Moody Teen Step Daughter

Updated on December 17, 2013
C.A. asks from Allen, TX
16 answers

My husband and I have been together for 5 years and married for 3. My children excepted my husband and his two girls with open arms from the beginning. His girls we not as easy. Their mother obviously did some manipulative brainwashing on them towards us. I busted my butt the first two years we were together, trying to make them feel loved, welcome and included. My son gave up his room so they could have their own personal space when they are here every other weekend. We did everything we could. We finally got it to good and it was such a relief. the oldest one always wanted to be around me when she was there, wanted to run errands with me, cook with me, etc. I wasn't just a friend to her, I was here step mom and made her abide the same rules as everyone else.
Then about 6 months ago, she decided she wanted nothing to do with me, my children or my parents. This has been extremely h*** o* our marriage. She blames me and my kids for not wanting to come over. Nothing pleases her anywhere. It's like a light was switched and she wants nothing to do with us. She wants her Dad to herself and is extremely mean disrespectful and hateful to him, her mom, grandparents and nme and my children as well.
. they have always showered her with tons of gifts fro Christmas and her birthday. I don't feel she deserves to be showered with gifts when she wants nothing to do with us. Am I wrong?? Obviously her Dad will buy her gifts, but I'm not going to waste anymore time and energy on trying to please someone that will never be pleased.
Has anyone else ever been through something like this? She also have an 8 year old sister that loves us and and is sweet as can be.
They holidays are upon us and it's ruining everything. My husband wants to be with his family, but his daughter refuses.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you all very much for your responses. We have gone to counseling separetly and together. It has really helped my husband and I but SD hated it even on her own and refuses to go. She is 13 years old and starting to get into alot of trouble at home with her mom, lying, making fake facebook accts, texting and talking to boys until wee hours of the night. Her mom took everything away from her for it, but is already caving and giving her back the privledges. I 100% understand a big part of it could be her age, but it is really affecting our entire family. All of the children went through alot with divorces and parents getting remarried. It's extremely hard. Those are the only other issues I know that is going on with her.
My son completely gave up his room for them. We painted it the colors the girls love and put up decorations and new bedding and bed for them. There is nothing left in that room of my sons. It is their room.........

More Answers



answers from Columbus on

I'm sure you'll take offense to this question, but did you bust up their marriage? Did you date him before they were divorced? It doesn't surprise me that the 8 year old accepts you (and please learn the difference between except and accept, because as you state it, you are leaving the kids out, not welcoming them to your home, which I think you mean to say). She was only 3 when you hooked up with her dad. But the teenager remembers her dad before you came along.

Teens are moody to begin with. But to have to accept the fact that her father has moved on from her family is difficult. To her, you will always be an outsider. No one here can know for sure how your relationship with her has developed and what blame lies with her and what blame lies with you. (ETA: your statement that her mother "obviously" did brainwashing strikes me as hysterical and judgmental, which I'm sure comes across to the teen). But if I were in her shoes, I can promise you I would not accept my father's new wife easily, especially at that age. And the sooner you understand that fact, the better, because not only are you an intruder to her, you also clearly don't understand her. Even if you are not the reason her parents split, you are the proof that it happened.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It is very hard to be a visitor in your own father's home.

It is very hard to visit your father when your step mom's kids are there all the time.

It is very hard to be a teenager.

Roll all this together and you get a very sad,emotional,angry and confused kid. They will act out in many different ways.

I know..I was once that kid. Divorce is the death of your family...and the birth of so many different living arrangements,schedules, court ordered decisions, upheaval and sadness.

Please be patient. Continue to love her and love her more when she seems hardest to love. Encourage her daddy to have alone time with his two daughters together. Then also encourage him to have alone time individually with each daughter.

Their family was torn apart. They need to feel a sense of their "togetherness" as a family without you and your kids.

I wish you the best. Divorce is sooo very h*** o* all parties involved...but especially the kids.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

In a previous question, you noted that you suspect your husband is bipolar based on his severe mood swings. A year ago, you posted a question about the now eight year old acting out. You have a step daughter with a genetic predisposition to the same condition and you are the new wife who is trying to be her mom, and you're not. You're clearly resentful in your post toward the girl and toward your husband's ex-wife. Kids are perceptive. She knows how you feel. You're saying she's hateful toward everyone. Of course she is! If my world fell apart, I would be, too. If you treat her with anything other than love and acceptance, you are wrong, in my opinion. She's not another adult that you can expect to have adult like behavior. She's a child going through a tough time surrounded by adults who are going through a tough time, meaning no one fully has her back. She's ripe for going off and finding peers who will accept her, peers who will likely not meet with your approval.

