Step Daughter Woes/Please help

jordan502June 29, 2009

My husband and I have been married 1 year. Prior to getting married, we dated for 5 years. 3 of those years I lived in the home with him and his children (prior to marriage). He has two children ages 11 and 13. I have two children - ages 14 and 16.

My issue is with his 11 year old daughter. She clearly is having bitter feelings about me - she regularly rants and raves about me and I hear her screaming "she's ruining EVERYTHING!" After one of these outbursts last month, I walked into her room and asked her why she was so angry. She said that if it wasn't for me, her parents could get back together (her parents divorced now for 9 years when she was only 2), that I monopolize all her fathers time; that he spends no time with her. That she hates me. Her father spends a lot of time with her as the bio mom is pretty much in and out of their lives. Last night she had another melt down when she saw my husband and i laying together watching a movie on the couch. Once the movie was over, my husband got up to go to bed and i continued to clean up the kitchen. By the time I got to my room, the step daughter was in the bed with him refusing to get out saying she was spending time with her dad now. It was 11 o clock at night and he told her it was a little late to decide she wanted to spend time with him. She screamed "all you care about is HER" (meaning me) and stomped out.

Last weekend my husband spent all weekend with her at a sports event. They go to her games together (I don't go), when they go shopping for her clothes, I stay home. They have taken vacations together (him, her and the son) while I stay home. I have no issues with him spending time with his kids. I have said for him to have a date night with her and her response to that is "I only get ONE night?!?"

What do I do with this? How do I address this? Help me! Husband always excuses behavior - she's tired, she's had a hard day, she will "grow out of it"; when I say she needs counseling he has a melt down.

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Is there anything Dad and SD could do together that would be productive ans useful rather than just entertaining? In other words, small chores, like washing the cars, watering the garden, weeding or planting? Activities that are not so unpleasant that they would feel punative -- but not treats that reward her either.

The reason I ask is that clearly, SD wants to spend MORE time with Dad, and this way, Dad could offer lots of one on one time, and SD would then have the choice to either spend that time with her Dad or not.

Just a thought...

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 11:45AM
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sweeby: thank you for your response. Actually they do these types of activities together - go get ice cream, walk the dog, she helped him plant the garden. It just seems less about her time with him and more that she doesn't want him spending time with me. Yesterday, she had a friend over the entire day and it wasn't until 11 p.m. that she started to whine that he had not spent time with her. She knows that wasn't even possible as her friend was over - but it was that she saw him and i on the couch that sent her reeling. I don't want to have to complete avoid any time with him (and I'm starting to do that) just to make her happy. It's literally easier to not do anything with him than to hear her raging about me. I've stopped eating dinner with them because when I did and he asked how my day at work was - she would start screaming that no one cares about my day and how come he's not asking about HER day. It's just overwhelming and I feel like it will ruin our marriage.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 11:59AM
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"I've stopped eating dinner with them because when I did and he asked how my day at work was - she would start screaming that no one cares about my day and how come he's not asking about HER day."

Ooh! Big tactical error!
She just pushed you out, and you rewarded her tantrum by giving her what she wanted.
Dad needs to set some rules (like bed time!) and you both need to stop rewarding SD's poor-behavior tactics.

Now that you have a history of rewarding tantrums, you can expect to have a nasty few weeks before they go away --
but it can be done if Dad is willing to step up to the plate.
Whenever SD loses it, send her to her room until she calms down and can be civil and polite.
Give her Dad time only when she asks for it in positive ways, and only when giving her time doesn't visibly mean taking it away from you.

Dad's got a big job here --

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 12:16PM
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Jordon , your husband is the only person who can change this. He needs to stand up for you and say 'hay , this is my new wife, you will respect her, you will not talk like that. i do spend tim ewith you. I love you both . He needs to put his foot down with his daughter and tell her not to behave in those outbursts. and reassure her that just because he's married and love you his new wife doesn't mean he doesn't care or doesn't love his daugther anymore.
My sd would begin acting up and my bf , now husband , put her straight right away when the incident was happening.He would reassure his love with her but he did not tolerate her behaviour and would demand apologise and would punish her by sending her to her room if she acting out in any selfish manner.
Well over the years, its worked. She does respect me, she does like me, It took a few years for her to understand what she was feeling.
sorry. But sweeby is right. My husband would do exactly what she just stated above. He would send his daughter to her room and when she came out she had an apology.

