Sweetie, I love you but your daughter scares me.

I’ve been seeing a lovely woman for about six months now - in fact, six months last weekend, I checked, and I’m a bit sentimental that way at times. She’s the woman I mentioned in this February posting when I said:

My GF and I are now seeing each other exclusively. We use the “L” word in a non-teenager way, I think. We like the same things, share the same faith, enjoy staying in while hibernating on the couch, enjoy playing games, etc. It’s a quiet, adult relationship. The sex is phenomenal, too, so that’s nice.

Not mentioned in that earlier thread were her two daughters. One is 18, moved out, and pretty much out of the picture. I’ve yet to meet her, actually. The other , we’ll call her Vickie, turns 15 this weekend and she’s the problem.

For most of our relationship, at least the serious part, her daughter has been out of the house, a run-away. Once she got picked up by the police, collected by her Mom, and had run-away again by the end of that night. She’s involved with alcohol, drugs, sex, and all that other stuff that makes parents tear their hair out. Some of the behaviors are outright dangerous - rape, abduction, and/or pregnancy are real possibilities. One online man with an AFO address mailed her a digital camera as a present so she could take photos. Her mother confiscated it after she found nude pics of her 14 year old daughter and her friend on it.

She may come by these problems somewhat honestly, as it were. My GF is a widow. Her former husband, Vickie’s dad, killed himself after finding out that his bill collectors finally caught up to him, that his girlfriend was pregnant with their fourth child, and that his wife had finally gotten fed-up to the point that she filed for divorce. He put a gun under his chin and missed. Must’ve flinched - he spent 10 days in the hospital slowly dying. A year later, or so, Vicky’s grandfather, her most favorite in who’s eyes she was perfect, also killed himself after being diagnosed with a terminal disease.

Lots & lots of baggage.

Vicky now wants to live at home, come and go as she pleases, not go to school, and be able to “entertain” her friends in her Mom’s house. She’s stolen her Mom’s prescription drugs, smoked pot in her house, and in general has made life very difficult. All this, of course, on her Mom’s dime. Her Mom has said she can return whenever she wants as long as she’s willing to accept the house rules: no drugs, no alcohol, go to school, keep your room picked up. Simple regular teenage rules. Vickie will not agree to these rules and so remains a runaway. (she plays the my-mom-threw-me-out-of-the-house card and seems to be hopping from friends house to friends house. She has a Myspace account and her Mom keeps tabs on her a bit there. She claims contradictory situations like that she’s living on the street while at the same time she posted that statement from a good internet connection at 1:00 in the morning).

The trigger event for my state of mind is that Vickie was arrested for underage drinking at a party two days ago and will soon be returned to her home as soon as her Mom returns from a trip.

This is getting long but I’ll cut to the chase.

Her Mom is wonderful, almost everything I want in a woman, but I can’t have her daughter around my children. I keep playing “what if” in my head. What if my GF and I are still together six months from now - what if 12 months. I can’t have this nightmare of a girl influencing my children - she’s trouble now and seems determined to remain in trouble. If GF and I are living together in a year, Vickie would just be 16. Colorado has no emancipation for children below 18 and requires school for kids up to 16 years old. Truancy laws her mom responsible for that. You can drop the kid at the front door but she’ll just walk out the back. You can’t chain the kids to the house much as you may wish.

My children are 5, 7, & 10 and I’m in negotiations with my Ex- to start having 50% custody with them. They will be full members of my household in six months or so. I can’t, and won’t, subject them to the kind of trouble that Vickie brings to the table.

I guess I don’t know what I’m asking…

Does anybody have advice for how to deal with this, I guess?

That’s a tough one. Her daughter sounds like a problem, and her past is no walk in the park, but you have three kids so you aren’t exactly baggage-free either.

If you really love her stay for awhile and see how things pan out. Don’t bring your kids to her home, but invite her to your house if you want them to meet her, etc. I wouldn’t bring young children around the 15-year-old until she calms down or moves out.

And here’s another idea, depending on how committed you are…you could try to be the male role model in this girl’s life. It sounds like that is what she is severely lacking. Yeah, its late in the game, but no one is completely “ruined” at 15. This could be a situation in which you make the difference between her going down the bad road or the good one, and take some pressure off of mom in the meantime.

All I can say is your situation makes mine seem managable by comparison. All I can tell you is take it slow. Even though there may be an empty place in your life now, you might be better off without all the drama in your daily life.

Hmm. My first thought was “Run, Run, Run!”

My second thought was “That’s uncharitable and you shouldn’t post that.”

My third thought was “Well, he did ask for advice.”

My fourth thought was “You don’t know jack about this situation because you’ve always run from this kind of drama.”

