I dont get along with my step daughter

pennylane73April 21, 2009

Step Children are hard to get along with sometimes, even under the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, I have never had children, so I believe that this puts me at an even greater disadvantage. Not knowing how to deal with children in general I suppose, then having to deal with DH's kids. My SS and I get along really good for the most part. There was a transition we had to go through, but we made it and now we enjoy each others company and can laugh about the same things. We even have a lot of the same taste in music. On the other hand, my SD and I do not seem to have anything in common. And like many of the previous posters, I cannot stand her either. She is almost 14. I tried really hard in the beginning, about 3 years ago. Dealt with all the tests she threw at me, tried doing things with her just the two of us. Taking her shopping, out to eat, movies, just anything to meet on an even level. But the last 6 months have been hell. She has become even more self centered than before, more manipulative, rolls her eyes more...etc. I cant deal with that. I feel that she is very disrespectful and DH feels that I pick on her. I suppose that I have become resentful....and I hate that. He is never on my side, he never backs me up. He will say he is going to punish her and never does. She often gets away without having to do chores when told. But her Brother is working around the house constantly. We cannot go to a convenience store without her putting on gobs of makeup, skin tight jeans and making us wait 2 hours for her to get ready. She barges in my bedroom to use my things without asking, and then gets ill when you tell her she needs to knock before entering. Im sick to death of the rolling eyes, the back talk, the using behavior, the ungratefulness of my hard earned money to buy her things...(which I am not doing anymore). DH's response to everything is that we live in a small house, and until we finish our house we are building, he isnt going to try to correct her behavior. What?? Wont it be harder to correct later?? Sadly, my last resort to this defeat is to have the least little thing to say to her. The last time she was here, I barely said two words...I wasnt really trying to prove a point, just tired of being shot down, and getting my feelings hurt. So I just decided its easier to not have anything to say...I wont discipline, ask for anything, and let her Dad deal with her. I truly believe that she doesnt really care to talk to me anyway...she never asks how I am, how are my interests, or anything. I dont try to be her mom, or her sister, just a friend, and she doesnt really seem to want that. She is so difficult to understand, takes herself waayyyy toooo seriously. You cannot joke with her, but boy can she sure dish it out. Ive been told the mother is the same way...so I dont really look for it change...ever?? Another sad thing is, DH must have noticed my behavior towards her, but didnt say a word to me about it. He doesnt seem to really want to resolve anything with me...and her. So it just keeps building. I would love to hear any thoughts on this. There is always more to a story, I will try to unfold more as it goes along.

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I find myself in a similar situation. I have a 13 y/o SD, a 14 y/o SS and a 13 y/o DD that live with us full time. When I first met them (and dad), their BM did not have much to do with them. They were lucky if they heard from her once a month. They had their GM and Aunt for female role models, but really needed a mother figure. So when things got serious with us, I started to develop a realtionship with them similar to that of a mother. However, once BM caught wind of this, she began making herself a bigger influence on them. Fast forward to now...

We married in July and have had some difficulty adjusting to the new SF situation. Different sytles of living and discipline have hampered the once harmonious relationship with my SC. It seems that BM's "advice" to them on 'how to deal with the SM', has really made things worse. Same problems as yours, eye rolling, throwing things around, snide remarks, just plain disrespectful behavior. DH doesn't see half of it, or doesn't think too much of it and he thinks I make too much out of it. It has come to a point that no matter in what manner I ask her something, she is nasty or throws attitude at me. I have problems with SS too, but not as bad as SD.

I find myself growing more and more resentful each day. Our counselor has told us that I need to let DH discipline SD/SS. So now each time I have an issue, I go to him and let him deal with it. But of course, he gets tired of hearing it and gets annoyed (which he promised the counselor he would not do). And when he is not home, I have to be the one to deal with problems. So when SD gets cocky with me, let's just say things do not turn out well.

So I have resigned myself to pulling back. I ask as little as possible from her, and say as little as possible. I answer her questions if she asks something, but beyond that; I keep out of her way. Now, I do not do this with my own DD b/c I don't feel that I have to. Unfortunately I think this is beginning to bother SD (perhaps a bit of jealousy?). It is not my intent to upset her, but I just don't know what else to do. I can't force her to want a relationship with me and I sure can't get her to respect me. I feel badly. I know she is a lost little girl who on one hand feels rejected by her BM, but feels that a relationship with me would be betraying BM. BM likes to lay guilt trips on the kids too, which doesn't help matters.

What's worse is that b/c I am the one who is here taking care of my SC day in and day out, I can't be the "fun parent" like alot of part time SM can be. BM gets that honor, I just get all the s**t and none of the respect.

I am at my wits end, and it is taking a hefty toll on my marriage. So, if you find something that works, please let me know! I'm sorry I don't have better advice except that if you are not in counseling, perhaps you may want to consider it.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 6:37PM
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I am sorry.

The only thing that could change the dynamic is if your DH backs YOU up! The girls is teenager, hormones and rudeness are the norm. They are never in the right, you should be backed up. There should be consequences from her father. He is not doing you any favors or HER! If she doesn't fit in the family dynamic, she doesn't fit in. And the behavior will continue.

