Step Daughter Stealing

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Marty Gilroy, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. Marty Gilroy

    Marty Gilroy New Member

    I've been married to my husband two years. He was married before and has three grown kids. The middle daughter lives with us each summer. As a child, she was diagnosed with a form of autism, which impacts her social skills primarily. However, she is high functioning. For example, she got into college on the east coast and nearly finished her classes. She walked in graduation in May, but remains four credits short of receiving her diploma.

    The kids' mother had cancer for 20 years and died three years ago. Their dad & I had been living together for a couple years before she died, before we married. This middle daughter has lived with us the last 3-4 summers. I started noticing that she would help herself to my vodka when we were out of the house. I mentioned it to my husband, but shrugged his shoulders. All his kids drink (and are legal age), though he doesn't drink.

    My husband & I were concerned about the middle daughter living with us, again, this summer. She can be demanding & socially inappropriate sometimes, e.g., is watching a DVD on her laptop and talks/pleads/yells at the characters in the movie.

    We went on vacation for 10 days in July and she stayed at home preparing for a new job, as she was accepted into Americorps. She left for her new position a week ago. We came home from vacation last weekend. At dinner, I went to make a cocktail and saw that the huge 1.75 liter bottle of vodka was empty. I remained calm and brought the empty bottle to my husband to show him. I had purchased the vodka two weeks earlier and had a single drink. Typically, I leave the vodka in the freezer. She's "helped herself" before, but never this much. My husband explained that her helping herself is a way of demonstrating that this is "home" to her, just like lying on our bed reading a book.

    When he saw how much was gone, he became upset. I asked why she wouldn't go to the market to replace what she drank, as she purchased a new container of grapefruit juice. Earlier in the summer, she purchased a bottle of flavored vodka, which she finished over time. She kept her bottle in the freezer, as well. He wouldn't talk with me about it, he was too angry. So, I left him alone. I woke up at 3am and he was in the TV room watching TV wide awake. He hadn't fallen asleep. He went to bed about 4:30am.

    While I was out, he emailed his daughter to ask about the vodka. She told him that she didn't drink it, that she purchased her own. I reminded my husband that she had helped herself in previous years. Also, the bottle was newly opened two weeks ago, which means I would have had to drink virtually two quarts of vodka in two days - give me a break. He & I both know that sure didn't happen. I also reminded him of the DVD she took, which she denied stealing. Unfortunately for her, she left the empty DVD cover on the coffee table in the living room. Apparently, she forgot it was in her laptop. My husband replaced the DVD. He also replaced the bottle of vodka.

    I'd sure like some resolution with this issue, but not sure how to reach it. I'm angry about the theft, her lies, and the lack of support from my husband. I sure don't want her staying with us, again, but haven't said that. My husband is smack in the middle. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks so much!
  2. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Hi Marty:


    I honestly think that I'd just lock up the alcohol when she is around from now on rather than banning her from staying with you and her dad for the summer. I would be a bit concerned she has developed a drinking problem unless she maybe saved some for later?

    It sounds like she has some minor problems of her own as you mentioned and the fact that she lost her mother at a young age says to me that she deserves some compassion.

    To me it doesn't sound like she's done anything that bad that would justify banning her from your home. I'm a step mother too and I have never made my husband choose between his son and I. Likewise he is a stepfather to my son and I would not put up with that either.

    That's just my honest opinion based on the information you have supplied.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I wouldnt want her drinking at home. I'd lock up all the liquor. She could have an alcohol problem and I would not want to find this out in my house. Or supply the booze which could be poison to her. I believe thst if this dsughter with a very real disability lives at your house and helps herself to your liwuor it is kind and compassionate to keep every drop of liquor locked up.

    Maybe you and your husband could use counseling to find a solution you can both live with. Your marriage is so young...would hate to see it end over this. That means you need to be talking about it. If you don't, it will just fester inside of you and eventually implode.

    Is stepdaughter getting help for autism? Often even higher functioning autistic adults can be way immature (I have a son 23 and high on the spectrum). Often they need parenting longer than other young adults and also sometimes they can make poor, immature decisions. They need life skills help. My son has improved tenfold, but he has been helped for this all his life. You cannot just pretend it goes away. it doesnt. School performance does not mean autistic adults dont have lots fe skill challenges. plus she list her mom. Id go gently. Maybe readingup on high functioning autism will help you understand this developmentally delayed stepdaughter.

