How Does a Step-mom Parent

Updated on September 01, 2008
K.A. asks from Brooklyn, NY
26 answers

Hi Everyone,
I have a serious problem with my 8 year-old step daughter. A little background; I have a 7 year old son and my husband has 3 kids- 2 girls ages 8 and 6 and a boy who is 4.5 years of age. My husband's kids don't live with us full time, but when they come the oldest causes chaos and disruption because she wants 100% of attention on her. When my husband talks to his ex about the severity of their daughter's behaviour she just shrugs it off and yells at him. The last time his kids were over the girl whacked her little sister in the head with her leg hard, teased and hit her sister that brought the little one to tears, she paces at night until 4a.m and keeps asking her daddy to walk her back to bed (she's 8), she screams and disrespects him in public and in the middle of the street, she stomps her feet all over the car, and is rude and disrespectful to everyone.

Here's my problem. I don't want my son around her and quite frankly at this point I don't want her in my home. I know that's not a viable (although ideal) solution. The biggest issue is that my husband doesn't discipline her, all he says is "why did you do this?" and "it's not nice". There are never consequences for her actions. She's being raised to be socially inept and that she's entitled to EVERYTHING. This is bound to have a snowball effect on the other kids, who are all great.

Additionally, the child has been going to therapy and is on seizure medication that does have some affect on her behavior. The mother said she likes going to the therapist cause they play but she's never gotten a report on her child's progress and as fas as I know never asked for it. The side effects of the meds are mood swings, but her mother told her that the pills make her CRAZY.

Here is my question; what part do I play here? I don't want my son to become a rude and disrespectful child, but with kids it's monkey see, monkey do. How do I get my husband to discipline her? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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answers from Jamestown on

God bless you because you are in for a rough time.

I am a step mom also and there are many things that the girls do when they are here that I don't agree with. Their mother is much more lenient than we are.And since you are a step mom, unfortunately you have no rights concerning the children. You can not get information about their health or anything else, that is up to their dad to do.

The best you can do is sit down and have a talk with your husband. you both need to decide what it is you expect of the kids, all of them. It is then important to come to an agreement about discipline and who enforces it. You must absolutely back each other up on all things concerning the kids. Even if at the time you don't agree with the other parent, save it until you are away from the kids before you say anything about it...then talk about it without accusations.
The step children should follow the same rules and be treated the same as the other children in the home. They are all equals, no one is more important than the others. They all should show respect to you, your husband and to each other.

As for her behavior, it seems that she is caught in a bad spot. She needs medicine to help her feel better, and it seems it's not working for her. Dad should step in and go to appointments with her to talk to the doctor about what's going on and what can be done differently.
You and dad need to sit down with all of the children and explain your rules and expectations of them. Also explain the consequences of not obeying the rules.

You and dad need to be a team on this. Be willing to compromise with him and be sure to let him know that you are willing to help him in this matter, as much as you are allowed to do so.

Now, you may not like what I am about to say, and I do understand your frustration, but.....
You need to change your attitude toward this girl. She will pick up on it from you and it will only cause you more issues in the future. She is very impressionable and she will remember how you act toward her later in life. It could also cause a rift between you and your husband.
Now, I am in no way saying you are a bad mom or anything like that so please understand that. I am just saying that if you want her to change and you want your husband to change how he handles her, you will have to set the example.

Remind her of using manners and be sure to thank her for using them. Thank her for good behavior too. I do not believe in rewarding behavior that should be expected anyway, but thanking a child for being good and doing what they are asked is very important. (After all, we expect to be thanked for things too).
Remind her that "When we are in the car we (don't kick, don't scream, etc)". "We go to bed at (this time each night)". Offer to read to her before she goes to sleep, or have her read to you (or dad).
Start a bed time routine with her and the other kids. Let them know what time bedtime is. Tell then 1/2 hour prior to bed that bed time is coming. Have them change into PJs and brush their teeth. Then tell them when it's 10 minuted before bed. Have them say their goodnights and get into bed. Then read with them or turn on some soothing music for them....whatever.

If she has psychological issues, it is important for her to have consistency. You will be surprised how much a difference it will make with her.

