26 answers

Step Daughter Troubles

my step daughter is 12 and she still acts like a "little girl", when she is at my house if i even get around her dad she gets mad or will try to get between us,she trys to be very affectionet with her dad and it seems like she trys to do it to make me upset (but i dont get upset)and she wants to argue with me all the time , when she says really nasty stuff to me and i tell her father she just crys and says i am lying .please someone let me know that im not the most horrible person in the world. what can i do about this??? i forgot to mentoin that im not new to the family, ive been their step mother for four years and this has gone on the whole time

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

i have been spending alot of alone time with my step daughter, and the fighting has disapeered..we had a long talk and she said she really just wants my attention, i did explain that she isnt going to have positive attention to negative behavior, we are not considering therapy yet they have been in group sesions for a few years and i dont think we want to take that next step(since it is getting better) thank you to all you mothers that responded,.....

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had to respond because I'm sitting here reading the responses, and flashing back to when my step mom came to live with us. Us being me and my dad. did you catch that? he WAS MY DAD... then he just became HER husband. get it? honestly, I WANTED sooooo badly to love her, and have a real mom/daughter relationship with her. I really did. but when I acted out, she ignored me. truthfully all that showed me was that I'll never be her daughter. she'll NEVER love me like she does their children. and it showed me that I didn't belong. I ran away at 14. I did all kinds of things that I pray and try my hardest to make sure my kids never do. My choices were wrong, but I'm sure deep down that had a whole lot to do with it. even running away was to try to get some kind of emotional response from her! HER not him. I think this little girl (she really is still a little girl that does need attention from her daddy!) is just wanting a relationship with YOU! I know I know. she's being a brat, and doesn't deserve it. and after 4 years of her acting this way she must be on your last nerves. well, I'm sure none of us are perfect... but if you truly do care about her. (and you must if your trying to get help... ) please tell me you do care for her, and not just wanting to get her out of your way to have her dad all to your self!!! anyway, you got some good advise. take her to the mall. take her to get ice cream. take her on your jog. take her to the grocery store. take her. take her. take her. I KNOW I would have started acting better if I knew (knew-not just heard) that she wanted me around. give her privileges that the other kids don't have because 'she the oldest'.. You get it? give her HER rightful place in YOUR family. then she will be able to give you YOUR rightful place in HER family. Oh, and don't let her get away with too much. When I first realized that my step-mom didn't love me was when I did bad stuff and she didn't say anything. even as a little girl I realized that if she cared she would have punished me. but try not to push her too far until you've tied some heart strings.

if you need to talk
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4 moms found this helpful

S.,
Sounds like this little girl is insecure in her relationship with her Dad, I think that she needs a lot of love and reassurance from both you and her Dad. You didn't mention if her biological Mom was part of her life. If she is a product of divorce she might be feeling that you are taking her Dad away... Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

First of all, PLEASE don't take any of that advice about ignoring her. That is just sad- she is part of your family now and you should never treat her like a burdern in your life. How you help raise her now will greatly impact the rest of her life. Raise her with love and she'll not only respond positively to you down the road, but she will love you and appreciate you forever.

So anyways...
Do you spend 1-on-1 time with her? Take her to the movies, to the mall, clothes shopping, etc. Of course she's jealous, that's common problem, but with enough love it will get better. Teenagers are hard to deal with no matter what, I'm sure she will be acting out with her real mom as well. Just do your best to make her feel like you want her around.
Do you want her around? Do you love her? If the answer is no, then the problem isn't only with her. You may want to consider family counseling or even marriage counseling if your husband doesn't believe what you're telling him.
Sometimes you have to let pre-teen's/teenager's attitudes roll off your shoulders, remember YOU'RE the grown up so don't feed into her games.
Try some bonding things like painting her nails or letting her do your makeup, play board games as a family, have a family movie night where she gets to pick the movie you all rent.
Bottom line, let her know that you're all in this together and you're not trying to squeeze her out of the picture.
Good luck, and always keep your cool, don't fuel the fire by responding negatively to her crying out for security.
Put yourself in her shoes. Deep down all any child wants is our love!

