Hi all, new here. I have NO IDEA who to talk to about this, and don't feel like I can talk to my husband just yet. I have a 17 year old stepdaughter. Her mom died of a drug OD, her former stepmom was an alcoholic, dad worked a lot and has emotional issues of his own, and she (the SD) led a mixed up life, no doubt. So when I first met her at 15, and ever since really, I chose to handle her with kindness and give her the benefit of the doubt in most situations. I didn't try over-mother her, but I obviously do have maternal feelings for her, so I tried to treat her like I treat my neices that are around her age - part friend, part mom, not taking any [censored] but not being overbearing. It seemed to me sometimes that her dad was too negative and too hard on her, which I chalked up to the difficulty of being the single dad of a teenage girl. There were times I would defend her (not in front of her - as far as our kids are concerned we stand united on all parenting issues) and he would tell me I would figure her out eventually...he said she's a liar, you can't believe anything she tells you, etc.
It didn't take me long to see what he meant - the girl is a master manipulator. She loves to use her past as an excuse for the things she does and says, and a way to get what she wants. When someone meets her it doesn't take her long to make sure they know her mom is dead. Sometimes she's seems so calculating I'm afraid she's some kind of sociopath. Her dad and I both want her to enjoy her high school years and be a normal teenager, but if you give her the slightest bit of freedom she pushes it to the limits and gets in trouble. She's immature to the extreme, like a 13 year old in a grown woman's body.
She had a problem with spending all her time on texting, facebook, etc. and had been banned from social sites and had her phone taken away. A few months ago I discovered that not only was she still on several social sites, she was "meeting" boys online, sending explicit photos of herself, giving them her cell number (a phone she wasn't even supposed to have - the grandmother is a whole other issue) and her textfree number for her ipod. The thing that terrified me most (at that point) is I had let her babysit my preschooler for the first time due to issues with other sitters, and she told all 1000 boys (strangers!) on one of her sites that she was home alone with a 5 yr old girl. She gave no thought to what could have happened if one of them decided to show up...it only takes one!
When I told her dad he flipped out - screaming, threatening - it was ugly. We changed all the computer passwords, took away every electronic device, made his parents aware that she was to have NO unsupervised access to the computer under any circumstances, and gave her plenty of chores to keep her busy during the day while we work. Prior to all this happening I thought she was immature, a drama queen, and required way too much attention for a kid her age, but to some extent her past is kind of an excuse for that sort of thing. But, I really thought she had higher morals for some of the conversations and photos I saw when I started checking into everything she was up to. Her dad had said before he is afraid that she has boys over during the day and of what she would do if he allowed her to date unsupervised, but I just thought that was being an overprotective dad...now, I think he's right.
I spent the next couple of weeks going through all of her email addresses, social sites, dating sites, etc. and changing all the passwords - making her profiles invisible, but not getting rid of them in case we need to show her grandparents if they try to keep giving her everything she asks for. That's when I made the Horrible Discovery - in her Google history, she has looked at an awful lot of p*rn. At first I chalked it up to curiosity until I found that a lot of times she was searching for dad/daughter stuff. It makes me want to throw up just to type that. I don't know what to do, whether to tell her father...and I don't know what this might mean. There was once when we were dating that I was talking about having kids and dating, how her dad was the only one my kids ever met because I had to really know and trust someone first, etc. and she said she was afraid to have kids because of what her husband might do to them because people are perverted and then she started laughing...I was like WHAT! It gave me pause, no doubt. I never said anything to her dad but am still very alert to his behavior around all three of our kids and have never once witnessed an inappropriate word or act and I've been watching for a long time. She's also told me about things that her dad supposedly said or did when angry in the past, but then threw in that he would have "blackouts" and not remember anything so that if I asked and he denied it I will still have doubt. I have witnessed the man in a full fit of anger and it's a sight to behold (it's the viking ancestry is my theory), but the things she says, combined with the lies she tells about her own life that I KNOW to be lies...makes me wonder if she was just trying to get rid of me. Or more likely, just trying to get me on her side and against HIM. I'm sure she liked her world just like it was...her dad was busy working to make ends meet and so she spent lots of time with grandma that gave her everything. The worse she made her dad look, the more she got from grandparents - until the grandparents confronted her dad and the truth came out. Then she would lay low for awhile and things would be ok until she started the manipulation again...she's a big part of why his relationship with his parents and brother are not great. Everybody believes what children say. And then I come along with no substance abuse issues and a mostly normal family life, which my hubby wants more than anything, and we are determined that's what we'll have together - and that really throws a wrench in all her plans.