She's too young and self-important to see this, which is why her dad needs to come down on her. So she fits in.

If he won't then you can still maintain your distance, but that will grow to full-blown resentment. And will likely affect you more than her.

Have you tried to have a heart to heart with her? Explain that you aren't going anywhere, how her behavior makes you feel, how your behavior makes her feel. What you both can do to change it and what the consequences are for not keeping the change going.

A lot of the time I think girls have this resentment toward SM because they erroneously think that if it wasn't for you their dad & mom would be together. Of course that isn't true in 99.99% of the time.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 7:06PM
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"A lot of the time I think girls have this resentment toward SM because they erroneously think that if it wasn't for you their dad & mom would be together. Of course that isn't true in 99.99% of the time."

I have seen a lot of stepmoms say this about their stepchildren and I have yet to meet a significant number of stepchildren who say this when they are able to talk openly about their thoughts of their blended family situation, especially when the divorce/split from bio parents was more than a couple years past. I think this is something ADULTS think and push on children. Children do not think like adults.

PennyLane, can you give some more information? What is custody like? You say the children visit? I am assuming their Mother is still significantly involved in their lives?

Just from a gut perspective without a whole lot of information, it's been said that it takes twice the childs age at the time of remarriage for the child to really feel like the stepparent is a parent. So in your case, your SD would start feeling like you are a parent when she is 22.

I think the best thing to do is to leave all discipling up to your husband. I think you will need to stand firm and give him a list of things that you cannot tolerate and hold him to it.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 7:38PM
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Perdue, I know what you mean by DH doesnt see half of it. Mine doesnt either, and seems like he doesnt want too. For example...2 months ago, I reserved tickets for us all to see a musical in the city. Had I, and did I not do these things for us all, my DH wouldnt do anything with them beyond taking them out to dinner when they come on weekends. The whole night, SD cut her eyes at me and kept giving me nasty looks. ( she is also worse when she has an audience, the SS's girlfriend went with us) Why?? Who knows...but it really bothered me and hurt my feelings. DH didnt see this, nor did I mention it, as it doesnt seem to do any good. Plus I feel no better than her or age, by tattling...2 weekends later she comes in with her Dad after he picked her up and the first thing she does to me is start rolling her eyes and giving me these nasty looks! I hate to say it, but I lost it. I yelled enough already, and that I was tired of it. Of course, she played the card of not knowing what I was talking about and played all hurt and innocent. DH just looked at me and looked shocked as if I made this all up and didnt understand where I was coming from. I said to him in front of her that this happens a lot and that Im tired of being disrespected. Later that night, he felt like I attacked her. Sigh...that is one example, of many.

I know that in the beginning of our relationship, her mom was really pushing her to not like me. We seemed to get past that for a time, but we are back to square one. And worse at that...because I dont really have the heart to start over with this girl. I have to admit, I dont really feel any love towards his children. What does that mean? Will I? I love him dearly with all my heart, but when she is in the picture, it seems we are full of tension and we dont seem to get along as well as when she isnt there. Im hoping that by maintaining distance, she will either continue her behavior in a way that her dad sees it...and he realizes Im not crazy and will do something about it. Or she will see that her actions have caused this reaction. I am going to counseling on my own at this point, because I want to learn how to deal with all of this and would love to get along with her and create a good relationship with her. And I dont want to damage the relationship with her Dad. Has anyone ever tried talking to the BM? Is that a nightmare in the making or does it help? She sort of hates me...

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 7:51PM
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I have seen a lot of stepmoms say this about their stepchildren and I have yet to meet a significant number of stepchildren who say this when they are able to talk openly about their thoughts of their blended family situation, especially when the divorce/split from bio parents was more than a couple years past. I think this is something ADULTS think and push on children. Children do not think like adults.

PennyLane, can you give some more information? What is custody like? You say the children visit? I am assuming their Mother is still significantly involved in their lives?

Nivea, You are right in this case. They were witness for years to their parents unhappiness. They understood when they got a divorce, and know that their parents are much happier people since then. So that doesnt apply in this case.

Custody is every other weekend with Dad. They live with their mom in the same town as us. Dad is a hard worker, and makes sure they have everything they need financially, but doesnt make alot of effort to go to ball games, cheerleading competitions, etc. Although he has been some. Their mom is very much involved in their lives, school activities, taking them on trips, etc. In times past, she too has witnessed SD's behavior and has even talked to me about on occasion. Though I never reciprocate, as I dont want to say the wrong thing or make waves. It would end up that I was bad mouthing her daughter and didnt like her sort of conversation. Mom is way too involved with my DH as well. Just last week she called to wish him, what would have been, 25th anniversary. Very aggrivating. He doesnt reciprocate those feelings, and neither does she really feel them, she just was feeling down because she had just broken up with her BF of 2 years.

As far as me giving him a list of things I wont tolerate...we arent to that point yet. As I said, though he witnessed my behavior towards his daughter this past weekend, he never said a word. I felt some tension between us a little...but I am surprised in a way that he didnt say it bothered him, or that I need to stop it. or that we even need to talk about it. So, giving him a list is premature at this point. I have a list on the fridge and they dont really adhere to that...so ....if that tells you anything.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 8:05PM
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While I know that many things can be misinterpreted out of hyper-aware tension on both sides, and even though I'm an SD and not a step-parent, I also have no doubt that some of the petty little crap that some step-praents report their SK's doing is in fact really happening.

