21-year-old Step Daughter

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“I’m 52 and have been married for 13 years. My husband has two daughters from a previous marriage. I have none…


The youngest is 21 and is living with us having split up with her boyfriend early in lockdown. Her mother is in touch by phone but lives elsewhere.
She is a compulsive story teller. She tells lies and we never know what is true.
She has NEVER had a job and lives on benefits. She currently pays us £40 a week. She has a new boyfriend and intends to move in with him next year.

My husband is out at work all day and I work from home. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to tolerate her lifestyle choice. She makes out she’s applying for jobs with her false CV
Eg – she was recently overqualified for a supermarket job!

She is lazy around the house and picks and chooses what she will/won’t do. Anything we do ask of her she must be supervised and the task is done with minimum effort.

My husband doesn’t want a fall-out with her as he was refused access to her when she was a child.
He won’t ask her to leave as she has nowhere to go. Her mother does not want her as she is now getting on with her life and says it is time for Dad to ‘step up to the plate’.

I could cope if she was out at work but she’s not and I don’t want to wait another five months until she movea in with her boyfriend in case that doesn’t happen. I feel like I don’t want to be in my own house and it’s affecting my relationship with my hubby who is naturally defensive and protective of his daughter and feeling squeezed. Has anyone got any advice please? What type of boundaries should be set?”

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30 thoughts on “21-year-old Step Daughter”

  1. Hubs is enabling his grown daughter to be a leach. She’s plenty old enough to get a job, pay rent, and in three months be out on her own or back with her mama. Your marriage will be for life. Said child needs to move on and get her own life. The sooner hubs understands that the better.

  2. I would sit her down,for a cuppa, just the two of you, and tell her how difficult you are finding this living situation. I would blame covid, working from home, never having had to share the home with children and anything else you can think of. Tell her you know she must be feeling the same things, wanting her own space etc and when she agrees either offer to pay to help her move out into her own little place or with the means to move in with the boyfriend.

  3. #1. make friends with the daughter. although she’s grown now, she wasn’t when her parents divorced. there’s bound to be resentments.
    #2. keep your husband out of it. if he doesn’t see a problem he never will believe there is one.
    #3. once you’ve made friends with her you can repair the damage the mother has done. teach her to be a responsible person for her own best interest not anyone else’s. teach her to be independent and self reliant. you’ve put up with the bs this long now take a little more time to turn things in your favor. you will gain a good friend and granny rights when the grand babies come. i know you feel deflated by her story telling and lack of interest in chores but that’s the child in her seeking attention from an absent dad. if your husband is worth keeping it’s worth trying to help his daughter. if you fail, pack her bags and his and show them the door.

  4. After my divorce, I moved back home and lived with my folks. I took college courses and got a job in my industry. I paid my bills, helped with chores around the house and did my own thing. My daughter was a toddler at the time and I was responsible for her 100%. I paid for my part of the phone bill and utilities. Step-mom needs to sit down with both the daughter and husband and discuss what’s acceptable and what isn’t as well as a time limit on housing her and such. And if she overstays, then start charging full rent.

  5. Maybe she’s bipolar. It sounds very much like my sister. Please check into this. Once this is done if she is the meds will help, if she’s not the only peace I personally see is her or you moving out. Dad needs to be a dad and get a backbone. If she does t come around for awhile that’s a good thing. She needs to grow up and when she does she’ll come around again.

  6. I don’t understand why she can’t move in with her boyfriend now. You need your house back. Tell her everyday that you need her to move on away from your house. I mean, say it to her everyday. Let it sink in that she needs to get her act together and just get on with it. It was supposed to be temporary, but it sounds like she has settled in forever. I could not tolerate this situation and neither should you.

    1. I think if they don’t have the funds to move in together now, they never will. Is the boyfriend working?
      Give her an ultimatum, get a job or do a course in a job she likes until she moves out. There isn’t a landlord out there who will take on people without a job unless they are waiting for council housing which can take years!

      1. It’s also going to be tough right now due to the pandemic. Finding a job, a course and a place to live, will be near impossible at the moment. Give her a list of things you need her to do each day. She may feel she can’t step up in your house. Have a calm chat about how you all feel around the table. Tough one!

  7. You married a man with kids, they are part of the deal.
    I have a few questions.
    Is she depressed? Does she have any kind of addiction? Was she not taught that people need to work? Was she taught that she should get married and have kids and not work? Does she rely on men to support her? Does she have any skills?
    Make sure you know the answers to those questions. Then sit down with her and talk. Don’t treat her like a child even though she is acting like one. Treat her as the adult you want her to be. Then set some basic rules.
    Pick up after yourself.
    Get a job.
    Even charge her bored, but put the $ in an account for when she moves out. Maybe she can move out on her own instead of always being dependent on a man.

