Depressed at Thought of Stepdaughter Living Here After Jail


New Member
Like many stories here, mine is long-winded and filled with pain. The thing that may be different is it is not my child, but my husband's. I have been married going on 21 years and there never has been a day where his needy, dysfunctional, emotionally disturbed, sociopathic, mini wife daughter didn't dominate our lives with her problems.

When we began dating, I was 21 and my husband was divorced and 32 years old with a mentally unstable ex wife and daughter who inherited all of the mother's traits. Because she was only 4, I assumed we would naturally bond and be able to live like a family. God, was I ever wrong. I was never more wrong about anything in my entire life. Ignoring all the red flags, I married my husband when I was 23.

Once I realized about 4 years into the marriage that things were out of control and I was in for a miserable marriage, I was already at a state of tremendous emotional suffering, I discovered I was pregnant myself. Up to that point it had been non-stop disagreements on how to raise her because she already had numerous behavior issues that were even disrupting school. We were already bouncing around multiple counselors, medical tests, etc. I was the firmer one who wanted structure and boundaries and my husband was the lenient one who could tolerate ALL of her behavior and seemed unaffected by her incessant demands and tantrums. Which she still does to this day, at age 26.

The mother had a sad upbringing in orphanages and foster families where she had been abused. So from the get-go, the chaos had a tendency to be excused and tolerating all the abhorrent behavior from the mother and the daughter seemed to be what was happening. But the mother hit rock bottom, was hospitalized, went into treatment for addiction, blossomed in a halfway house and had been clean and sober, financially stable and remarried when my stepdaughter turned 10. After 6 years of sobriety, the mother was asking for her daughter back.

Because the daughter caused such turmoil in our home and was so incredibly hostile to me, and I was already chronically suffering a painful homelife- and feared for my own child and wanted to shield him from her toxic personality, I suggested to my husband that maybe she would stop acting out if she filled the void with what she seemed upset about all this time, which was abandonment from her mother. It would make sense that if she was lashing out because of her mother, maybe finally having her mother as her main caretaker would ease her turmoil.

My husband did not want her to go- but he allowed it. Well, at first it seemed ok but the daughter used the fact that he let her go there against him by making him feel guilty and accusing him of not wanting her. This angers me because when she lived with us, if she didn't get her way her threat was that she would go live with her mother if we didn't do what she said, even for small things like not letting her rent a horror movie that was inappropriate for her age. She quickly used threats against us and lashed out like a brat and wanted something all the time so she could create a battle of wills which she would then enjoy winning against me and my husband. She acted like she hated her life with us and now that we gave her what she wanted- her own mother- that wasn't good enough, either. And to be honest, it was better to get her away from me because she caused me so much stress and pressure I though I might explode and hurt her one day. I was never a spanker but I worried if I allowed myself to put my hands on her I may just wind up in jail for not being able to stop. She wanted that, though- because she taunted me and I knew she wanted me to self destruct and be out of their lives.

With her mother, she began getting out of control and blackmailed the mother that if the mother clued us in on what she was doing, then she would tattle on the mother- whatever the mother should not be doing and make the mother look bad. The mother had a phobia about looking like a "bad mother" after her rocky past so the blackmailing worked. The mother was not strong enough to control the daughter- she lashed out at the stepfather, whipping a wooden brush at his head, refusing to go to bed when told, just being an obnoxious uncontrollable brat.

Unknown to us, the mother began dabbling in drugs after the misery became too much- the daughter began seeing a thug drug dealer, everything was falling apart down there. We had her back here when she was 15 to live, but when my husband discovered her messages to local dangerous thugs in gangs, she cut the wires to her computer and left and went back to her mother's to be with the thug she liked over there. Before graduating from high school, she waited for the thug to get out of jail and got pregnant and dropped out right before graduation.

She held a job for a short time, and has never worked another day. She is a pathological liar who swindled thousands of dollars to pay for her apartment only to lose the apartments (2) because the money went to drugs.

She is now incarcerated and serving a burglary sentence and when she gets out, my husband is worried she will go right back to what she was doing because she will be homeless without her help. He thinks she has changed just because she is locked up and being forced into sobriety and structure. She is doing well in jail and got her GED- but that is because she cannot control jail the way she controls my husband.

