The Washington Post

Carolyn Hax: New rules at home for an adult stepchild

From elsewhere in The Post: When a 26-year-old decides to move home after finishing graduate school, her step-parent worries about the new living arrangement. The parent asks advice columnist Carolyn Hax for guidance.

“Of course, my husband’s children are always welcome in his/our home, but this particular daughter and I have never gotten along very well. She blames me for the end of her parents’ marriage, and our personalities just happen to clash. Am I allowed to make her being nice to me into a condition for her living here? After all, it is my house, too,” says the letter writer.

In order for everyone to get along, Hax says, the step-parent needs to talk to the biological parent. “You and he need to talk about it, agree that you and the daughter don’t need to be friends but you do need to be civil and treat each other with respect.”

Hax also reminds the parent not to do anything to make the arrangement any more tense. “First, you need to grant your husband license to tell you when you’re doing something to aggravate the situation,” Hax says. “You also need to be skeptical of your own defenses, and ask yourself — every time — whether the daughter actually did something cruel or thoughtless, or whether you were just predisposed to perceive it that way.”

Hax will host a live chat today at noon. Submit questions now.


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