The question is WHY it's happening, and like you are trying to find out thru counseling, HOW you will RESPOND to the obnoxious behavior.

Many parents & step-parents take a hard-line "zero tolerance" aka "tough love" aka "my way or the highway" approach --often out of their own upbringing or just plain desperation--- but I am of a mind that this rarely goes over well and doesn't really resolve the problem. I mean, it can work short-term if you are very aware that it's only going to potentially improve surface behaviors... and even that is a crapshoot because some kids will rebel even more in the face of it. But for long-term improvement in the actual reationships, an approach with more depth and breadth is needed.

I think the thing is you have to pretty much EXPECT and ANTICIPATE any number of obnoxious behaviors from a kid of a certain age, whether it's your bio-kid, step-kid, nephew, student... but ESPECIALLY a step-kid! ***NOT*** that all step-kids are doomed to be obnoxious (just like not all step-parents are either), but that the SITUATION is soooooo TEXTBOOK for the POTENTIAL for specific conflicts and power struggles to develop. You really have to be aware of that going in. Part of the pain you are feeling is that it sounds like you had no idea that there was a possibility the SKs could have trouble accepting you, or could have power struggles with you, or could ---as the children they are--- resort to childish ways of showing their anxiety and sense of loss and/or displacement. If you had anticipated that these were common behavioral reactions and that at some point most any kid you have important dealings with will test you limits to the max, you would not be as likely to be as hurt as you are now.

So in short, you kinda have to be the "bigger person" when you enter a stepfamily. That DOESN'T mean roll over and take crap you shouldn't tolerate, but it means being the more enlightened, educated and mature person who understands why the conflict is happening, has a strategy for handling it and most of all does so in a way that raises everyone up and actually brings everyone closer. That's what "being the bigger person means", and while it may at first feel unfair that you have to go through the extra effort, the fact is that you really do have an incredibly formative influence in these kids' lives as a step-parent, no matter how involved or not you are, simply because of the position you occupy. And there just is this responsibility for you to be wiser because when it comes right down to it, you ARE the "bigger" person, if not in size than in years (Gawd, I hope so, anyway b/c I have to admit I'm stumped for what advice to give the step-parent who's younger than their stepchildren!!!).

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 9:49PM
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Just got off the phone with my DH this morning. He is in a foul mood and says he is angry with me. Said he witnessed something last night he didnt like. And then asked me did I have a problem with SD. I said I had a problem with him not backing me up on SD's behavior, and the fact that he sees no need to correct any of it until we move. He says that while I was doing laundry, he witnessed me take one of her shirts and throw it into her bedroom floor. Well, I tossed it on the bed from what I thought. I didnt know if fell on the floor. I even picked the dirty shirt up from the bathroom floor the other day and washed it. Were I so mean, I could have just left it, or let him wash it. He witnessed my behavior this past weekend and said I was making her scared. And that my behavior was petty. I think she did notice, but I think maybe it is making her think about her actions and that something is wrong. But I dont think she is scared. I could be wrong, but that was not my intention, to make her scared. So, here we are...this is our conversation, he is mad, Im disrespecting his daughter, and he is hurt over it. Point made, but I am mad, and feel disrespected, never backed up, there is never a converstation between the 3 of us on how to fix it. He says he talks to her, but Ive never witnessed it. Should I be allowed to be in this conversation? I would like to know what he says to her. He gave me, "youre the adult" speech. So basically, Im just supposed to suck it up, deal with it, be nice, and let all this continue...grrrr...

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 11:20AM
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Again, any variant of "you're the adult" (including, I guess, the one I gave you, "be the bigger person") DOESN'T have to automatically mean "suck it up". There's a very big difference between knowing how/when to pick your battles, engaging in appropriate battles as the wise ADULT you are VS. having to LOSE every single battle. Being mature doesn't mean suppressing feelings or taking a back seat, far from it. It means nipping the immaturity of self AND others in the bud so that neither side is impelled toward or rewarded by petty passive-aggressive acts. You have responsibility but you also have rights.

If the girl is rolling her eyes at you and/or making snide comments, you have every right to say to her "I see you rolling your eyes at me and we all know what that means. I also see you doing it pretty often. I'd like to know why you're doing it. If there's something you're feeling pissy about regarding me, TELL ME and we'll discuss it. I'm willing to listen because I understand that there'll be disagreements and rough patches. You have a right to have some bad feelings sometimes. But if you don't tell me what your gripe is and instead want to roll your eyes, you're never going to get your chance to be heard and possibly have it resolved. And then I'll have no choice but to assume you either don't want to solve the problem or are just an unpleasant person or both. If that's the case, naturally I'm not going to feel like doing anything for you or being very respectful of you, either. I am willing to be a friend to you, and that includes hearing you out and being willing to bend a bit if your gripes are valid. But there's a definite line, and I'm not going to take crap."