And you have to not back down jordon.
YOU WILL EAT DINNER WITH THEM. When she complains you will adress your husband and tell him to deal with her behaviour immediately.
You should go out at times as family times and then there is alone time as well. She needs to realize you are part of the family and she cannot push you out.
Now if your husband is not willing to do this...then i'm sorry jordon, this is not a marriage i would stay in. JMO

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 12:29PM
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Sounds like she doesn't want more time with dad....what she really wants is dad to have less time with you. That's two very different things.

Her mom has more or less ditched and she needs to blame someone so guess who the lucky lady is? DING DING DING. That's right! YOU...the stepmom. Ain't ya lucky?

If dad is trully spending a good deal of alone time with your SD she shouldn't have any reason for the outbursts. DH needs to address it. There is no reason for a child to be screaming at an adult like this. It's rotten no matter what the reasoning and it needs to stop.

This kid is not going to like you right now unless you LEAVE so theres no point in forcing yourself on her in any way. Maybe she'll snap out of it eventually or maybe not but DH needs to inforce basic human decency towards you nonethless.

ALso do not under any circumstances let her run you off from your dinner taabe. If she gets hherway there she will continue to push you away untill your bags are packed and youre o9ut the door.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 12:41PM
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Agree with those above. My DD tries to pull similar stunts, although not nearly on this scale. She says, "mom, I miss you" when she wants me to spend more time together. So I have made a point of asking her to do things with me, and when she says no, I say for her to remember this, when she says she misses me, that she gave up time because she wanted to do something else.

This is Dad's issue. What in the heck is a kid doing up at that hour? And in bed with dad? Seems inappropriate, IMO. Snuggling is one thing. In bed at 11pm getting "personal time" is a tad possessive.

Eat dinner with the family. She should be the one leaving the table. No one should be allowed to yell at the table.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 12:56PM
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Thanks to all of you. My husband (according to many around me) is adding to these problems by not addressing them. In the past when she has had these meltdowns, i would go in and talk to her in an adult manner. I would assure her that I in no way would ever try to take her father from her, that he was her dad no matter who he was married to. It was always me who dealt with her. But after all this time, I've just really put a wall up. I try to ignore her and when she starts these confrontation I just walk away. But with him - if she starts one of her meltdowns, she'll stomp upstairs and within minutes he's at her door beggin her to let him in and "come on honey, let's talk!" He doesn't ever sit her down and say look, I love you but I love her too. Or, your mom and I aren't getting back together and I am married someone else now." I asked him how he would feel if my kids made him feel like this and he just shrugs. He really thinks she will grow out of this. She is a very possessive and jealous child. When we first moved in she was furious at the amount of time I was spending with my daughter. Or if I bought my daughter school clothing she would demand to know why i had not purchased her anything? I told my husband that he needed to address this because I didn't feel it was my place to purchase the clothing for not only my kids but his as well. So, he did talk to her but the behavior continued. I think he feels guilt over the divorce of the ex wife, even though she left him. He is a real "pleaser" type. The kids will blame him for the divorce - and what they don't know and what he won't tell them is - their mom left him (and them). He says he will take the brunt of it because she is their mother and he doesn't want to upset them with the truth. But in doing that, he has really catered to his daughter's every whim. He doesn't want to upset her and does not confront the bad behavior. When they went on this sports weekend I referred to in my original post - he had asked me and my daughter to go with them. I took time off work, and my daughter and I planned to shop while they were at their sports thing. His daughter said "absolutely not - it has to be just me and you dad" so he told me and my daughter we had to stay home. He wants to take a cruise in February but the daughter is already making sounds that she doesn't want "us" (my kids and I) to go. I would rather stay home than be miserable. I know I am disengaging - but I really am starting to dread going home at night to this nightmare.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 1:19PM
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I think this girl needs to be in counseling pronto.

This is not normal behavior.

I also think your DH needs to be in counseling or take some parenting classes.

"He wants to take a cruise in February but the daughter is already making sounds that she doesn't want "us" (my kids and I) to go."

NO FREAKIN' WAY!!!! Hubby needs to tell DD "either we ALL go or no one goes." End of story.

It sounds like he spends plenty of quality time with his DD (which he should) but this is just going too far. You are a family and his daughter has got to understand that. She doesn't have to like it, heck, she doesn't even have to like YOU, but she needs to respect the family (which includes her) as a whole, and she needs to respect you.

I do think that this girl has some serious issues with her BM's apparent abandonment, and for some reason, probably because you are a woman, she is projecting these issues onto you. She resents you and it is really unhealthy and emotionally disturbing. She NEEDS to be in counseling ASAP to work through this or it will get worse, and worse.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 1:30PM
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Either do your business, or get off the pot.

Either be a family, or disengage.

I agree that the dad is the one who needs to put his foot down. This is only going to get worse. Who gave a kid the right to determine what the adults do?