    I had no liquor around my Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) son and he never drinks. He lives onehis own, but has not suffered any trauma and was taught how to make good choices all his life...he still acts a tad young and seems to need parenting sometimes where as my other kids did not at his age. Your steodaughter needs help with those social skills. Had she ever gotten any services when she was younger?
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  4. Marty Gilroy

    Marty Gilroy New Member

    Thanks to you both very much! My husband advised that his middle daughter was never told about having Asperger Syndrome and as a child/teenager, yet she wondered why her brother & sister had so many friends, while she had zilch. Thus, she was never treated for autism as a child or teenager. We searched for therapists who know and treat people with Aspergers, but there was no one with this skill set where she went to college.

    He & I met with an MFCC who works with people with Aspergers to discuss our concerns, fears, etc. about the middle daughter coming home, again, this summer. With much reluctance, middle daughter met with the therapist 2-3 times. S he liked the therapist very much, but said she didn't need her. She (daughter) is just fine, thank you very much. She's an adult now and doesn't need to meet with a therapist. Unfortunately, my husband agreed to abide by her decision much to my chagrin.

    I feel like an outsider to this family, even though he moved into my home. I suppose it's best to keep distance from any of his family drama, but she's not stealing from him. She's stealing from me - and I underscored that to him recently. Also, the stress of having his daughter live with us sent both of us into a tailspin over the summer. I asked him to have her live with family somewhere else. He didn't want to do this, but I insisted that I will only live in a marriage with integrity. If he wants to threaten to leave, then go! So, he left & middle daughter, as well. She was gone for a week, while he was gone one night.

    FWIW, my husband's sister is living with a man she doesn't get along with at all and has been married twice before. She keeps her third man around until their son graduates high school & starts college, then plans to send him on his way. I know its nit-picking, but my in-laws were married once prior to each other and has never mentioned this to their children. My husband and sister in law learned this from a family member. For me, relationships, communication and/or conflict resolution are not the strong points with this family ... and here we are, husband & me.

    I will think about your sound advice, re: look up the booze. in my opinion, she'll just steal something else. She stole or tossed in the trash the wine bottle opener I got from my Dad after he died. It's now gone. To me, she's acting out with me. Dad is the "good" parent and I'm the unwelcome addition to the family. For me, things have to change or I'm sending him packing. She's simply the object of family dis-function and my husband won't talk about it, despite my repeated requests. Feel like I'm walking on eggshells in my own home.

    Thank you all for your comments and suggestions! It helps so much!

    Between a rock and a hard place (Marty)
  5. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome, Marty!

    I think you and your hubby would benefit from counseling. You both have legitimate concerns--he has an autistic daughter that he feels needs to live at home during the summer, and you feel some hostility from her and discomfort when she is in your home.

    Maybe a counselor help navigate an option that you all could live with. It is not right that your hubby won't talk to you about something that is so concerning to you. Not something I could live with.
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  6. Sister's Keeper

    Sister's Keeper Active Member

    Do you have children of your own?

    You need to tread very, very carefully here. Demanding a parent choose between you and their child is a battle that will, likely, not end up with you as the victor.

    None of the things that she has done seem too egregious to me. She is over 21 and drank the vodka you bought for yourself. Rude, but not really what I consider "stealing." Forgetting a DVD was in her laptop, and possibly losing a bottle opener don't sound too much like stealing, either.

    I ask if you have kids, because when you are part of a family. Kids eat or drink all of something you were saving, they use things and aren't careful with them and lose them or break them.

    I am a step child, and thank goodness, I was never treated any differently than the bio children. Maybe she is lying about drinking it because she forgot to replace it and knew you would be angry. Like your husband said, maybe she just isn't used to the type of household where they just help themselves. Your husband doesn't have a problem with her drinking (up until now) so it's possible she didn't think it was that big of a deal.

    Personally, I would be more concerned about the amount she drank than whether she drank something you considered "yours."

    I do agree that I think you and your husband need marital counseling. Fortunately, or unfortunately, you married a man that has children. These children are going to be a part of your life for a very long time. You are both going to need to learn to give and take in regards to his kids.