3 moms found this helpful

You are not the most horrible person in the world, but four years is too long for this problem to have gone on without resolution. My heart goes out to you because it sounds as though her parents have not dealt with the problems and assisted the 12 year old in acting with proper respect and manners. You are only 10 years her senior so there are all sorts of potential problems that you will have to turn into advantages - maybe you'll find that you have a better sense of what she and her friends consider "fashionable" than her parents do. Perhaps the two of you enjoy some of the same music? Can you teach her some dances that she's just dying to learn and impress her friends with? Your fantastic husband needs to help his daughter understand that while she will always be his beloved daughter with a very special place in his heart and life, you are his wife, his partner and he expects her to show you respect. He can help by giving her affection at appropriate times, but let her know that he is not going to give her affection when she is trying to horn in between the two of you or when she is being rude to you. He also needs to make it very clear that she is never to accuse you of lying and help her understand that he completely trusts you to care for her without questioning you. If she accuses you of lying or treats you with disrespect, he needs to make it very clear to her that he will be sending her home to her mother until (or some other appropriate change in privileges) she learns to behave correctly. If her mother is using her "child-free" time for herself, then it might be important for her to help the daughter learn to give you respect, also.

I do think it will help you if you find some activities that the two of you can do together - start creating your own memories and histories. She'll probably fight you at first so you'll have to make it VERY appealing! Perhaps your husband will watch the other children because he certainly should NOT be with you on these outings - they need to be girls only and no one competing for your husband's time.

God bless you and yours. I do hope that you will be able to resolve this, but it will take help from your husband and it would be nice if her mother would help her to behave better.

S. Russ

2 moms found this helpful

I really empathize with you. It is not easy raising a step family, because you can end up feeling unappreciated by the stepchildren. I think what is going on in your situation is that the 12 yr. old is having to share her dad's time with so many people that she feels left out. If you have two other stepchildren and a two year old plus you and the animals, that is a lot of people to share with. Maybe she subconsciously wants her mom and dad back together, I don't know. I think what would help out is if you encourage your husband to have 1 on 1 time with just his 12 year old while you watch the other children. He needs to find out her likes and dislikes and spend some time at least every week with JUST her. I think that will make your situation a little easier. Don't get in any confrontation with her, just treat her with respect.

2 moms found this helpful

You are not a horrible person at all. What it sounds like is happening is that your step daughter is possibly jealous of you being in her fathers life and is doing all she can to show him that she's his number one girl. I am not sure how long before you two were together that they were alone but it is a defense mechanism. My children don't like it when mommy and daddy touch each other and we think it's cute right now but there is a greater dynamic in your situation because according to her, you are the newcomer.

I would suggest counseling for all of you so that they can teach all of you how to have a blended family and to deal with the issues that are involved with having a blended family and a kid who may feel threatened by you being in her fathers life.

Things will get better but it's going to take some time. You have to have a lot of patience and at some point put your foot down with this young lady without being abrasive or condescending. But she has to understand as well that you are her new step mother and you are there because her father wants you there and you want to be there and you want everyone to be a family but try the counseling first and see how that goes.

1 mom found this helpful

There is a wonderful book called I Don't Have To Make Everything All Better by Gary and Joy Lundgren that has among all its other fabulous chapters a specific chapter on the request in your post.

1 mom found this helpful

Your description tells me that you are already lacking in self love. Take some time for yourself, ignore her when she comes unless you can be very respectful of her and take some time for yourself to do what you want. Show her you don't need her but always show her respect even when she does not deserve it. When she is ugly to you tell her that you treat her with respect and expect the same from her. Then go take a bath and let him deal with his children.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S., No you are not the most horrible person in the world, but at 22 you are young to be a step mom to a 12 year old. No matter how long a childs parent has been divorce, most kids hold some hidden hope that one day their parents will get back together again. Also for some kids it is very hard for them to see their parent with anyone but their other parent, father's with kids, moms with kids, enter realationships, and don't always think about what it sometimes does to the children. It worked on the Brady Bunch, but in real life it doesn't work like that. Don't tell her dad about the nasty stuff she says, deal with it, earn some respect from her, And have rules for when they come to your house, and see to it that they are obeyed, the time she is there let her have that time with her dad, that;s why she's there, to spend time with her dad, you have all the times when she is not there. Just a thought. J.

