Very long (stepmom needs help)

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Boundaries, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. Boundaries

    Boundaries New Member

    Hello, I am new to this site. The reason I named myself “Boundaries” is because I am not sure where my boundaries lay. I am a Stepmom to a 24 year old woman. I have been with her Father sense she was 5. I want to say that I love her and want what is best for her. I have tried very hard through the years to help guide her. I realize that her Father and I have VERY different parenting skills. In my opinion he never had any. We were not the primary house where she lived. That made it more difficult. She has been stealing from family member, friends, and school for many years. She was caught at school with pot. There were never any consequences. Her Mother covered up for her, her father turned the other cheek. After turning 18 she was arrested many times for shoplifting. The first time she went into rehab she moved in with her Dad, and I. I said finally she will have some rules. We (or should I say I) wrote up a contract. With in two weeks she broke the contract. She found a room at half way house. My husband paid rent for 3 months. Her Mother paid many of her bills for the last year. Oh yes, She has lost countless job (never her fault). She got caught stealing again, and went to rehab again. The courts didn’t even give her any consequences except some fines. Her Mother and Father thought for sure she had been clean for almost a year. I never saw any changes from her except she was not getting caught stealing. I told my husband “do not get your hopes up”
    Well, here we are now. My Step daughter has taking money out of her Mom’s safe for over 6 months. Around 50,000 dollars. Her Mother did call the sheriff. The sheriff’s did get a written statement from Step Daughter saying she had stolen the money. Her Mom is now taking her food. I am sick because I see her Mother enabling her again. She also called my husband said that if he had any compassion that he should get some food for his daughter. I sent an email with website for the book “Setting Boundaries with your Adult Children”. I told her that we were buying the book and if she would like to borrow it let us know. I also sent a list of food kitchens and food banks in her daughters area. She set me back an email telling me that she is not an enabler, and one quote from the website that said never stop encouraging them, emotionally supporting them, and loving them. If she has read the book there was a “however” after that quote.
    My question is do I stay out of this, or do I fight for my step daughter. My husband stopped enabling for a year now, but again he is passive with talking to his ex-wife. I would love to email the mother and explain that I am not out to be a wicked Stepmom. I am trying to help my stepdaughter. I love her.
  2. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Hi Boundaries,

    Welcome to our corner of the world. As I was reading your post I was reminded of a post from long ago that is now in the General Archives. It is written from the perspective of a step mom and I've copied it below. She's talking about younger kids but I hope there might be some things that are appropriate for what you need right now.

    Again, welcome!


  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hello Boundaries. I'd like to add my welcome.

    Like you, I am the stepmom of 2 adults, and like you we have had quite a rocky road as I have stepped in and out of the "mom" role.

    I think the "disengaging" article contains some excellent advice. I have applied many of the lessons to my own life, and get along far better with my step kids as a result.

    So glad you've found us, but sorry that your life circumstances brought you here. I encourage you to post as often as you need to. This group has saved my sanity more than once.

  4. Boundaries

    Boundaries New Member

    I want to say thank you for your help. I understand what is being said in the Disengaging Essay. I wish I had this essay 19 years ago. How do I get rid of this feeling of not protecting someone I love? Its like a form of child abuse to me.
  5. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    But, we can't always protect someone we love, especially once they are adults. We're not talking about small children who need to be taught to look both ways before crossing the street. In many cases, these are adults that are aware of the potential consequences, they simply don't care, or, they figure we'll rescue them if they screw up so why should they care?

    Stumbling, falling, and suffering consequences for our actions are all important parts of learning and growing. There is no other way to become indepedent. Allowing our children or those we love to suffer their own consequences is not child abuse. in my opinion, in many situations, it is more loving to allow them to suffer, than it is to prevent that suffering. That doesn't make it any easier, however.
  6. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Like Crazy said, we are talking about a 24 year old woman, not a child. This is not child abuse by any stretch.

  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Suz, wow. That is the best description of stepparenting I've ever read.

    Stepparents do have to realize they are NOT parents. My hub is my first three kids stepfather, not father. He does not try to raise them or correct their mistakes. He is more a friend than a parent.

    Stepparents do not have that bonding from the time the kids are born. No matter how much they say they love them, it's easier for them to just get mentally tired of the child's bad behavior than is parents. In this case, we have a grown child and husband and this girl's mother are going to treat her the way they want to treat her and in my opinion nobody should interfer. I'd be major ticked off if a stepmother sent me a book.

    I would read the detach stuff that Suz sent you and just let it go. What she did to her mother is between her mother and her. What she does to her father is between her father and her. She doesn't live with you now, so my advice is to take good care of yourself and let her parents handle her because there's nothing you can do about it.

    Good luck!:tongue:
  8. Boundaries

    Boundaries New Member

    I guess its going to take some really hard work. My children had a very wonderful Stepmom. I never had an issues with her. I knew she loved my 3 children. Thank you, for all the material. I will be doing some studing. :tongue:
  9. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Boundaries, none of us here have come to these realizations overnight. Some of us have been posting here for years. Read our old posts. Read the archives. There is a ton of info and experience here to benefit from. You are just starting your journey and we are here to help you along.

  10. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I think it helps when we realize that they are adults and we can't protect them any longer. They may not be the adults that we hoped they would be, but there comes a time when you have to let go of their hand and let them make their own way in life. They may step off of the path, but the only sure way back is for them to find their way. We're not them, and they're not us. Everyone gets to make their own mistakes. It's the only way that people grow up.

    Be strong, and know that you are not alone.
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I'm stepmom to a 30 year old difficult child. (wow, that makes me feel old!)

    It's obvious you love your step daughter. I love mine too and have always done my best to treat her as I would my own bio kids.

    Our mom instinct is to step in and rescue like we did when they were little. But once they are adults, stepping in and rescuing our kids from natural consequences of their behavior does not help them. It actually hurts them as they don't learn anything from it. They have no reason to want to change their behavior. As grown children they have to learn to take responsibility for their own behavior, just as we do for ours.

    It doesn't mean we don't love them. It means we love them enough to let them fall on their face and learn how to pick themselves back up again and go on.

    It's still hard to make the transition from parenting a child to parenting an adult. I have some basic rules I follow that help me. But none of us are perfect. Learning to detach and let your child be an adult is a process. And it is often painful to watch them stumble and fall.

    Bio Mom will have to "get" it in her own time. You might want to offer the book as a gift. But she will have to come to her "ahh hah!" moment herself. Just as your husband has.

    Welcome to the board. :)

  12. ML

    ML Guest

    Welcome Boundaries. And thank you Suz and everyone for contributing to this amazing thread. This is a keeper. I am in a similar situation with a 27 year od SS difficult child that lives with us. I needed this today.
  13. Boundaries

    Boundaries New Member

    I have made a copy of the Disengaging essay. I will have it close by. When I am overwhelmed with this issue, and my Mother instinct kicks in I will bring out the essay and refresh my boundaries. :whiteflag: Thank you all .