Motivating my stepdaughter

Heather - posted on 02/09/2009 ( 6 moms have responded )

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I could really use some advise. My stepdaughter is 18 but in her junior year of high school. She acts like she's much younger than she really is, has flat out refused to learn how to drive and will NOT get a job. BTW her father is deployed and has been gone since June. I'm at my wits end here.

Any suggestions? I'm all ears. -Heather

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Ashley - posted on 02/13/2009

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Quoting Heather:



... about a month ago she came home from school and told me she wanted move out and go live with her friend because we expect too much from her. She told me she doesn't want to be pressured into growing up, she wants to do it in her own time.. but i'm worried she has run out of time.





I have an 18 yo stepdaugther. We've had some motivation issues too but not as severe as you've described. That said, we had to force the car/job issue too. We did it with tough love... stop enabling her. If she needs to go somewhere, she needs to find a ride or get a license (i.e., do not drive her anywhere except school). Her friends will get sick of picking her up and she will be really bored sitting at home. If she needs money, she needs to get a job (i.e., do not give her money, any money, not even for gas if she happens to get the car first). Her friends will be sick of giving her $. Just be there to enable the good behaviors and NOT the bad ones (e.g., when she's ready to get a job - help her. that's what I did). Bottom line, you may not be able to control her behavior, but you sure as h*ll can control yours (as an enabler).



What are her plans for after HS? I ask because our issues were almost completely remedied when we were looking at colleges and she really got excited about what kinds of opportunities awaited her in the "real world"... if only she worked to create them. Maybe take a trip to look at some art schools or get her to sign up for an art-related internship for something she would consider interesting. You have to be really careful not to cram it down her throat. She has to come to the realization herself and get excited about it. I'm not sure if something like that would work in your situation.



As far as the moving out, as soon as she's graduated from HS and if things haven't changed, I'd let her. That will grow her up fast... as long as you do not enable her by giving her money or helping her to continue to "be a kid".  Whatever enabling she gets from her friend will die out fast when they get sick of carrying her weight. At that point, she HAS run out of time and it will take care of itself.



Sorry to be so lengthy, I hope this helps...

Dawn - posted on 02/13/2009

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I think you've found your own answer, Heather.  Stop giving her money.  In her mind, why work for anything if its all going to be handed to me?  Motivate her with tough love. 



So, she doesn't want to grow up - I don't blame her.  But she is old enough to be responsible for her own life.   You can't tell her that - she'll have to learn that on her own. 



Her resistance sounds to me that she's a very gifted, creative and super smart kid.  She has complete control over her life. She has everything she wants and needs and she gets it from you guys.



Give her a set amount of money every week.  When she runs out, too bad. 



I think you have to change the way YOU are handeling her.  (You being you and Dad).  She's content and happy.  If you don't change, before you know it she'll be 25 and still living in your house. 



Sorry, to sound harsh.  I think you're in a tough spot.  So, for that reason YOU need to get tough!!



Good luck!

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Heather - posted on 02/14/2009

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Thank you :) everyone has been wonderful. I'll sit down and talk with her about it this weekend.

Kerri - posted on 02/13/2009

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The thing that you said that got my attention Heather was her struggling when she is bored and that she likes to draw. Maybe she just has an artistic personality.  People who are artistic and creative do kind of live and grow at their own pace.  I have a very close friend who loves to draw.  Brilliant girl - I would even say gifted.  She barely made C's when we were in school but she was - and still is the brightest girl I know.  She spent her time drawing and daydreaming and was extremely immature and was basically unmotivated. She never worked or studied!  It always completely stressed me out to be around her because I am a 100% Type A personality.  Anyway - she does things at her own pace, always has. 



As far as motivation for work - my suggestion is to set a goal date for her to have employment., even if it is selling her drawings at an art store or starting her own online anime page to sell her drawings.  Make it clear to her that as of this date - she will begin receiving "X" dollars from you.  Everything else she needs money for she will be responsible for on her own.  Make sure that the money you are contributing is a minimal amount that you think she can get by on.  Also, as of "X" date she will be taking her driver's test because after that she will be responsible to either pay for her own cab or to drive herself.  Don't do all of this at the same time.  Do one thing at a time.  Take it step by step - spread it out over a few months and be sure to be clear to her up front that you are willing to help her in any way.  Too much at one time is going to make her rebel and be resentful of the entire process.  Make it clear to her that you are supporting her emotionally rather than pointing out the things she is lacking in.  Take her to visit the art department at a local college and see if that sparks any interest in her.  Or if you can't take her, order catalogs from art schools in your area for you and her to look at.   Once you put those dates out there for her - don't change them.  You have to be consistent. 



You have to find a happy medium between spoon feeding her and cutting her off.  I would not assume that anything is going to change overnight.  You also have the added issue of her father being in Iraq.  I can't imagine how hard that is for you and her to deal with.  Bless you both.  I hope some of this helps.   

Heather - posted on 02/13/2009

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Well, she's interested in anime, and she's an incredible artist. She is not a "girlie-girl" by any stretch of the imagination. She actually gets money by belling her drawings around her school.. she's admitted to me it's so she doesn't have to get a real job. Her father and I have offered to buy her a car, MANY times, and she digs her feet in. She did fail once, her 7th grade year, but now she's bringing in straight Bs. She's been tested for a learning disability but she's not struggling with anything unless it bores her. This is actually our 3rd deployment so I would have thought by this point it would be something we're used to :( I don't know how to reach her... about a month ago she came home from school and told me she wanted move out and go live with her friend because we expect too much from her. She told me she doesn't want to be pressured into growing up, she wants to do it in her own time.. but i'm worried she has run out of time. I can't keep playing taxi for an 18 yr old girl who refuses to take care of herself. I can't keep giving her money when she flat out refuses to get a job. This sucks :(

Kerri - posted on 02/13/2009

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I have not ever been in this situation before but here are some ideas - not sure if they will be helpful.  What is the daughter interested in?  Clothes, fashion, make-up, etc.  Maybe you could help her find a part-time job in an area she has interest in.  Having her own money may be an incentive to get a job and a license.   Maybe that could get her motivated.  Where does she get money?   As far as driving, who drives her everywhere?  Would offering to help buy her a car motivate her to get her license and maybe also get a part-time job?  Did she fail a year in school?  Does she have any learning issues or is she just not motivated?  Maybe she is dealing with some emotional issues from her dad being in Iraq. 

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