Dealing with step children.

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My stepdaughter has become a thorn in my side.she lives 500 miles away yet wants to control everything. My husband is in the last stage of Vascular Dementia, has Congestive Heart Failure and his body is shutting down. The last 2 weeks he has rapidly declined. I contacted his 2 children and his son and his wife after the doctor recommended that he be placed with Hospice and are extremely cooperative and supportive. His daughter, on the other hand, has really been giving me a hard time about sending him to a home and placing him with Hospice. She came to visit him a few weeks ago and spent the whole time with 6 other people she invited to our home. I told her to make that decision but that when she comes she needs to devote time to him only. I ended up putting the phone down and let her scream at me through the phone until she realized I wasn't there anymore. I am so exhausted from being the sole caregiver for the last six years and I don't feel like arguing. Am I being cruel? I believe in my heart that my husband is my first priority. I love my husband so very much and it would kill him to know that she is behaving this way instead of being supportive. I have POA of health and finances and all other stuff is in order. Just really need prayers for peace. I also would welcome any suggestions on how to handle this woman. Thanks

23 Comments

Oh Diana, I feel for you! There have been several step-children problems in my support group and it is agonizing to even hear about them.

Let us be charitable and assume that she is so distraught over her father's condition that she is in a state of denial and anger and she is inappropriately taking it out on you. Poor girl. Daddy is dying. Let us assume she is grieving.

But you are grieving, too. You have no obligation to be her punching bag. Tell her you love her and you sympathize with her, but do not allow her to abuse you. That doesn't do either of you any good. Be firm that you have made decisions in your husband's best interest as well as you can determine that, and they are not open for discussion or change at this point. You would love to have her support but if she finds she cannot give it you will accept that. You will not listen to tirades. Be polite, gentle, and firm. Of course, she may not stay still long enough for you to get that much said. Do your best with her, and save your energy to cope with your own loss and with your husband's final weeks.

Since her brother is so understanding, would he be willing to talk to her? Could you direct her to communicate with you through her brother until the two of you can have a calmer relationship? I don't know for sure if that would be a good idea, but it is something to think about.

Whether this woman lived 5,000 miles away or next door, she could not control everything. Her powerlessness adds to her frustration, I'm sure. But you are doing what you need to do. You are not cruel. Of course you don't feel like arguing. So refuse to argue. You do not need her approval.

I wish you peace through this difficult and challenging time.
i wholeheartedly agree with jeanne . different people deal with lifes hardest moments in entirely different ways . if the stepkid is barely in control of herself perhaps shes the type who needs someone strong and affirmative to settle her down . you may end up having to get a little brisk with her for her own sake . my sisters are kind of emotional and during moms final months i could tell they were sometimes looking to me for strength . sometimes it was a kind or reassuring word , sometimes it was teaching them what id learned about end of life and dementia , and a couple of times it was a snarl and firm leadership that they needed . in the end when mom was gone i think we all three found a common " peace " that wed never really had up to that point . the experience can sometimes draw families a little closer or at least stop the sibling rivalry that existed your entire lives .
What a loving courageous woman you are. I wish I had your grace and strength. People all handle grief, differently. Forgive her, and ask for her support. Be specific in ways she can help. I find captain to be a wise and kind man. I like his advice.

For what it s worth, I think you handled the situation perfectly. I would have hung up the phone. I want to say screw her, but time is short. The high road is the only way to go here. Ask hospice for advice. They must have seen this situation a million times. Ask them to help her come to awareness of how short the time is, and what she needs to do.

What do you need? How can we help you?
Hank you to all of you. I suggested that she talk to her brother but she will not call him. Hey have never gotten along. She has always had to have everything her way and on her timetable. I know she is hurting and so am I. Her own mother died of stomach cancer many years ago so there is no ex involved. Her father has had problems with her off and on all these years. I pray for her to find peace in all of this and come to a personal resolve to he fact that her father is dying. He would be so upset if he knew she was treating me this way. Life is difficult enough without the added stress. She told me hat Alzheimer's does not kill people so what else is killing him. I just calmly said she needs to do more research. I have POA, MPOA, Will and everything else I need in place so she can't hurt me with anything financial or medical. She just needs to keep ranting until she gets it out of her system. What I need is prayers and thoughts for strength and courage. A hug now and then is welcomed too. Again, thank you all for your support.
Diana, I can relate. I am a member of the second wife's club, too. Some of the adult stepchildren can act terrible. We get stuck, since they are our husband's children. You are doing exactly what you need to do in keeping your husband comfortable and cared for. She is his daughter, so it is good to keep her in your husband's life and not speak poorly of her. It may be that she is having a hard time accepting that someone who is not her real mother should be able to make decisions for her father. I don't envy what you are going through after having an adult stepdaughter from h*ll myself.
(((((((hugs))))) Diana and prayers for peace, I don't think there is much I can add to the above, You must look after yourself, and your husband, and be as kind as possible to this lady without tolerating abuse. And thank you for the alert. I could find myself in a very difficult situation should G get ill, as his still very angry, controlling ex rules the now adult children and there is little contact with us. It would not hurt to discuss it with him now. blessings
I have contacted Hospice and their nurse is coming this afternoon for an evaluation and explanation of what they do. I am told I can have them call the step daughter and explain the benefits and reasons for placement. I keep praying for her to reach a point of acceptance of what is happening. I know she is hurting and venting on me. Unfortunately we do not have a close relationship. I rarely lose my temper, only after being pushed beyond reasonable limits. My husband is first and foremost in my mind and heart and it will always be that way. Thank you all.
My husband has been with Hospice now for 10 days and I can honestly say that they are so caring and gentle with him. I had to place him in a home yesterday and my stepson and his family helped me with everything. I am saddened that my stepdaughter doesn't share the same kindness.
(((((hugs)))), Diana, I am glad that hospice and your stepson and family are so helpful at this very difficult time, and sorry about your stepdaughter. It really is little to do with you and more about her unresolved feelings about her mother and maybe just her personality. My prayers are with you all.
dianna,
in our small town weve had so many family brawls at funerals that one funeral home has hired goons to keep the peace . people flip out during emotional times like end of life . what tickles me is how these people dress in their sunday best clothing before these bloody brawls . my female cousin and her sons are so emotionally unstable that i wont be seen anywhere near my aunt ednas funeral when she passes . i learned as a young soldier that in time of crisis ( like when theres lsd in the barracks ) theres some people you make sure you dont have contact with till its over .
pretty crappy comparison but unstable is unstable ..

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