Hey all, I'm a step dad and could really do with some advice.
I remarried 10 years ago, 2 of my own kids (now adults and moved out) and 2 step kids (one 21, one 12). The 21 year old is the issue. Although I've tried to be a good step dad she never fully accepted me, and we've had a bit of a rocky relationship - she's an alpha female and always has been, needs to be the centre of the stage at every turn. To her. mom is everything. I'm just the dude her mom lives with, and she can get on fine with me - but when I say no, or lay down the law, all hell breaks loose.
As she's gotten older that has meant more and more strain on things, she currently lives at home, has a boyfriend and a car and a good job, but I've been patiently waiting for her to move on out so I can get some tranquility back into life.
My issue is, this week she told her mom (not me, of course) that she's planning on not moving out till she can buy a house. She earns a reasonable income but since her boyfriend is still at uni, that probably means anywhere from 1 to 3 more years at home. I have fought with her over pretty much everything in the past - boyfriend staying over (I restrict it to 2 or 3 nights a week, she wants more), contributing to the home (she doesn't), chores at home (she'll do a few, if she has to), parties at home (don't get me started). So the prospect of 1 to 3 more years of this has left me, honestly, hugely depressed.
My wife is in a very different position. She's desperate to keep a great relationship with her daughter and admitted she was really happy to hear about this extra timeframe. When I suggested I didn't know if I could do it, she got quite upset and angry - honestly, if it came down to "it's her or me" I'm definitely feeling she'd pick her daughter.
So it feels like my choices are really limited to either sucking it up and trying to keep the peace for a few more years, or trying to negotiate a set of conditions for this happening. I've started writing something up, around the lines of respect, pulling your weight, contributing to the home, etc. But honestly, in the anonymity of this place, I can say that there's a part of me that just wants to pack a bag and leave. Run away and not deal with this.
Any thoughts or opinions, really gratefully received.
I'd suggest going for negotiating the conditions but be a little smart about them..
Do not include showing respect etc. Start with what you are trying to achieve and work from there. Stick to things that are tangible to avoid any debate and that achieves an element that allows you to cope with the next few years.
If it comes to a choice mum will always choose daughter. What does your wife think about things? Could the 2 of you put some conditions together in which case maybe there might be a more willingness to stick to them?
A good starting point would be to talk and explain things and ensure you do not come across as you are only doing it due to a lack of a great relationship with your step daughter rather than its the right thing to do..
It is difficult, i had the same with my step son. I discussed any concerns and issues with my now ex about it and to be fair, she appreciated them and we put them in to practice.
He dropped out of college, played his xbox until 3-4am and stayed in bed until late in the afternoon. He never did anything at all. The way I was bought up, as soon as i started earning (even a paper round) any allowance stopped and if i wanted soemthing, i would have to save and pay for it. It did me well in the long run.
We started off by giving him specific jobs to do around the house, cleaning the bathroom, taking the bins and recycling out etc. We helped him look for work, and as soon as he did, we asked him to contribute £80 a month. We discussed that this helps him learn how to budget and priorities his money. I am personally surprised your wife lets her live there rent free if she is earning in a full time job. They need to learn they cant free load all their lives and have to learn the value of money. I would discuss it with your wife first and then hopefully put some sort of plan in place.
There are plenty of articles online about charging housekeeping for young adults living at home. They say it teaches them good lessons about budgeting and will encourage them to save and become independent. (onefamily.com) You might encourage your wife to agree to this if you suggested keeping the money in a separate account which would be used towards the deposit for a house in due course (unbeknown to your stepdaughter). You could also encourage your step daughter to set up Lifetime ISA saving scheme. I'm not qualified to give financial advice so these are just suggestions.