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 12:08PM
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I agree with what you say Serenity, I will try that...but at the same time...I will admit that maybe my problem isnt so much with the SD, as it is my DH for refusing to back me up. As if Im the only one who has the problem with her attitude towards me. Or the task at hand. He never punishes her, or reprimands her, or does anything. If he admits she is in the wrong, thats all it is, an admission, there are never ever any consequenses...she gets her way, He goes his merry way, and Im left fuming.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 12:22PM
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That's why I think for these issues that have to do with personal respect, it's probably better to just deal with it between you and SD (as opposed to other kinds of rules/consequences that he has to be prime decision-maker on, like chores, grounding, etc.)

It's kind of like if you've ever been in a little power struggle or other form of cattiness at work and you know it's pretty useless to talk to the boss or HR about it (b/c they didn't see it, and they may be biased, and probably don't want to hear about it at all.) but you know you don't want to escalate the conflict on a petty level because it will just get worse and lead to tit-for-tat retaliation.... Or any other circumstance where let's say there isn't even a "boss" or any other third party but there's a personal issue between you and someone else... what do you do? You nip it in the bud directly and honestly with the person, you don't count on some other 'authority' solving the problem for you. A lot of times it basically comes down to some sort of "deal", because often people aren't going to change or quit doing something you don't like just because you don't like it or you tell them not to do it. They have to have a vested interest in the outcome to participate in the "deal". So in your case the deal between you and SD is "I'll listen to you with an open mind and heart as long as you're not rude to me" and "I'll do things for you as long as you refrain from rude behavior towards me." And conversely, "if you start being rude to me, how can you expect me to do anything nice for you?"

It's really no different than how it would be between any two friends. And that should be explained to her. You're not her parent, and you don't have to unconditionally love her. Her father, though, IS her parent and is morally obligated to give her more unconditional love. Therein lies the rub. The relationship you have with SD is different than the one your husband has with her. This explains why there's a discrepancy between the consequences YOU can give her (withdrawal of favors, etc.) as a consequence of her being rude to you vs. the consequences her father will feel like giving (or not) based on behavior he didn't witness, wasn't directed at him and/or he wishes to handle differently. It's also why he gets upset and probably extra defensive of her, because he's being put in the middle of a personal conflict between you and SD that you and SD need to work out between you two.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 1:26PM
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Also Dad's who are EOW do not like to be the bad guy. DH as told me over and over that he doesn't want to correct them because we only see them two weekends a month. He deals with my children every day so this same crap I deal with my SS I should let pass because I shouldn't ruin the whole weekend. (Not in so many words)

I think is CRAP!!! My children do live with us full time. If I used the same method on them, DH would go CRAZY!!! I have decided that I am going to call SS on his behavior and see what happens. This past weekend SS had a friend of his come with him. He acted like a real teen which I can deal with. Otherwise he acts like I don't know what. What 13 year old boy holds hands with BD in the mall? One who is so jealous of SM that he would rather hold hands with his dad then see SM hold hands with him. I get the eyes rolled and jesters behind DH's back too. This past week DH got to see for himself that SS isn't the little boy he wants him to stay. He don't believe in Santa anymore he is a REAL TEENAGER Deal with it!!!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 3:01PM
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Pennylane, Perdue,

I have been with my husband who has three children for last 20 years. I know exactly how you feel in regards to your step-child. At one point, I just didn't know what to do anymore about my eldest step daughter who totally disrespected me every single time she could. In 18 years, she never once called me on my birthday, hardly ever, ever gave me a gift from Xmas, on her wedding day, she totally ignored me (everybody else had a corsage but I), she never ever thanked me for the money my husband and I borrowed from the bank to give her as a wedding day, etc. etc. etc. She was 9 when I met her father and from the minute she met me, I felt like she didn't like me. I always, always tried to treat her the same way I treated my other two step-children, but this one just didn't want anything to do with me. Then one day, (after 18 years of putting up with her attiude)I truly said to myself this is it! Enough is enough. I started treating her the same way she treated me!She would come over to our place and I would not ask her a single qustion or invite her to have a sit, I never ever visited her house. I would not answer the phone when I knew she was calling, DH did not support me either when I would talked to him about his daughter's behaviour towards me. I felt alone and it did cause alot of trouble in our relationship. However, the day I decided to detach from her completely is when things started turning around. Little by little, she showed more respect towards me. Things have been going a little bit better between her in the last two years. She has matured and has experienced life a little bit more. This being said, I am still weary of her because I simply can't bring myself to forget how mean she has been to me. I don't think I will ever forget everything she put me through. The three step children are suppose to come over this weekend for dinner and no matter how my relationship is now with this oldest SD, the simple thought that she will be around makes me nervous. I guess when you have been hurt by someone for such a long time, you cannot ever totally forget it.

This being said, the only advice I can give you as a step parent of 20 years is try not to take your step child's attitude towards you personnally and work really hard at detaching yourself from her for your own sake.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 3:30PM
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"As far as me giving him a list of things I wont tolerate...we arent to that point yet. As I said, though he witnessed my behavior towards his daughter this past weekend, he never said a word. I felt some tension between us a little...but I am surprised in a way that he didnt say it bothered him, or that I need to stop it. or that we even need to talk about it. So, giving him a list is premature at this point. I have a list on the fridge and they dont really adhere to that...so ....if that tells you anything."

