Trouble blending families-how much financial responsibility should you take for a step child when you aren’t given the ability to actually parent them?

I have been married for 16 months. During this time, I have gained 25 pounds (why I just joined scholars).

Upon entering the marriage, I had twin 6 year old girls for whom I am their SOLE source of support. My husband had a 16 year old daughter, and 18 and 22 year old sons. The whole time we dated (one and a half years), his sons were not speaking to him. Their mother bragged to all my husband’s friends that his sons didn’t speak to him. Pretty much overnight, when we got married, my husband and his sons reconciled, and there are no issues now with either child. I have suspected that their mother realized a step mother (me) would put an end to their father financially supporting two sons who have us blocked on their phones that we pay for. Both of his sons have always been lovely to me, and I enjoy them on the rare occasions that I see them. The daughter is still in high school, and she spends every other week with us.

My husband moved into my house when we got married. Since he has lived here, he has not contributed to a penny to any of the household bills. I pay for it 100%, and I don’t mind. I really don’t. Every penny he makes goes towards his car and his children, and I do love that about him. I understand car insurance, private schools, college tuition, fraternity bills, and cell phones are expensive. However, we are fighting now about a boundary of mine regarding his daughter.

Last Spring Break, she went on a school trip to Europe. She worked and saved her spending money for the trip. She and her father fought because she wanted a credit card for the trip. I agreed with her that I thought she needed a credit card for the trip. I put her on my Chase Sapphire card. Chase would not let me get a card for her with a limited limit. I was excited when I first got her this card. I drew up a contract regarding boundaries using it that I was going to make her sign. It had a clause on compounding interest, and I was excited to teach her the pitfalls and perils of credit cards. My husband told me I could not give her a lecture on responsibility and credit cards, and I absolutely couldn’t make her sign a contract that she would then show her mother. Instead of being excited about building a foundation as a step-parent, I wound up with extreme anxiety that a 16 year old I barely know can charge $30,000 to me and I will be 100% on the hook for it, and her mom can call the number on the back and learn what I owe on my credit card and what my available credit is. Anyways, she honored the credit card, but I still cancelled the card the minute she was back in America.

Fast forward, she is going to the Bahamas for spring break with a friend’s family. My husband asked me yesterday if I could call and reactivate her credit card. I said I couldn’t, that a new one would have to be issued and it wouldn’t be here in time for her trip. I also don’t want to give her full access to my credit again-as it caused me a lot of anxiety last time. She has a father, and mother, and a step father. I do not understand why one of them can’t get her a credit card this time. Anyways, now everybody is mad at me. I am on the receiving end of texts like “Sorry I troubled you and made you feel responsible for my child. She wasn’t asking you to fund her trip and spend with no limit. She just wanted back up in case she needed it. She isn’t after your money. Again, this isn’t your problem and I wish I could take back even mentioning this. I deeply regret it.” Today is my birthday, and I don’t even want to go out to celebrate because everybody is mad at me that I won’t put her back on my credit card. If she is so responsible with money and would never abuse it, why won’t her own mother or father put her on their credit cards?

Sorry this is so long, but how is it fair to expect me to take financial responsibility for step children when I am deprived of the ability to actually parent them? I know their mother is an alienator, and if you make her mad, the kids won’t talk to us for a year. Still, if you ask me to give you my credit card or pay your college tuition, I think that gives me a right to talk to you about responsible use of credit or making good grades. If I’m not allowed to have expectations for responsible behavior, I don’t think I should be guilt tripped or bullied into paying for these things for teen aged step kids who are nice to me, but I don’t really have much of a relationship with.