I feel you. I had the same concern and issue when I first moved in with my then fiancé and two teens, a boy and a girl. The boy was 13 and generally speaking much neater, whereas the girl (11) was/is messy in general. Wrappers, leftovers etc in her room and clothes & wet bath towels everywhere. Being the soon-to-be stepmom, I didn’t feel I should be the disciplinarian in the home. I felt I needed to develope my relationship with the kids and getting caught up in that role would not be a good start. I spoke with my husbands about it. I considered the fact that he had been doing this on his own since the kids were toddlers (50% custody) and had grown used to doing everything for them and probably hadn’t considered the fact that they’re getting old enough to do things themselves. We always had dinner together (at least they always - my job was still far at the time so I didn’t always make dinner, but they made it a point to sit w me and have dessert while I had dinner). I was glad my husband had kept this tradition. It started with HIM letting them know they’re old enough to help keep the home, as we’re tired from work all day and would really appreciate the help - they are now to take their plates to the sink and rinse them, load them into the dishwasher. Yeah! Baby steps. Once I left my job ad started cooking (more elaborate meals) they became responsible for all of our dishes not just their own and pots that weren’t too caked. Next step - since I’d left my job, we were looking for ways to reduce costs. The house is large and I used to clean my own, but I was not ok cleaning THIS house and handling their laundry. I was still doing some work and started taking on things that were overdue I the home and the kids’ lives. We still had someone come to clean, but reduced the laundry by my husband and I both talking to the kids about reducing costs and we’re going to teach them to do their own laundry. They learned - a few whites ruined, a few jeans shrunk, but they learned not to put the things they loved into the dryer. As for the overdue things — that included a counselor for the girl. It wasn’t easy, she went though several, said she hated it and eventually a psychiatrist prescribed antidepressants ONLY if she continued counseling. Three therapists later we found one she’s slowly making progress with. She is now 17. We have constant challenges, but I (we’re) continuing to learn. I just found this site today based on a new challenge. It’s very important you don’t become the only enforcer. I suggest encouraging your husband to not put these things on you. After all, wouldn’t HE like the home to be cleaner, wouldn’t he like for her to eat more healthy? My husband is definitely a softy, but he understood how important the dynamic is and that quite frankly, the kids will more likely take rules from him than some that were imposed by me - this new person in their lives, at least while I started to develop my own relationship with the kids. Hopefully, he is receptive. If not, is he open to counseling for you two? Family dynamic is not easy and winging it can make it more difficult for everyone involved — more painful than the thought of counseling. Finally, please have a conversation with her father about getting her some counseling if this is not already happening. Things will become more challenging for her and for you all at home. Professional guidance is so invaluable. You shouldn’t have to do this all on your own and your concern is a valid, loving one.
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