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Letters from Homes:
Hostile Stepdaughter

Dear Stepcoach,

I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on something. I have a 14 year old step daughter who came to live with us 2 years ago, with claims of abuse by her mother. She stated she wanted a stable home with rules and people who cared. Now she is constantly defiant and writes private notes that she wants to go back and live with her mother. She doesn't discuss this with us and it sounds like one day she will just runaway back to her mom. At the mothers home there are no rules and the children come and go as they please.

     These 2 years have not been all pleasant, there has been many trying times. We have gone to therapists and parenting help groups. Nothing seems to work, no matter what we do it seems the lure of no rules and freedom to do what she wants overpowers any love, guidance,morals or respect that we try to encourage. I must also say that when she lived at her mothers there was also drug and alcohol use and sexual activity by her. Lately she seems to be falling back into that pattern and any attempt by us to guide her in another direction only fails and causes her to feel we don't care about her and we are controlling. She calls her dad a dad cop and me a b***h.

     Is there a point that people just need to let go and allow the child to make their own decision knowing it would be a harmful choice?


Dear Stepmom,

I can empathize with your situation. My own stepdaughter was very much like you describe yours, and it was torture to deal with. Her mother and I put up with attacks, insults, acting out, and insolence for three years, until she began threatening violence against us and started telling school authorities tales of abuse. Fortunately, she wasn't smart enough to coordinate her abuse stories, and when they were compared, authorities found enough contradictions to realize she was lying. But, at that point, to protect ourselves, we had the 16 year old girl placed with her biological father. 

Taking her daughter to court was devastating to my wife, but we both realized it had to be done. It was her decision, not mine. It was her place to decide what to do with her daughter, not mine. My place, as her husband, was to stand by her and support her in her parenting choices regarding her daughter. Her daughter, her responsibility, her decisions. Theirs was an on-going, established relationship when I married into it. I couldn't make decisions for my wife and her daughter. I signed on to love and support my wife. She came with a daughter attached. My place was not to take over and try to reshape their relationship to fit my standards, but to partner with my wife in whatever capacity she requested.

It is hard to watch the ones we love suffer from attacks by their children, but we steppers have to remember our position in the family. We are mates and partners to our spouses - period. We have an opportunity to be influences on their children, but those kids are always - always - THEIR kids, not ours. Those kids are born with a mother and father. Our job is not to step in and take over, but to partner with the one we marry. If they ask for help we should readily provide it. If they don't, or if they specifically ask us to stay out of it, we serve them by offering encouragement, support, and relief whenever possible. Period. STEPparent could mean "Spouse To an Engaged Parent" since our new mates are already fully engaged in the parenting process before we ever come into the picture. We step into a full-blown production and just have to do our best to catch up on them.

Your job is to bless your husband - and his daughter - as much as you possibly can. If they receive that - great! If they don't, you'll know you've done your best at what you promised to do. What ever his decision about his daughter, he'll need your support. They will both remember always how you respond to that need.

God bless your family!


Bob Collins, CDM


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Her reply back:

Dear Stepcoach,

     Thank you so much for your response. I believe we do have alot in common. We have now also had my 14 year old stepdaughter attack her father and me. The police were called, we didn't press charges because the officer had a talk with her and she agreed to follow rules and respect us. But the very next morning she was cursing her dad and making demands on him. She still continues to be rude to both of us. Child Protective Services is now involved in our family and picking apart our lives. With all their contradicting thoughts and views.

   After a couple days of hell and unbelievable stress the step daughter has finally made the decision to go back to her mother's. I understand her father's grief and upset and as you say, I am here to support him and help him through all of this. We are now fighting with the decision of pressing charges for the assaults she made on us. For the reason that she had learned nothing from the experience and acts empowered by getting away with it.

    It seems to me that being a blended family whether the children live with you or not is an ongoing battle.

    Once again thank you so much for your reply. Just knowing that there are others out there with the same problems who understand helps greatly.

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