Step Daughter...back on the roller coaster


New Member
My emotions are so's been a tough few months. My husband's adult daughter has lived with us for about a year now, along with her cat (she's lived with us on and off since childhood.) She views every serious discussion as a negative issue, and immediately melts down into crying, and blaming me for making her moods sad...this is usually in front of my husband...and it feels incredibly manipulative. The past is not pretty...6 to 7 years ago, she was treated for bulimia with several in-patient stays at eating disorder clinics, diagnosed Borderline (BPD), cutting, drugs, and cruddy boyfriends. During those particular times, my husband was deployed with the I dealt with all of it alone. She was resentful, and shut me out many times.

During these times, she would befriend other adult women who seemed to play the role of surrogate mothers. One woman in particular (who is a former boyfriends mother and a diagnosed anorexic) crossed many parental boundaries, and I believe even participated in a family counseling session. Just this past weekend, she and her new boyfriend went to a gathering at this woman's home. Needless to say...I was crushed.

Fast forward to recent times; good things...she's in school, has a full-time job, and a boyfriend who seems decent (although full of himself.) She comes and goes from our home, and has almost no home responsibilities (she pays $50 a week rent...which we started charging because her Amazon shopping was ridiculous, and we put the money aside to give her when she finally moves out.)

The cat issue: the cat soils around our home. I've thrown away rugs, and use an expensive cleaning solution to remove the urine and odor. She acts like this is our responsibility, and is unhappy that we've demanded the cat stay locked in a bathroom when she's not home. There's no apology, or offer to help clean, or replace the soiled items.

I am a relatively quiet person at home...which she interprets as me being angry with her...she thinks my mood is all about her. She doesn't seem to realize that I have my own issues, and am not comfortable sharing them with she has repeated very personal conversations to her boyfriend and his family (I've been told almost verbatim by her boyfriend's mother.) When asked about repeating our conversation, she down-plays her responsibility in betraying my trust, and acts like I have issues or says that wasn't her intention. I've witnessed her in social settings...she very much enjoys telling stories, and have no doubt my personal life has been used as some of those tails.

I've tried so many times talking to my husband...plain and simple...he doesn't see or get it. He then in-turn tries to convince me that I'm upset because he's not reacting the way I want him to. No...really...I just want him to get it!! Understand what's happening right in front of him.

I've been supportive towards this girl...constant praise and I firmly believe I've loved and treated her like my biological children. I've been in therapy on and off for years. Yes, I acknowledge my own issues. But feeling alone in my home life is depressing me more and more. I want to join a gypsy caravan and disappear. Thank you for giving me a safe place to rant.


Well-Known Member
I am so sorry you are going through this. I have two stepsons who are still minors, although my wife (their mother) and I are not their residential parents. Even so, the role of stepparent can be very confusing and frustrating for all involved, particularly when the biological parent doesn't see things our way (this has been my situation in particular with my older stepson).

I agree that your SD is abusing the situation and taking advantage of you and her dad. My ex and I lived with my mother for a few years while I went back to school. We had two cats. I accepted full responsibility for the care and maintenance of my pets and I made sure they were always watered, fed and the litter boxes cleaned. What she is doing is plain and simple, not right and sounds consistent with borderline personality disorder.

Unfortunately, your dilemma is more with your husband than with his daughter. If he will not respect you, if he does not see her behavior as a problem, then there is nothing you can do except take care of yourself. What that means is up to you. It can mean many different things, up to and including potentially separating from your husband whether temporarily or permanently.

Is it possible that by caretaking for his mentally ill daughter, you are unwittingly making it easier for your husband to continue his denial about his daughter's behavior?

In my own situation, I have learned (am still learning) to accept that while I can exert a certain degree of influence over both my wife and stepsons, in the end I have no control as a stepparent. I have had to let go and draw boundaries where I needed them. In many cases I disagree strongly with my wife's parenting decisions, but I am not the boys' mother and I must stand back and let her be their parent.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Welcome Seed:

I am sorry that your husband is not validating your feelings.

I agree that daughter and cat need to get their own place. There is no reason you should have to share your home with an adult and a cat that is making messes everywhere.

I think you should get your husband into one of your therapy sessions. You have to take a firm stand with him and let him know that you no longer will tolerate someone disrespecting you and your home. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Good luck!


Well-Known Member
Hi and welcome, Seed

Has the cat been taken to the veterinarian? I don’t know much about cats, but it seems unusual that one would Not use the litter box. Perhaps it has a urinary tract infection or something else that makes her avoid the litter box. I have heard of this happening.

If she won’t take it in, I would do it, using the rent money that daughter gives you.


Long road but the path ahead holds hope.
Welcome Seed.

I know how difficult it can be not to Ben on the same page as your spouse. Been there done that and it almost destroyed my marriage.

You SD is taking advantage and manipulating. It is time to have her in her own.

Is the cat a male, is so fixed. If not this could be the problem.

You should not have to deal with the SD and the cat making such a mess.

Try to We if there is any form of couselingn you and your husband can get to work on unifying the approach to the SD. It only gets worse when they can manipulate one against the other.

The focus may need to be adult independence and independent pet management.

Sorry you are going through this.