Q: I get along great with my husband's oldest children from his first wife. It's the twin girls from one of his girlfriends that I have trouble with. After marrying him we get a call in the middle of the night because his ex decided she did not want to care for one of the twins any longer. We took her in and I treated her as if she was one of my own children and did everything for her (because her father worked out of town weekly). She decided that she wanted to move back to her mom's a couple of years ago and her father allowed her to go. Then I once picked her up walking off the road at midnight, she was allowed to cuss, and her mother took them shoplifting, etc. When she decided she didn't want to be with her mother anymore (because her father could afford more of the luxuries she had become accustomed to), she came back and constantly cussed, lied and completely disobeyed anything said to her.
I could not take it anymore and told her father that since he could not back me up that she had to go somewhere else. We have a disabled child together and a toddler. She was sent to her grandmother's. Now she and her twin are mad at me because I filed a police report when I found out that their mother was taking her twin back and forth to stay weeks at a time with a 19-year-old boy (she is 14). She constantly lies about me to get people mad at me and will run up to her father when we come to her grandmother's, yell "Daddy!" and hug him, while smirking at me with this evil grin. Now I refuse to go to his mother's and refuse to allow my children to go there as well. I had her in counseling, and because she didn't want to go anymore, I was told not to take her there again. I am ready to say forget it and walk with my two children. -- Lacy, 39
Dr. Susan: You have to do what's best for your own children and your own sanity. I agree that neither you nor your children need to go to their grandmother's while this acting-out teen is there, especially if your husband simply won't back up your reasonable demands. Don't make a loud argument out of it. Just say it's not a healthful environment for any of you at present, and you'll be staying home. Try not to care about the lies she tells. You and your husband know the truth.
It may be too late for you to save the 14-year-old twin (you never could have done it alone anyway). But it's not necessarily too late to save your marriage. Get your husband into some kind of counseling with you to determine if your relationship is worth fighting for. If he respects and trusts you at all anymore, he needs to hear how his short-sighted attitude is killing your marriage. His daughter is playing him, and he doesn't want to believe it. He probably feels guilty for any number of reasons. You can't be made to bear the results of that. Walking out is a last resort. Try a few other things first, including simply not spending any time around the girl. Just don't keep doing the same things and expecting a different result.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.