16 Year Old Step Daughter?

Updated on July 13, 2012
N.G. asks from Livingston, NJ
13 answers

Hello, I've recently married my husband who has two kids one is a 12 year old boy, and the other is a 16 year old girl. I have a 12 year old boy also, along with two 17 year old girls. Our boys get along great, and are just the best of friends, and I get along with my hubby's boy just fine! His 16 year old daughter has lived with her mom moat of her life and just recently moved in with us because her mom gets job transfers a lot, and to make a long story short, my husband and her both agreed that it would be better for her to live with us instead of moving all the time. She agreed and moved here, and all is going well, except it get the vibe she doesn't really like me. It's not that she's mean to me, but just sorta gives me the cold shoulder. She's shy and reserved and just stays in her room most of the time. I understand how it is stressful moving and coming from a home of being a only child to having four brothers and sisters. So any advice on how to get her to feel more apart of the family?
Thanks! :)

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answers from Washington DC on

I am a shy person and can tell you that what most people see as us being stuck-up, mean, aloof etc is simply us being shy. It doesn't mean she doesn't like you. Because she is shy it takes more to bring her out of her shell, we tend to like one on one situations and it takes us longer to feel comfortable in larger settings. So now living in a house full of people she may be a little uncomfortable, not because she doesn't like anyone. Everyone else in the house has bonded on a different level than she has, now she has to come in and try to find her place, that's hard for anyone especially a shy child.

I like lynn's suggestion. You may have to be the one to start things for awhile. Also take her out just the two of you, so you each can get to know each other, take her out with just you and the girls for a spa day etc. It makes for a more relaxed environment and helps her to feel more at ease. She will come out of her shell then.

Good Luck.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dover on

First, if she also already had a brother she was not an only child. If you are saying her brother was a half-brother and didn't live with her, I do get that. It is a transition either way. She may just not be real sure where she fits in. How long have you and her father been together? If it was for very long, I hope the kids had a chance to bond with each other and you a bit.

Even if she loves you, you are the other woman in her dad's life. No one is ever good enough (barely even mom when they are still together). Another factor could be how she meshes with your 17 yr olds. Just because they are girls and close to the same age, if they aren't friends it can be tough having 3 girls in the home and she not being their bio-sister or friend makes her the odd man out...especially with girls.

Talk to her...not accusingly but "hey Suzy. Do you have a minute? I'd like to talk to you. I know there have been lots of changes for you with your dad and I marrying, you suddenly having multiple siblings, and moving in here. How are you doing with all of this?" I would also work into it that while you know you are close right now, you hope that you become that way and let her know that she can come to you. At 16, it will be harder to fill that mom role for her (I know she has her mom but you are the mom in her household and her stepmom so you are also her parent) so if I were you I would shoot more for a friend/favorite aunt type of role. If she were younger, the mom role tends to work better.

Good luck.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

aren't you lovely?
i'll give a page from my ES (evil stepmother)'s handbook. just emanate warmth and love, and let her approach you and the rest of the family on her own timeline. she's got to be pretty overwhelmed. don't try to push, just be (quietly) pleased and welcoming when she does make an overture.
:) khairete

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

1. She's 16.
2. She's 16, and you are an adult.
3. She's 16, and you are a virtual stranger.
4. She's 16, and you are the "other woman" in her father's life, and now his wife.
5. She's 16 and living in a new environment.

As long as she is not disrespectful, you are pretty much ahead of the game. Don't push it; just be loving toward all the kids, and allow them space to adjust. Find a book or therapist who can help walk you through it.

(I have thanked the step gods more than once for giving me stepsons and not stepdaughters. With my husband's personality and his ex-wife's personality, a daughter would have rendered him not the man for me.)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

How hard this must be for her. She lost her mom, her friends and everything that she had and now she has a new step mother to deal with.

I would pretty much let her make her own choices and just support her in those as best as I could.

She is almost an adult and should be making choices for everything right now. So that if she makes a mistake she still has a loving supportive family to help her through it.

She may or may not have had freedom at home to do a lot. She may need lots of help in making decisions or she may be a pro at it. Getting to know her and learning how she will respond to anything you do is going to be the most significant thing you will ever do.

She probably resents you because you are her "mom" figure and she is really missing her mom. Even if they don't get along most of the time that's her mom and she's not in the next room anymore.