I did ask my SD if she wanted alone time with dad, or if she wanted me to go with her up to family (see my recent post). Only because we see her rarely and I want her to have dad time without me. But she didn't get choices about if I came with them to the beach house, or if I went to dinner with them, etc. Sometimes, it's ok. But if she lived with us? No way. We're a family, we do things together.

Of course she will be jealous. All she has is her dad. You have her dad, and your dd and her. Your dd has you and her SF. She is odd duck out. You need to make her feel included, without segregation. Her dad needs to make sure she understands her place is important, but is not the throne of the family. She sounds a little lonely and lost to me. Don't let her manipulation separate the family any more than it already has. Perhaps you need to talk to DH and you need to buy the kids clothes at the same time so no one feels they are getting special treatment. Even it up as best you can, but remember you are the parents. They expect you to be in charge.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 1:30PM
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silversword: You're right. She is lost and lonely - but i have honestly tried everything with her. I know that i should spend time with the family and I'm letting her have her way. But you just don't know how bad she can make it for me and my children. It's just emotionally grueling. I just think that my husband needs to take control of this situation because when i have tried recently to address this she has said she does not want to talk to me and it'[s none of my business. THis has caused more than a few fights with my husband and I and I always come out feeling like he is not listening to me when I say I can't take much more! When he asks me what I want him to do I say talk to her! Tell her you love her but also tell her you are not going to tolerate this bad behavior. Stop rewarding the bad behavior. Don't let her talk to me this way. He is a very non confrontational person. With everyone. His daughter a very take charge sort and she has ruled this roost since i met him (she was 6 years old when i met him). If he won't step in, then what?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 1:38PM
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Thanks - I cannot agree more but since I'm only the SM I have no control over the counseling decision. Like I said, when I have said counseling he says "she'll grow out of this." We got married last August - she's been like this ever since. Almost a whole year of this. Funny thing is - before we got married she was ok with me - she didn't like the relationship I have with my daughter but her and I didnt' have the issues with Daddy we are having now. No amount of consoling or time is enough for her. When I suggested a date night and she said "what? I only get ONE date night with my own dad?" I said "well how many would you like?" She said "I think I should get my dad to myself EVERY night." Sigh. It's really difficult and it's causing a big wedge between him and I. He says he's ina bad spot listening to her yell at hima bout me and listening to me complain about her talking about me and I guess if this was my kids i would be saying "YOU WILL NOT TALK TO HIM THIS WAY!" and he just will not do that. I love him, but I hate the way things are right now.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 1:44PM
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If he won't step up, you will either live with this, or you will leave.

Remember that pointing out a child's deficiencies will only make the parent defensive.

Asking a child how many date nights she wants with her dad is inappropriate. A child should not get any "date nights". There should be father-daughter time, but to put her time as equal to your time is damaging. They are equally important, but not the same at all.

She doesn't like the relationship you have with your daughter because she wants a good relationship with her mom.

"I think I should get my dad to myself EVERY night."

Have you said to her that you understand her feelings?

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. My SD and I went to the beach with her dad this weekend. She and I went to the water because he's not the water-person I am. She was afraid. We stood at the water's edge for FOREVER. Finally she said that she's "used to" her mom and her mom telling her it would be all right, etc. She said "if you were my mom, I'd believe you". I looked right at her and said, "sweetie, I'm not your Mama. We don't have that history or trust built up. I can't tell you the same words and have you believe them just like your mama would." I said "honey, if you were my daughter, I'd throw you under my arm and take you out to the waves, (that's what I do with my dd) but you're not. So we're just going to have to get through this the best we can, and we can stand here as long as you like." She got it. I'm not a replacement, but I will not be made to feel bad because I don't have the history with her. We're here at square one. Now what. Now someone makes a move. But she is not going to control my life. I am the adult. I respect her as a child under my care, as my DH's daughter. I made it clear I will protect her, that I want to know her, and that we are a family. But the family starts with me and DH. We are the trees, and they get to enjoy the shade.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 2:33PM
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lovehadley, I couldn't disagree with you more about the counseling... This IS normal behavior for an 11 year old girl in this situation.

My DH was divorced from his ex more than 3 years before he and I met, but his oldest daughter always believed I was the one who took her dad away, threw fits about him spending time with me and would do whatever she could to get in between us. At that age, these girls are very, very dependant and insecure and many will try anything to get in between their "Daddies" and the wives/girlfirends. The only person who can change this is the Dad.

As the others said above, DH has got to stop the outbursts and the strong-arm tactics. This child cannot be left to run the household the way she wants it. If she is strong-willed, he will have to be confrontational with her whether he's comfortable with it or not! She will grow out of it, but not without him putting his foot down.