Pennylane, I disagree. Both you and their father had a personal responsibility to come up with the rules/boundaries before moving in together. It is very unfair just to throw things up in the air, stick a list to the fridge and then expect the kids just to roll with it. Many stepparents say they feel things are unfair to them or hold resentment for YEARS, but rarely do they ever say they had a game plan, they talked MANY times before moving in together etc. They will have a difference in parenting styles, but it will be blamed on the kid for not conforming right away to the stepparents standards and kids will be blamed for just not rolling with it. The kids also get blamed for not thinking and/or reacting to these situations as an adult, duh they are kids! Fly by your seat parenting is a very hard burden for children to carry.

All of this should've been laid out prior to moving in together, so yeah the list should've been done yesterday. I'm not trying to insult you, but as hard as this may be for you, the kids do have it harder.

As far as your behavior toward the child, as a bio mom, I would not stand for it. My significant other is an adult, not a child and I expect them to act like an adult no matter what. I expect my child to act like a child and within in normal developmental stages. That does not mean she gets away with it, but she is a child and it is expected. Teenagers are expected to be nasty hormonal creatures, I would worry if my child didn't act like that as a teenager, lol.

So my best advice is to come up with your game plan now before you get to the stage where you are completely fed up. You need to come up with what you cannot tolerate and even if that conflicts with your boyfriends ideals, then maybe it's not the best relationship for you. There's only going to be more hurt and pain if you just sweep it aside and have an unwillingness to be honest.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 1:11PM
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My situation is similair of a very manipulative sd and what ended up happening over time is... she did get worse, much worse. We tried everything from attempting counseling and agreements, nothing helped. After she turned 18, her expectations were so unrealisitc, she was so difficult, we finally had to ask her to leave.

She is going to have to learn the hard way what lifes about as we had no choice. She was hell bent on issues of control and dominance that were bound to destroy us not only as a family but cause us great legal and financial harm.
She has moved into her BM's home and now causing problems for her and her husband. Not sure what will happen but sd will have to come to grips with the restrictions upon us all as citizens of the world or she will outcast herself from everyone she knows. She is intolerable and very immature. Because of these things I do not care for her or want her in our home. I'm at the point where I can only pray for her as we tried everything aside from letting her bulldoze us into a world of fantasy and our devistation, into the poor house.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 10:54AM
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13 year old boy holds hands wiht dad in the mall? crazy to say the least.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 2:19PM
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Your main problem is your husband not your Sd.
She's acting like a typical teenager and its only amplified because daddy doesn't want to be the bad guy reprimanding her on eow...
Well my dh and i are in the same boat BUT he is reprimanding her. He tells her he loves her but he wont tolerate games. He doesn't always back me up...but when he faulters i do let him know. Because HE is the adult and HE is ultimately responsible at her age for the way SHE acts.
I basically completely ignore her when she is with attitude and i have to admit she also stays out of my way. The anger is not at me...its towards her dad...its the bitterness ofthe divorce because she is at the age 14 to begin to understand....and both her parents do not help...mostly her mother is to blame because of her actions. Not my problem. she has raised her like this...waht i do know is what happens under my roof and that my hubby and i are the ones calling the shots. We discuss it together but concerning his kids i've told him , his decision on that is his ultimatley in the end. Even if i do not agree i'll give him my opinion but in the end its his responsibility. For our son, its together.
You need to speak to your husband...just like i do and tell him that he must acknowledge her teenage attitude now and that your behavioru is normal human frustration last week and that both you and sd are not perfect but judging you on clothes is petty. That you do alot for them..and that next time he can wash her laundry and pick up after her if he thinks you are so mean.
He must understand this you are not making it up. Its normal teenage behaviour..it has nothing to do with the fact that she is not yoru daughter..its the fact they way she behaves.
Asks him why SHE rolles her eyes when she comes over. Ask him WHY she behaves in certain ways unwarrented. And ask him WHY HE as a HUSBAND is lashing YOU as a wife and partner for a CHILDS behavior.
Yes they come over EOW...they are not special and will not be treated as such. And if he wants more time...nothign is stopping him from callign his exwife and asking can i take them out for this and that day...nothing.
My friend is also divorced and i've asked her does she say no when her ex calls for extra time. She said never! she has problems with him but she will not involved her kids time and punish them as children.
And remind him that you create activities and not him.
My dh is the same...if i dont htink of it he wont do anything...maybe take them to the park. So its actually boring! BUT there has to be a balance. You can't have activities every weekend too....its expensive and most importantly the kids should not learn that we are an entertainment system every tiem they come. They should SEE their dad and have quality time with him.
I've always done family things and separate things as well...Its important.
But remember at this age its difficult.
Just spoke to my hubby adn he agrees. Its your husband that you should talk with about the situations and yoru feelings. ANd that he should step up as a husband and father and do the right thing for both of you.
That is comign from my hubby.
Its not easy. My dh and i have our blowouts about SD and her demands...just recently we had a blowout....we spoke afterwards and forgave but its hard...take it day by day.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 9:27AM
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Thank you all for your advice. I started a couple of weeks ago going to a counselor, and told him the other day of my behavior over the weekend. He agreed that had I not kept my distance, I may have blown up and made it worse. He also says that it is Dh's job to fix this. Not mine...and that I have every right to set boundaries, and say no. They are coming this weekend. As I said, I dont have an issue with the oldest, its just the youngest daughter. And I hate that I dread every time she comes. Its just eating me up inside with dread so much now. Im so hoping I can take my counselors advice and be cordial, set boundaries, and not freak out. I have to try for my marriages sake, and for this kid I guess. And for myself. fleurs gardener, organic maria...thanks so much for being supportive and understanding of what Im going through. Its a lonely thing being a step parent....

