Intro and My Problem


New Member
Well, I found this forum by googling the phrase, "I don't want to raise my grandchildren." Hello and thank you for existing. It's humbling, in a way, to admit that *I need to talk to someone.* My problem is complicated.

Hubby and I have been together for 4-1/2 years, and have been happily married since summer 2012. Hubby and his ex have three children together. The ex just moved to another state, which was exactly what she needed to do, and we are on friendly terms these days. The boys are 23 and 19, and doing well for themselves.

The ongoing problems I (and my hubby) are experiencing center on our "Difficult Child": my 21 y/o stepdaughter, who was diagnosed bipolar (type 2) in her early teens. Her mom is also bipolar (type 1/manic), and the home in which these children were reared was quite dysfunctional, in very large part due to the ex's illness--everyone involved admits that. The boys apparently "patterned" on their dad, but my stepdaughter patterned on her mother, and it is causing us no end of trouble right now. My SDr and I came into each others' lives in a significant way when SDr was a couple months short of her 17th birthday. My husband had physical custody of his daughter (though legally it was "joint custody" with the ex). SDr graduated high school a year early. Now, you may ask, what were her plans after she graduated? Was she going to college? Was she going to work? Apparently, none of the above. Apparently her "plan" was to do exactly what was modeled by her mother--to get married, have children, and have a man take care of her for the rest of her life. To say that things are not going exactly as she planned is the understatement of the year.

I will leave out for now most of the "trail of tears" that leads to where I am today, to try and focus on the present and very recent past. Back in May, my SDr took my SGS to the emergency room for a headache, and when the child was examined, they apparently found some bruises on him that seemed suspicious. My SDr was arrested and physical custody of SGS was given to the child's biological father. SDr's husband was out of the loop at the time--SDr was planning to divorce him, though they were still living together out of financial necessity... and the authorities decreed that the child could no longer stay overnight under the same roof his mother was under.

On the day of the arrest, husband and SS23 went and bailed SDr out of jail. SDr has never been in any legal trouble before (though she's well known to be erratic... she has been suicidal before, and was also a cutter during her teen years). Over the summer, CPS did an investigation and we learned two weeks ago that CPS filed a Class 1 Founded Disposition against my SDr. Criminal charges have also been pending against my SDr since the day of the arrest. At first it was one charge, "cruelty to a child," but "malicious wounding" was also added at some point.

We honestly don't believe my SDr did this. She was, at the time, trying to spend as much time away from the house as possible to avoid her husband, who while flawed as we all are, is a really good, honorable guy. SDr had also cheated on her husband several times during the marriage... they seem to go from drama to drama. At the time of the arrest, SDr was spending a lot of time with a particular female friend of hers, who is married and has a 5-year old boy and an infant girl. The friend was also babysitting my SGS during the short time this spring that my SDr had a job and was at work. My SGS is a very physically active boy and what we speculate is that any bruising that was on the child happened as a result of roughhousing between SGS and the 5-year old while playing. (SGS was two months short of his third birthday when the alleged crime occurred.) That said, I do question the quality of supervision, and in addition, I'm aware that the friend's husband is a felon (drug charges) on probation and is known to have physically roughed up his wife in the past, which would perhaps constitute neglect, at least, on SDr's part for leaving a child in that environment.

SDr also has a bad habit of running to the ER for every little thing... the drama, you know... she clearly enjoys the attention. It used to drive husband and me crazy. We chided and warned her many times to stop the behavior, to no avail. When she turned 18, and before she married her husband, we had drop her from our insurance out of self-preservation--because she was driving us to the poorhouse with this behavior. My SSIL also had her removed from his insurance when she asked him for the divorce at the end of last year, and when he saw that SDr was bringing the biodad back into the picture, he had SGS removed from it as well. I think he did the right thing, because SDr was doing the same thing to her hubby as she did to us... running up doctor and hospital bills for piddly things, with no thought as to how said bills were going to get paid. So since the beginning of this year, SDr and SGS are both on Medicaid.

At any rate, SGS did not receive any official "treatment" for any condition while at the hospital. He was simply kept overnight for observation and released into the biodad's custody the next day. The bruises, we are given to understand, were projected to be a week old at the time. The headache was deemed to be nothing serious. The arrest happened because a suspicious nurse called the sheriff, who questioned my SGS... apparently he said that "mommy did it." My SDr was then interviewed, and it appears she incriminated herself during that conversation, and was at that point arrested. I think she is just a naive young woman who was taught to trust authority to help her when she was in trouble, and I believe she also thought, "I have nothing to hide." My belief is that she was coerced and railroaded into a specious "confession"... nonetheless, I acknowledge that SDr been dodging karma bullets for years now, and one of them finally "got" her.

