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Dr. Keane
Dr. Keane, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1379
Experience:  Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
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I would like an opinion regarding an on going problem with

Customer Question

I would like an opinion regarding an on going problem with one of my husbands daughters by a previous marriage. She is almost 28 and has been a problem for many years. She has been primarily enabled by her dysfunctional, alcoholic mother and bounces back and forth between living with her and living in an apt financed by Mom. Basically she is an attention junkie and expects people to do things for her that she could do herself. Case in point, when she turned 26, she had to get her own health insurance. Because she works sporadically, either parent is willing to pay for it but as an adult she has to obtain the insurance on her own. If she were a minor it would be a different matter. Over last few months we have had discussion with her about what are good plans and phone numbers to call to start the ball rolling. Apparently she has done nothing, she has plenty of free time to goof off and party but can't seem to make a phone call to get insurance. My husband has residual guilt about his divorce and effect on the kids and they truly do have issues that could benefit with counseling. This daughter I believe has gone to therapy but quits as soon as therapist says something she doesn't like. I also suspect the real reason is to get psych meds. She has been known to steal her mother's prescriptions and abuse them. My question is: hubby is afraid to not "help" because his brother committed suicide and he thinks somehow same will happen with daughter if he doesn't rescue her. I told him that as an adult she has to be the one to contact insurance because of privacy rules. Am I correct in this assumption? The fact that she has info at hand and only needs to call but doesn't, indicates she is not interested in getting help, only in getting attention. This is difficult to live with because she knows how to push his buttons. She posts on Facebook all the time including when she is out drinking and doing other self destructive things. I believe most of her friends have dropped her as they have lives of their own and are tired of her drama. What are some things we can do or say to this grown kid? Basically throw ball back into her court. I have not talked with her directly ,her dad usually handles it but I am getting fed up and want her to either take action or stop bothering us with this. I only expect with the holidays coming up, it will get worse as she loves to disrupt us at that time.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  DrPsychologist replied 1 year ago.

I am happy to try to help you with your family situation. In all honesty, it sounds like you have very little empathy for your stepdaughter. I am of the opinion that we all want to be self-sufficient, successful, etc. I doubt that your stepdaughter is just lazy. She sounds anxious and dependent, even attention seeking but that is not necessarily due to being manipulative as much as it is likely feeling unprepared for adult life or anxious or depressed etc. Instead of telling her to get her own insurance perhaps you could sit with her while she makes the calls so she can discuss any questions with you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

It's interesting that you comment on my lack of empathy when her dad and I deal with her complete lack of empathy. As a matter of fact we have had this conversation with her over the phone about health insurance.To sit with a 28 year old while we be sure she dials the phone is patently absurd. She shuttles back and forth between LA and San Fran so often she is a*****away. When she is more local we have a*****to see her. Many times we have driven this distance only to find she has changed her mind about getting together. We invite her for family gatherings and she doesn't show. We always try to keep the door open. I guess we just have a different interpretation. Thanks for the answer but I don't think you fully understand what we have dealt with for years.