Also, be sure to let her know that you love her as well as her dad loves her. She needs to know she has your love as much as the other kids do.
It's tough having step children and not being able to take charge of some situations with them, the best you can do is take charge of what you can and deal with the rest the best you can.

You will have to gently remind dad every once in a while to treat her like he does the other kids, and that he needs to be more tough about behavior that isn't acceptable. But he will catch on to it too. (I've been in this situation so I can understand what you are going through and what you ahve ahead of you).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Glens Falls on

I don't have step-children, but I can tell you what my good friend does. She has her "house rules" and her "car rules" and they have consequences when they are broken no matter who breaks the rules. "If my step-daughter does something wrong she gets the same discipline as my son because it is my home and my rules." My friend also makes absolutely sure never to say anything bad about the mother in front of her step-kids, always replies "Mommy and I do things differently and that's OK". I've heard her say that very calmly about a hundred times.

I'm sure it won't be as simple as that to start enforcing the rules, but good luck with whatever you choose to do.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Buffalo on

Just talk to your husband and tell him you both need work out a plan on how you both will discipline the child and stick to it. Constancy is key. And what goes for one child should go for the rest in the house. My daughter is 7 and she goes every other weekend to visit her father and you better believe when she comes home she tries to test her limits in my house but my husband and I stick to our ways and she knows who is the boss in our home. It takes time but you will get there. If your husband is reluctant to pick a plan just remind him she will be 1000 times worse when she hit the teenage years..nip it now!
Just to give you an children get time outs which constist of standing in the corner, one minute per year they are old. Miranda is 7, she gets 7 minutes. If that doesnt work, a favorite toy is then taken for a few days to a week if necessary. I have taken pool privelages away and have stopped sleep overs as well. Hope this helps. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi K.,

Well yes kids do copy one an other however if your son tries to copy her bad behavior if you nip it in the but and tell him I do not like when she does it and will not let you get away with it and explain if she was your child you would not let her get away with it either he will know you are not going to put up with that.

As for your step daughter it sounds like she is crying out for someones attention. Maybe you can sit down and talk to her and see what is really bothering her. Maybe she is just a little more needy than her sisters and just need a little TLC, not a ton.

Good luck with all of the children.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

K., what is the name of the medication she is on for the seisures? My son was on a medication called Neurotin and it made him angry and a bit violent. He in a 2 week span poked a kid with a pencil, stepped on another and in line in school turned around and hit a girl for no reason. He told me the medication made him angry and that was at 5 years old. That was the bottom line, I Googled the medication and found that it will cause violence in childen called my dr and said NO!! He took him off and placed him on another called Focalin (for ADD/ADHD) and my angel has returned to me. He is still a little fresh (well most 8 year old boys are) but has not once since then laid a hand on anyone. You might want to have your husband talk to the dr about her medication.

Keep your head up..:)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Syracuse on

She is in your home I would treat her as if she is your child. Disciple her like you would your son. If your husband says anything to you about it tell him you would be happy to step back if he is ready to step up. He needs to start setting a good example for all of the children involved. This needs to get under control before she gets any older. I know it is hard being a step parent. I am not one but have close friends who are. I disciple any child in my home as I would my own children. Do the same for your step daughter. I would also start keeping a notebook of her behaviors and events leading up to them plus what was done to correct her, if anything. You could then show your husband what is really going on. He may not see it the same way as you do. It also may help her in the end. Your husband can use it with the therapist too. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

When medication is involved, matters get tricky. This poor child feels as out of control as you see her to be. She cannot control her parents, her living situation, her siblings, her body, her emotions - and it's hard enough to be 8. She is old enough to be spoken to by her doctor about the affect the medication has on her and steps to help her recognize and cope through mood swings. Also, I strongly recommend that her father become involved in counseling - as well as you if at all possible.
Perhaps see if having some special one-on-one time with your step-daughter can help develop a relationship where it's a bit easier for you to communicate with her.
She absolutely needs discipline, but stay calm. Keep it simple - and build up to higher standards. Also, it's is imperative that you "catch" her good behavior and give her praise both alone and in front of the other children. Even if it's behavior that's no big deal and expected - and even if it's short-lived - catch it as it's happening and praise, praise, praise.
In terms of your son, though it's tricky, you must demonstrate compassion and understanding toward his step-sister. Kids are quick to pick up on discrepancies between relationships and "labeling".
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

