Parenting a Teen Stepdaughter
My mother-in-law has guardianship of my 15-year old stepdaughter. Over the past few months, they've had some issues. I think a lot of the decisions that both my stepdaughter and her grandma have made are wrong—even dangerous—but I can't say a thing. I'm just the stepmom.
It goes in waves. She's fine for several months but then she has a couple of weeks of acting out. Last time she did that, she got caught shoplifting at the mall. We also found out that she had sex with her boyfriend, and even while she was grounded for those two offenses, she went to a friend's house, dyed her hair and pierced her nose.
Her grandma has anxiety issues that have caused her to be hospitalized in the past, and she just couldn't deal with this rebellious teen anymore. So she sent her to live with her mother, which was probably one of the worst decisions of her life.
Her mother was declared an unfit mother when my stepdaughter was 2. That's when my mother-in-law got guardianship. Shortly after, her mother started seeing another man (who was still married to another woman) and had a baby with him. They were together for years, but recently broke up, and instead of getting a place for herself and her daughter, she moved in with another man and his five kids. She's now pregnant again. Although she is my stepdaughter's biological mother, I hardly feel this woman is a suitable role model.
Now I've seen pictures of my stepdaughter and her friends partying, drinking and making out with boys, apparently unsupervised. She actually had pictures on her MySpace page of her puking from drinking so much! Just this morning, I saw her friends talking about her planning to pierce her tongue. And she has posted a blog about how a man is supposed to treat a woman in bed—like she has a lot of experience with lovers!
I am terrified of her doing things that she will later regret. But the family has made it clear that I'm an outsider, and that I have no say in what should be done to help her. My husband purposely won't tell me things about her because he thinks I'll judge her. It's like they all think I'm the evil stepmother character that's so popular in movies.
I did a lot of the things she's doing now when I was in college, and my husband knows that. I just don't want to see this young girl—who I've known for more than half her life and deeply care about—go through what I did. But how can I help if no one will let me?