1 mom found this helpful

What is your Husband's role in this...meaning, "how" is he helping the situation or not. Is he aware of this problem? Is he partaking in the "correction' of it and speaking with your step daughter in an age appropriate way, to "help" his wife in all this? A Dad's influence is powerful in a daughter's life...

I don't mean to criticize your Hubby...but you didn't mention "how" your Hubby is handling this? It should be a team effort... with the Parents. Your Hubby needs to have a "role" in all this... his "little girl" has learned how to manipulate, lie, and coerce her Dad and you... and making his wife miserable even though you are trying your best to make it all work.

Your Hubby needs to think... his "girl" is 12 years old, a pre-teen... and needs to learn about life... otherwise she may get older, think this is the way to treat Men/boys, and have teen troubles and get mixed up with the "wrong" boys... and who knows what else kind of trouble. THIS should also be a focus and a "red flag" for your Hubby... this girl needs a role model among other things. Much less, a respect for her Parent.

Perhaps, as a child of divorce, your/his daughter would benefit from counseling... many times, a "child" can not navigate through all their emotional issues by themselves... especially at this age.

Another thing, is her Biological Mom perhaps doing anything to encourage this in her daughter, and treat you this way? This is another issue....

I don't have an answer... but I sure hope the other family members treat you well, and it is not just your step-daughter.

Girls are tender emotionally... no matter what age... they need guidance, and taught how to handle things... how to cope. Perhaps your Step Daughter needs to learn coping skills, on how to deal with her emotional issues. Better now at this age, than later... when it may be too late and when she is already a full blossoming teen. If your Hubby is not disciplining her or correcting her behavior... it is really a dis-service to her... as it will not teach her anything and it will only encourage this maliciousness toward you....

I know it's not easy... just some ideas and what I have seen with my friends who have encountered the same problems.
All the best to you... I hope there is peace ahead for you and her ... take care,
~Susan

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.: What a shame,that after four years, your stepdaughter still feels she needs to vie for her dads attention.I can't help believing,that theres been more than the usual bad mouthing going on at her mothers.How imature,and cruel of her,as this only makes your stepdaughters life more confusing and complicated.It sounds like the poor girl has been made to feel that treating you this way,shows her loyalty towards her mother.I would turn things around a little. The next time she says something nasty to you,(YOU start tearing up and crying) That would be a switch,wouldn't it? "What happened hunny? "why are you crying? His little darling,wouldn't look all that inocent then.When she gets all lovey with daddy,leave her there. As soon as she sees you don't care,she will leave him sit,and run off and play.I think it an excellent idea to tell your husband that the three of you need to go to to a counselor.Maybe then He will realize there is indeed a real problem.You can find out why your stepdaughter is causing the friction and you can get some things off your chest as well.I wish you the very best. J.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello S., I am 25 and a mother of a two year old little boy. My parents got divorced when I was 9 got back together to try and work things out again and then divorced again when I was 13. My mom got re-married when I was 15 and let me tell you I know how hard it can be to put two families together. My step dad has a son that is just a couple of months older than me and a daughter that is 3 years younger than me. The best advice I can give you is I would try and spend some one on one time with her. She may feel like you are taking her mom's place and she needs to know that you aren't. I would ask her how she feels about everything and to let her know that you really care about her and her dad. I would also take the advice, that some of the people gave you under mine. One lady said that her and her dad should spend time together too one on one and I totally argee with that. When my mom and step dad got married, I didn't get to spend as much time with my mom and I kind of felt left out, It was probably easier for me cause I was 15 but I still felt left out. I think that alot of people have given you some great advice expect the person that said you should ignore her. I don't think that is going to do any good except make things worse. well, good luck with everything and God Bless you and your family!

