I feel like I am being taken advantage of by my husband and stepdaughter.
My stepdaughter is in school full-time in the evenings and graduates in April. She is 23 years old and recently divorced with a 3 year old son which I babysit while she is in school. We pay for all of her and her child's living expenses. So we are on a very tight budget.
She has started another long distance relationship with an ex-boyfriend from high school. She spends a majority of her time on the phone w/him. She drops off her child early at my house so she can spend extra time talking to him on the phone before going to class. And comes back late so she can continue talking w/him after class.
She starts internship on the 26th on top of her classes. Which means I would have to babysit full time. For six months I told her to enroll him in child care, but refuses to do it. I've told my husband my concerns and says he will talk with her. No results. When he has talked to her in front of me, it's only to ask what she has been doing and that's it.
I feel my only recourse is to give up on my two online businesses that I have been building and go back out in the workforce. I already have submitted my resume and applications to a couple of places. This is something I don't really want to do, but what other choices do I have?
You do have another choice and its all about boundaries. It’s unreasonable for a 23 year old full-time student with a three-year old son to spend all her free time courting a new boyfriend. She has responsibilities. And while she may be going through a tough time given her recent divorce and her single-parenthood, you and your husband appear to have been more than accommodating to her.
So here’s what you need to do. You need to set your boundaries. Figure out what you are able to do to support her. What hours can you babysit without having to give up your own career? How much financial support does she actually need? And then you need to enforce those boundaries. She doesn’t get to drop him off early and pick him up late. She needs to be working with your schedule as much as you are working with hers. If the cost of childcare is an issue, I can assure you that there is a lot of financial assistance for single mothers out there.
The bottom line is that this is your life too and she’s not learning anything about being a responsible parent by delegating her parental responsibilities to you. I know you want to support her and your husband may not be good at establishing boundaries with her either but its something you both need to learn to do and to do together.
I have a ton of empathy for her (and for you and your husband). Having been divorced, a single mother and gone back to school, I know exactly how hard it is and there were certainly days when I was pushed to my limits. But life is about making choices and priorities. Her child is her priority. Her school is her priority. You can’t make her choices for her. But allowing her to take your support for granted is not only unhealthy for you and for her, but will affect your relationship with her in the long-run.
Stay calm and be kind but assertive.
Don't be shy! Say what's on your mind and get a good dose of perspective in return.