So there it is. Coming from a family that is chock-full of drama, I would run for the hills in the situation you’ve described. Love ain’t worth that much. In the end you must do what you want, but the whole thing sounds damn scary to me.

At 5, 7, & 10 your kids have quite a few vulnerable years ahead of them. Even though you deserve to be happy in a relationship you have an obligation to put their interests ahead of yours. I think you already know this but are still conflicted about it.
I don’t think you should cut the relationship off at this point but I don’t think I’d make any plans on moving in together real soon. Your GF is going to need her space to deal with her daughter. Your going to need your space to deal with your kids without GF around.
Stepping in and trying to be a father figure to a troubled 15 year-old that isn’t yours is a heroic thing to do. But not at the expense of 3 kids that are yours.

If you want to protect your children from Vickie’s influence, you will need to keep them separate. And with all due respect to Vickie’s mother–if I had children the ages that yours are, I’d be reluctant to introduce them to a potential stepmother who had a child with behavioral problems like Vickie. Now, part of me thinks that saying that is kind of mean(but you did ask for advice). And part of me thinks that we’ve had threads on the idea of “Bad Seeds” before, and some children are either born or recognizable from a young age as truly problematic–so it may not be bad parenting on Vickie’s mother’s part per se which has created this situation.

But really, if you want to be involved with Vickie’s mother for the long run, you are committing yourself to dealing with Vickie’s problems for the long run. Maybe not directly, but even if one could legally emancipate a 15 year old, Mom’s emotions are not so easily severed.

So if you don’t cut and run, I think you may want to choose living nearby and visiting often over combining households with Vickie’s mother. Maybe not forever, but probably longer than if you had a baggage-free girlfriend.

Of course, given your own baggage, what would a baggage-free girlfriend want with you?

It’s good that your girlfriend isn’t making excuses for her daughter, that she’s insisting on rules, etc. It’s really good that you’re putting your kids first!

If Vickie does end up living with her mom again, you’ll have an opportunity to see if your girlfriend stays strong and enforces the rules. If Vickie turns things around, you could gradually introduce her to your kids, share family outings.

I wouldn’t do anything rash (like move in with your girlfriend or have her move in with you) until the thing with Vicki is resolved.

I like what Indygrll says about you being a role model. You and your girlfriend can show her what a successful relationship is like.

My brother’s third wife had three teenage daughters. One of them ran off at 15 and stayed gone for more than a year. No phone calls, nothing. They didn’t know if she was dead or alive. She eventually came home but continued to run off, did drugs, prostituted herself, etc. There was some counseling but it was unsuccessful.

It ruined the family and the marriage. They divorced after about 8 years. I heard last year that the girl died in her early 30’s from an AIDS-related illness. Her two sisters are doing okay but their teen years were nothing but turmoil.

I wanted to come in and add that I’m really grateful that my husband didn’t see my “baggage” and run for the hills when we got together. Instead, he has combined his life (and baggage) with mine and we deal with it all together, and that is so much better for both of us than it was when we tried to deal with it alone.

My 11-year-old is extremely “difficult,” even though that isn’t enough of a word to describe her. Most guys would have certainly “cut and run” because of her, and that’s why I waited for six months before introducing her to Ben. Turns out he is pretty strong and sometimes I feel like he’s better with her than I am. His role in her life has changed everything for us, and if you ask him he will tell you that he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Run fast and don’t look back. From my experience (for whatever that’s worth) Mom isn’t going to put her into rehab/therapy and seriously - she’s away on a trip while her daughter, who has made naked pics of herself for people on the internet, done drugs and gotten arrested, remains a runaway? Mom’s probably feeling like it’s her fault in some way, that she has to make up for not having male role models in the kid’s life that don’t commit suicide or whatever the reason is - it really doesn’t matter.
If you pursue this relationship your children will eventually be exposed to the girl’s drama whether directly or because you are now helping mom pick up the pieces where girly has screwed up yet again and don’t have as much time for them. Keep your relationship restrained until you see some improvement in girlfriend’s home life. Especially if you are in negotiations with an ex over custody.

Missed my edit window!!

Indygrrl, I am glad that worked out for you and hope you don’t take what I said as a personal attack. The fact that you recognized your daughter had issues and took care to work with the (then) potential beau in that regard tells me you were taking a positive step in creating that relationship. My experiences like this have almost always involved a good deal of hand wringing and “oh what to do” with no real action on the part of the mother other than to be there when it all falls apart for kid yet again and not take any steps to make real, serious changes. So maybe I’m projecting a bit here?

I got married after I had a child so I do know about the pressures of combining families and dealing with the problems of kids not your own.

