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Lori Gephart
Lori Gephart, Licensed Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 259
Experience:  Licensed Psychologist and Hypnotherapist 20 years of experience helping clients of all ages.
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I am recently remarried and we are both retired. My husband

Customer Question

I am recently remarried and we are both retired. My husband has an adult daughter (44) living with us, that he defends as 'needy, unhappy, depressed' etc who basically acts like a guest around the home, instead of a family member. She sleeps until noon and does very little around the house. She is shortly to go back to another city for her work (on disability at present), but how do I cope with her 'neediness' and get her to fit in with our lives, if she returns? Her mother died 10 years ago and this house is her memorial. I am a new resident to the US and have left behind my belongings, so have little here. The daughter was raised in a situation where money was no object and she continues to let people wait on her and wait for her. The daughter has her father wrapped around her little finger and he also supports her financially as her job does not cover her expenses. He worries any approaches may hurt her emotionally, although I don't believe she would take her life.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Lori Gephart replied 7 years ago.
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Expert:  Lori Gephart replied 7 years ago.
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Expert:  Lori Gephart replied 7 years ago.

I am sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult situation at home. Extended family issues can be quite difficult. Not only are you dealing with your new husband's daughter in the home, but his home from a previous marriage, rather than one you have chosen together. It will be important for you and your husband to discuss this issue together in such a way where you support his love for his daughter while you encourage him to begin to see how his interactions with her may be enabling her unhealthy behaviors. Expecting her to behave as a responsible adult, whether it is in your home or her home is not cruel, it is healthy for her. It is important though that your approach does not put your husband in a position where he feels that he has to choose between the two of you, but that you and he act as a team to do what is right for his daughter and for your marriage. House rules, determined by you and your husband, would be very helpful to have everyone on the same page. Rather than waiting on her, you may let her know that you care about her and want the best for her. Enabling her is not helpful or caring to her, it simply enables her to continue to be unhealthy.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
My husband feels that he is 'stuck' and doesn't know how to broach the subject to her, of becoming more responsible, when she has always been 'cared for' by him and his first wife. She is very unhealthy (weight, emotions), takes painkillers and antidepressants, watches a lot of TV, getting zero exercise. I come from a country where to get ahead, you make sacrifices and put effort in to reach your goals. I feel very frustrated with her life-avoidance tactics. I realise that I probably have high expectations of myself and can't expect her to have the same standards. I guess my question is, What can he say to her (to all of us) that will allow a discussion about the situation, to avoid him blaming her (or himself) or doing the work for her, which he has been doing?
Expert:  Lori Gephart replied 7 years ago.

This is a situation that may be easier to discuss in family therapy with the help of a psychologist to make sure that your husband has help in setting healthy boundaries and that his daughter can hear what is being said in a safe way. Scheduling an appointment with a family therapist could help everyone involved to have this difficult discussion and may help your step daughter to move forward.

Good luck with all of this.