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 10:26AM
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My concern is that adult sd's (20) problems with her attitude and behavior may be temprament and personality issues and I don't know what's gonna happen long term if this is the case. She wants things that are not realistic and she asks things without consideration for anyone but herself. She is a victim of PAS yes but may also be someone who has no plans to grow up and be a responsible person. I am a loss of what to think about her and where she will be in our lives or if she can be a part of our lives at any time due to these things.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 11:21AM
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I don't want to be guilty of encouraging you to flout the advice of your counselor (who is a professional, and I of course am not), but I would encourage you to discuss with him the idea of you dealing with SD directly when it comes to the more vague issues of "attitude" and "respect". With appropriate assertiveness (not passiveness or aggressiveness) and without meting out "punishments" per se, but more of a *discussion* with her. Run it by him and see if he might reconsider his advice somewhat.

I say this, again, not because I am in a position to have an "expert" opinion on blended families, but because I am a stepdaughter, and one common thread among other stepchildren I know is that the SP/SK relationship is made so much worse when it is perceived that one or more parties is being "manipulative" or is untrustworthy, and this perception results from an INDIRECT approach. Whether it's the SK or the SP doing it, it spells the beginning of the end for a decent relationship. You don't want to risk creating an impression to your SD that you are two-faced, passive-aggressive or are "hiding behind" your DH and expecting him to fix all of your interpersonal problems (including the one with SD) for you. Aside from eroding trust and encouraging similarly indirect behavior on SD's part, I dare say it also undermines the very thing you seek to improve in the situation: her respect for you.

I can honestly say that the number one factor that has made me fully give up on having any sense of respect for my SM or any desire to "work with her" is exactly this sort of thing. If she had had the guts to actually TELL ME if/when something I did/said/was upset her, instead of resorting to the little digs (with a big grin) she felt were her only permitted recourse to express her displeasure with me, I would have seen her as not only a person worth respecting but also as an honest human being who I'd WANT to be close to. It was very hard for me to see her as a fully-formed ADULT WOMAN when she was constantly "tattling" to my Dad about whatever her grievances were. Moreover, in her case she drastically distorted the things she relayed to him which painted me in the worst possible light, and since these things were never discussed with ME directly, I had no chance to explain (or in certain cases just plain CORRECT) some of the misperceptions, so it was pretty much impossible to see her as trustworthy or as an agent of anything other than discord in my relationship with my father. Therefore, she never earned my genuine respect, nor my desire to "work with her" even though her tantrums to MY DAD made it so I was terrified for years to do or say anything to upset the apple cart. So she got her surface compliance out of my stuffing myself for years, but it certainly didn't improve ---and in fact severely worsened--- anything deeper between us than the shallowest "hi, how's it going"/"oh, fine..." And I dare say I don't think it helped her relationship with my Dad. For several reasons, but one of them being that expecting him to "fix" something that is so inherently vague and emotional and open to perception as "attitude" and "respect" is pretty much impossible, and no one knows this more than the bio-parent in the middle. It's one thing to have clear rules/consequences for clear actions or infractions. For example, an eye-roll is clear enough to be called out ***IF HE SEES IT HAPPEN***... But the problem comes in when/if it happens when he is not around, due to the underlying distrust and disrespect which will be made no better by the "hiding behind DH" approach.

Please at least run this by your counselor. I'm not a professional, but I did experience this from the other side, and I think if you ask other adult SK's on here they'll agree with me.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 11:31AM
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Serenity, I have dealt with being a step kid all my life too. Several times over...my Dad was married 3 times, my Mom 4...so you arent telling me anything I dont already know. Do you have step children yourself? Do you know what its like to be on the other side of that as well? The problem with message boards are the fact that we dont usually type fast enough or have the heart to type down everything that goes on. But I will clarify, that yes, I was told that me being silent that day was ok...I am the one who told the counselor it was wrong of me, and that I want to not be that way. And how do I fix it? But he thought that it was ok for me to be silent, otherwise I would have blown up, which is probably the case. I am trying to fix my relationship with my SD. Bottom line, also trying to save my relationship with my DH. I have lots of people at stake here and I fully realize that. Its no simple answer...and I dont think every case are the same. I hated my step dad when I was a kid...mainly because my mother "checked out" and let him do all the parenting. I dont want to be the parent per se..but would rather see my DH be the parent instead of the friend. I dont tattle on her everytime something goes wrong. But I am tired of being the one to have to correct the behavior. I think thats when DH needs to step in sometimes and give that "DAD LOOK" that so many fathers out there are so famous for. My father had it, Im sure many of yours had it as well...and it works for a reason. Serenity...just know that I do feel like I am trying to work for the betterment of this relationship with this child. Yes, I dread her coming...no more so that my step dad probably hated seeing me coming, or my step mother for that matter, when I was her age. It doesnt mean that I hate her, or am here to make her life miserable. But jeez, give me a break on the "your an adult" quips. I get it. At the end of the day though, I am human, and sometimes it just gets really old.

