Adult stepdaughter and grandson living with us....
In may, my husband's 26 year old daughter and 6 year old grandson moved in with us. Her spouse got into some legal trouble and she would not stay with him. We live a few hours away from her hometown. She never had a job, had been a stay at home mom. My husband works in a physically demanding profession. I have a full time job, fortunately working from home. My parents have a family business and I am responsible for all the office duties, payroll, insurance, taxes, scheduling, etc. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Sjogren's Syndrome. My eyesight has been dramatically affected, causing blurred and double vision. I have learned to work within my limitations the best I can. We could not afford insurance this year, for my husband and I, it was over $1500 a month with ridiculous deductibles, therefore I am not treating my autoimmune disorders with any medication. My stepdaughter (SD) was able to gain employment, full time, 11pm-7am shift, generally off on Monday and Tuesday. We have made responsible accommodations for her to have a room for her and our grandson (GS) We have given them cabinet, drawer, fridge and freezer space for their own use. SD life and parenting styles are very different from my own (when my kids were younger) and very different from how my husband and I currently live. With her work schedule, my husband and I have had to make many compromises in our life to make things easier for SD and GS. We are giving up our privacy and empty nest freedom. We have taken on the responsibility of caring for a 6 year old when SD is sleeping or working. It's been a major life change for all of us. I have always been a pretty doting spouse. I cook most meals at home, I make my husband's plate, bring him coffee in the morning, make sure his clothes are clean, hung up, and put away. He works hard, in all Esther conditions, and he is getting older. I really don't mind, even with my health considerations, I do what I can. When SD and GS moved in with us, obviously our dynamic is quite different. He was not always the best father he could be for his kids and I feel there is some guilt associated with that and her moving in has given him the opportunity to be there for her now. Now, however, he is overlooking many obvious areas of tension and conflict because he doesn't want to hurt her feelings. However, it's really creating a lot of resentment on my part. SD will somewhat pick up after herself and GS, she does her own laundry, and drops off and pick her son up at school. She sometimes will warm him up something for dinner, frozen pizza or nuggets, or they eat fast food. She eats a lot of ramen noodles. i make sure there is plenty of food for them when I cook, but they generally let us go to waste because of their eating habits and tastes. She will leave leftover food and fast food drinks in the fridge for days and days. Most everything else they eat is cookies, crackers, soda, and chips. We have a dishwasher so there's no one that has to DO dishes. My complaint is she only does for herself. She will rinse out her dishes and put them in the dishwasher but will not put any other dishes that might be in the shop no away. She does not wipe out the sink or wipe down the countertops. Our GS is a six year old boy, boys make messes. She will remind him to clean up his area but then never checks that he does, leaving syrup or ketchup or milk on the bar, food debris on the floor. We have one bathroom, GS leaves toothpaste (the actual paste) on the bathroom vanity- sticky smeared green toothpaste. She has long red hair, she leaves it in the shower floor, I've even found it on the shower curtain rod. She has yet to clean the bathroom. Six year old boys don't have the best aim, toilet pee messes. She doesn't offer to sweep or vacuum, clean the kitchen or bathroom. She lives here free of charge. Satellite TV, Netflix, WiFi, use of the swimming pool. She does her own laundry with soap I have bought, never offering to buy more, same with toilet paper, paper towels, etc. I am just getting so frustrated! I tell my husband, he just says I'm nagging! He won't even listen to my complaints because he feels I'm just nitpicking. I am resentful because, even though I work from home, i have a full time job. I keep the house clean the best I can, meals and meal planning, grocery shopping, laundry, I take care of our three dogs (feeding and sweeping up hair). Most of the pool maintenance, paying the bills, most everything household related, with the exception of yard maintenance and things like light bulbs and air filters. When it was just him and me, it wasn't so bad, but adding two more people to our household makes it more difficult. I feel like he and I are doing a lot to help SD, to make her life easier. I do a lot to make my husband's life easier. But I am feeling very taken advantage b cause neither of them even acknowledge what I do for them both, nor do they do things for me to make my life easier, even considering my RA and Fibro limitations. I'm just so very tired. I'm frustrated. And I feel so alone and uncomfortable in my own home. I just need some advice before I lose my mind...
