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'AITA for kicking my daughter out because she ruined her step-sister's things?' UPDATED 2X

'AITA for kicking my daughter out because she ruined her step-sister's things?' UPDATED 2X

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"AITA for kicking my daughter out because she ruined her step-sister's things and makes life difficult in the house?"

I have two daughters “Leanne” (19F) and “Lucy” (16F). I adore my girls but since I remarried “Rebecca” fairly soon after the divorce, they weren’t impressed – especially since I gained a stepdaughter, “Sophie” (18F).

I did my best but they remain closer to their mother to this day, and when the lockdowns first started they wished to stay with her and communicate with me through tech. (Clarification because everyone was asking: I did NOT cheat.)

My ex-wife “Sharon” has been struggling. Money is tight for both her and her boyfriend "Luke", and with them and both the girls there’s not a lot of space.

Leanne especially is coping very poorly and Sharon asked if I was willing to have her for a short while, apparently at Leanne’s request- I was surprised by this since she was the one who felt most negatively towards me after the divorce, and we recently had a big fight because she dropped out of university. So I agreed knowing that it would be tough.

But her behaviour hasn’t been acceptable. She’s rude to Rebecca. She frequently takes clothes of Sophie’s- she says she and Lucy share things all the time, but their relationship and attitudes to clothes is different. Sophie’s wardrobe is essentially sacred to her for reasons I don’t have the word count to explain but can in the comments if deemed relevant.

Leanne also makes a lot of noise (symptom of her mother’s household), swears a lot, is messy, and very aggressive when she doesn’t get her way or is rebuked for her behaviour, particularly if it’s Rebecca that says something.

Tensions have been rising lately because Sophie was due to start university again today. Leanne and I fought about this as I mentioned, so it was a delicate subject regardless, and with Leanne’s noise disturbance Sophie has found it difficult to concentrate on her prep-work so they’ve been arguing even more.

Sophie bought a new shirt and necklace for her first meeting today – a new outfit for a specific event is Sophie code for “I’m stressed about this”, the idea of an online term is quite daunting. Today, she went to get dressed and found the blouse ripped apart and the necklace destroyed on her bed.

She started crying, there was a big fight, Rebecca calmed Sophie down in time for her class and I sent Leanne to her room and told her to stay there until her mother arrives to pick her up. Not just the vandalism, but the fact that she deliberately searched for the items she knew Sophie had chosen to calm herself down for her class - just too much for me.

I’ve said I’m happy to take Lucy if space is still an issue, but Leanne can’t live in my house if she’s going to destroy her step-sister’s property and make life difficult for everyone. Sharon, Luke and Leanne all say I’m an AH for putting them in this position and not prioritising Leanne because she’s my daughter, they won't pick her up, so AITA?

What do you think? AITA? Commenters weighed in:

Ryuloulou said:

Wow, NTA. your daughter is an adult, her step sister would be well in her right to sue her.at this point, she chose to be evil.

your ex doesn’t want to pick her up, no worries, put her in an uber.And put conditions for her coming back if you ever consider letting her ; Apologies, therapy, and strict respect of your rules and your step sister space. And paying for what she destroyed, or replacing it. your daughter is way too old to act like a toddler imo.

doublestitch said:

Let me emphasize because other Redditors have focused on the potential dynamics of your divorce and on stepsibling rivalries: your action here is age appropriate parenting. Leanne is over 18, refuses to follow house rules, is rude and messy, steals from Sophie, and destroyed Sophie's new belongings in a malicious action targeted to cause maximum distress.

In the adult world actions have consequences. If you tolerate this under your roof then it would set up Leanne (and her future roommates) for disaster. If Leanne treated an adult in an apartment share the way she treats Sophie then Leanne could end up in small claims court, plus a police report for vandalism and a civil restraining order.

Although it's unlikely the vandalism would be prosecuted these are things that could turn up on a background check. The mildest way to curb that behavior before it creates a public record is to make Leanne move in with other relatives. You're pursuing that course. She won't be on the streets.

She'll resent you for it in the short run. Leanne is living in the moment. Ten years from now when Leanne has a bit more life experience she may understand why you demonstrated that boundaries matter. You also owe a reasonable home environment to Sophie so she can focus on her studies without abuse. NTA

Moggetti said:

NTA. Leanne made these choices and these are the consequences. Maybe you should ask Sharon and Leanne together, “What punishment would be appropriate for Leanne’s vicious abuse of her step-sister? I’m all ears.”

diorswan said:

NTA. As you yourself noticed, Leanne specifically tried to stress out Sophie on her first day for what is looking to be a stressful term. By destroying her things. Mine is starting soon and I also really like fashion, so I'm feeling particularly angry on Sophie's behalf.

