Step Daughter Issues

Updated on August 27, 2012
C.A. asks from Naples, FL
20 answers

I am a step dad, please forgive me ladies, my step daughter has got me worried. I have been a step parent for 13 years and have no where to turn. My step daughter is 19 going on 20 and she is doing things that make me wonder what is really going on. She lives at home still and is employed with two part time jobs. When she is not working during the day time hours, she is sleeping. When the sun sets and the night begins, she is out until the wee hours of the morning. Her mother and I have rules to follow and she does a pretty fair job following these rules while living at home with usI. I have tried to in force curfew hours but her mom and her seem to think it is unfair. What is she doing out so late at night and how can I make this situation better for me to understand??????????????

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the helpful advice! I am thinking over everyone's advice and plan to put it all together in the best way possible and have a sit down with wife and step daughter. Most of everyone's advice is just a reminder to me that what I have been dealing with is not to uncommon and that I am not the only one, so thank you all. I will update everyone about our sit down after it occurs, hopefully soon. Thank you all very much.

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answers from Kansas City on

I moved back home when I was 22-24. I worked fulltime. The rule was if I wasn't coming home by 1AM I was to which I had to call on the weekends and say...still out, I'm alive...coming home by xxx time or staying at so and so's.

At that time cell phones were just becoming more popular so it made it easier than when I was a 18-21. Not hard to send a quick text to let you know.

I don't think she's doing anything that is unhealthy. If she's getting up for work and taking care of her job duties and going out with her friends it's completely normal.

I don't have older kids but I do have siblings that are 10-15 years younger. I wanted to set a good example...they are now in their early to mid 20's...they follow the same rules as both live at home. It's not hard. It's respect.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

if you want to push her to moving otu stay on top of her and continue treating her like a child. If you want her to learn to be responsible and to be an adult and have a healthy relationship with both of you agree to rules.

I would think call or text by X time if you are sleeping out is fair. Afterall she is an adult, she shouldnt have the same rules as a teen.
Let her know its because you are worrying and not triyng to control her. Also let her know about calling if she is drunk and not to drive and so on. Also if you want to charge rent if she doesnt enroll in college, and put it in savings for her so shes J. not partying away her money I think thats a good idea. I know a fair amount of adults that still live with their parents at 29 because they partied to hard and never saved money

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from St. Louis on

When my kids hit 18 I was less about curfew and all about where are you. You can't have it all and pushing a curfew causes silence as to whereabouts.

You are saying be home by X. Okay, I will be home by X, what I am doing before X is none of your damn business.

I would rather know where they are than when they will be home. They had to work the next day so weeknights they were usually home by nine. Weekends, midnight to one, if they thought they were too tired to drive home safe they would call or text they were spending the night and where.

What I am saying is pick your battles.

I also want to add this is not a step parent issue. My oldest was 18 when I divorced, I had this same battle with my now ex. He felt like control was key where I knew information was key. So don't think there is a difference of opinion because you are step dad, it really is just a difference in parenting styles.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

All 3 of you are adults. You are all living together and so you all need to know where you all are each day. It is just common curtesy and a safety issue.

Our daughter is 22, just graduated from college, has a full time job. she has came home to live with us until she can decide what her next move is. This is an interim job at this point.

Since she was 18 our rule is, we need to be able to sleep peacefully. When you are living with us, we just need to know what time you will be home, so that if you are not home by that time, we know you must be in trouble.

If you are running later than planned, please call us and/or text us, letting us know your new plan. We do not care what time.

Our daughter said, even in college all of the girls did this so that someone always knew when to start worrying. Many study nights, some of the girls knew they would be at a certain library all night.

Sometimes, if they were in sports and on the road, they were also informed with this. If they left town, they left information about where they would be and when to expect them back.

If your daughter ever has a roommate, they will also share this information and so, this is what you and your wife and daughter should go, just for peace of mind for each other.

"Mom and I are going out of town and will not be back till after midnight, if we are not home by 2:00 am and have not called or texted, there may be something wrong. Here is our info"..

Let her know you are not wanting to know what she is doing, just when to start worrying..

