I don't like my stepdaughter.
- 0Jul 18, '10 by CNL2BI really don't. I've tried. She is a mouthy, arrogant, entitled, lazy, immature 15 year old girl. I've only known her since she was 10 and my husband has a pretty minimal visitation schedule so I've not really had time to build a relationship with her. I do realize this is an awkward age and she is probably full of angst and is having a lot of emotional changes and stress in her life and I do try to be sympathetic, but that only goes so far. My husband knows how I feel about it and is actually sympathetic -- this isn't an evil stepmother syndrome. My perception of her appears to be pretty realistic as validated by a few other people.
There, I said it. Does this make me a horrible person?
Feel free to flame away. This is posted here because it is relatively anonymous and I would like opinions -- I don't want to make a big production of this issue with my friends/family for fear that they are going to think I am just awful. I feel some guilt about the whole situation, for sure, but I have no idea how to proceed in any direction besides just put up with her until she turns 18.
- 2Jul 18, '10 by GilaRRTHard to say, my wife had a daughter hitting the teenage years when we first got together. There were some pretty rough times, but things eventually worked out. Kids at that age are something else and I recently talked with my mother about how I was during my teen years and I honestly have a difficult time reconciling the fact that I was so different.
In fact, I cannot say to this day why I did some of the things that I did, even though a few incidents can be remembered like they were yesterday. Yet, I cannot think of the rationale for doing such things and have no memory of the logic that drove me to behave in such a manner.
I can only theorise that teenagers are not fully functional "humans" (some people will never meet this criteria) and need time to develop the nervous physiology that will help them transition into the adult world.
- 13Jul 18, '10 by rn/writer GuideI told my own children (five bio and one adopted) that I would love them unconditionally but that "liking" is earned.
I had four teens at one time and they took turns being moody and difficult. (Thank goodness they didn't all go whacko at once). My message at those times was, "You might be my kid, but you aren't my friend right now. I don't enjoy hanging out with people who treat me like you've been doing."
Things like this weren't said after routine, normal teenage angst but after protracted periods of just plain ugliness. I didn't pretend all was well, because it certainly wasn't. The secret was being honest without being mad. In fact, being honest allowed me to ditch a lot of the anger. Then I realized that part of the reason I was angry was that I felt trapped in my own home with someone who didn't appreciate how good they had it.
Once I could call a spade a spade and say, "I don't like your behavior right now and it makes me not want to be around you," I could add, "I'm looking forward to when things are better between us and we can find a way to connect."
This left the door open to communication but also explained that the "cost of admission" was a civil tongue and some respect.
Most kids hate fake niceness. Not saying you are doing that. Only that if you haven't had the freedom to be real with her, she might be goading you into an honest response. I'm guessing she doesn't come from a home with healthy boundaries.
At the same time as you're letting her know that her behavior has been pretty putrid, look for anything positive and say what's real there as well. Don't feel you have to gush. Just say, "Cool jewelry," or "I like what you did with your hair," and walk away. That way she won't feel obligated to change what you just praised.
I iwsh you the best.
- 8Jul 18, '10 by Spidey's mom, ADN, BSN, RN GuideAs usual rn/writer gets right to the point.
What I wanted to say is teen angst, in general, has nothing to do with "step" kid.
My own bio kids were different shades of awful as teens. It broke my heart to see them act like . . . teenagers.
The oldest 3 are better now as adults My youngest will turn 9 and he is a dream.
That said - you have to understand a little bit about step-kids. . . .I was one. My parents tore our family apart and brought in new people (more than one "new people" per parent) . . . they introduced us to other kids and visitation nightmares.
Sometimes - you've got to understand that divorce can cause so much pain that when the kids get to be teens, that increases the angst.
I like rn/writer's advice about how to deal with it. At the same time, try to be perceptive to the pain the kids might be experiencing.
You are the step-parent . . . not the parent. That is a unique role.
- 9Jul 18, '10 by leslie :-Dmy stepson was 10 when i entered his life.
initially we got along fine, until i married his dad.
and i was suddenly being pressured to do things i had never even considered...
such as being a co-parent, being a disciplinarian.
i was not prepared or even inclined, to be forced into a role that i had no desire to do/be.
unlike being a bio or adoptive parent, being a stepparent feels forced and contrived.
and it felt tremendously unnatural for me to be parenting a kid, whose relationship was based only on shared weekends and no contact during the week.
add that to the predictable "you're-not-my-mother-i-don't-have-to-listen-to-you" comments, did little to add warm and fuzzy to our already strained relationship.
dad had his own 'guilt' issues, which greatly interfered w/being an effective parent...
yet he wanted me to fill in where he was unable to do so.
one thing he used to enjoy taunting me with was, "i have my dad wrapped around my pinky finger" (which he did, btw.)
it was a volatile relationship until i finally spoke my mind to my stepson.
one day i told him, "you're right- i am not your mom, nor do i want to be your mom."
but i also reminded him that he best listen to me, because this is my house and my rules.
i just let him have it from all sides.
at the end, he just looked at me, lacking words.
from that day on, a world of pressure had been lifted from both of us.
i reminded him that what we (he and i) have in common, is that we both love your dad.
after that, he no longer looked at me as an evil stepmother...
heck, he didn't even look at me as a stepmother, period.
to this day, i despise that word, with all of its implied sentiments.
but we did form a meaningful relationship...one with substance, depth and respect.
my feeling is, if you remove yourself from the dreaded 'stepmother' role and individualize yourself as a person who also loves her dad, then you've set a solid foundation on which to build and nurture your relationship.
you have every right to implement rules in your house, and have every right to expect they'll be respected.
in the meantime, try doing stuff together...i cooked a lot w/my stepson.
we spent hours in the kitchen, learning, talking, laughing...just chilling.
it all worked itself out.
i had no problems sharing my love...and no problems with expressing disappointment and anger.
it was finally an honest relationship.
no, you're not horrible at all.
but this is yours and your stepdtr's thing to work out...
independent of your husband.
remove the mommy mask, and i truly believe, it'll all fall into place.
wishing you the best.