Back to the Horrible Discovery - she likes to allude to having seen or done things when her mom was still alive, or like someone may have done something to her, but she never really says for sure and when you ask questions she won't admit to anything specific. I don't know if this is just more lies to get attention (cause it will be at random times) because I know how she loves to use her "sob story" (her words, not mine! - she said she would use her sob story to get on a TV show) but at the same time...why would a teenage girl ever be looking for something like this on the Internet? Even if you feel like your dad didn't show you enough attention or love you enough...it's just gross. My dad was mostly absent when I was growing up, either working or at the VFW, and when he became disabled he was home all the time but on so many pain medications he was unbearable - I know a little something about daddy issues, but this NEVER NEVER NEVER crossed my mind... And she had been searching these things for awhile before I even came on the scene, so I don't think it's any sort of jealousy either.
So I have been sitting on this for awhile, and the last couple of days I noticed she has finally been reading her Nook. We gave it to her for Christmas but she hasn't really messed with it much - it's the one thing we allowed her to keep because it didn't have Internet access. Well, I didn't realize it has wifi for downloading books, I thought it had to be hooked to the computer, but this morning I wondered to myself why she was suddenly so into it after 8 months - so I checked it out. Over the past few days she's downloaded nothing but smut. I don't think we can consider this curiosity by a long shot at this point - the girl has problems.
All this stuff, plus the lying, the selfishness - she will literally do and say anything to get what she wants. She likes to make it really clear to me that her grandmother is the only "mom" she will ever have and the person she loves most in this world, and yet she stole her truck last summer, gets her to buy her ridiculous things, and goes behind her back all the time. She makes it clear to her dad too that she doesn't love him and doesn't want to live with us - she just wants to go to the grandmother's house. Of course his response is that she only does this because she gets everything she wants there and he'll be damned if he'll let her ruin his parents lives (they both have health issues). He thinks she's going to end up like her mother and her mother's mother - drugs, pregnancies, dead by 35 - and he doesn't hold back on telling her that if she doesn't wake up and get her life together and start figuring out what's important that's exactly what's going to happen. Sometimes he seems so harsh but you really can't be nice to her, she will run all over you, trust me I know. She has no shame at all - she will show up to another person's birthday party and ask for the best piece of cake, at 17, no kidding.
I'm really scared - for her future, for my other two kids if she has some major mental problems, for her dad and me, and for what else I may find out. I don't know what to tell him or how to tell him or whether to tell him. The saddest part of all is she can be such a sweet and helpful person - but only when she wants something. She's funny and smart and has the future wide open before her - but she won't wake up, she won't take responsibility for herself or do anything for herself. I'm not like the stepmoms who hate their stepkids - in fact, I love her very much. My heart aches for her and I'm so confused by why she is the way she is. We have some funny conversations and like watching movies and talking about books and school and I think she knows she can depend on me. She talks to me about her friends and boys and I give her advice without being judgy. I want her to be happy and successful and make good decisions - all the things you want for your kids. Is she just emotionally delayed, or is she actually advanced and manipulating me too?? Sometimes she seems so normal, but I think it's all an act. She even told me once she thinks about what it would be like to kill someone she's mad at...I mean, so have I to be honest, but that compounded with all the other things...I'm just thinking back and remembering stuff that makes me scared.
I know this is a lot and I'm sorry for writing a book...there are more layers to the story obviously and it's a seriously tangled web...but if anyone has ANY advice, I would greatly appreciate it!