1 mom found this helpful

Been there, done that. When I met my DH, his daughter was 6. We married when she was 8. She and I got along for a while and then it went down hill fast. Jealousy is a big part of it. Let them have their own time together and don't tattle on her (unless she's harmful to herself or others.) Let him do all the disciplining and you need to give her her space. She hates that her mom and dad aren't married and that she has two homes, two rooms, two sets of rules, IT'S NOT FAIR! Also, you're not old enough to be her mom which must be horrible for her. Then there is the hormones raging so that adds a lot of fuel to the fire. Yea, therapy could help. Find a therapist that specializes in children of divorces, it makes a big difference. You are the outsider. My SD is 17 now, and she still competes for DH time but is cordial and nicer to me now. I let her and DH have the precious time they have left...one more year and she gets to make her own decisions on where to live, which will probably be away at college. I don't intrude in her space, give her privacy, don't nag her except to clean up after herself, make sure she's fed and has all her necessities. You need to act like a mature adult/parent (albeit step.) Be patient. The next few years will be the hardest but she'll grow out of it. Take deep breaths.
Best of luck.
M.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello S.,
She may feel not loved (even though I am sure she is)and jealous of having to share her dad with you and her other siblings. Especially when she does not live you her dad. Try to do things with her like go shopping with just the 2 of you. Get interested in the things she likes. Include her with your activities (like making dinner, have her come with you when running an errand). That way she will feel included not being left out. Don't forget a daughter is always daddy's little girl no matter how old they are.
Hang in there.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello S.,

Alexia has the best advice and I see she left her personal email to contact. I would take her up on that.

12 years old is a tender age. It's the age most girls start their period and emotions are at their peak.

Love her, show her that she is special. Remember there is 10 years difference between her and your 2-year old. She may feel like she is in toddlerville and your youngest is first priority. She is trying to find her place on the family tree. Dad and you need to be on the same page with discipline and respect. Be consistent.

Find out if her Mom gave her the "girl talk". Have provisions in her bathroom and spend time with her. Are your other step-children girls too? Have a girls day/ night out at least every other week.

all the best, M.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.. I'm sorry that you must feel under a lot of stress due to all the responsibilities you've chosen to take on at such a young age.

However, if you feel stressed out by this life that you've created for yourself, imagine how stressful it must be for your step-daughter who has had all these changes to her life made for her without having any say-so in the matter. She has obviously gone through an awful lot in just 12 years if her father was already single and onto a new relationship by the time she was eight.

I know the way she acts is frustrating to you - although, I can imagine if it was your own child, you might not feel as aggravated by it. As hard as step-parents work to care for their step-children, and love them, it is very difficult to feel that same degree of unconditional love that a parent feels for their own biological child.

Maybe the way she acts bothers you even more because deep down you know that as hard as you try, you probably fall short of the ideal you have in your mind of how you would like to act as a mother and step-mother, and her behavior makes you feel defensive about it. You can use this as an opportunity to improve your mothering - nobody is the perfect parent, but when her "overly affectionate" behavior with her dad annoys you, maybe you can decide to have a knee-jerk reaction of looking within yourself and saying "this bothers me because I am insecure about how I'm doing as a parent", and rather than staying annoyed, you can do something that will make you and your family feel good - show more love, more compassion, more understanding, and patience.

You know, if the story of your blended family was a movie you were watching, and instead of a child, the part of your step-daughter was played by, let's say, a puppy - a puppy who was for some reason taken away from an owner he loved and forced to live with a new one who he didn't yet trust, and was of course frightened and confused by all the changes, just imagine how much your heart would break for this puppy. You would hope with all your heart that the new owner would put up with anything the puppy did out of confusion and fear just so that eventually the puppy would learn his new owner also loved him and could be trusted. You would hope the new owner would put up with the puppy's transition period - even if the puppy barked, or growled, or hid, because you would understand the puppy had good reasons to display that behavior, because he just didn't understand what was going on around him.

Why are we so much harder on children? They do not have the comprehension to really weather these situations well, but we expect them to just instantly adjust and accept us.

As the adult here, the adult who has chosen to take on the role of step-mother, you will have to be the one who gives and forgives more here - it really is a no-win situation for the girl. Allow her to act inappropriately, and you are falling short in teaching her how to treat others. However, come down on her too harshly and she will really feel even less loved and wanted in her own family.