    Like the others said, lock up the things that you consider "yours" and you don't want others touching or using.
  7. Marty Gilroy

    Marty Gilroy New Member

    Your suggestions and advice are so appreciated! I called the MFCC last night and requested an appointment for me. Clearly, I need to learn and understand much more, as well as, get much needed support. I suspect that he & I both feel quite alone dealing with his daughter's Aspergers. I think the MFCC will be very helpful (fingers crossed). When I get some resolution, I'll see if the MFCC would be agreeable to meeting with both of us as a couple, so we can forge ahead making joint decisions. He and I need to work together on this stuff.

    I have no kids; however, I grew up in a blue collar family of ten. I was trained early in life to get off my rear end and step up to the plate. There were simply too many of us in the house, too much work to be done. All of us had to contribute and my father was not a man of great patience. Each of us was held accountable for our actions & decisions. There wasn't a lot of money, so if we wanted something, we got an allowance and/or took a job delivering newspapers, watering a neighbor's garden, babysitting, etc. We were taught to be responsible, respectful, pay our bills and to remember that not everyone had as much as we had. When I was on my own and ran low on money, I ate beans the rest of the week until my pay check arrived. My husband grew up with an older sister and may have been a bit indulged. My husband knew my mother before she died, but not my dad, as he died 20 years earlier. My mother absolutely adored my husband. Both his parents are still alive, though elderly. Clearly, he & I were raised differently, as he never felt the back of his father's hand or was yelled at when he didn't do something he was told to do. Perhaps that each of us have qualities the other would like to have may be what drew us together originally - who knows?

    Last, the fact that his middle daughter polished off nearly two quarts of vodka sola in 7-10 days is pretty scary. He should be concerned about that, in my opinion. That's an awful lot of vodka to consume in a short period of time. I'll bring this up with the MFCC and, moving forward, will be sure to lock up any/all wine or booze if/when she stays with us.
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  8. Marty Gilroy

    Marty Gilroy New Member

    I spoke with the MFCC yesterday and she was agreeable to meeting with me & my husband. This morning, I spoke with my husband about seeing the MFCC together and he's not in favor of it. His perspective is that his daughter won't be coming back to live with us, again. I asked how he can be sure about that given her condition. For him, this is an issue I'm having. He doesn't have an issue with this. I'm not sure what I'm missing, but clearly I don't understand something. I do have an issue reconciling that his daughter drank nearly two quarts of vodka over 7-10 days. It's like he's telling me to get over it.
  9. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hi Marty,

    Just start going to the appointments on your own. Your hubby may decide to join you at some point, especially if it seems to be helping you.

    It is true that your step-daughter seems to have consumed quite a bit of vodka, but there is really nothing you can do about that, short of making sure all alcohol in your home is secured next time. There is no knowing if she actually drinks that much when she is not at your house, or if it was a one-time thing for her, or maybe she simply decided to pour it out for some reason (her thought processes may be a bit different so you have to consider this a possibility).

    For now, work on the marriage and work on yourself. Sometimes it just takes having someone listen to your concerns.

    Stay with us, and let us know how it goes.

  10. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    I do not think this is such a big problem maybe I am different but for my family food and drinks missing are not a issue this is why we have them so they can be consumed and no there is not such thing as this food and drink is mine and you can not have it. The first who takes it enjoys it when we are talking food and drink sure the rule is to leave something for others but its not gonna be a big deal if they do not.
    I had this issue at the beginning of my marriage but after the children came I realized I was selfish with this.
    But also I am well off for my country so I can afford that also.
    But in my opinion is not worth making a issue over it.
  11. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Typically, men do not like to talk about/ruminate on things they can do nothing about/have no control over.

    Some of us female types like to talk things over and over. It's cathartic for us.

    My hubby has told me before that he doesn't want to talk about something because there is nothing he can do about it. He is naturally a very talkative and open person, and when he says this, I have to respect it. Some things, especially relating to his difficult adult child (when he was at his worst) were very painful. The fact that he had no control over any of it just made him feel bad. Ruminating over it didn't help him, and only made him feel worse.
  12. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet


    My husband is the same way and that is why I go to therapy for myself. He doesn't want to talk about it over and over. And like you, it helps me.

    Men are set up differently than us I think when it relates to dealing with tough things.
  13. Sister's Keeper

    Sister's Keeper Active Member

    Ugggh, that's a tough one.
    This is how it works in our home, too, and we are not well-off, but I don't have adult children living at home. Here things get eaten and not replaced, but my kids are small. (they ate a club sized box of Fiber One brownies not realizing they were "diet food.")

