29 answers

Repairing a Broken Relationship with My Step Daughter

My step daughter will be 18 in a week, and we have had a very rough relationship since she was about 13. The last three years or so we have hardly spoken to one another. (She lives in another state, and we typically see her every other month) She does talk to her dad every other day on his cell phone, but she only talks to her sisters and myself when we see her. I have been in her life since she was 4, and we were extremely close from 4 until 11ish, and from 11 to 13 things were bad more often than not, and now they are pretty much nonexistent. She just came to our house for the past weekend, and pretty much had no interaction with me at all and very little with her sisters. She mostly sat around all weekend and read a book. If I ask her a question she answers it, but I too have given up on even trying to talk to her after so much disappointment. We have done counseling, we have battled it out with words and nothing has helped. I feel like she was guilted in to not liking me by her mom years ago, and now we have just accepted that we are not involved with one another. I was trying to mail her cards every few weeks and a couple of bucks here and there but she never called me to acknowledge receipt of them. She would tell her dad that she got it and thank him but never acknowledge me, and half the time he did not know they were even sent. Anyway, any ideas on how to mend this broken relationship as she starts her journey in to adulthood, I don't want to continue to miss out on the things that I missed during her youth. This is long over due for a change.

By the way, we were making it a point to do outings with her every time that she visited, but she came to expect to do these things more so than appreciate them, so I decided to put a stop to trying to entertain her like she was a guest. We would either do things as a family or she and my husband would go out and do things. She would call my husband and let him know what plays were playing, or what was going on in Chicago that she wanted to do. She would never be willing to go to the grocery store or anything like that with me, she is only interested in doing things that are of interest to her. This past weekend was the first time that we did not make a weekend out of entertaining her.

What can I do next?

More Answers

I can so relate- but this happened with my daughter. flesh and blood. Welcome to teenagers. my sister whos children were older giving her problems once said "Just wait" I thought- not my daughter she is the most beautiful person inside and out. well, little by little I started to get attitude and by her senior year our relationship was pretty much non existent unless it was me telling her expectations etc.. she has 2 little brothers 7 and 5 and she is 19. I feel the best we can do is just make her feel like part of the family- we dont have to entertain or spend money just hiking on a nice day etc. have your husband set the rules with her and simply say today as a family we are doing ... and we are all going. little by little she will come around. what a difference one year makes. this time last your for me was pure hell and today- it means nothing.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree that she should not be treated as a guest, but do make her part of the plans when deciding on family outings that come up when she is in town...where to go to dinner, movies to see, what's for dinner...
I really believe it is time for dad, if he hasn't done so already, to encourage her to give you a chance, and to say "...because it means a lot to HIM!" And have him repeat this often to her, because it means a lot to YOU!
Just remember that although she is almost adult, she really will most likely act like a child for a few more years. Be patient, always act like the mature one, keep trying, and know that you are doing the right thing. I truly believe she will come around, but it may take some time. Don't give up!
I do like that phrase, "Let go and let God".
Just be the best YOU that you can be, she won't be able to do anything but realize how great it is to have you around. :)
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, C..

I have a stepmom too. I do love her, but my dad has had a few girlfriends in the past after my mom passed away that I was never very fond of. I'm 24, but I understand a little bit about where you guys might be coming from. I thought maybe it would help if you got a perspective from someone somewhat in her shoes.

First off, I think that the things you do for her are so wonderful. My stepmom does those things for us too and she has always treated us like her own. So, she should be thankful and your husband should let her know that she needs to thank you for sending those cards. We all know that guys aren't very good at buying cards, let alone dropping them in the mailbox!

Do you ever call her? She might feel that the phone works both ways. Pick up the phone and give her a "just because" call every now and then.

When she comes home, maybe try to let her know what the family plans are. Let her choose what to make for dinner and maybe even ask if she wants to help or even make one of the sides to go with it. Go to the grocery store together to get the things you need. (Maybe even stop and get some dairy queen on the way home) She may feel like she should be treated like a guest because she lives in another state and isn't there everyday. But, instead of catering to her, let her be a part of it.

She's at the age now, where she might not want that third parent, but a friend. But whatever you do, DO NOT PUSH THAT! You'll only push her away! (Hear the experience talking there?) Just build that relationship and don't try too hard! Just ask her things, almost like you'd ask your friends. Is so and so still dating that guy? Have you seen that movie? (aka: if she hasn't you could rent it and all watch it together!) Maybe even let her know that you're always there for her when she needs that "mom" perspective but she doesn't want her parents to know.

I think that a friendship with your step-parent, when you're an adult child, is one of the most important things in that type of relationship. But, she needs to build on that. If she feels forced, it'll all go south. Just leave the door open for her to do the work.

I'm not sure how old her sisters are, but maybe let them send her some mail. Or if they're old enough to email, maybe they could even email her. Keep everyone in touch and it won't be so hard when she gets home.

I hope this helps!


1 mom found this helpful

I feel your pain; was in a similar situation. It may not look like it to you, but the relationship is already healing. It's possible it was never really broken, but just her way of dealing with the "step" situation. Teenage years are difficult at best, but now she is at the age when kids begin to realize the value of their parents and what they put them through in growing up. Just keep on doing what you are doing and you will see a change very soon. The sitting around reading a book is her trying to be normal around you and it is a good thing. She was aware of your presence every moment and was biting her tongue trying not to speak. Don't suck up to her; just keep being yourself and, as you said, plan family things or just do normal life things when she is there. Be as normal, casual and non-demanding as possible.

Take heart! I vividly remember my stepdaughter saying, at the age of 19, "Wow, now I know what I put you and Daddy through! I was a pain, wasn't I!" And of course the only possible response is, "Oh, no, it wasn't that bad, honey, and we've always loved you!!"

1 mom found this helpful

What about doing something with just the two of you? Is she at all interested in that? Get your nails done, take her shopping for clothes or go for coffee. It's a good sign she's talking to you. She must not hold a grudge anymore.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a 16 yr old daughter. Since the age of 13 she has additude. She is selfish, and only thinks of herself. That is teenagers. Your stepdaughter is only gonna want to do the things she wants to do, because thats the age. There is nothing you can do about it. I hope things work out for the better as she gets older. Good luck to you with everything.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow! I feel like I could write a similar post about my relationship with my MIL. Of course in that situation I feel like I am the adult but that is an entirely different story except that we live in different states and have a very broken relationship. I am going to disagree with many of the other responses that you should leave it alone. I think it is great that you & your husband are treating her more like family- and that will help in the long run. Do you play games while she is here? Like Apples to Apples, Phase 10, etc? It might be nice to get her engaged without making it forced.

How does your husband feel about this? Can he talk to her and suggest that you guys make amends? I would make sure you let her know how you feel about making amends if he doesn't want to get involved. You can't take it personally if she is not ready- but at least put it out there so she knows. Good luck! Hugs!

1 mom found this helpful

C., I am empathetic about your position. Stop trying so hard. In time your daughter will come arround. You have done nothing to cause this. Its a female thing. Let go and let God. Your daughter is not a guest, she is family and should be treated like your other children, no special treatment, unless a Birthday etc. Trust, in time she will mature and see you as you are. B.

1 mom found this helpful

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