You are in a difficult and emotionally loaded situation. This may seem like strange advice, but as someone who has been on both sides of this situation, you might try pretending she is your biological child - at least, when you're thinking about her in your mind, and in the ways that you respond to her. Obviously there will be areas in which you can't act like that, but I think viewing the situation that way might give you fresh insights.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Talk to your husband and tell him you won't allow her behavior in your house and then YOU discipline her. Kids crave discipline and she needs it. Put her in time out when she misbehaves, but warn her first. Tell her exactly what you expect and what will happen if she disobeys. Be firm with both her and her father, you will be doing her a huge favor and might be surprised at her reaction. At first she will hate it and you, but I bet she starts to calm down.



answers from New York on

Hi K., I see a few problems here. I do agree that you would not want your son to see the 8 year old girl getting away with this behavior. Can you convey that to her father? The other is that if the problem is just no discipline that is one thing. If the behavior is caused by the medication then that has to be addressed and adjusted. I also see how the mom responds by shrugging and yelling. The root word of discipline is disciple...they DO what we DO not what we SAY.
The children are his, throw the ball in his court and when he has to see them it should be elsewhere. It is true, this behavior will affect all the children and it is not your job.
Not addressing this problem is an injustice to the girl. She will have no friends if she continues this way. My best, Grandma Mary



answers from Binghamton on

Hi K.,

Wow, can I relate to you! I used to get so resentful of my husband because he wouldn't discipline his son and since I am a stay at home mom I would get stuck disciplining his child right along with our 4 children that we have together. Now this child is 16 and totally resents me...can't say that I blame him...he now at 16 tries to get involved with disciplining his little siblings (my kids) and I resent that, so I see how he was feeling.

All I can say is as a step-parent, we ought not have any role in discipline...that is her father's job, and you need to have a major talk with him and lay down the law. No matter if her mother is the one who used to do the discipline, no matter if in your household you are the primary disciplinarian, when it comes to the step children, you need to have a hands off philosophy. Then your husband must step up to the plate if there is to be harmony. Trust me when I say that the 1/2 siblings will really end up resenting the step child who gets away with things and doesn't seem to get in trouble.

It is really just your job to be a supportive, friendly adult in her life. Show her how a mother should be by mothering your own children, but don't try to be a mother to her. If the tables were turned and I was divorced, I wouldn't want some woman trying to discipline my children (don't mean to call you some woman, but that is what we are to these kids). I have even told my husband that if I die while the kids are young, I absolutely don't want him to remarry and subject them to having a step mother. I'm not wicked, but I do strongly dislike being a step mother. Being a parent is a thankless job already...being a step parent is beyond thankless. That's just my experience.

After 10 years of being a step mother, my step child still resents my presence and wants it to be just him and his dad, with me and my 4 children out of the picture. Makes me crazy! 10 years...when is he going to adjust? Oh well, he graduates in 3 more years so I just keep remembering that!




answers from New York on

Hi K. - Dad should deffinitely check out the meds. He can and should call the doctor himself and talk about the effects.

My husband is much the same as far as not being big on discipline. All I can say for your role as step-mom is, "My house - My rules" I took that approach with my step-son and he's never had a problem understanding it. Nor has my husband ever questioned it - all our kids live by the same rules in our house. There have been a couple of instances when I had to sit my son down and explain, I know things are different at mom's but that doesn't work here and this is why. At 8 he could understand that.

Also, my daughter has had some friends who were absolutely horribly behaved and even at 5 I could explain to my daughter that, even though your friend acts that way, you may not. If you do, you will not spend time with her. The same could be said to your son only you can give him whatever consequences you decide are appropriate. Obviously not hanging out with his sister is not an option.

And last, I'd recommend that you get some books on parenting, discipline and consequences. Decide on a method you like and start using it, for all of your kids. Ask your husband to read up and support, but if he doesn't, you'll have to take the initiative and follow through.

Remember, Your house - Your rules. It will take time, but be consistent and she will come around. Good luck and good for you for doing the right thing.