- 7Jul 19, '10 by rn/writer GuideI was thinking about this thread and it jogged my memory back to, of all things, a pair of Looney Tunes characters that have proved pretty useful in my personal life.
It's about Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph the Wolf. In the morning, they punch in on a time clock mounted on a tree, and for the rest of the day, Ralph tries to steal a sheep and Sam thwarts him at every turn. When the five o'clock whistle blows, they stop whatever they're doing and agree to pick up at the same spot the next day. Once they're off the clock, they sound like buddies.
Here's the link:
I said all of that to share a trick that has worked wonders in my family on more occasions than I can count. When I have been engaged in drawn-out battle with one of my kids, and there is no end in sight, I have sometimes suggested we call a temporary truce and go out to lunch or make a pizza or even just watch TV together. The argument isn't over, but we choose to take a break with the understanding that in four hours or whatever we decide, we'll pick up where we left off. Only thing is that this brief respite is sometimes just enough fresh air that neither of us is eager to resume with the same amount of vitriol and venom we had before.
I think our kids (bio, adopted, foster, step, whatever) sometimes get tired of being so angry and contentious, but they need help to come back. And we get tired of being on the other end of the tug-of-war rope, too. Taking a break is a way for everyone to chill and share a few minutes of connection over something non-threatening and maybe even a little bit fun. My kids used to love this "temporary" truce idea because it gave them a way to come down from the ledge without feeling like they were caving in. I felt the same way. You might still have thorny issues and serious matters to discuss, but a couple of hours of friendship can do a lot to take the sting out of the conversation.
This works with spouses, too.Last edit by rn/writer on Jul 19, '10
- 9Jul 19, '10 by Elvish GuideI was a stepdaughter once too - my dad and stepmother got married when I was almost 10. And when I was about the age your stepdaughter is right now (maybe a little younger), our relationship went to hell in a handbasket.
Part of that was me doing stupid teenage stuff - I was a pill for my biological mother too - and some of it was her not realizing what she was doing. It was a hard, hard, slog, and it lasted off and on until after I was an adult. Things weren't completely normal until about three years ago.
We had to work it out - the two of us, independent of my dad, who wasn't really good at standing up to (or for) either one of us. As a teenager, I didn't care if she liked me...but I desperately wanted to know that she loved me. It smarted to see her treat her own kids differently than she treated me. My parents divorced when I was a preschooler, so I had/have little recollection of their ever being happy together - which probably helped, as I didn't feel like she was taking my mom's place.
And as an adult, I finally had to say (after several long, protracted, stupid fallings-out), "You all are welcome in my house, but your bullcrap is not." And after a few go-rounds of this, we have all grown up and learnt how to talk to each other as adults. Things are better, I'd even venture to say they're great, and we talk on a fairly regular basis.
You may not ever be 'good friends' with her, but with a bit of time and space you'll probably develop a cordial relationship with her. Good luck to you both.Last edit by Elvish on Jul 26, '10
- 4Jul 19, '10 by TweetySociety puts incredible pressure on us to like/love members of our families, and that isn't always possible. Don't feel bad. Good advice from the people above, just wanted to say that it's o.k. that you don't like her.
- 2Jul 22, '10 by Chapis"...but i desperately wanted to know that she loved me."
this really touched me. i have two step kids and your statement got me thinking that i need to show them that i do love them. i need to tell them that i love them. that line from your post opened my eyes, i guess it just comes natural with our own(bio) kids. i don't have to think about telling my three year old that i love him, it comes out of my mouth many times during the day and i don't even think to voice it out to my two step kids.
i also hate the term 'step mom', my little one is calling me 'gaby' as the boys (step kids) call me gaby. i know my son will come around and call me 'mami' at all times, rather than a few times here and there like he does now.
op- its very hard to be a step parent. you could try having a conversation with her, take her out to eat and just ask what is the real reason she doesn't like you, that you are there to fix the problem and that you are not there to point your finger at her. if y'all can come half way in good-decent terms maybe y'all can start by tolerating each other more and to show more respect towards each other.
god bless, god knows it's hard,
i'll say a prayer for you tonight,
- 7Jul 23, '10 by oramar GuideThat is not a surprise as I know people that don't like their own biological children. The grown up thing to do is to try and put yourself in her shoes at that age. Acting out is the way kids demonstrate their state of mind and feelings. The ability to talk through problems and lay out a plan of action to change a situation is a LEARNED behavior, as opposed to acting out which is a natural. Some people NEVER get the hang of talking through their problems and are still acting out at advanced age. What you did here making this post and putting your feelings into written words is grown up and I bet you felt a lot better for doing it. Your impulse NOT to go about bad mouthing her to the family is a good one. Running about bad mouthing is very juvenile and it doesn't make you feel better. When I do it I can't help but notice I feel angrier and angrier and more and more the victim. I think the fact that you have discussed this with us here shows that your impulses are grownup and you will eventually sort this out.