SDr also became pregnant again in February, and is due in early December. Her husband is definitely not the father of this child, though the bio dad *may* be [*headdesk*]. Nonetheless, SDr and her husband they decided after the arrest to reconcile, though there was a lot of discussion about her giving this new child up for adoption--even without the legal situation, they really can't afford another child. She had already spoken to an adoption counselor at DSS and we thought everything was decided. About three weeks ago, they were here at my house and I overheard them telling SGS that he was going to have a new baby brother, and wasn't it exciting? In my head I said (again), WTF???, but said nothing to them at the time. After they left, I told husband and he, also went WTF??? They have apparently decided to keep the baby, even though SDr may be going to jail!! SSIL is putting his name on the birth certificate, even though he knows the child is not his (in my state, the legal father of a child is presumed to be the man a woman is married to, unless/until proven otherwise).

husband and I are at our wit's end. We do not have the energy or the funds to raise one grandchild, much less two. husband is on the hook for alimony for the next eight years (his ex stayed at home to raise kids... not that she ever had much luck holding a job the few times she tried to have one). We feel angry and put-upon by my SD, and to an extent to our SSIL too, as it feels like they are trying to "force our hand" by deciding to keep the new baby before we even know if SDr is going to have to do any jail time. We have told them we have no intention of being involved with the care and raising of the new child. We would take the 3-year old in an emergency situation if we had to, because foster care would be a bottomless pit of wrong for anyone older than an infant, but it looks like there is no way we are going to get out of providing *some* level of financial support for this ill-advised family unit.

They lived with us for over two years, when SDr was pregnant with the 3-year old. They paid no rent, helped with no bills. I asked SSIL one time for $20 to help with groceries, and he told me flat out, "no." They managed to save *not one penny* of SSIL's salary while they were living with us. SSIL has a decent job making over $15/hr., and is full-time. We booted them out, using an emergent tax matter as a plausible excuse (and it was the truth, though far more easily resolved than we let on at the time). They promptly moved in with husband's ex, even though we exhorted them to get their own place. They looked at one place they could afford, and SDr complained, "it's too small." husband's response was, "it's bigger than your car." (Good for him.)

So, with this court case still pending, and us having overnight custody of SGS, husband and I are also troubled about what we are seeing are the little ways that we "enable" these kids in the unsustainable life they have constructed for themselves. Such as, last night, SSIL phoning and saying, "can you come pick SGS up, I don't have enough gas," and husband agreed to do it. Well, SSIL has a credit card (thanks to my pushing him to improve his financial situation; he has no collections, just a "thin" credit file). I really suspect they just didn't want to come out on a rainy, chilly night.

Advice, strategies, experiences shared, would be most appreciated.
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New Member
In some places above, the software apparently translated the initials "S D" as "school district," and I ran out of editing time before I could change all of them. But what I meant was "stepdaughter." :redface:


New Member
And the biodad... no job, refuses to work, still thinks the world owes him something. He'd been sponging off his stepdad for quite a while, which complicated the legal picture for my SGS. When SDr was arrested, CPS gave biodad the child, and biodad then took the child to his stepdad's house... but come to find out, the stepdad was getting ready to kick biodad out on his keyster. So, biodad had SGS for a couple of months, but was indeed kicked out at the end of July, at which time DSS transferred overnight custody of SGS to hubby and me. Biodad was also using access to SGS as a way to manipulate my SDRs choices. Biodad is officially homeless now... nobody knows quite where he is. He apparently used up whatever good will friends and family had for him. However, biodad is somehow finding time to go on Twitter and post tweets from a hookup site! (Badoo). :mad: (Hubby and I have no relationship with the biodad, and have made it clear to him that we do not want one.)


one day at a time
Welcome to the forum, RiverWitch (love the name!)...

There is a lot going on in your post.

So...some preliminary food for thought.

1. They are going to do what they do...until they stop. You very likely will have nothing to do with that, and very little influence over it (continuing or stopping). So that's them. Over...there.

2. But you and your that's something you can do something about. That is where I would focus all of my time, thought, energy. What do you want to do? What can you do? What will you not do/stop doing?

It's really about what you can live with. I think when there are little children involved, and where there are people involved that you love (stepdaughter), it's not easy to see clearly. It's very complicated, and perhaps it should be.

