full-time SD stopped speaking to me - now what?

maesmommyMay 17, 2009

hi all. new here. i'm newly married and a full-time stepmom to a 10 year old girl. i met her when she just turned 9. dad and i got married fast. but she was a sweetheart and we got on great initially. she was thrilled to have someone else in the house and we were having a good time.

things kind of went to crap around here when i lost a pregnancy (fairly far along). DS knew about impending baby sister and was quite upset, as we all were. now, several months later, she has turned 10, completed her first year in a big public school, and has more or less stopped speaking to me. she is not a badly behaved kid but she constantly has a bad attitude around the house, sasses her dad and complains all the time. she doesn't want to be responsible for anything or have to do homework or chores. (she spends 1 day/weekend with her mom, who lets her off the hook for everything.) she won't have a conversation with me, barely makes eye contact or answers my questions. i get goodnight hugs now and then and that's about it.

help! is this all normal 10 year old stuff? normal step parenting stuff? i don't expect to be her best friend or anything, but we were working on building a nice, loving relationship and now it feels like the whole thing has gone in the tank. i have no previous parenting experience and have no idea what is appropriate to expect from her or from myself. i don't want to completely disengage but sometimes i feel like i have to.

anyone have any thoughts they can share? thank you!!

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Hey there. I'm new to this too, but will give it a shot!
First off I wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss, I know you must be hurting and it can't make things any easier feeling inside that things aren't right with your step daughter.
I know it's hard, but try not to see her behaviour as a personal attack on you, you obviously care about her and your relationship and I'm sure things will work themselves out, if I were you I would definately not disengage, she's probably craving a bit of consistency and support after your loss, it will be difficult for her to understand and come to terms with.

I know all children are different, but her behaviour sounds just like my step daughters, she too is the same age!
We used to get on really well at the beginning too, but then she went quiet and moody with me after a while. I took it personally, and thought I'd done something wrong or she just didn't like me anymore but now I think a lot of it boils down to been the ripe age of 10, when they are looking forward to senior school and spending time with older children, they morphe into some sort of mini teenager!
My partner also says to me that when we first got together it might seem to me as though we got on really well, but she was just making more of an effort around me because I was new and exciting in her life. He says it's good she feels comfortable enough around me now and doesn't have to put a front on anymore, apperently I've offically been accepted!
I did have a chat with her, it's hard to know if she's got something bothering her or if it's just typical 10 year old behaviour as I too hadn't had any parenting experience before, and it did turn out things were bothering her. It turned out she did have a lot on her mind, little things really, that I did or didn't do that she didn't understand, and that I wouldn't have thought of bothered her but they did, and she didn't feel as though she could say something to me, because unlike her mam and dad who she knows will love her always reguardless of what she says or feels, she didn't know how I'd react, she didn't want me to 'not like her anymore' hense the quiet moodiness and one word answers, she was bottling things up.
I'm starting to learn not to expect anything from my step daughter. It's as new to her as it is to me and it's took us a long time to get to a place where we all feel as though we fit right as a family (especially since my baby was born)and I don't ever think it will be plain sailing. It's hard work but I think the best thing you can do is talk to her. Maybe you could spend a girly night together or take her out for the day, just you's? Give her a chance to open up to you.
Oh and her mother is bound to let her off the hook with everything, she will feel guilt for not seeing her daughter enough and will over compensate, to make sure she has the 'best time' with her. It's the same in my situation, my step daughter has been referred to a healthy eating club as she is slightly over weight so I encourage her to eat fruit and vegetables. I'm not cruel, she can have treats. but after shes ate her dinner.. so her mam gets her takeaways every time she sees her and my step daughter thinks that's great of her but I know I'm doing the best for her in the long term and she will appreciate that when she's older. i remind myself it's about whats best for her, not point scoring.
Sorry for message been so long, just hope I can be of any help, read this message and almost thought I'd wrote it myself, I thought I'd been sleep typing!
Please let me know how things go
Mavis :-)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 8:08PM
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It is normal 10 year old stuff, and normal step parenting stuff.
Maybe get some books on parenting (try tween age books), and step parenting and read a little about both. You will find it is all normal so far.
Sorry to hear about your loss. That is difficult. Keep your chin up.
Just keep trying with sd and she may come around.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 11:56AM
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thanks to both of you for your responses - very much appreciated. wild - do you have any book recommendations? i really don't know where to start...

mavis - i do wish i could get her to open up. on evenings when her dad is out i try to do fun little things with her, like sometimes go out to eat, or make popcorn and watch tv together (not much tv in our house). but when her dad and i try to make space for her to talk, she's much more likey to say what she thinks we want to hear rather than to be honest. it's odd - alternating between outright defiance and yes'ing us to death. this may be normal 10 stuff too, but her dad says she's always been this way.

i know i will never replace her mom, and very conscious about not being a threat to that relationship. but she IS precious to me and i would like to be closer. do i just let her have her space and trust that she will come to me when she is ready? or do i wade in further and try to be more proactive and involved? is she were 15, i would definitely choose giving her space. if she were 5, i would be a super proactive mommy with her. with 10, i just don't know!

thanks for listening...

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 1:05PM
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oh my the tween years!!! My fulltime SD is 11 and I can tell you that a lot of this is completely normal tween stuff!!!! she is pushing you to see what she can get away with, and aif you don't nip it in the bud now, it will only get worse. Your DH and you to an extent need to lay down the law..... my SD started the whole sassy tween thing right around when she turned 10, we set certain rules: no sass, be respectful do your homework, study, be honest etc.... OR ELSE...she quickly learned that her OR ELSE meant no playtime with friends or no DS (things she lives for!) it did take about a month, but she caught on, and I haven't had any probs outa her sense.....she has to know there are consequenses for her actions towards others and yes there are even consequences for acting out towards you the step mom....same rules should apply...she gives you sass...you give a consequence (if DH is right there though let him handle it)....She will prob test u more because you are not BM....I promise you will get through this!!!you and DH both have to be on board and point blank tell her this will not be tolerated!!!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 3:12PM
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I feel for you. You are not alone.

I've known my step daughter (now 12) since she was 2&1/2. The rudeness of not answering when talked to and especially the rolling of the eyes when you say something or even ask her what she want for dinner, truly irritates me.

However when she wants something or help convincing her dad to have a friend over, she's my best friend. Welcome to the tween years. And I'm fully expecting to not last through her teen years! :)

Your DH has to lay the law down on the silent/rudeness. As well as you with DH's support. I'm lucky that we do that, but it still happens. To both of us. I say something to her right away when the rudeness behavior happens. Her father however lets it sit, until one small misstep sets him over the edge and he then goes overboard with the punishment (removing everthing of hers) and putting her on the spot.

So now I ask her to modify her behavior towards me, out of earshot of DH, so I can say "do you really want to add this to your Dad's load that can snap?" She most often doesn't want to do that, so we keep it between ourselves.

I don't really feel singled out because her tween-ness is rude to everyone in her path, even her friends.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 6:52PM
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If you go to your local bookstore they should have a section on parenting, where you can find many books on tweens. That is how I found mine, and that was a few years ago so I am not sure what kind they have out now. But probably more.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 12:24AM
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