She never stopped berating my husband for marrying me- for my 40th birthday I told him to invite her and we would go to the beach and baordwalk, bring her son, we would all go out to dinner. She thanked me for that by demanding my husband do it all alone with just her, leaving me out and our son, and when he said no, she bombarded him with hate texts for the entire weekend while we were away. She was only a mile away but chose not to be part of it because she despises sharing her father (mini-wife).

I cannot envision this person coming to live in my home after the chronic lying, incessant demanding, tantrums, entitlement issues- and the way my husband tolerates it all and seems mesmerized and pities her out of his endless pit of guilt. I just don't think I can, or want to, be part of it. Is there ANYWHERE she can go after jail? A halfway house will not tolerate her obnoxiousness but if she comes here, there are never consequences for her actions. My husband forgives it all and continues to pity her.


one day at a time
Hi Concerned, I am sorry you are here but I am glad you found this site as I know a lot of people will be writing soon with some words of support and ideas for you.

A few things that occurred to me as I was reading your post:

1. You can only decide what you will do and not do, and what you will and will not tolerate and what concessions you are willing to make. You are in a more difficult position as the stepmother, I see that. It sounds like your husband has guilt or something else motivating him to continue to accept this unacceptable behavior. Until you get on the same page, I would imagine this will drive a wedge between the two of you and affect your relationship. Not to mention your son and how he deals with it all.
2. She is an adult. It is up to her to figure out where she will live after jail, not you or him. I know many people take in their adult children after they are released from jail. I stopped that a long time ago. My son now has been homeless (for the fourth time, he is 24.5) and this time since Feb. 14. He is surviving and figuring it out as he goes. Most towns and cities have services for homeless people. We live in a smaller size city in the South but we have services here as well. Urban areas usually have much more.
3. Have you thought about going to therapy with an addiction specialist (therapist) with your husband? That third-party mediator could help you two communicate more constructively and devise a plan together for how you will deal with this? This could be a pathway to better communication between the two of you.
4. Start working on yourself. There are many books to read that will give you support. Addiction is a family disease. It affects everyone that has to deal with it like you have. You need help yourself.
5. See if your husband will also read about addiction and recovery---for himself as well. I am sure he is also very affected by all of this and most likely in ways he does not even recognize.

I know it is very hard to set boundaries with people. One of the first books I ever read was Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. I recommend it.

We teach people how to treat us. Once we start to set boundaries (as kindly as possible), people with no boundaries or poor boundaries will not like it at all. They will push back hard and get louder and louder and more and more dramatic. That is when we have to stay the course. That is very hard to do, and you and your husband, if you decide to do that, will need a lot of help, training and support.

I am praying for you all right now. Keep coming back here. We will support you and listen to you, no matter what you decide to do. This is hard hard stuff----let there be no doubt about that.


New Member
Thanks. I have given my husband literature on co-dependency in the past, but he insists that's not him. What he does is go down a list of people who have all been helped when they fell on hard times. The problem with doing that is- these people only needed temporary assistance to get back on their feet, not permanent assistance because they refuse to grow up and be responsible at all.

A few years ago I didn't think I could go on anymore in my marriage. My husband wanted to move his daughter CLOSER to us so that he could BETTER be at her beck and call- exactly the complete opposite of what I wanted. It made no sense to stay together after that. Our minds are so directly opposite in the way we think and how we feel about her behaviors. And I lose my respect for him and my temper because it disgusts me that he still believes her lies and is willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, has allowed her to talk to him like he is a piece of crap (and me as well) and minimizes the neglect she has done to her son (now out of her custody and living with the father's mother). In the past he has asked her to apologize and she just doesn't and there are no consequences. Growing up, she NEVER had to admit lying, and she NEVER had to say she was sorry for her behaviors. She pushed back against these normal childhood lessons and they are not part of her being.

My son- amazingly he seems more stable than me or my husband. I worry that I damaged him in some way by letting him see me so miserable and depressed, and hear some of the fights I've had with his father. If I had to do over- I would have gotten out. I was better able to hide it when he was younger, but not so much as he got older.