Im sorry if this is coming across as ungrateful, Im not...Im just needing some understanding here.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 12:23PM
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I can see where your counselor would have advised backing away from the confrontation as the better alternative to blowing up. And the most frequent advice given to step-parents (especially when the kids are older than a certain age) is to let the bio-parent handle the vast majority of discipline, it's true. So perhaps your counselor has determined that --at least for now-- that is the best path to follow in general. Like I said, you should first & foremost listen to him, as the professional...

Just thought I would share something I have found to be an important point from my own experience. Other people have had other experiences, and it's true that some step-parents are TOO DIRECT or overbearing in the other direction, and that's probably where a lot of the conventional wisdom about bio-parent taking the lead comes from. I'm just saying there's the flip-side danger, as well, which is more the one I have experienced. Not suggesting at all that I think you are guilty of it, or that you personally are passive-aggressive. But just pointing out that there's a risk of you being PERCEIVED that way by SD if the approach of letting your husband try to 'fix' and be the sole mouthpiece for the problems between you & SD is followed too strictly. I wouldn't want that to happen to you & your family because to me you really sound like you care and are trying your best.

I have never been a step-parent, and I admit I'm kinda freaked out, because I'm getting to an age where more and more potential mates will have already been married and had children. I've learned a lot on this site how hard it can be to be a step-parent and I honestly don't know if I have it in me to do it. I've tried to imagine myself in some of the situations some step-parents find themselves in and wonder what I would do. I came to this site about a year and a half ago, at the peak of problems between by Dad, me, and his long-term GF who became officially my SM at a wedding that I'd just been excluded from before my first posts here, midway through his terminal cancer, and right before I was excluded from his last Christmas on this earth. The pain of all that was overwhelming, and I started posting here regularly and reading all I could about stepfamily relationships to try and cope with all that was going on in mine. I try to offer my perspective as an adult stepchild, and in the meantime learn more about the step-parent side of things. So my perspective has now shifted more towards preparing myself for how I'd personally deal with becoming a stepmom one day. It's definitely an ongoing learning process for everyone...