    I would imagine, though, with some people with adult children at home the dynamic may be different in that adult children may be expected to contribute to the food budget or replace things if they were the ones to consume the whole thing.

    I think the difference here is that Marty and her husband are used to households that run differently. Add into that an adult child who may not respond appropriately to social cues.

    I don't think any of this is a huge problem, really, I think it is just a matter of coming to an agreement about how things are run in the household in reference to the adult daughter.

    I may be assuming, but I am guessing Marty was used to living by herself prior to the marriage. Now she has to share things and add into that an adult child who is socially awkward. It's a lot of adjustment.

    In regards to the adult daughter's behavior it is probably outside the norm but the husband is used to it so he isn't annoyed or uncomfortable. My example is my littlest one. She has some speech delays so she isn't always able to express herself as quickly as she wants. So she cries. A LOT. We are used to it and we are able to ignore it. It drives my mother in law insane. She sees it as more manipulation than frustration.

    I think seeing the counselor on your own is a great idea. I agree the amount of alcohol consumed would concern me, but since she is an adult you really can't do much about it other than not give her access to it in your own house, but talking to the counselor may help you sort out some of your feelings, or help you find a better way to cope with the adult daughter's behavior.
  14. Marty Gilroy

    Marty Gilroy New Member

    Thanks to everyone!

    While I don't have experience raising a family, my husband has told me that his middle daughter does not understand inferences (at all) and that that things need to be spelled out in a direct, though kind, way. For me, that was no problem at all. However, he was very stressed about her coming to live with us, again, this summer because the last few summers were quite challenging. We were both relieved when she went back to school.

    Thus, he decided to type and print a list of house rules so all of us would be on the same page in terms of expectations & responsibilities. To start, she was expected to find a job for the summer before Americorps began in late August. She was expected to buy her own food & beverages. If she doesn't buy it, she can't eat/drink it. She was expected to pay $300 rent + utilities each month. Last, she was expected to contribute to household chores. He believed having the rules would be a good, clear way for her to learn about managing finances/budgeting, develop greater independence with responsibility, and receive a gentle introduction to what's needed when you live on your own as an adult. She resented that he typed the rules out, then went over each rule, one by one, one evening. She completely wanted him to stop. "I'm not a child!" So, he stopped, gave her a set of rule and put the other set on the 'fridge.

    The next day, she drank a Corona in the fridge & put the empty in the recycling bag. When I saw the empty bottle, I asked her about it. She declared that it was her brother's beer. She thought it would be okay because it was his beer. Yet, she knew it perfectly well it was mine. Last summer, she complained that my bottled waters & beer took up space in the fridge that she wanted. I did make room for her. I also mentioned in a direct way, though not unkind, that she's staying in our home and when she has a place of her own, she can organize the kitchen anyway she likes.

    Her "helping herself" to vodka or beer, isn't the issue as much the purposeful defiance and clear f _ _ _ you! message she's delivering. My husband was so angry he couldn't speak to her, especially since the beer incident followed the previous night's rule review she so resented. Another issue separate from our home is that she needs to develop better personal boundaries, if she plans to live with flatmates or housemates.

    Additionally, she got a job in June, but was fired two weeks later. Apparently, others complained about her not taking initiative at work, as she had to be told to do XYZ & told to do ABC, rather than just doing it as everyone else had been. I suspect this & other inferences alluded her due to having Asperger's Syndrome. She got another job in July, which she liked very much, but quit 3-4 weeks later because she wanted to search for a room to rent when the Americorps position started.
  15. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    In the grand scheme of things, she drank a Corona and a large bottle of nice vodka over 2 weeks. Let that go and now you will lock up anything you don't want her consuming. Now she knows the rules and you learned something as well, she feels entitled to your stuff, to heck with your rules her dad put in place. She really feels entitled and that is scary. Her dad may not "get it", but you (and the rest of us do) so do what you have to. My own son gives me that f-you message as well, his wife gives it to us ten-fold. The woman has never looked me in the eye, I get where you come from. Harden your heart, put a fake smile know what I mean?
  16. Marty Gilroy

    Marty Gilroy New Member

    Appreciate all of your responses, suggestions and advice very much. Please know I will try to reciprocate to other members, as well. Please know how grateful I am for your comments. Each of you has walked down paths I'll never know. Thank, you, again!