Two faced manipulating step-daughter

I've been married to a wonderful man for 19 years. His two girls were 13 and 20 when we married, their mother had been killed in a car accident a year before we married, but they had been divorced for over a year when she died. The youngest girl chose to live with her mother's parents to continue going to the same school, and all the way through college. Both girls inherited over $50,000 from their mother's death. The oldest daughter has always been very sweet to me and we get along great. The youngest has been distant. They have both told me several times that their mother was a controlling and hateful wife to their dad. She was very mean to him and didn't allow them to have anything in the house that might cause her "allergies" to act up but spend most of her time at her own mom & dads house which was filled with cigarette smoke, carpet, cats and dogs. My husband tells me that the youngest girl spent most of her time with her mother and very little with him. Just before she married at 23, she
wrote me a letter telling me she was happy for her dad that he found someone to love but she didn't want me in her life. I was not to be part of her "family unit" as she put it. Her dad told her that she could just leave him out, too if that was how she felt. Later on after she had her first child, she asked me if I would babysit for her while she worked during the day. I kept her for four months and was never offered a dime, after being told she would pay me $50 a week. I quit a part-time job to care for her child. Since years have passed, I find that I cannot like this woman, she is passive aggressive, snide and two-faced. Goes behind my back and talks about me and then just smiles up a storm to my face. I feel like we need a truce but don't know what to do. She comes over to visit with her 3 kids (7, 5 & 2) and lets them throw magazines around in the living room, jump on the sofa, take mulch and throw it out of my flower beds, stomp on my plants outside and it goes on and on. What should I do?????


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  • Throughout all of this, you just need to be the bigger person. And it sounds like you have been doing just that. I don't think you should write her off permanently. I think this is salvageable. But again, you don't need some anonymous board to get permission to do what you want. For whatever reason, she is stuck in time and continues to be a snotty and hurt 13 year old. Like she's never really dealt with what happened in her life and she blames you. This is just my impression from you have stated about her. In some ways, I'm a little sympathetic to her. A 13 year old girl is first devastated by her parents divorce. And even if their real mother was a pain, we have to respect that she was still their mother. Then she's further devastated by her mother dying and then her father remarrying. Maybe she's never truly grieved. Maybe her living with her grandparents wasn't really her choice, but felt forced to do this. In the sense maybe she didn't feel welcome living with you and her dad. Not saying you said anything, but this is a 13 year girl who is dealing with a lot, she is looking to punish someone. So you're really generous and offering to watch her kids and give gifts and you're not backing down. Remove the dollar signs from all of this, don't place that value on the kindness you do. If you watch the kids, you do that because you want to. The dollar sign will always create tension in any relationship. However, the boundaries need to be there. When she and the kids come over to your house and misbehave, make sure your husband is there to witness and say something. Props to your husband for creating a united front when his daughter forced him to choose. Maybe it wouldn't be bad for you to suggest family counseling or even write her a letter of your own. Not bringing up the past, but just speak to moving forward. Tell her that you would like to start over or whatever... It does sound like you do want to better your relationship, even if it's frustrating.

  • Thank you so much for your comments. I am so glad to hear that you think she should be written off permanently! To tell you a little more, when she graduated from college I gave her $500 and we attended a party her (soon-to-be) mother-in-law gave her. She snuggled up to her dad and thanked "him" for the gift, but never even looked at me. In an effort to get along & keep peace,I ignored it. When she told us she set her wedding date, I was working at Home Depot...she came in while I was there & was looking at washers & dryers, etc. for her new home. I told her I could buy them and get a discount (since I worked there) and even offered to get them for her as a wedding present. She readily accepted the gift and then went right back to being her two-faced self. Just after these gifts, she sent me the horrible letter. Then when she needed something she would call and act as if nothing ever happened. I agreed to keep her baby to give my husband a chance to be around his first grandchild. This little girl was truly precious and was such a sweet little baby. When she was about 8 mo. old I could barely pick her up, she was getting BIG. I'm only 5' tall, not very big in stature, my husband is 6'4" and his daughters are almost 6' tall. The one with the kids is 5' 10" and her husband is 6' 5" (300 lbs) and their kids come out looking like they're 6 months old!! So you can imagine how difficult it was for me to wag this 8 mo. old baby around. I ask her if she might be able to find someone else to keep her and my God, she took a monkey fit!! I swear if you look up "drama queen" in the dictionary, her picture is right beside it. I confronted her about how she acted, but it didn't solve anything. Over the years things haven't gotten any better between us and now I resent her so much that I can barely stand being around her at all. I will take your advise and tell her to let me know 24 hours ahead of time when she wants to visit her dad and I will leave! Thank you!

  • Well done. You shouldn't be expected to waste any more of your money or your time or your life on someone with absolutely no sense of gratitude or understanding of how (or why) to return kindness. Eventually, her father will get worn out, too, but she still won't understand why the two of you "turned against" her. I firmly believe in "do unto others", but you tried that -- for years -- and it never worked with her. Some people are just immune to the golden rule.

  • I agree 100% --- and by the way, her dad is already tired of it, and we have just given all that we can give, both emotionally and financially. It's time that she either grows up and learns how to respect us or move on away from us altogether.

  • Tell her that she is not to be a part of YOUR "family unit". Others will tell you that you first should tell her what the rules are, what is expected of her, and give her a chance to comply. I say no. She had a chance, or chances, and she not only failed to act on them, she did something much worse: she abused those chances. The last straw was seven years ago, when Child Monster No. 1 was being babysat for free -- and at personal cost to you -- in your home. Since then, she's been skating on increasingly thin ice that has now thawed and evaporated. She's out. She's to call at least 24 hours before coming to your house, so you can arrange to not be present, or so you can ward her off if you have plans at the house. She can no longer passive-aggressive her way into or out of anything. Grace period over. Done. Not part of the "family unit". Repeat after me, "Sayonara, sister". You deserve to have a life, too. But if you stay within reach of this leech, you'll have NO life.

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