I myself had a poor self esteem, which is why I think I clung to this relationship even as red flags waved wildly. I didn't have the greatest family support and went through a series of draining situations where I came out having been hurt, and didn't begin to fully understand how I got involved in all this until I reached my 30's and began self-help books- mainly to deal with them and the mother. Along the way I saw how I was unhealthy and why I stayed in a bad situation.

As for the mother, I should mention she died about 7 years ago from organ failure. She committed a slow suicide by using drugs and drinking until she literally gave out. She died believing her daughter hated her guts. I spoke with her on the phone a few months before the end and sobbed the entire time, telling me how the daughter completely tormented her the last few years and she had nothing to live for, since she believed that the daughter smugly and gleefully tortured her for amusement. And then she did in fact die not long after.

Thanks for reading.


New Member
P.S. (I gt sidetracked)- we went to marriage counseling, and I am still here, but now I am back to where I was a few years ago when I couldn't take it anymore. It worked because he didn't want me to leave. So I stayed, and all the lessons he learned are right down the drain.


Well-Known Member
In the end, you may have to put up some very strong boundaries such as, if you feel that strongly that living with dysfunctional difficult child is awful, if she does come home, you leave with your son.

Sometimes we not only need to set boundaries for our dysfunctional adult children, but for our enabling spouses. He is doing her no good. That was proven when she ended up in jail after all of his tender handling of her horrid behaviors. Also, her chaos in the house has certainly harmed you and his son. Enablers, or those who can not set boundaries, tend to get focused on one person only...the one who is causing all the mayhem. And the other loved ones suffer while that person puts all his time and energy into trying to fix somebody else, which is NOT possible. SHE has to fix herself and it would be helpful to all of you if he would stop trying to do the impossible. It may take your leaving to jar him, but then again he may still keep doing her bidding. You have much on your plate.

We all sadly forced to make all kinds of difficult choices under these circumstances.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Concerned, have you told your husband how you feel?

That needs to be your first step, I think.

If you are not going to take this daughter in when she is released, she should know in advance, so she can make other plans. If your husband insists on helping this daughter (and I am thinking he feels responsible for where she is in her life, and that is such a guilty, shamed, painful place to be that he may feel he has to) then you will need to begin searching out options for yourself.

There is no rush.

You have time.

Are you able to move somewhere on your own if you need to?



Active Member
I had been dreading my difficult child temporarily staying with us after getting out of the P-hospital three weeks ago, and our strategy has been to support her efforts to get a job & an apartment as quickly as possible. In her case, she happened to run into an old friend on Facebook who also needs an apartment. They have been inseparable for a week. Both seem to need a friend right now. This sweet unsuspecting guy may be in for a jolt but I am not getting into it. Does your difficult child have any old friends that would be okay to have an apartment with?


New Member
She has worn out her stay just about everywhere. Friends are tired of her, neither set of grandparents are willing, and the aunts and uncles have their own kids and don't want the trouble.

As a matter of fact, she is serving the jail sentence for robbing her friend who refused to let her stay there (again). The girl was her long time friend who had a young infant and boyfriend when stepdaughter knocked on door and wanted in. The girl was sorry but couldn't let her in- she couldn't deal with the trouble that comes along with her, especially because my stepdaughter also oversteps her boundaries and is not humble or grateful- she is dependent on everyone yet makes frivolous demands even though people are already imposed on. So when the girl did not let her in, in what I believe was spite, she waited till the girl left, broke in and robbed her apartment and got caught. She's been in jail since last July. Up till now, she was in county but now she has been moved to an actual prison (which I heard was nice for a prison) to serve out the sentence. Because there is a chance of parole, its doubtful she will serve out the whole 3 year sentence. She told my husband she thinks she is getting out this summer but I don't know if its based in fact or wishful thinking.

My husband does know how I feel about it but the way he talks puts subliminal pressure on me. If it weren't for me, he would bring her here in his codependent nature. But I am the boundary setter who doesn't want her here. So if she doesn't come here, I have to bear the burden of being the one who said no because he won't share that with me. He *is* willing to suffer with her toxic personality and keep struggling to think he can save her and force her to change. If she comes here and manages to shatter our home lives, like she has during past visits, or her holiday drop-ins, creating such emotional devastation and then leaving us to pick up the pieces- I don't think I can stand it one more time.