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 2:08PM
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Yup..my father was also married twice ..so been there ..done that. But hey the issue now i have with my SD is her attitude...teen...so its typical of age..but more the issue of manipulation and words that have been fed to her by her mother. i do not like the way she behaves towards her dad. i do not like her character. Will she change...maybe...maybe not. BUt i basically let my hubby handle it and express my feelings with him. Not iwth her. She is a child and will be treated as such.
I've always said this and will stick to my beliefs. Children do not run the show. Biokids or stepkids or adopted kids. I dont give a flying F. The marriage comes first. Holds first. STays on stop and guides them. WE are the ones with experience. Not them. WE are the ones taking care of them financiallly, spiritually, and emotionally. Yes some tasks are split among couples..but you work as a team. Soem days better than others.
Point is, there is nothing wrong penny, in you disliking the girl with the way she behaves. Its yoru husband who should be standing by your side and also stepping up and not be a disney dad for the weekend AND to take the credit when you are the one who organizes parties and outings to please them when they do come over. Trust i know...my hubby doens't plan a thing. Well...after Sd behaving all high adn mighty the past 2 years i've decided to step back more and more...so guess what....not planning anything...next will be xmas presents..not doing it..he can go out and do his own shopping. I'm tired of all the weight of family matters on my shoulder. And i think its more a woman vs man thing here as well. Alot of men do not pull their weight. And there comes a time when woman are just plain fed up. Its bad enough you coem across days where you do not feel appreciated for things you do by your own kids and dh...BUt then to get insulted and backstabbed by your own partner for a child who definitely shows no respect for you and rolls her eyes and then her behaviour is defended???? Give me a break. This is a mainly a husband issue. And if he stepped up and was a FATHER to her and gave the FATHER LOOK...trust me, she woudl button it. Towards any human being. Doesn't matter what title you hold. NO ONE should treat another person like this.
I didn't get along with my dad either.....he would tell me a line 'if you dont like what the rules are under this house, get a job and leave' Guess what? i got a job and left at a very very young age. Alot of resentment but alot of lessons learned.
So personally, the old saying..oh you're an adult, you shoudl act bigger doesn't fly well with me either. You are what age? 14....you should know better! You should know not to treat someone like that! I was out of the house at that age and had an apartment....so no....i have no tolerance , no excuses for a 14 to act that way. Yes i'll be understanding and give some slack..but the elastic band only stretches so far and will snap in time.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 3:25PM
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Here is a question for everyone. When you have a problem with a step child, an ongoing one. Maybe you have talked to her, or mentioned it, or talked to your husband about it. What would you rather have...the conversation between the step child and the father only, you arent invited to have input? Or a group conversation where you, father/husband and step child all talk about the problem. See, my DH says he has talked to SD about some of the issues, but I hate to say it, but I can only take his word for it...without having ever been there to witness the conversation. I almost wonder would it be better to include me, that way SD sees that "WE" are both in agreement on the issue at hand, and that its not just Dad placating step mom on the issue, there for making it seem its Dad and SD against SM? Am I being too paranoid? I know what Im trying to say, but theres that typing and emotion thingy/barrier.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 3:29PM
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I think penny that your dh and sd shoudl talk first and if the problem wasn't resolved then have a family meeting and warn your dh that you will call a family meeting on it.
p.s My Sd and my dh just had a huge blowout. My dh is in the wrong BUT its not sd business to have had it with him. It should have been biomom.
To top it off she started to swear at him and leave nasty messages...which i heard.
It boiled my blood. BUT i will not say anythign because its their affair but SHE was wrong to interfere. SHe's the child and should nto have involved herself in an adult matter which was CLEAR.
so..she will definitely not come around for a while now cause my dh has had enough with the phone calls, the harassment and the fights. I feel sooo sorry for him but i will back him up with his decision to ditch her for a while until she apoligizes to him.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 5:16PM
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I'm so glad I found this post. I'm not up on all the acronyms yet, so I'll do my
best. I have 3 daughters - ages 11, 16 and 18 - and got remarried last year. The
18 yr old no longer lives at home. I admit, while being a single mom I wasn't
the best at disciplining my girls and I enabled them a lot. They are very rude
and rebellious and it's my fault for let them treat me this way for so many
years. I had a lot of problems with them before I got remarried. When I got
married the problems got worse - exactly what everyone has mentioned. My husband
is a very good man but has no patience for my daughters' rude attitude. He
raised 2 great kids and had little problems with them as teenagers. I have been
working with a counselor for over a year, learning how to be consistent and set
rules and consequences. We are making slow but steady progress. Unfortunately my
new husband doesn't understand that these girls have been allowed to have these
bad habits for many years, so the change won't happen over night. I am not
defending my daughter's (the 16 yr old) rude behavior at all - I call her on it
every time and there are consequences. I'm tired of both of them and I'm tired
of being the mediator and feeling like I have to always have a happy face at the
dinner table while everyone sulks. I am pretty good about staying under control
but last night I lost it - I called both of them into the bedroom and told them
(half crying) that I'm sick of both of their negative behavior and that if they
want me to stick around, they are going to have to start talking to each other
and asking each other how they feel to be treated they way they treat each
other. I told them that I feel sad and frustrated all the time and that their
attitude towards one another is a total lack of respect for ME and for
everything I do. I gave them both an ultimatum: if I see either of them sulking
at the table I will get up and leave. I also told my husband that if this
continues I will leave him and I told my daughter that I will send her to live
with her dad and I will move away with my youngest daughter. That's what I truly
feel like doing at this point. I love my husband and I love my daughter but I
also love myself and I don't want to live like this, nor do I want my youngest
daughter around it. It would be very difficult to do what I said, but to
continue this way would be worse. I'm not sure if I did the right thing by
telling them both this, but now they know how I feel.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 10:03PM
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I was told by our counselor that the best way to deal with discipline (in our home anyhow) is for my DH to discipline my SC and for me to discipline my DD. If either of us has an issue/problem with the other's child, then we should tell each other, but let the BP handle it. My DH and I were raised differently and therefore address our children differently. So the way I handle a situation does not work with my SC and his way has little effect on my DD. This makes total sense to me, even if I feel he is too laid back and he thinks I am too harsh.

However, I also feel that the SP should be allowed the chance to address the problem with the SC first, as a request for compliance rather than discipline of sorts. In this way a relationship has the possibility to develop, where as always going to the BP without addressing it could be misinterpreted by the SC as "tattling" (as Serenity pointed out). If a resolution cannot be reached, then I feel that the SP should address it with BP, letting them enforce the discpline that has been agreed upon as appropriate by both SP and SP. If the problem still persists, then a family meeting would be in order. But be careful that the adults show a "united front" during this meeting. If any hint of dissention is visible to the SC, I think it could make matters worse.

I have recently taken a new approach with my SD. B/C she has been intent upon doing things she knows will upset me and cause a confrontation b/t us, I have decided to turn the tables on her. Instead I have backed completely off, entirely. I have not initiated converstions with her, I let her come to me if she wants to talk to me or ask me something. I give her an answer, or a comment, but I leave it as "businesslike" as I can. I have not been rude, but I have not been overly friendly either. If I see a problem, I simply go right to my DH. Luckily, he has been supporting me on this. I discussed this approach with him prior and told him what I wanted to try, and he supported me. Over a week later, I can say that I am seeing some improvement. I know she has asked my DH if something was "wrong", and he told her that b/c of her attitude, I am "keeping my distance". I don't think she likes having to answer to her dad either! So as I see her maing an effort, I will involve myself more with her. My fingers are crossed! When we get to the point that I can address problems with her again, I plan on following my own advice-address it first, take it to DH, follow with family meeting if necessary.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 10:05PM
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