P.S. Ouch - I think another response was awfully harsh and somewhat inappropriate. Your step-daughter is going through a difficult time and needs lots of love and understanding but her behavior should not be ignored. Every child needs and wants to be parented not coddled. The rules of your home do not need to be tailored to each child's ability to live by them. Sure there will be failures, but each failing needs consistent consequences, not retaliation and not acceptance. Like it or not, it is a mother's job to encourage a loving and peaceful home. You are the mom in your home and no child in your home should be left out of the benefit of your mothering. Best wishes, R.



answers from New York on

I am sorry for your situation, It sounds really tough. I have no experience with this issue but while I was reading, I couldn't help feeling sorry for the step-daughter. It sounds like her parents' break-up was really traumatic and she is suffering. I know it is difficult to have sympathy for someone who apperas to be wrecking your happy home, but maybe try to see it from her perspective? Good luck.



answers from New York on

met my step dau when she was 5 never had problems althought she was afaird to sleep over. Your husband should go to ask question of the dr and see if med need to be ajusted wondering how she behaves in shcool. You need professional help as a whole family. You son shouldnt suffer in all this.
good luck



answers from New York on

You are absolutely is a serious problem. You need to sit down and have a long detailed discussion with your husband about everything you said here, first of all, he is her parent and he needs to have control of the situation, consequences for her actions are a must, second, if his daughter is in therapy and on medication that is causing her to act out the way she does, he needs to be proactive and speak with her doctors and see if there are alternatives to the type of medication she is taking. Just because they have been subscribed by a doctor does not mean they are the right meds for her. As for your son, well when your step daughter goes home remind him that her behavior is not proper and that you know he is a good boy and ould not act that way. Praise for his good behavior will work wonders. If your husband is okay with it, you could also let your son know that she is on medication that makes her act that way....but do not tell him that unless you clear it with him first. As for your role, well if your husband can not control the situation and she is causing harm to the other children in the house, someone needs to step up and take charge, there is really not much you can do but she is a "guest" of sorts in your home so a time out of some kind is absolutely necessary. Good Luck...I hope you can work through this.



answers from New York on

Dear step,

listen mom, first off relax.

2nd, your the parent of only one child and therefore your perspective is diffrent.

remember this is his child. not yours, and if you don't want to be around these chilren, then leave for the summer.

other wise you need to deal-
Sorry but thats just the way it is.

You say that you think this little girl wants all the attention and demands it from her daddy, that she likes getting her own way.

But it seems to me that the person with the problem is YOU

Your the ADULT, and as an adult you need to realize that kids come in all diffrent shapes and sizes, they are ALL diffrent,

this particular girl has problems.
enough to have to see a doctor, and be on medication.

its not your concern to parent her, its your job to respect the wishes of her PARENTS,and to tolerate that they may have a diffrent parenting style than YOU.respect their wishes, and respect the fact that this child may need more than YOU can give. Your opinion really doesn't matter here.

that being said, she does need to learn to respect you and your wishes,

set clear ground rules of acceptibility , and make sure that these are NOT rules set knowing she could not meet to your husband and her mom to decide together what is acceptable as a group.

you cannot expect her to make a 360 over night.
but you can decide on one point which you honestly feel needs to be addressed, and work on creating a way for her to sucessfully change. with room for possible failure.

Remember, that she is a product of her parents,
your child is your production.

girls are diffrent than boys. BY FAR.

-- Remember this child hardly ever gets to see her father, so when she does she wants to be with him all the time,she doesn't want to share him with you, or her siblings, when she acts out she is constantly testing him. She wants him to prove he loves her in some way, so instead of punishing her, try encouraging the bond between father and daughter, tell him to hug her and kiss her and say he loves her, but that the answer is still no.let her thro the tantrum, she does have to like doing it your way, as long as she listens. as for fighting with the other kids, sorry to say its normal. no biggie. happens in the best of homes LOL.screaming in public is also pretty mormal for 8. My son started acting out at around 9 so you'll be there soon.
ITs common at this age for children to experience impulse control that off with her meds, i am sure she is a sight,

As far as rude and disrespectful well, that remains to be seen
it would depend on the circumstance, most girls go thru puberty around 9, which will generally introduce a horrible attitude and moodiness. this is where my 12 year old is now.
its a daily grind reigning him in, talking and remaining calm when i just wanna throttle him. but i manage because i love him.