This does not have to be a big deal.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

It is a tough one.

I lived at home until I was 23, and as I "aged" the rules did change. Since I was working full time and in college I contributed financially to the household - though my Father would not take the money. I would leave it on the kitchen counter, steal the grocery list and go shop, etc.

Anyhoo, the one thing my Father asked was respect. If I was going to stay out until the wee morning hours (I grew up in New Orleans - it was all wee hours) was that I call him if I was going to be later than expected or not coming home at all. He used to wait up for me - I thought he was just a night owl, until he 'fessed up.

Your daughter is a young adult now, it is hard waters to navigate, and of course, she is still your little girl. My Father struggled with allowing us girls the freedom to become adults with the image of us as helpless children in pigtails. We got through it with mutual respect and open communication. I don't know that you can enforce a curfew with her, but you can calmly and lovingly, explain your concerns for her. Using "I" statement, "I worry when you are out late", etc. Ask her to try and keep you in the loop, and give you a time when she is expected home to alleviate *your* worries.

I honestly did not know that my Father still worried so much as I got older - I knew I was alright, and in my 20something self centered-ness just didn't think about his concerns. Until he told me.

At some point you have to let her go. But now is your chance to build a caring adult child relationship with her. Come down too hard, and she will skitter away. Approach her as the young adult she is, and you should be able to build a connection that will last throughout her life.

Good Luck

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

My son is 20. When not at college he lives at home too. I can tell you that the "vampire hours" as I call them seem to be completely normal with his age group. Our rule is that he has to let me know if he isn't coming home. If I expect him home and wake up to his truck not being in the driveway, I worry unless I know he is staying where he is. I have told him that even if he isn't doing anything wrong, there is just no good reason to be running around in the wee hours...drunk drivers on the when the bars close and/or people up to no good.

It is reasonable to set a curfew but the best way to get her to buy into it is to get her imput...she could tell you what time she plans to be home and then that is her curfew or that could be the starting point for you to meet her in the middle.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I do have a curfew for my over 18 kids.

They are to be in the house by 12 am, otherwise they need to find somewhere else to lay their heads at night. I have to know by 10 though what their plans are going to be.

Now I have that rule cause I have younger children and when they come home it makes my dogs bark and if the kids are woke anytime after 12 they tend to stay awake.

At their ages, it's normal to want to hang with their friends and be up all hours of the night. I never did, but that doesn't mean it isn't normal. It took some trial and error to find what works for us as a family. My kids also tell me were they are going to be, not cause they have to, but out of that I don't worry about them.

You, your daughter, and your wife need to come together to find a siolution that works for all of you, but you need to understand that your daughter is an adult and if she didn't live at home you wouldn't know where she is or what time she is coming home.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

She sounds like me at that age.. but I was also going to college :)
When I did live at home, I still had to obey curfew.. even when I was in my early 20's! Laurie A's rules were similar to mine. It's about respect. (I also contributed to rent/groceries and those things too).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Well, I tend to agree that this is fairly normal behavior for her age. What is troubling though is that you and your wife seem to be on a different page. From your post it seems like you feel like your wife and step daughter are one side and you on the other. Have you told your wife about these feelings and how you feel like she's not backing you up as a parent. I know that you are a step dad, but after 13 years, you are just as much part of that family as anyone, so it's not okay for you to feel left out.

My opinion on the curfew, etc. however is this...if she isn't disturbing others, she's still being a pleasant and somewhat productive member of your house, it doesn't really matter that she's staying out late and sleeping in if she gets up for her jobs and is respectful otherwise. She's a kid, she wants to hang out and party with her friends. It's normal and no big deal really. I did it. I went to college, got good grades and when I came home on break I stayed out late and worked my old job. It was fine. My mom probably didn't love it, but she didn't say anything and we got along just fine otherwise!

Talk to your wife openly and honestly, that's the best place to start!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hi C.,

Your stepdaughter is actually an adult, and many young adults are out partying until wee hours of the morning. However, since she still lives at home with you, and you are supporting her in that way, you could tell her that you need to establish a curfew so that you're not up worrying all night. My parents had one for me until I moved out at age 23. I had to be home by 2AM. Because I respected my parents, and appreciated the roof over my head, I obeyed the curfew.

