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Out of Control 15-Year-Old Teen Step-Daughter

By December 2, 2011

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A concerned step-father is seeking advice on the forum: "I have a 15 year old step daughter that I love very much. Her mother and I divorced 5 years ago and she has gone down hill since. Drugs, drinking, wrong crowd etc. Her mother told her that I was bad news and a bad influence when we split up. It's a long story but in short I am 5 years clean of drugs....pain medicine. Her mom and I get along now and I have remarried to a wonderful woman and have a great job. I have a 10 year old son with my ex wife. He is with me 6 days a week. I have had talks with both of them of the dangers of drugs, sex and bad company. My step daughter is a mess, she's been caught stealing from Walmart and from family members and myself included. She is dating a 19 year old man and he has been warned to stay away for obvious reasons. He is basically raping her because of the age difference...yes they are having sex. Her mother was cheating on me with one of my employees years ago and smoking pot and drinking excessively. She is no longer with him but my daughter knows what was going on the entire time. I am suggesting a CHINS service for her. We live in Massachusetts and it is a last resort. I am afraid for her life being ruined and I want to help before it's too late. We have tried counseling and she even went to live with my sister which ended very badly. She was stealing from her and assaulted her husband. She is now back with her mother, comes home whenever she wants, skips school and is smoking pot. I am very very worried about her."

Denise's thoughts: "I'm sorry you are having a hard time with your step-daughter and I hope it gets better for both of you, if not right away, at least in the future. It is good that she has you to care about her well-being, but because of her unique situation, you'll need to go about helping her in a unique way.

You are trying to fix things for her instead of helping her fix things or herself. You are looking for someone to control her, but she is the one in control of her own choices. Instead of focusing on raising the kid, something she isn't letting you do, how about advising the young adult, which she is already trying to be. This is often the best thing you can do for teens who do not have the family structure it takes to use normal discipline techniques.

Start helping her see the future, as a positive one where she is working and has a real life. Sign her up for career counseling at school. Tell her how hard it was to get off the drugs and you'll be there for her when she makes the choice of not doing them. Ask her what help she needs with school and get that help. Make sure someone is taking her to a family clinic to explain what women need to know about sex in a  way that she can learn how to respect herself and her body.

Asking our community: Do you have advice for this step-dad? Please share your thoughts, opinions and experiences in the comments area.

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December 2, 2011 at 12:47 pm
(1) Ivana Pejakovic says:

Part 1: It sounds as if your step-daughter has had important men come and go out of her life (biological dad and step-dad). While this may or may not have been in your control, she most likely see’s you as another father who abandoned her.

Feelings of abandonment often come up in cases of divorce. Young girls who haven’t had a steady father figure in their life or one they haven’t felt close to, often end up having early sex (in search of the attention they were unable to get from adult male figure in their life).

She may even feel mom doesn’t care much for her since her actions (cheating) led to the separation of the family (in addition to other things?). She has seen and heard things that young teens ought not to see and know. She wasn’t psychologically ready to learn about the deceit in the family. More importantly, she witnessed her family fall completely apart and did not have anyone to run to for safety and comfort (mom was too busy bashing dad and dad wasn’t a good choice either since mom let her daughter know how horrible her step-dad was).

It sounds like there is a lot going on in this family and your step-daughter is absorbing the pain of it all. People who don’t know how to handle this pain turn to drinking and drugs as a form of pain relief.

Your step-daughter did not have parents she could depend on. This led her to sever her bond with you and form it with her group of peers. In her mind they are her comfort and safety zone now.

December 2, 2011 at 12:48 pm
(2) Ivana Pejakovic says:

Part 2: Before you even think of helping your step-daughter change her life, you have to be persistent in forming a solid relationship with her. Right now she most likely doesn’t feel wanted by you, doesn’t feel like she owes you anything because she doesn’t feel you are her father, and she is angry at you. (If you were angry at and felt betrayed by someone, would you listen to them for life advice?).

Strictly work on getting to know her, hanging out with her, include you in your new family, play games together. If she objects, let her know she is an important person in your life and your life won’t be the same without her. She will protest, test you out, test your patience, but your job is to remain calm and persistent. Do not speak negatively about her mom (no matter what her mom may have said to her about you!). Your time with her ought to be fun, free of worry, and stress.

Once you notice her attitude change towards you, you can start speaking to her about her choices. By this time, you will probably see a change in her behaviour, anyways. As soon as she feels she is truly loved and accepted by you and feels safe and wanted, she will change her choices

Good luck to you and your family!

December 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm
(3) Linda Smith says:

Remind her and do the following, NO MATTER WHAT(NMW) I am in your life. Get as close to your God as you can and then include her. She needs to know that YOU are on her side no matter what has happened in the past. That is what God does each and every second, minute, hour, day, week, and year for us when we ask.

I am saying prayers for all of you, especially your step daughter.

December 2, 2011 at 5:27 pm
(4) Grandmother says:

I am raising my grandson, have for 13 yrs. He too is defiant, doing drugs, being disrespectful. I am looking for answers also. He is 16, thinks he’s grown and wants to do whatever. We are in counseling but that doesn’t seem to be working. He is angry with me because I have rules and I believe angry with his parents for their lack of involvement but doesn’t acknowledge that. I wish i could help him see that without putting his parents down. If there is anyone out there with advice, I’m willing to listen

December 3, 2011 at 9:52 am
(5) Workinmom says:

Good advice above. My marriage ended 2 yrs ago & i have a 15yr boy. He has been very angry & is trying to make bad choices. I spend hours w him in the evenings & wknds. I sit & watch him play video games. I talk to him about the friends he is choosing. I ask him if he is doing the things and hanging aroub the people who are going to help him b the man he wants to b. It is all paying off!!!!! Dont give up my friend!!!!!! I overheard him tell a friend that he couldnt go to a party bc his mom wouldnt let him…he hadnt even asked me. Spend lots of time with ur daughter. Take her to get coffee/hot choc…u will b in a position to visit without tv/interruptions. Start with short spurts of time…as she sees ur love for her…she will want to talk more & tell u how shes feeling.Praying for you : )

March 12, 2012 at 7:39 pm
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