Elizabeth - posted on 12/18/2014 ( 6 moms have responded )
I am super stressed and don't know what if anything to do.... I have a step daughter that I am not super close to. We are cordial and she is pretty respectful when she is around me and my husband. However, with social media and the other teens I have in my house we know that she is disrespectful pretty much all of the time "about us" when we are not around. We have known this for years... The short version is that she has been living with her mom full time for 2 years now she is 18. Since she turned 18 all she ever says is I'm 18 and you can't tell me what to do...and our response is yes... you are 18... you are an adult... as such you get to make your own choices... which is the same for us as well. We are adults and we get to make our choices and we choose not to support what we consider to be bad choices. There are sooo many bad choices. It's not like we have cut her off or out of our lives. We have tried to be there for her emotionally and she attacks us if we don't give her what she "wants". We have been there for her financially to help when she needs money. She has made zero attempts to pay us back. Now, to be quite honest I am not so upset about that. Simply because of her age and I understand there is a learning curve with the transitioning to independence and "borrowing" money from mom and dad when you are on your own.
What upsets me is the lack of effort to be "part of the family". Every Sunday is family day in our house. We spend the evening playing games, watching movies or doing something together. We specifically stated that we would continue this with our adult children so they knew they were wanted to visit…and so they could plan accordingly to make it there at least occasionally. I am under no illusion that they will be there every week. I plan to just enjoy them when they can. She lives in town, less than 10 minutes away. She has been to our house 3 times since she turned 18 August. We get the same excuse, I have to work or you didn't tell me. We have seen that she isn't working and we have told her repeatedly. She does this to my husband's entire family. (Grandparents, uncles, aunts etc) We do not "know" if she is doing this to her mother's family. Her mother lies quite a bit but has said she is having the same problem. So it's likely but we just don't know.
So here's the issue. Our family Christmas with grandma and grandpa is Saturday. She has now told dad she has to work so she can't stay the day with us. I know that I shouldn't assume what she is planning. However, with her behavior she has been pretty predictable and prior to her telling dad this we had talked about her just showing up for gifts. Now she has prefaced her visit with an out. So now we are even more concerned she will be showing up to get presents and then just leave. To make it even more uncomfortable and difficult for us… Our Christmas is a few days later with just us and the kids. I just feel horrible about this. I believe Christmas is about more than presents. It's about family and sharing and caring and giving back. Not taking and getting things- I feel like she only comes to get things and part of me just doesn't want to give her anything. She isn't appreciative of what she does get. We constantly feel left out of her life. We do not criticize her or scold her- We treat her with respect. We treat her as an adult. I kind of want to get her a card that says Merry Christmas and write her a long letter telling her how much we care about her and how important she is to us. I don't want to buy her things. I want to convey to her that her value and her presence with us is so much more important. But I fear that she will see it as isolation. I just don't know how to get across to her that SHE is what is important this Christmas… not WHAT she gets. Thoughts?? Help??