When he speaks with an attitude or is rude, i send him to his room. after a few minutes he calms down and we talk, and get over it.

I've asked him why he does it and he says he doesn't know, and he tries to control it but sometimes can't.

Its a work in progress,

LAst little bit, your son and monkey see.

Mom, this is your kid, you raised him and he is turning out well, thats because you take an active intrest in his DAILY life. this girls father, ( your husband ) HAS NOT,and as you said when she is with him he simply ignores it because he doesn't want to deal,

you yourself agree she is difficult, so imagine how it must be for the mom.

then you call her and ask what to do to handle this girl, question her parenting and expect her to ALSO parent the child while at your home,

Sorry this is where you draw the line, NOW its DADS turn, but because he refuses to step up to the plate, you feel you need to step in and do something,because your affraid it will affect your child,

MOM you MUST see its time to Step back and let dad take the reigns, whatever that is,

the best way to help your self and your son is to LEAVE,
when the kids come to visit, you and your son leave for the day, and leave dads kids up to dad,

and trust me, after a few months of this your family enviornment will improve. WITH EVERYONE.


good luck

mom to 3 boys



answers from New York on

I am the step-mom to my husband's daughter 13 (since she was 6) and his son 11 (since he was 4). We have them full time for the last six years and their Mom is in and out of their lives. She has totally wrecked havoc on "my" daughter and caused very many problems. My husband and I had papers and were divorcing - thank God we came to our senses. The truth of the matter is you cannot be the disciplinarian. My daughter hates me because I am NOT her mother and because I AM not her mother (if you know what I mean). My husband just recently started therapy. One main problem we have is that I was the disciplinarian in the house and I can't be - WE have to be. Your husband is probably raising his children on GUILT because his marriage failed. He needs to go to counseling to realize that he is cheating his children and they need to be discplined and they need structure and consistency. Try talking to him and see if he is open to therapy and if not - YOU GO. You will be able to get help in dealing with her and him. I am living with a teenager who hates to love me and it's torture - but the payoff at the end will be great. If need be.....make plans for you and your son on one of the weekend days you have his children so they can get alone time with their Dad. Have a family day where you all do something. It's not easy and it's alot of work - but it will make things easier. I hope this helps and please feel free to email me - I like to discuss "blended" families since I am in one!



answers from New York on

WOW, this is a hard one.

I understand where you're coming from inregards to her being disruptive to the rest of the children, but banning her is not kind or a good idea long term.

You are married to the man and if you in this you're in this.
I don't think is fair for you to decide which part of this situation you're willing to accept in regards to the child. She can not defend for herself and it is not all her fault. I mean you are a stand in mother and what you are really saying is that you no longer want to take on that role with her.
Well, she did not choose you to be her other mom either - her father did. And her father may be at a lost as too how to deal with her and feeling guilty about not being with her mother.

You and your husband need to get on the same page and come up with a plan. You can't reject a child - God would be mad. Right now there are no rules and regulation at your home inregards to her - put them into effect.
Talk to her doctor.
Talk to a counselor for you and your husband.
Read her medication and find out the side effects, so you can be prepared.
You haven't really done all you could do yet - but I know you will.

God is testing you and how you treat this child - the least amongst us - will reflect greating on your soul.
I am serious. Struggle comes into our life to help us grow.



answers from New York on

I have a 7 year old, and on the weekends my 12 yo step son comes over. It used to be rough, but as time passed, and I started treating him more like my own son rather then a stepchild his attitude got so much better.
Being that your step is a girl, maybe you should extend yourself to her and have some alone time with her. Take her to the mall, or park. Let her know that you are glad that she is a part of your family, and that you enjoy her company.I hope things get better, in time they will, but try not to let it go on like this to much longer, as she gets older it will become harder to fix the relationship. Good Luck!