I would just show as much kindness as possible and try to remember this is only for a year or so and she will be gone, off to college or off to her own life. You can't change her or mold her into something else. You have to learn to deal and love whomever she is inside. Even when she starts pushing you and coming out of her shell around you that's when you'll need to remember she is already a person and you need to learn how to placate her and bring her around to your ideal without alienating her.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi N.. You sound like a very caring stepmom. As a mom of a 17 year old girl, my take on the situation is that she may feel some competition with the other teen girls. Many kids that age are not really into doing family stuff, it's more about friends. However, if you are taking your teen girls on an outing, like lunch or a museum or something like that, just a girls outing, invite stepdaughter along. Sometime you might want to take her out to do something with just her, if she would like it. I would focus less on full family stuff and the 12 year old boys who she really wouldn't have any interest in. She may feel like it's hard to make a bond with TWO 17's, if we are talking about a sister/twin bond - if you had one daughter that age, it might be easier so try to facilitate that, doing things with the teen girls or encouraging your teens to invite their stepsister if they're going to Starbucks or a movie or something like that. Also be sure to let your SD know that her friends are welcome at the house.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Lots of 16 year olds give adults the cold shoulder and stay in their rooms most of the time.

Just keep trying to be sweet to her, no matter how much she rejects you (as long as she's not outright rude). Eventually, she will know that you are a good person and that you tried.

Offer to take her places, ask her what she wants for dessert, whatever. Smile at her, even when she doesn't smile back.

I love Suz. T's answer.

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answers from Dallas on

I agree that she may feel like she's betraying her mom if she gets too close to you. I've never dealt with this before, but I wonder if honesty is the best approach? If you and hubby have a good relationship with the ex, talk to her about your concerns so you can assure bio-mom that you want to be a co-parent with her. Once you are comfortable with that, then talk to your step-daughter about it. Treat her like an adult, and let her know that you are a co-parent with her mom and dad, but will never try to replace her mom. I think maybe using the term co-parent all around will get her to understand that you are part of the parenting unit but not trying to be her mom - more like an aunt, I guess.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I agree with Jessica Wessica! she had the best ideas! do everything you can to encourage your husband to spend one on one time with her, before she grows up and moves out! Help her stay in touch with her mom.
What are her interests? Art, music, sports, fashion? Find something that is JUST her (not the other kids) and the two of you have an outing together, whether it's shopping, manicure, seeing a play or basketball game, volunteering at a pet shelter.... It doesn't have to be something you usually do, try something new with her and let her know you are interested in her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

She may feel like she's betraying her mom if she's too nice to you, if she likes you, if she spends time with you, etc. I would let her know that you're not trying to replace her mother at all. Let her know that you care about her and are willing to work on things at her pace, but would also like to connect with her. I would try to spend a little one on one time with her, but really encourage a lot of one on one time between her and her father. Be sure that she sees that you're supportive of her and having a good relationship with her dad. I'd also make sure that she sees you being supportive of keeping up a good relationship with her mother. Set up Skype, help her make a video scrapbook or real scrapbook to send her mom. There are lots of things you do to help her maintain a connection with her mom.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I can tell you really care for her. The trick is to keep it up even if she keeps pushing you away. She needs time to sort all this out. I would let her know you completely understand that she is in a tough spot and that you do not want her to feel pressured at all. How about asking her what might help? Have family meetings. Get a dialogue going that will build over time. It will take time for trust to grow. I am a stepmom and I know the role can be extremely difficult. I am at my best when I try to just be myself, have some fun with the situation, and keep my love growing for my
daughter. She and I joke around sometimes through the awkward moments. We kid around about wicked step moms and that my secret
goal is to turn her into Cinderella.
Best of luck. Hang in there. Keep being open and loving no matter how long it takes. She will come around!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

What might feel like a "cold shoulder" to you probably isn't to her. Only children and "almost onlies" are slightly different and can be perceived as shy, but really aren't. Since she lived with her mom most of the time, she's like a "almost only"...Add to that she doesn't have any sisters to identify with. This family is all new to her, so she will need time alone and space to figure it out. Onlies and almost onlies are more mature due to not having much contact with younger children. They grow with adults, so they will react differently. They are used to having their space and being independant, so they usually don't like having people do stuff for them or dote over them. I'm considered an "almost only" since I came along late. I can remember spending lots of time in my room, walking around outside, and playing with the animals. There really wasn't anything else for me to do. All my stuff was in my room...books, toys, record player...etc. Also, there may not be anything for her to talk about. You might ask her if she'd like to make cookies or home made pizza with you. That's always fun. Give her some time, then get all the girls together to go out on a shopping spree, even if it's only window shopping.



answers from New York on

Do something special with her. Does she like to have her nails done or is there some other activity she really enjoys? Take her for a manacure (and you get one too) or if a sports game is more her style take her to a game even if it is the local town league. Do something just the two of you. Don't go all lovie dovie on her but while over lunch or coffee or something just tell her you are so glad you have her with you and in YOUR life. Tell her she is a part of the family and if she wants to talk or needs anything feel free to let you know. And be sure to LISTEN when she does talk and "work" out a problem not jump on her. She is making a huge transition too and she may just be trying to see where she "fits" in the family and with you. Also let her know you know she has a good mom but that you would like to be there for her when her mom can't and your not trying to replace her mom in anyway. Give her time and love!

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