Theresa: “I married a man who has four daughters. We’ve had the two youngest living with us and now the 20-year-old has come, too. She is very disrespectful, will not help around the house, and sleeps until 11 every day. When my husband tells her to clean up her stuff, she fights him but eventually does it. When I tell her to, she tells me no. This is driving a wedge between my husband and me because he will not stand up for me and tell her to respect me. I feel incredibly hurt and alone. I’m to the point that I want to leave my marriage, even though I take my vows seriously. I love God but surely He wouldn’t want me to continue being treated this way.”
The Voice for Love: “Dear One, it is so painful when family troubles arise, in particular for you as someone who is raising children who are not your own. You feel disrespected, disregarded and ignored. Yet please understand that each person in this situation is experiencing his or her own pain. As difficult as it may be for you to accept, your husband and his daughter are also frustrated and confused. He is confronted with the difficult situation of having to make peace among several different individuals, each of whom he loves and cares about.
“Of course you are not expected to suffer the abuse of a disrespectful child without the support of your husband. As you have discovered, it is necessary for you and your husband to be united in your approach to the children. Nothing can be accomplished or healed if you are not agreed as to what is reasonable, fair to all concerned, and best for everyone in the household. You and your husband can only live happily with someone who is willing to take responsibility for her own life. Your strength as a couple will determine whether or not you can move forward with the united front necessary to promote that outcome.
“This daughter is not a child, but an adult. There is often tension as young ones begin to assume their adulthood; however, there is no need for you to take personally her anger and frustration. She interprets freedom as being able to do as little as possible when, actually, her freedom lies in attaining her adulthood as a responsible person who feels she is contributing in a valuable way to her family and her society. She will be most helped by a firm attitude from you, tempered by restraint and a calm feeling of forgiveness. Without anger, help her to understand that her behavior has consequences. One of these is that there is discord in the home where she lives with her siblings and parents. With your husband’s agreement, establish firm rules for behavior and put in place consequences for behavior that falls outside the guidelines you establish. As you do so, the two of you will present that united front that is so needed here.
“You both have an opportunity to create a peaceful, loving household. Allow your heart to begin to relax. Allow hurts to begin to be released. Allow yourself to remember the love of God and its overwhelming peace. As you are able to calm yourself, you will be more and more able to respond in a way that will be helpful. Your husband’s daughter will begin to see that you are a strong person who is able to assert herself as you demonstrate your need for respect without losing your temper. You can allow her behavior to be mirrored to her without having it become your behavior. The more you are able to do this, the more peace you will feel.
“Each morning accept a new day and a new opportunity. Exercise great patience, even with yourself. Breathe deeply. Each evening release whatever occurred during the day unto God for healing. Release resentment and do not allow hurts to be carried over from day to day. Affirm that there is a peaceful solution and that you are open to receiving it. Pray for the best solution for all concerned, without knowing what that might be. Allow the love you feel for your husband’s daughters to blossom. Allow yourself to feel joy in living, and reach more and more for the feeling of joy which is your birthright.”