answers from New York on

Hey now. I am a mother of 3 and have two stepchildren. I know it can be really tough sometimes but hang in there. Sometimes the love just isn't there, atleast not all the time, and it sounds like you are in a very difficult situation. I used to stress out a lot about stepkids affecting my kids, even about stepkids half-sisters affecting stepkids affecting my kids, but most of what I worried about seems pretty ridiculous now, and this was only 5 years ago... Kids change and experiment and invent themselves over and over again, and I think sometimes you just have to believe in them to make their own choices about their behavior, instead of protecting them from the behavior that scares us most. As far as your stepdaughter goes, sounds like she has a lot of stuff to work out. It must be hard for all of you. I wish you the best of luck and lots of patience. Believe in your kids... N.



answers from New York on

Sit your husband down and communicate your feelings about all of this. He as the father can also call the therapist to request a progress report and an appointment to talk to the therapist as well as to question and do re-search on her medication...why the mood swings, and maybe the med has to be changed or adjusted???...and learn how to handle her behavioral problems and you have every right to be by his side in these appointments.. The point is you and your husband have to get on the right track of action with this child and support one another during the process. It doesn't matter how her Mom is dealing with it...the child has to learn and know what you and her Dad expect of her when she is under your roof and amoung the other children. If your husband isn't in agreement to any of this....put your foot down. Insist that he use his visitation rights with this child away from your home...and drop her off at her Mom's house when he's done with her for the day. Keep in mind it is also not good for the other children to always have to be apart of her up roar and do have a right to some quality family time as well.

In your home you have the right to discipline this child...It's your job as well as your husbands to keep this child safe as well as the others. Time outs, removing her from the situation she is causing, taking to her, Telling her NO this wont do...etc. is all part of love and teaching a child. And yes, even giving her a choice to be sent home when she gets to difficult is part of it as well.

Yes, if the other children pick up on her behavor, you need to correct them too. Try to explain to your son, as much as he is able to understand that she has problems and is on medication and it might be helpful for him to keep his distance from her as much as prossible while she is visiting in a polite way without fighting with her...If he understands what is going on with her, he might be able to handle it better.



answers from New York on

Hi K.,

YOu need to really talk to your husband and explain to him your concerns and together you need to work out what you are going to do the next time your step-daughter is over.
I went through a very similar situation with my husband and step son. We had my step son every weekend. My step son had no set routine and was never discilpined by either parent. One day I had enough and sat sown with my husband and explained my views and ideas. Even though it took a lot of time,it did wonders, and saved our marriage.

Hope this helps



answers from New York on

Hi K.,

Remembering that it is not the 8yr olds fault as you said that her meds help make her this way, as well as lack of any disipline. While I understand that it is difficult to know what is meds and what is not exactly, it is no excuse for no disipline. Set your behavior expectations for the household with your husband and have him onboard. There could be a timeout or some consequence that is appropriate for the bahavior. Also look up an online support group and more information about her condition. It might help alot as to what can be done with her. She is part of your family even if part time. Usually step children have thier rutine messed up and don't adjust well. It may take longer.

Hope this helps,
Mother of 5 my first child is my current husband's stepson.



answers from Buffalo on

a few people said she's not your child so its not your problem. In my experience, blended homes work best when the all the children are treated with the same discipline and same consequences, when both parents treat all children as equal as possible. If her mother shrugs it off, then it sounds like you need to just focus on what you can do at your own home. We never had success with trying to work with my step daughter's mother in this area - we do it our way and she does it hers and my stepdaughter seems to adjust and know what the rules are when she's here. Just like everywhere in life, there are different rules and expectations in different places, so it isn't an unfair thing to do.
She may not be your biological child, but she is your step-child, and she shares a home with you, your husband, her siblings and your child so she is part of that whole family. When it comes to the rules in your own home, you and your husband need to come to an agreement and follow through.
The thing you NEED to do is set some ground rules (with your husband) and both follow through every time those rules are broken, no matter what child it is. She will have to learn that she can't scream or throw a fit and get her way. Try with all your might to make your husband realize how much this is hurting his daughter. She NEEDS discipline as well as love. As you said, without that she will be socially inept and have that "entitlement complex".