For years, I did a lot to try to help my very dysfunctional son...even before I knew he was abusing drugs and alcohol. I did it because...well..that's what you do when you're a mom and your son is taking his own good sweet time growing up.

I would pull him out of bed, look the other way at his room, his cups all over his room, dirty dishes under the bed, talk to his teachers/meet with the school about his lack of effort, talk to him, reason with him, give him consequences...I didn't know it at the time, but he was sliding down the slope.

He eventually went off the cliff...but for a long time I just thought he was a late bloomer.

It took me years to stop enabling him and stop "helping" him, and it took me years to be ready to let him be homeless, let him have absolutely nothing, not know where he was, let him stay in jail, not go see him in jail, not answer his phone calls/texts/FB messages, set very firm boundaries with him, say No over and over and over again, and stick to it.

I had to get ready. I had to be completely sick and tired of my life and my interactions with him and I had to see that nothing I had ever done helped the situation at fact, I came to believe, very strongly, that I was actually in the way of him ever having a chance to change (after all, why would he? I always caught him before he fell), and in fact, he and I weren't good for each other at that time.

That didn't mean I cut him out of my life, that I was mad at him or that I didn't love him anymore. I wasn't mean and I wasn't unkind. I just learned to say no, because my own experience, over years and years, taught me that I wasn't helping...and then the experience of others, on this forum, in Al-Anon, in therapy, etc., taught me HOW to stop and how to start focusing on my own life and the things I needed to change about me and how to accept my son.

It is a journey, and it isn't easy.

If you can start sifting through the chaos and see what you want your role to be---that is your own decision---if you have any role at all right now...I would work to get clear about that, and even write it down so you and your husband are very clear and on the same page.

Stop trying to change her. It's a fruitless exercise. You already know that, but it's hard to stop.

Please keep posting here. Please read the detachment post on PE at the top of the page. It's great. I printed it out and read it every single day, at the beginning.

There are lots of ideas and tools you can start using to detach with love, if you want to go that route.

Warm hugs. We're here for you.


New Member
Thanks, childofmine. You're absolutely right. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries, for hubby and me. I know I can't change her... it just all gets muddled up in my head and gets frustrating... a lot.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Welcome RiverWitch, I am so glad you found us here. You have quite a story and sadly it's one that is all to familiar on this site.

From what I have read it appears that you have a good grasp on what you need to do, detach and stop enabling. Yes, easier said than done. Even more difficult when there are small children involved.

I do hope that you and your husband are in agreement as to what needs to happen. It's much easier when there is a united front.

There is a good article on detachment at the top of the PE page. I suggest you and hubby take some time to read it. Many have printed it off so they can refer to it often. Detachment does not mean that we have stopped loving our DCs it simply means that we will no longer allow their chaos and drama to disrupt our lives.

Living through my own sons chaos and drama I learned that no amount of money I spend will change him, no amount of my time or energy will change him. I so desperately wanted my son to change, to live a life more in line with what I thought was acceptable. It was very painful to finally come to the realization that I could not change my son and that I had to accept that he was going to live his life the way he wanted to. With that acceptance came a freedom that I did not expect.

I wish I could tell you it's quick and easy but it's not, however, it is the beginning of taking your life back and the work it takes it worth it.

One thing that helped me is to be prepared with my "statements" for when my son would ask for money or help. I found that simple statements work best. The better prepared you are ahead of time the better you will be able to stand firm.

Son: Mom, I really need you to help me. I don't have money for food.
Me: I'm sorry but I can't help you.
Son: What do you mean you can't help me, I know you have money.
Me: I'm sorry but I can't help you. If you are hungry then go to a food pantry, here's a list.
Son: I can't believe you would do this to me.
Me: I did not do this to you, you did this to yourself.
Son: If you loved me you would help me.
Me: I do love you. You are smart and need to figure this out for yourself.
Son: You are such a B#*#*!!!
Me: I love you and I'm hanging up now.

Our DCs know how to ramp it up with threats and lies. They will try to "guilt" us into taking care of them. Don't fall into the guilt trap.
While your SDr has been diagnosed with Bipolar that is still no excuse for her behavior. Many DCs will try and use that as an excuse but that's all it is. There are many people who have Bipolar along with other disorders who function responsibly because they have made the choice to do what they need to do, take their medications and stay in therapy.

We cannot control our DCs and the choices they make but we can control how we respond.

You and your husband deserve to have peace in your life.

I'm glad you are here with us. Keep posting and let us know how things are going.

((HUGS)) to you..................

This is a good video about the difference between helping and enabling.