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answers from Muncie on

I would suggest talking to her. Ask her what she's up to in an open curious way. Tell her you need her to start trying to be home earlier so that you can lock up the house and go to bed yourself with out worrying about her. Do your best not to come off as accusing or nagging.

After 13 years, you're her father, you should no longer be the outsider. If you still feel this way you should also think about talking to your wife. Just a thought.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

C., do you know where she works? Do you know her hours at both jobs?

Your step daughter is old enough to be college aged, but has chosen to work instead of go to college. I assume her mother wants her to live at home because she isn't ready for her daughter to leave. That's a shame, really. You and your wife should have made her understand that there was an expectation for her to go out on her own and learn to be responsible for herself and make her own way.

20 year olds need to learn to give themselves curfews instead of having curfews given to them. They have to get up and go to work, take care of errands, housekeeping, etc. That's called being an adult. If she's working and treating your home like a "crash pad", without contributing to the running of the household, washing clothes, cleaning bathrooms, cooking, etc, then she is not be held responsible for what adults are supposed to be responsible for. And that is her parents' faults.

If I were you, I'd try to get your wife to go for family counseling with you. I am wondering if your wife is living in the present, and needs to instead be focusing on the future and have a plan in place, with you by her side. The counselor can hopefully help her see what needs to be decided on so that this girl can have some freedoms, but have to also be responsible. Free rent and coming and going all night long is not how she is taught to be responsible.

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Well, dad, it is time to let go a bit. I feel your pain about the situation but daughter is of legal age to come and go.

Have a talk with mom and get on the same page and then present it as a united front to daughter. Explain that you are really concerned for her but that you know she is trying to be her own person. If she plans to stay out after 1am she can text or call so that you will not worry and you can turn the light off for her.

My husband still feels like our daughter is in pigtails and she is 35. He told me that fathers feel that their daughters need more protection than their sons. So yes it is painful but it is part of life. Keep the lines of communication open and enjoy your new adult child for what they are an separte adult friend.

It will all work out just know that you are not alone but don't go threatening to do x y z and when it happens you are angry because you were the cause of it.

The other S.

PS You are the only man she has a real relationship with to guide her for the future. Think of the move Father of the Bride part 1.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

She is out having fun. What is there for you to understand? If she is responsible enough for 2 pt jobs, I think she is responsible enough to stay out late.

Don't you remember what it was like to be young?

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answers from Boston on

I never had a curfew for an adult. She is old enough to have her own life. Just let her know that if she needs you she can always call you.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Well, you know what "they" say....Nothing good happens after 2:00 am.
Is she out wee-er than that?
Where is she?
Where does SHE say she is all night?
Is she secretive about her whereabouts?

Your house...your rules.
But of your wife won't back you up on curfew, you're fighting a losing battle.

Did you know you can buy drug (urine) tests at the dollar store?



answers from Phoenix on

I think as long as she is working & helping with chores the bills, there should be some leeway with the curfew. If she lived on her own, she's be doing what she wanted. She's an adult & deserves that respect.

What I would take greater issue with is the fact that your wife and you are not on the same page. That is a parenting disaster.



answers from San Francisco on

She's being a typical "adult" child. Most of them sleep all day and stay up/out most of the night.

As long as she's working and following the house rules, I say roll with it. The only other option is to kick her out. She's old enough not to have a curfew so whatcha gonna do?!



answers from Albuquerque on

I agree that she is an adult, but she lives under your roof, therefor your rules. If you have no reason to suspect that she is doing anything illegal and she is following any other standard you give her, then I don't think I would worry about it. If you would like to enforce a curfew, I would swap out the locks. I'd bet that a night of being locked out would fix that pretty quickly.


answers from Washington DC on

well, she is an adult. Does she pay you rent? Since she is working 2 part time jobs, she could go to school at least. If you don't like the rules, then maybe either have her pay rent or move out. She is an adult

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