of both sexes at that age are ready to take everything as criticism, as rejection, and the use of the words "our family" and "our door" may have indicated to her that she was already an outsider.

One other thing I would like you to consider: you think that she had fulfilling experiences, and I am not in any way suggesting that they weren't worthwhile, but if they were truly fulfilling to her, then she wouldn't have left. Kids understand the "currency" of life, that you give up some things to have others. Something in her was not satisfied. There is a longing inside of her that was tearing her apart, just as much as her absence is doing to you. She thinks that being like other girls her age will fill that void. She will find out that it isn't so. Probably through making some of the mistakes that you're afraid of. They don't realize that they aren't the only ones who pay for their mistakes, we pay for them, too. That's part of the reason it is so hard to say "they're your mistakes to make, so have at it!" but really, sometimes all you can do is wait with an open heart, hope for the best, and bite your tongue a lot.

Barbara - posted on 05/14/2010

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Thanks Mary...that is exactly what I am hoping for....here she had fulfilling experiences and there she is just hanging out and throwing it all away. Hopefully she will realize before she makes a mistake that cannot be undone. We are praying every day and keeping our fingers crossed.

Mary - posted on 05/14/2010

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I was put in this situation with my step son and as he got a little older he realized he was throwing his dreams away by not having any rules and he came back home to us. Some grow out of it and others do not the most important thing is when she falls down just let her know you love her very much but there are always consequences with our choices good or bad.

Barbara - posted on 05/13/2010

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Yes our door is absolutely open and she knows that believe me she is the one that cancelled coming weekend after weekend and hasn't called us or contacted us at all. We are so not the ones that have cut off communication. Believe me there is tons to this situation that I haven't even gone into and that would take too much time to type. But believe me we are the ones that have done everything for her from day one and her mother nothing...I swear nothing. So now to have this happen is just beyond what we can even conceive of. We knew that her moving back home was a mistake but we never thought that she would lie to us and sacrifice being a part of our family. My husband did discuss with her his unhappiness that she asked not to come for two weekend's in a row and then her mother was all to happy to call and let my husband know that she told his daughter that she had to come on our visitation days which led him to believe that Kayla just didn't want to come to us and she was almost forcing her to come. Then he had a discussion with Kayla and he told her flat out you call us when you want to be a part of our family our door is always open and that is when we stopped hearing from her. She hasn't even contacted my daughter and they have been sisters since she is 9 months old and they are the same age. Its just sad it really is sad.

But believe me I do appreciate you responding and believe me you have cooled me off a bit thats for sure. Because before I vented here I was almost going to type her an email that probably wouldn't have been so nice. So I have rethought the idea and now if there is a communication it might go a little nicer on my part. Thanks again.

Tiffany - posted on 05/13/2010

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Barbara, I know how difficult it can be and how it sometimes seems like there is no answer that protects everyone you need to protect (both from personal experience and what I've seen with hundreds of parents and children embroiled in divorce and post-divorce issues) All I can say is love her consistently and let her know it, no matter how hard she fights it and how much justifiable anger and frustration you might feel. She will emerge from teenage rebellion and that will be much easier and probably happen much sooner if she feels like she hasn't burned her bridges and is still welcome in a better place. Your concerns about forcing her to visit make sense, but please keep inviting her! You may be surprised, one day, at what a difference that made even while she was snapping at you about always nagging her to come over.

Rochelle - posted on 05/13/2010

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in the state of PA the child can say which parent to live with at age 12 that was in the 1990 now that could of changed

Barbara - posted on 05/13/2010

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I agree Tiffany with alot of what you said and I am working towards moving past the feelings that I have, however I disagree regarding forcing her to come here that just won't work. Unfortunately we have seen first hand what can happen when a teenager doesn't want to be in the parents house. Her cousin accused her father of forcible touching and it caused a year worth of court and drama when all she wanted was to move back with her mother. I cannot take that chance especially since my husband has a very important job for the state and I have two other children here in the house. Believe me we thought about all the alternatives. Making her come here for the weekends was something we thought about as well as just not letting her go at all. Our issue is that the divorce agreement is 12 years old and should we initiate going to back to court her mother getting the newly updated child support would probably bankrupt us to be perfectly honest and that is not a chance I want to take either. So we are really between a rock and a hard place. Believe me her mother cares about nothing more than the money but I know she isn't in a position for an ugly court fight either and that is the only reason we have avoided court to the point we have as well. And hopefully somewhere in there she feels appreciative that when Kayla lived here for the 3 years we didn't get child support from her. So hopefully there is a heart in there somewhere.

Honestly we felt that if we kept her here either the false allegations would have happened or she would have just started to lash our more and more and at some point would have just run away or god knows what. We were just so torn with what the right thing to do was that we honestly didn't know.

We live in New York state and I just didn't trust that a family attorney wouldn't have just taken our money and caused us thousands of dollars in debt and then we would have just been left with a huge attorney bill...we would have lost joint custody and we would have had to start paying the new child support. I just saw it as a lose lose as did my husband.

thanks so much for replying I sometimes just think that I need an adult that is disconnected from the situation to discuss certain things with because none of my friends are the 2nd wife as I am and most do not have any step children either!

Thanks

Tiffany - posted on 05/13/2010

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I think you need to get past thinking in terms of "hurt" and "angry" and all that. She's a teenager going through a period during which a lot of teenagers rebel and make bad decisions. Your job is to do everything you can to help her navigate the rough times and bad decisions with as little lasting damage as possible, and that means making yourselves absolutely available regardless of what you're feeling. Forcing her to come on your weekends may increase resentment now, but in the long run it will show her that you didn't give up on her and didn't lose interest in her as soon as she made decisions you didn't care for.

It also sounds as if you let her go voluntarily because you believe that's what the law would ultimately have required. If that's the case, I strongly suggest that you talk to a lawyer. I don't know exactly what your state's law says, but as a former divorce attorney I can tell you that the idea that there is a magical age at which a child can choose where to live is commonly held but untrue in most states.

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