You sound like a wonderful lady and it sounds like you could have a wonderful life if everyone was on the same page. Having a grandchild in the house is magical!! You need to get from MANAGING to ENJOYING your experiences because that is all life is, one experience after another after another after another...
I think that there just needs to be some communication and I think that it can be expressed in a fun way.
Your step daughter is probably in a downward spiral just trying to maintain right now, because you have provided a stable and what seems to be a GREAT environment she needs to get herself back up. The word STRUCTURE is coming to mind for everyone's sake, your grandson and yourself especially.
I would set up a meeting between your step daughter and yourself, something pleasant like having a tea or going out to a restaurant, somewhere that you can both focus without interruptions. Prepare a few notes.
Your introduction is to set the tone of peace. You want to tell her why you are getting together so that she isn't spending the whole conversation wondering what you are getting at, so tell her that you need to start working as a team and create some schedules together. There isn't a single organization in the world that doesn't have an operating manual or system!! They make life easier.
You want to make sure that her mind is open and that she doesn't feel as if she is being picked on or centered out. You don't want to stress anything but you want to make sure she feels that she is not doing anything wrong, that she is good, you want to let her know that she made the right choice to come home and that you are happy she is there. You want to point out all of the good things that you can. You want to tell her that you understand her situation and what she has been through and that she doesn't need to explain herself, but that it is time now to work together as a team looking towards the FUTURE and the life that you are building for yourselves and your grandson.
Make lists of points and bring them with you so that you can be relaxed and thorough.
After a smooth introduction where there is understanding and she is in gear to think about what changes she will be making I would pull out a calendar my the month, and I would make a WEEKLY CHART. I would then have prepared a chart of DUTIES AND EXPECTATIONS with 4 columns that lists all of your duties, all of your husbands duties, all of your step daughters duties, and your grandsons duties.
Make these lists as detailed as you can so that she can see all of the things that you and your husband do. In order for people to be grateful they have to SEE what they are grateful for. Your Step daughter is probably a bit paralyzed with her troubles and I am sure that on some level she knows what a blessing you are. But she has to SEE what it is she is getting. Don't stress any points or emphasize all that she is getting for free, just make a detailed list of what she is getting so that you can use it as a platform to ask for what you need in return.
Then show her a list of what duties and expectations you have of your stepdaughter and grandson. I would also have a copy of a tentative weekly schedule where you have listed what you expect done each week. I would also take this opportunity to remind her that you are a team and that you will not nag or bother her to do what she is asked to do because that is not fun for you, that is not who you are or who you want to be. You want to enjoy your life.
Then go to the monthly calendar where its filled out with all of the fun stuff that you have ahead of you. It is important that she look to the future and get involved in planning activities so that she can move further away from the past that she needs to leave behind.
If she gets argumentative, whiny, rude ignore it, do not engage. People that are troubled have learned to communicate this way and they have to learn .... that you do not deserve it, so stay silent so she can see she made a mistake and then just carry on with what you were saying as if nothing happened. This is showing her that you see HER and that you know that she is better than what she is being.
You all have the potential to have a wonderful relationship with one another and by helping her grow you will be giving her a wonderful gift, one that she will probably return in the future when you need someone to take care of you and your husband. Its all about attitude, and change is possible... if she starts seeing the power that she can have by taking control, creating a path for herself, a foundation for her son and teaching him how to create his own path,.... building a life that she loves.
I have more so say...but lets start with this, once these changes are made I can share ideas on how to get her focused on building.
Diet and exercise are two keys that are needed and will help her change her life.
Parenting is an opportunity to give tools to a child so that they can be independent..and let their light shine bright.. a future leader... as we are all on this earth to improve on life in one way or another.
We are ALL programmed, almost like a computer, what you put in you can get out.
We can be anything that we want to be just by training, practice. What have we been practicing? What habits have we fallen into and how we CAN change just by practicing new habits.
Change is a battle within ourselves... we can see and have power over both sides.. we just need to see the game.