Blessings to you, jordan. I pray you and DH can work through this!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 2:41PM
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Poppingrays is totally correct. This is very normal behavior for a girl this age.

The oddest part of my relationship with my FDH is that almost this exact situation was going on in our lives for the first 4+ years, from the age of 7-1/2 to just before she turned 12. FDH would give in to everything. We never had any alone-time because he had her every single weekend and I had my own child and my own place to look after during the week. I could tell you story upon story of how I had to change plans or stay away. There are countless things I was invited to, but then got uninvited to because she wanted to go and he only had 2 tickets.

Then we took a 6 month "break" from February to August that year. When we decided to officially get back together, things were completely the opposite. And I know why it was. BM distanced FSD from us because she knew FDH and I were serious this time. FSD all-of-the-sudden wasn't allowed to spend time with me alone. Then they moved to another state. In a matter of less than 2 years, we've gone from having her so much that we never got a moment alone to almost never getting to see her.

I think a lot of it is growing up and getting other interests. But you have to stay in there. There should be no "inviting" you to a sports event. It should be understood that you will attend as a family. And, as Poppingrays said, don't let her strong-arm tactics work. I made that mistake trying to be understanding and sympathetic. It blew up in my face.

I'm not into forcing things on kids, but they will no longer decide what kind of relationship FDH and I have. Because when all the kids are gone and living their own lives, you'll be stuck with the marriage you built over the years.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 5:13PM
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I'm new to this message site, but not new to being a SM. SD may be feeling rejected by her biomom and taking it out on you. Instead of actually wanting more time with her dad -- or for you to have less time with her dad, maybe what she really needs is unconditional love from you...not saying you aren't giving it already, but maybe you could try just taking her and only her to get ice cream. Or take her and only her shopping, or run errands or wash the car, etc....Maybe she wants to feel special by you. I also agree that the DH has to back you up and set her straight that you are here to stay. But I just get the feeling that SD really wants to feel love and security from you -- which she isn't getting consistently from her biomom.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 11:34AM
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I know there is probably some truth in what you are saying. I have tried over the almost 6 year time period to include SD in activities. I have to walk a very thin line, however - because I have a daughter that isn't much interested in her mom walk out the door with her step sister leaving her at home. I have four kids always needing my attention and have to divide equal treatment to all. The SD and I have done things just her and I. She is one of those kids that nothing is ever good enough though. I took her shopping, bought her clothing and a purse she wanted - and she called her mom and told her she hated all of it. Didn't make me feel that motivated to do a repeat session. Also, if i were to take her out on a Saturday, and then take my daughter out on the Sunday - she gets bitter that I am leaving on the Sunday with my daughter and not her. I've really backed away because the more you give her the more she expects of you. She's a very time consuming child. All attention must be on her, every conversation is about her, if the other kids are talking about school she has a better story and interrupts with it. I realize that her mom has pretty much left them both in the lurch. But I feel like I am taking the brunt of that. They accept the rare times they see her and give her no grief. It seems all the grief and upheavel is laid at my feet. Also, I met her when she was 6 years old - and she was always the "it's all about me and no one else" child. I know the biomom causes pain for her, obviously I do. But it is hard for me because I am not the one who walked out of that house leaving a 2 and 4 year old behind her. I am just the one left to clean up the aftermath of that.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 2:23PM
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I understand what you're saying -- you didn't cause the mess, but you're the one having to thanklessly clean it up. I feel for you. If DH won't get counseling, then may I suggest you go to counseling on your own. Sometimes we just need different tools to make things work for ourselves. In an earlier post you said that the kids blame him for the divorce and he allows them to blame him even though she is the one who left them. I think this is short-sighted on his part. Why would he lead the kids to believe he is to blame...not that he should bash the ex, but it's not always a bad idea to let the kids know part of the situation regarding the dissolve of the marriage. I'm not suggesting they know every detail of why the marriage failed, but there are certain things they should learn about relationships and accepted behavior in a relationship. But I suppose that's a different thread. Your DH should go to counseling. He's feeling guilty about the divorce, and is overcompensating with his daughter, and creating a monster! I've been there and done that one with my daughter because her father abandonded her when she was about 9. I always felt guilty for that and overcompensated. The only thing that accomplished was creating a brat who felt entitled to everything. it took years of counseling for both of us to undo the damage, but she's a pretty good adult now with a family of her own. For what it's worth, she's my biodaughter, and it was still a thankless road until she had kids of her own! Good luck with your SD and your whole situation. I feel for you.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 9:39AM
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