DEAR AMY: I raised my three children to be self-sufficient and polite. They are all grown now and, though they have their flaws, they know how to take care of themselves. After being single for more than 15 years, I married a very kind man with a daughter. She is now 18. Everything is supplied for her immediately upon her demand. There is no "earning it," nor any expectation of thanks or gratitude. She takes food into her room and lets it rot because she does not eat it -- and doesn't bother to deal with her leftovers. She has gone through four cars already because she either runs into things or just doesn't like them, so her father gets her something else. On top of it all, she attempted suicide about a year ago and this has her father running even more scared. I have tried to talk to him about having her take more responsibility for her actions. I believe that having higher expectations for her would be good for everyone. She has no life skills. He says I need to stay out of it and to trust him to parent his daughter. She will be entering a great big world that she has been sheltered from and I am afraid that it will be VERY difficult for her. I fear that her father will always bail her out. I have worked my whole life and I am not willing to spend my retirement savings on her latest mistakes. This is the only thing that my husband and I argue about. Any advice?
DEAR INTERLOPER: You think this young woman needs preparation for living on her own. How optimistic of you! Simply stated, she will never live on her own unless her father makes a commitment to her well-being -- and to you (because you are his wife, and also because you have good instincts).
Unless all of you receive professional help and work very hard to change the dynamic, it will continue -- and get worse.
Your stepdaughter should receive a mental health evaluation immediately. Her father needs parenting coaching. You two need professional support to strengthen your marriage.