You may not be able to love or understand this girl as if she were your own daughter, and you may not be old and wise enough to be able to see the situation through her eyes and have that depth of empathy, but you yourself will feel better the more patient, loving and giving you are - and as a bonus, your step-daughter will have an easier time in general.
That will improve everyone's chances here of surviving as a blended family.

I hope you can, with whatever little time can be scraped for yourself, continue with your own education, which will improve your ability to express yourself with confidence and effectiveness.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear S.,

Well, she is being a 12 year old step daughter that is jealous and is being just what she knows how to be. Lower the tension level by not 'noticing' her attempts at making a fuss. It won't be solved the way things are going now.

Just ignore, yes, I know, people hate to hear that, but really, she is a kid. Read about Maslow's list of maturity and moral development. You can find it online with just typing in Maslow's Moral Development. You will be surprised and pleased. It will give you secret knowledge and you will be able to stand the naughtiness.

Now, I can tell you some real horror stories about my FOUR step daughters....Yike. And they are in their 40's and 50's now and their father and I have been married for 24 years. It is an ongoing saga. Oh, well.

C. N.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm sure you know this, but she does it because she's jealous. She feels that she has to compete with you for her dad's attention and love.

There's honestly nothing you can do to change her behavior or her ideas, so continue to show her that it does not bother you when she's making a big show of how much she loves Dad and he loves her. Letting her know that you are secure in your place in the family will take some of the fun out of it for her.

She may have unrealistic fantasies that if she can get your husband angry at you, that it will mean divorce and you'll disappear. She needs to see that it won't happen. It would help A LOT if your husband could tell her, kindly but firmly, that it's important for her to be nice to you. When she does her, "She's lying!" act he might want to say, "She's an adult, and that's not how adults behave. If she asked you to stop something, you need to stop."

He might be afraid to be very firm with her, because he thinks it's best if everyone tries to keep her happy. It will be best for her in the long run, though, if she knows that she always has to treat other people kindly.

One more thought - you say she acts like a little girl. My daughter is going through a phase of acting much younger than she is because she knows that everyone thinks little kids are adorable, and she's afraid that she's not adorable. She thinks people will think she's cuter if she acts much younger. You might want to make a big deal about how your stepdaughter is becoming a young woman, and how exciting growing up is. :)

1 mom found this helpful

HI S., I agree with Alexia - I was in the same boat except it was my real mom and her new husband. If my step dad had done what Alexia is suggesting you do, I know I would not have had the extreme behavior I had - and your step daughter has not yet gotten extreme. You are only 10 years older, almost more like a big sister, but let her know you love her like a daughter. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Step/Blended Families are a sensitive subject for me....Did you come from a broken home? It's hard! It's hard to come home and your Dad not be there and your Mom angry,stressed out and struggling to make ends meet....That was my life! If on top of all that I had to deal some teenager stealing my Dad away from me I don't know what I would do with my 8/12 yr. old Self. This little girl didn't choose this life. You "adults" chose this for her. I have a hard time believing at 22yrs. old you are mature and wise enough to handle these types of problems. Can you imagine the type of negative thoughts that run through her still growing and developing mind every day....How she is a burden for one parent and not good enough for the other. STOP making this about you! Treat this 12yr. old child with dignity and maybe in the future she will learn to respect you.
dig-ni-ty:
1. bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.

1 mom found this helpful

Does her father know that you arent lying or does he belive his daughter? sounds like it's the usual jealousy that occurs when 'daddy' or even 'mommy' start dating some onelse after a break up. she was 8 at the time if she is 12 now. sometimes break ups between parents are much harder on children than they let on and the only way you know is the level of jealousy they show. It isnt uncommon and your NOT a horrible person. its just her, she wants her parents back together and doesnt want to see them with anyonelse. ESPECIALLY if she is a 'daddy's girl' - she may not be so hard with her mom's b/f or new hubby (assuming she is still alive). I got divorced when my daughter was 12 and my son was 4. My son hasnt shown much jealousy BUT my daughter.. OMG... she HATED my boyfreind(s). she is now 20 and over that - well.. sorta. she doesnt care much for my current boyfreind (for reasons that are understandable AND she knows that its my relationship and my choice so she doesnt say much). Has your hubby had a talk with her? as in: reassuring her that he is her daddy no matter what, he will always be there for her no matter what and that YOU really like/care/love her too and that YOU take care of HIM and make him happy just like she makes him happy to be a part of his life. how is she with the other chilren? are they yours and his? or are they his as well?

