They're tough for regular parents, but double the puzzle for a stepmom.
Do you leave them alone?
Do you ask?
Do you have your husband ask?
Do you ask their friends?
Do you create a false fire to make them flee their rooms once and for all?
Can you take away the car keys? Or is that sacriliege? (Unlike every other person of authority in their lives...)
Do they EVEN have a curfew!?
Are you up at night wondering where your stepkid is, while your spouse sleeps soundly?
Are you the one who asks where the teenagers went to, with who, and where?
Yeah, I feel ya.
My husband is in teen dad training. He doesn't seem to have expected teenaged girls one day. I was becoming a more hands off parent...And then they turned into teenaged girls, both, at once.
So... I'm "helping" him "remember" to ask where they are going, with whom, for how long, when they will be home...
And not accepting shrugs as responses.
Oh, so much to learn.
Why do I care? Well, usually I already had dinner planned, tickets to something or other, and chores we discussed earlier that they needed to do before setting foot out the door.
Then throw in the complication of minimal custody. Well, then you have a father who feels hurt each and every time his kids walk out the door unless he's had just a little bit of time with them. I see the sadness, I get the brunt of any repressed anger, and I watch him pretend it was all OK when they walk back in the door moody, sullen, and exhausted from friend/boyfriend drama and no-sleep-sleepovers.
Is it so bad to help your husband parent? No. You just need to help him understand and not make him look stupid in front of other people or his kids. That is hard, mind you, but there's an entire book called "Love & Respect" if you're poor in that category. It's tough, but doable. Love your husband, pray for him, and help him remember the Daddy role of protecting his young- even if they can drive now. If he's not "getting it" when it comes to his daughters- as most men don't seem to- get him the book "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters." He will regret not being a father to them when they needed it otherwise, and they will resent him for not being there as a strong presence, even if silent but clearly noticeable.
And if he doesn't trust your advice or parenting at all, please get therapy from a therapist who has also been a stepmom- pronto. Before it's too late- as he doesn't understand you are helping a lot, yet. Make sure your marriage comes first. (Contact me if you want a discount to the FamilyLife Marriage conference, Weekend To Remember. http://www.familylife.com/wtrfall14)
While at the FamilyLife conference, my husband bought a very, very short and easy-to-read book called "Interviewing Your Daughter's Date: 30 Minutes Man to Man" by Dennis Rainey. I had it on his Amazon wishlist for years, but he realized it was time- with both girls in relationships suddenly, and he could barely get their boyfriend's names! Within minutes, he was cracking up at Rainey's stories. Every dad of a daughter needs a little bit of support, guidance, or reminders- especially if it can come from wise mentors who aren't seen as a nagging wife!