I have a friend who's wife will not let him discipline his stepdaughter. She wants thier house to be "the fun one" instead of the "strict one" because she's so scared that her daughter will chose her bio father when she is old enough to chose which parent to live with. I don't know if your husband is secretly thinking anything like this, but I think that's such a huge mistake. We try hard not to spoil my step-daughter too much just because we want to make up for not seeing her a lot. I think children will respect and love you more for having a secure, well run home, rather than a chaotic one where they run wild.

At the same time (sorry this is long, but this is important too!) it sounds like maybe his daughter needs to have some one-on-one time with her father too. Maybe once a month they could have a special day or even just an afternoon or morning to spend some bonding time. Every Saturday morning when i work, my husband and his daughter hang out just the 2 of them, playing games or riding bikes or just watching goofy cartoons and i think it is so important. And, if you're feeling brave, some girl time for you and her might help too. I love being one-on-one with my stepdaughter, doing something fun even if its just taking a walk, it really brings us closer.
Personally i'm not a big fan of meds in children. Not that they're never necessary, but i think they are completely overused. Sounds like what she needs is consistant discipline and some clearer boundries knowing there will be consequences (a little time-out/go to your room or taking something she wanted to do away as punishment always works for us) just make sure after the punishment you talk about it and give her a hug to let her know you still love her :)



answers from New York on

I'm so sorry, K.--what an emotional, exhausting mess. I know all you wanted to do is love this man. :(

I feel awful for both you and the 8 y/o SD. Since I grew up in a home like that--though we were a little older--I felt compelled to write. Like you, my mom was the stepmother, and as much as my stepsister was screwed up and lashed out at all of us (and at 40, she is still a mess!!!), it is my mom who received (and still receives) the brunt of it, and my heart always broke for her.

We tried family therapy, plus my mom went on her own for her own sanity, and my SS went on her own a few times but didn't stick with it. She never got over her parents' divorce and her father's subsequent remarriage and she still pulls a lot of BS today.

I think the first thing you need to do is have your husband get seriously involved in the SD's therapy and gain a full understanding of her medications. You may have no rights as the stepmother, but you can nudge him along to get all that information and to make the right changes happen. Obviously not enough is being done to help this girl who is a life-long train wreck on the verge.

In the interim, you need to be a positive, fair, but firm discipline force to all of them. As someone else said, this is YOUR home and you have rules for your home. I have a 7 y/o daughter, and on the rare occasion where she emulates some other kid's unacceptable behavior (this is the age!), I sit her down and and explain why she can't do that and remind her that no matter what someone else does, I expect her to behave as XYZ. Your son will be fine, but you will definitely need to do a lot of diplomatic explaining and a lot of talking. You know he doesn't understand this girl at all, so you will need to guide him through it.



answers from Albany on

As I was reading your post, I quickly thought that perhaps this child has an unidentified food allergy. Then when you said seizure medication, it really clicked. This child could very well be very toxic with heavy metals. The first child will get a larger dose of toxins from the mother than the rest of the children (unless a big exposure takes place). If Mom had/has amalgam fillings, had a Rhogam shot during pregnancy, etc, this all contributes to mercury toxicity. One of my friends was able to get completely off her seizure medication after getting rid of mercury in her body/brain.

I really hesitate to say that the child is badly behaved since it might be physical but you will never know unless you have her tested. What is she eating? Anything with food color? Additives? Pop? Dairy? Gluten? Those could all be triggers for the behavior. If this is the case discipline will only frustrate her. It's not normal to pace around at night. There is something physical going on.

If you want a free nutritional consultation, I'd be happy to speak to you on the phone and try and help you figure out if this is a possibility and recommend some resources. Just fill out the form at the end of the video on my website:

This child is clearly unhappy and needs help and lots of love. One technique I used on my daughter in extreme circumstances when she was freaking out was to hold her in a very tight hug. Eventually she stopped kicking and screaming and would just cry and then she'd be nice for a long time after. Crying also releases toxins via the tears. Just don't let go if you try this until she's calm. I read this in a child-rearing book many years ago. It's non-aggressive although it may not feel like it at the time!

Hope this helps and gives you a new angle to look at. I really don't think this is a discipline problem but rather a chemical reaction going on in her brain/body.

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