hopefully it will get better... as she gets older it will change.. just wait till puberty/mentruation starts! she MAY get a bit closer to you when that happens and then boyfreinds..etc... be patient, grit your teeth, scream into a pillow and AWLAYS keep the communication open with your hubby and be careful to not make it a daily complaint..etc... ALWYS try to say something positive even if there IS a problem to 'report' or he may get tired of hearing about it and start to belive his little girl that your making stuff up...this issue isnt going away anytime soon..and it can cause arguments (which she will LOVE) - its a bit hard to juggle but you can do it and it is worth it in the long run.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't have much advice to offer; I really like what Alexia says below. I'm just offering you some encouragement to get through this. Wow, to read your bio...you're 22 with a 2 year old and THREE stepkids. You have so much on your plate at such a young age. Be strong.

1 mom found this helpful

Being a stepmom immediately puts you at the bottom of the totem pole in the kids eyes most of the time. I became a stepmom of 3 girls just 4 years ago also. I have 2 girls of my own age 18 and 22. The step daughters are now 13, 15 and 18. I realize now that I tried too hard and probably had unreal expectations. The best advice I have is to try to love them through God's eyes. Try to encourage special one on one time with the child and her Dad as much as possible so she will eventually realize that you are not a threat. Most people I talk to say it takes a minimum of 7 years to blend!! Yikes!! Hang in there!! I am seeing light in the tunnel with the 18 year old so I know there is hope. Also, if you can find a support group or another step family to talk with, that really helps. Remember girls at age 12 can be mega difficult even with their bio Mom.

1 mom found this helpful

OK, here goes, you're most definately not the worst person in the world, because according to my kids I am!

Now that we've gotten that cleared up let's move on. OMG, can you say jealous? Sounds like she's had a hard time with the whole scene. She's acting like a little girl because she is a little girl, and frankly, how would you like a step mom who is close enough in age to be her older sister. She sounds really sad and depressed and instead of thinking about how this is affecting you, you might try figuring out what's making her so sad. Have you guys considered therapy for her and the family? It's a bummer that your husband is not acknowledging what you're saying, because it sure sounds like this child is hurting and could use some help. Good luck and hang in there!

S. I'll tell you like Dr.Laura. You know who you married. You know what you married and what you were marrying into. Now own it. Clearly you need to get counseling for this little girl or for your family as a whole. She has not adjusted to her daddy's new situation and is acting out, the only way she knows how to get attention, please don't blame her yet until you've gotten counseling. You can't take this personally. It's more a symptom of her life and you have to try to be empathetic. This whole scenario has completely traumatized her and it's your responsibility as parents to help her get through this.

Your stepdaughter is of course wanting attention from her dad and she deserves that when she is over. Wouldn't you if you were only a visitor in his house (or "my house" as you put it)? She's had to deal with her parents splitting up, at least on remarraige and a new family her dad created. It's sad that at such a young age she has to wonder where and with who she fits in.

As often the case in these situations, parents who divorce overcompensate in varying areas because of the guilt they feel and I'm sure your hubby let's her get away with stuff. I don't think there is much to do about that.

With your young age, it is hard for her to see you as a parent. You're better off stepping back and letting Dad handle any punishment and deferring her to him over anything. The next time she says nasty stuff say "I'm sorry you feel that way, why don't you go discuss it with your dad" as calmly as possible. Any time she is upset, say "I'd like to help you, but if your not comfortable, let's go see if your dad can help us figure this out."

Try to get to know her better as other people metnioned. Show her that you respect her relationship with her dad and that you don't want to come between them. You're viewed as competition and she needs to learn that you are on her side and a welcome part of the family.

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