But, maybe it's worth talking things out with Leanne. I don't know how old she was when it happened, but now she's older she might be able to understand the divorce in a way that a child might not be able to.

And especially considering that you were upset with her for dropping out of uni, she might be sabotaging Sophie because she wants a relationship with you. She's expressing herself terribly, yes, and she should definitely apologise, but it might be worth thinking about it you want to repair your relationship.

Verdict: NTA.

OP later shared this update:

Thanks to all the comments with all the judgements. Since Sharon wouldn't come get her and I didn't want her taking public transport right now, Leanne stayed the night. She didn't come out of her room but Rebecca brought her dinner and I brought her breakfast this morning, pain au chocolat which is her favourite, so kind of a peace offering.

I decided to take the advice of the comments about trying to parent her instead of just kicking her out, especially since I'd had time to cool down. I told her that if she wanted to stay there would have to be some ground rules.

She needed to apologise to Sophie and pay her back the full amount for the items, if she wanted to borrow things she had to ask politely first (and accept the answer she was given), and she had to make an effort to clean up after herself and be polite and respectful around the house. Leanne agreed and she went out to apologise to Sophie and asked her how much the items cost.

This caused another fight because the blouse was expensive and she didn't want to pay it back - thank you very much for the comment about bringing it back to the absolute, I'll try and find it again because that was very helpful. "It doesn't matter whether you'd pay that much for a shirt, you destroyed someone else's property and have to reimburse them fully" was repeated a lot.

Leanne agreed, and although she was sulky about it she has been better behaved for the rest of the morning and afternoon. She's currently playing on the Switch (after asking Sophie) and has called Sharon to let her know that all is currently fine. Some other loose threads:

1.) I mentioned therapy in the conversation with her, I'll bring it up again with Sharon present, probably, because I agree that it would be a good idea. She didn't seem opposed when I mentioned it.

2.) To all the people that are honestly angry that I helped Sophie redecorate her room because she was seriously ill - screw you, honestly. It doesn't matter that she's not my blood. If you had a daughter, step or otherwise in that situation, you definitely would have done what you could. As for her "real" dad doing it, trust me, her real dad is thankfully not allowed to see her.

SECOND UPDATE:

I got a lot more response on my original post than I ever expected, so I thought I would write an update. Leanne has been living with myself, Rebecca and Sophie for around a month now.

Even though lots of people saw from where I was originally coming from and voted NTA, many ESH voters gave me a bit of a wake-up call as to how Leanne was still my daughter and I could try and parent her instead of just sending her back to her mother, so that’s what we’ve been trying to do.

During a row a week ago, Leanne destroyed an ornament of Rebecca’s. I should clarify that it was in the heat of the moment and she apologised immediately so, while still inexcusable, better than what she did to Sophie. She apologised to Rebecca and they had a chat where they got into why Leanne breaks things when she’s angry. Leanne says she doesn’t really know.

Her and I then had a talk where I laid out the consequences of doing this in later life. She understands the severity of it and two days ago, we signed her up for some online therapy sessions so she can try and work it out before it causes her a real problem.

A lot of you suggested family therapy because Leanne has a lot of anger about the divorce. Sharon is flat out refusing to go. If I bring it up more, she might soften on the idea over time, but honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked if she never agrees. I will give the issue some time and see how Leanne gets on with the individual therapy, but I am preparing myself for the possibility of Leanne and myself going alone.

It’s definitely been difficult with its ups and downs, but I’ve been trying to step up and I can really see improvement in her behaviour. She is a lot less messy and we don’t usually have to remind her to clean up after herself anymore. She has been making more effort about noise, and is far more polite to Rebecca and Sophie.

She’s also agreed to do some family things that she wouldn’t before – she joins us for Sunday TV nights (which are like a little tradition we do), and she and Sophie play on the Switch together sometimes now. I am very glad that I took the advice to try this because it’s great to see her better adjusted and taking steps to improve herself.

We also talked about her dropping out of uni. I was upset about it and even more upset that she didn’t even seem to take it seriously, but Leanne said that she’s actually been beating herself up about it. I was quite shocked because as soon as the conversation went down this route she started crying.

She said that me flipping out really upset her because it confirmed her own negative thoughts and that she was actually really depressed and uncertain about her future. We have been researching potential careers together and she is less scared now and starting to prepare for her future. Thank you again for all the help.

Sources: Reddit
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