Our 18-year-old step-daughter is into sex and alcohol. What do we do?



I have a stepchild who was living with her mother's side of the family until age 13 until we got full custody of her.  She is now 18.  She has been exposed to seeing her mother (my husband's ex-wife) doing drugs and seeing her mother having sex with multiple guys at once. She was exposed to porn. She was allowed to play violent video games, she witnessed violence within the household, she was molested by her uncle at the age of 6, she drank alcohol, etc.

My stepdaughter's behavior is way out of control.  Every guy she comes into contact with she has sex with.  She abuses alcohol if and when it's available to her.  It's almost as if she can't control it, yet knows it is wrong.  She has a caseworker working with her, she receives Christian counseling services, she sees a psychiatrist, she is on medication for ADHD and depression, and nothing is working. She has been receiving help for over 4 years.

She was baptized into Christ nearly four years ago, and she is still practicing her sinful behaviors repeatedly. Her father and I just don't know what to do.  We can't cage her up,  but at the same time, we feel very uncomfortable knowing what she's doing out there and to come home and use our shower, our utensils, etc.  We are on the verge of creating a contract that would clearly state that we are a sexually pure household, and if she wants to live her life that way, she cannot live in our household.  Would this be ok?  I ask because my husband and I were told that she is grown, she knows right from wrong, and we just cannot control the decisions she makes.  In a sense, we would feel guilty knowing full well what she is doing out there and then coming back to our house to eat, sleep, etc.

Countless people told us that she's going to do what she wants to do anyway and that we were all like that at one time.  I have a problem with the latter statement because I never drank, smoked pot, smoked a cigarette, had sex with any man at that age.  How do I respond to such a statement, as I just cannot relate?  I have been in situations where guys wanted to have sex with me and I said no, I've been in situations in high school where people would ask me if I wanted to smoke weed and I said no, I was in situations where I was offered alcohol and I said no.  I made the choice to not put myself in those situations.  I'm not saying that I am perfect, but I just cannot relate to that when people tell me we were all there at that age.  What do I tell them, to speak for themselves?  I really don't know.  I could also see if it was normal what she's doing, but it isn't.  She has unprotected sex and just does it with any guy that gives into her seductions.


Actually, no, we were not all like your step-daughter. The problem is that like Eli's sons, your step-daughter was never restrained from evil. Oh, I'm sure you and your husband delivered plenty of lectures on the sins she has chosen to commit, but since you never followed through and enforced household rules, she has concluded it is worth the risk of behaving wickedly because no one does anything about it. "Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So he said to them, "Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the LORD'S people transgress. If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?" Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to kill them" (I Samuel 2:22-25). Eli's scolding was too little, too late. His household was destroyed "For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them" (I Samuel 3:13). Eli was the high priest. At a minimum, he should have removed his sons from the tabernacle, but he did nothing.

Your step-daughter is an adult. You have no hold over her since your responsibility ended with her when she turned 18. You really have only one choice. Tell her that though you love her, you don't approve of her choices. Have all of her things packed up and on the driveway. Tell her good luck in finding a place to live and that if she ever decides to give up her sin, she is welcome to come to visit. And, yes, this also means you aren't paying for her education.

Yes, I know it sounds harsh, but you can't compromise with sin or sinners. She made her choices but has forgotten that others can make choices too. "I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a person" (I Corinthians 5:9-11).

The goal isn't just to get some sanity back in your life. What ought to happen is that she'll be shocked to learn that others disapprove of her behavior and don't have to support her. Likely she'll blame you for kicking her out, refusing to acknowledge that it was her choices that led to this moment. Just keep emphasizing that she chose to sin and sin isn't welcomed in this house. However, hopefully in the future when she sees her world crumble around her from her choices, she'll begin to make better choices -- maybe one day she'll return.

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