  8. I think it is hard to understand why he was denied access to her when growing up and she says now it is his turn. I hope this turns around for you.

  9. She is 21, not a 12 year old child. It is unfair you should reap the burden of what her parents have sown. If she isn’t listening to you and your husband now, she never will. If she wants to be treated like a child, then take her privileges away. If she wants to be treated as an adult, she’ll have to act like one.

  10. This is exact why I will never marry again, share a home with anyone again. Life is too short. I wish you well, you deserve it.❤️🤷‍♀️

  11. I think it is important to lovingly point out to Hubby that she is not your daughter yet you are expected to bear the brunt of her behaviour and lifestyle as he is out all day. Think long and hard about what FEW yet CAST IRON rules you would like to be in place. Eg. Cleans up after herself. Gets out of bed by 9am latest, no financing of fun, MUST get a job. Stand firm on this. Point out that YOU are being expected to live with his lack of parenting and his ex wife’s poor parenting. Ask him if this is fair?

    1. I’d just like to add there absolutely must time limits set on any expectations, especially getting a job. And she really must pay board. It’s late in the day, but it’s time for her to learn to look after herself.

  12. Interesting comment about father not being able to have contact with daughter while growing up. No matter the cause, he is now left with the decisions on rearing that momma made. NICE…not really. She needs a job, she needs a job, she needs to support herself. Dad is not doing her a service with his response. Adult aged children need to be adults. Living off handouts whether from family or government is shameful when you have an education that was alluded to in the comments.

  13. State your expectations of her to both her and your husband. If not met, she has to go. This is your home, your rules. If she doesn’t respect and appreciate having an opportunity to live there, she has to go. Could be she is resentful and feels her father “owes” her for not being in her life when she was younger, and probably her mother promoted that resentment. Sounds like her mother doesn’t want her but would most likely take her in if she had no where else to go. Don’t get played by those two, stand up for yourself! Make sure your expectations are not unreasonable and talk it out with your husband and his daughter. I speak from experience.

  14. It’s a shame you three didn’t sit down and work out boundaries before she moved in, but you need now to sit down with hubby and and talk it out with kindness and understanding but with frankness and firmness. Then if you can both agree on a way forward, you need to sit down with the daughter and set up your house rules. I will say, that many a 21 year old who could get away with it would behave the same way, it’s not just her! But because of the dynamics of course it makes it more difficult, but the real adults in this situation need to take control……

    1. You’re going to end up either being told to tolerate it or go, so prepare yourself for that.

      Daddy feels guilt for not being there during her formative years and now is making up for it by over-indulgence.

      This is how the rest of your life will be. Sponging step-daughter moving in with her boyfriend of the day and moving back to your house and sponging off you guys when the squeeze of the day disappears.

      Should one of the boyfriends decide to stay, then Daddy will be financing her married lifestyle…lavish wedding, buying them a house and so forth.

      Think long and hard about what you want for your future. Before I sat down with both of them, I’d be sitting down with hubby, outlining my concerns.

      His response will tell you all you need to know.

      1. This will never get better. My husband’s sister came to stay for a month, because she was hoping to marry her 4th husband and needed to get out if her twin sister’s house, as the new boyfriend was her sister’s former fiancé. Boyfriend decided against the whole thing so she ended up staying a year until I made it perfectly clear she needed to go. She acted like her brother was her boyfriend. They went everywhere together and my husband and I could never go anywhere without her. My husband had recently retired due to back surgeries. She never got a job and I would come home from work to make dinner and she would still be in her bathrobe. This whole situation put me in therapy. She still holds a grudge against me that I would not let her sponge off of me anymore. When this happened, she was 60 years old. My point is, once a lifelong user will never get it. Either make it change or live with it, because no one else is going to take care of it and you could be used for the rest of your life.

  15. Go get yourself a job and get out of the house. They can fend for themselves while you are gone. The House will be a wreck for a bit. But it is your turn to do things. Leave them on their own and let Hubby handle her. She will move out sooner.

  16. You have to take care of you.it’S time.this child is 21 not 12.grown adult child.I think knows her dad is in awkward spot soooo playing it .the tidy up must be done by you.not going to be easy or nice but going forward must be sorted out.may it be as easy as possible all around.

  17. Went thru s similar exp. Hubby had a son from a previous marriage. Lots of guilt involved on his part. Many arguments regarding his son’s behavior. We helped this kid until I finally put my foot down!! He had to grow up. Hes very difficult to be around. I totally removed him from my life..had to. Too toxic. Hubby still in touch, but no more handouts. A difficult path to be sure. Prayers headed ur way.

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