I think I am actually traumatized by my past interactions with her. But I know my husband fears she will get out, have a chance at recovery, have no support, then fail. I know why he wants to support her, but at the expense of us being guinea pigs to see if things will be different, which, I doubt they would be.

As for leaving, its possible, but my income fluctuates. I am a photographer so sometimes I can doing very well and other times I can be scary slow with business. I have no storefront, I do consults in my home and then shoot weddings or outdoor portraits. I have always been scared to depend on it because it varies widely.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome Concerned. Wow, what a tough place you're in, I am so sorry.

You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. It may be of help to you and to your husband too.

Many of our kids here on the adult side act out as your step daughter does, the behavior is not that uncommon. Often detachment is the solution for many of us, which is tough enough to do when both parents are on the same page, but your position with your husband is a catch 22 and everyone loses except your step daughter. I am so sorry.

This is my own opinion so please take what means something to you and leave the rest.......but it seems to me that YOU are the primary relationship for your husband and YOUR feelings and YOUR opinions and YOUR needs should come FIRST. And TOGETHER, you and your husband, should talk about what will happen when she gets out that is good for EVERYONE, not just the daughter. She is an adult. She should be on her own now.

In most towns there are homeless shelters you can do some research and find them and give a list of them to her. If she is getting out of jail with no where to go, she can go there. Often they have help there with housing, food stamps. medical, everything someone will need to get back on their feet, IF they want that. It is her life, she has to live it without your husband's help He is a classic enabler, guilty and doing whatever the daughter needs. That will perpetuate this scenario to the bitter end which will likely be that you leave and he ends up with her if things don't change.

Until she gets out if I were you I would get as much information as possible and then make a decision. You can contact NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, you can get them online, they have chapters everywhere and they have excellent courses for parents which can help you and your husband. Often they have social workers who will help your step daughter find housing or living arrangements or jobs or whatever. But I would contact them and find out what resources they have that you might use. Perhaps if your husband took a course there he would meet other parents going through the same thing and be able to see how what he is doing is not at all helpful and in fact, will keep her stuck where she is.

I would have a serious talk with my husband and state my wishes and if he is going to have her come back to your home then other options need to be made. I don't know what those other options are, but the two of you should discuss that and find out what you and he are willing to do. If it were me, I would want him to keep her away from me.......I have my own daughter who is 41 and has acted in very similar ways to your step daughter and if she continued in that way, I would never allow her to live with me again. I do know what it's like and you should not have to be put in that position, in my opinion. She has already hurt you and your relationship way too much.

Of course you are traumatized, I know how that feels, I was traumatized by my daughter's behavior too. It would be good to see a therapist for YOU. A therapist may help you to look at your options as well if your husband is insistent on having his daughter come home. You may be at a crossroads here and I really get it when you say you don't think you can stand it one more time. I know I couldn't.

Hang in there. Keep posting, Get yourself some support, a therapist, call NAMI, someone or someplace where what YOU want matters. Do kind things for yourself, focus on YOU. You have been in a very dark place with your step daughter for a long time and it seems like things need to change so that you can have your joy and your peace of mind back. I'm glad you're here.


New Member
Thanks! I will definitely contact NAMI. I usually find myself defending my thoughts and feelings to my husband- its nice to talk to people who get it, validate it, and don't minimize my experience.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Your experience and your feelings matter, they are important and valuable, you don't have to defend yourself here and (in my opinion) you shouldn't have to defend yourself with your husband. However, relationships get molded in a certain way when they're long term and perhaps it's time for you to break that mold and create a new one!

What you want and need matters. Your feelings matter. Express your needs and wants with conviction. For if you don't, you will surely end up living with what you have accepted. Don't do that, stand up for what you want.


one day at a time
I think I am actually traumatized by my past interactions with her.

For a long time, I wanted to underestimate the effect of my son's behavior on me. I was so strong, I could handle anything.

I recognize now how traumatized I have been, and I don't want to, and can't, live like that anymore.

I matter just as much as he does. I have a right to peace and happiness and rest and contentment and joy and serenity.

When those things are gone, something is wrong.

Our bodies and minds are telling us something. We can't do this anymore. Something is wrong, and something has to change.