Daughter has been in rehab once - didn’t take I guess.

My GF is considering one of those “away” programs, gone for months and months and months at a camp/school/therapy place. The big obstacle is money, those places costs hundreds per day. It’s been brought up with Vickie already and she’s 100% opposed - says her mother is trying to get rid of her.

This would be one of those hire-somebody-to-abduct-and-trapsport-your-kid kind of things if it happens.

As far as the trip - tickets were bought and the plans made (She had tickets for Vickie that’ve gone unused now - if she was voluntarily home under the family rules, then the trip was available to her).

Vickie has been missing for months and months and months. My GF has had years of hand-wringing and finally has decided that her daughter has to make the decision on her own to return. The hand-wringing was nothing more than a way to tear her insides out every day with worry.

Just imagine trying to keep a teenager in your house if they really didn’t want to stay. She’d regularily go to school on Friday (usually skipping classes), then simply not return until Sunday. No notes, no info as to where she was. The simple fact is that the kid has to want to stay home. You can’t, in any practical or legal way, lock somebody in.

What hasn’t happened, and I don’t know how this would work out, was if she insisted on staying home but still run around. Mom can’t force her to leave, not legally and not without legal repercussion. Mom took away objects and possessions (xbox, cd-player, etc) in an attempt to make her daughter “earn” them back with good actions. That usually lasted a day or two until daughter got disgusted and rebelled again.

My view is that if the daughter wants to have adult fun (drinking, sex, etc), she should learn that adults have responsiblities, too. If she wants to live at home like a teenager, subject to the rules then that’s OK. If she wants to live rule-free, subject to her own wants and desires, then she should learn that food costs money, rent costs money, etc. The “hybrid” state of trying to live like a free adult on your parent’s dime isn’t a way to teach her anything. I think her Mom’s in agreement with me.

I’m not saying this well but I think you all get the idea.

I like this answer best.

Like I said, I have seen similar situations that are coloring the way I look at this. I’m not trying to be as harsh on your girlfriend as I come off.
It’s very easy for me to say what I would do, because I am not in that situation and don’t have to actually practice what I preach.

Another vote for continuing your relationship in separate homes until the Vickie situation is resolved, one way or another. If the subject of merging households comes up, I think it is OK to mention concern for your kids, but also to say that you do not want to be either an obstacle in the house to mother/daughter communication with Vickie or an excuse for Vickie to act out.

I guess maybe I’m being reactionary in worrying this now. It’s not like there’s plans to move in together. A long dating relationship isn’t a bad thing. This is especially true since my GF doesn’t believe in cohabitating without marriage and I’m not in a hurry to remarry (heck, this one isn’t officially over as far as that goes).

I do think that it may crimp the dating relationship if Vickie is at home. Before she ran away, she was already troubled, of course. Her mom couldn’t leave her alone to come see me - too much danger of her daughter running out without permission or having friends over to drink and smoke.

Nothing like a 14-year old who needs a babysitter.

I guess that’s a bridge to be burned later…

Me four.

FWIW (and it ain’t much), she sounds remarkably similar to the daughter of a friend. Three daughters, and only one of them was a problem. Somehow or other, she grew out of it and is now doing fine.

Wow, all the hate for teenage girls in this thread really pisses me off.

I was a “troubled teen”. Smoked pot for the first time when I was about 13. Got thrown in rehab when I was almost 15 - for pot, acid and stealing my dad’s valiums. Stayed sober about six months. Moved on to just about every other drug you can think of. Was extremely promiscuous and dressed extremely provocatively. My parents blamed me for their marriage problems. How convenient for them. Nobody seemed to realize that I was simply a teenager reacting to my living environment. I left home at 17 and my life has done nothing but improve ever since. I went to Germany, went to UC Berkeley, and now have a great job and am getting married to an amazing guy next month. I think giving up on someone because her 15 year old daughter is acting out is cowardly and short-sighted.

Teenaged girls are crazy. They do not think like adults in any way. But she will grow out of it. And to think she will have a “bad influence” on your kids is so naive - do you plan on sending your kids to public school? Because they are going to see stuff like that anyway. Often there is only one rebel/scapegoat in the family. More likely, your children will see her in a negative light anyway.

So yeah, I guess my advice would be to not let her daughter’s actions dictate what you do with your life.

Ghanima, good for you. (I’m not being sarcastic.) :slight_smile:

It’s possible, maybe even likely, that Vickie will “grow out of it”, but why expose his kids to her behavior while everyone waits for her to have an epiphany?

Nobody’s telling him to dump the girlfriend, just to take it slow.

Actually, quite a few people are telling him to dump the girlfriend.

But I think Hampshire has the best advice.