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Relationship Health Message Board

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Hello, I am a married stepmom of a very sweet and honest (especially for a teenager) 14 year old girl. I married her father 4 years ago, and knew then that her mother had emotional issues, but not how severe until my husband and I moved back to the area my stepdaughter lives in. Her mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder long before she got pregnant and has been unmedicated since before her daughter was born. She has convinsed herself and others that she was simply angry. She lived with my former mother in law at one point in time and told her that she was extremely promiscous at age 16. Her marriage to her recent ex (not my husband) ended because she wouldn't stop accusing him of cheating.

She is extremely religious and uses it as an outlet. Now my stepdaughter is coming into her own, wanting to express herself which she has done through writing since her mother bans all physical forms of self expression (all rock music is evil, graphic clothes are evil, fantasy books are evil, even limiting the color clothes she can wear, etc) and having a hard time especially when her mother changes her mind about EVERYTHING 2 times a day, no exaggeration. We bought my stepdaughter mary jane shoes with an anarchy symbol on the sole(okay it's anarchy I get it, but I don't get this:), they were evil, but she made my stepdaughter wear shoes that were too small and gave her blisters because she couldn't AFFORD to get ones that fit. Then she changes her mind says they're ok to wear, then changes her mind again and says they're evil. She also spends most of her income on expensive gifts for people in her family to make her self look good and only allows my stepdaughter to wear hand me downs from her church.

So many mixed signals from her mother confuse, sadden and anger her. It has so severely affected her self esteem her grades dropped and she wrote about death and suicide for two years before we got her help from a local counselor. She hasn't asked us about why her mother does these things, not specifically anyway. She asked me why her mother was so mean to her (never acknowledging her accomplishments, mistrusting her 24/7, telling her she's a bad kid, etc) and I told her that her mother loves her but has difficulty showing it. Her mother's outlook is a controling sort of reality: If it doens't fit into her plans it doesn't exist, if she is forced to acknowlege it, it must be wrong. It's not only made things difficult for my stepdaughter but my husband and I as well, in being parents.

I have done everything I can to be a confidant to my stepdaughter, we are very close, but listening only goes so far. Her mother won't allow me to be a parent to my stepdaughter if it's within her power (she doesn't even want me to talk about her EVER, to anyone, I only talk about the positive things she does like good grades) and every little thing is an extreme fight with her in regards to parenting between her and my husband. I can't help but think that if she were on medication things would be different. At the very least easier for my stepdaughter to live with her mother.

What else can I do? Thank you.

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