Nothing but love and acceptance, no matter what she gives you.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Well if you want to stoop to her level and add fuel to the fire, by all means, treat Christmas as an opportunity to get back at your step-daughter and show her who's boss. That will definitely help things get better, because what you really want is a family-wide standoff where you make your husband choose between his child and his wife for the holidays. Good times for all!

Please, stop thinking in petty, vengeful terms and start thinking in problem solving terms. It's clear that you resent this girl, and from her behavior, that's understandable but it's up to you to be the adult.

Here's a thought...has your husband taken the time to sit down with her and find out what the problem is? Has anyone reached out to the people she may confide in to find out what's going on? Who is her best friend? Has your husband reached out to the best friend's mom to find out if they have noticed changes in her mood and behavior? Has anyone picked up the phone and talked to the school counselor? Does she need counseling or therapy? If she's disconnecting from the entire family, one of her parents needs to step up to the plate and get into counseling and find out what's going on.

The teen years are hard, blending families is hard, and it sounds like none of you is handling this well at this point. If you really are at an impasse, then get a family counselor to help sort this out and get you all on the same team again. There is no need for this kind of fighting and strife. I have two teenagers (son and step-daughter) and we have our moments, but my husband and I would never declare war on the other person's child like you seem to want to do. A family counselor can help get to the root of the problem and bring some measure of peace back into your lives.

As for gifts...ask her what she wants and oblige her within reason. You should treat her the same as you do any of the other kids.

ETA: I see you've asked questions about your relationship with your SD in the past and I've recommended counseling before. Guess that hasn't happened?

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I think you, your husband and this daughter REALLY need some family counseling. It will make a huge difference., Sure you all will probably not be thrilled or look forward to it, it does take work, but if the 3 of you could learn to communicate with each other, in an honest, none judgmental way, it will change your lives for the better.

I was a child of divorce and there is a lot going on here from every ones view point.

Please consider this. You are not her mother. You are her fathers wife.
She is a teen and right now in her life there is a lot going on. Her friends, her school, her 2 separate families and her 2 homes.

What every teen craves is stability and THEIR friends. Their social life is something they think about and plan for all week. Sports events, movies, sleep overs etc.. With a typical home life, this is a lot easier than 2 families 2 homes.

Younger children she is not related to, and younger kids that want to spend time and have the attention of an older sibling.. it is hard to be thrilled with all of this when you are a teen and have no real control of it, without looking and sounding like a spoiled brat.

A loud home, when she is not used to it.. A different expectation in a home that is not really hers. The feeling you displaced another child in their room and she should feel grateful, but instead she may not really care.. so that guilt is there..

I do not care how long my parents were divorced, I ALWAYS felt like a visitor in my dads homes. I just could not get past it.

I also for whatever reason felt like I as missing my mom and worried she was lonely when we were not with her, even though she assured me ,. she was just fine (as an adult I am sure she loved the break) . I guess since she did not remarry, that was also part of my worry. I knew when we were not with my dad, he always had a girlfriend or a wife.

You are the adult. You stay above her behaviors, continue to have compassion for this girl. A broken original family.. still hurts, even though the adults have moved on and it is for the best, children still miss "Normal" or what they think is normal. Going back and forth from 2 homes, 2 sets of personalities, is exhausting and can be stressful.

This is why therapy can help. I could not put into words my true feelings to any of the adults in my life, because I did not want to upset any of them. But in Therapy, that was a safe place for all of us to be honest.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Has her father talked to her about this change is behavior? Has anyone asked her what was going on? That is a big change in her attitude.

Also, do you encourage your husband, her FATHER to spend one on one time with her? If not, you should. Its important, especially at this age, to have a positive relationship with their father, especially girls.

So how is this 16 year old ruining your holidays? She doesn't want to come over? Okay, then she doesn't come over. Something is going on and I doubt anyone has asked.

You need to get to the root cause of the problem if she is being disrespectful to everyone.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

It's great that you've tried so hard to be a good step-mom. But that doesn't replace the need for his kids from his first marriage to sometimes spend time with just their dad, without you around. Do not take this as a personal insult, and please encourage him to do this.

I think your husband should have a one-on-one talk with her, and try to find a compromise. Maybe on weekends when the daughters come over, the 2 of them have brunch out with just their dad on Saturday. And then join the rest of the extended family for the rest of the day. Do they live close by? It would be great if one night a week, he could spend an evening with just his oldest daughter too, so that at least once a week, she gets a few hours with her dad by herself. Or maybe he has a schedule and trades off, one week with 15 year old, the next week with 8 year old.

Also, despite the fact that she is being difficult, you need to be the bigger person and give her gifts for Christmas. If you are buying for the 8 year old, you buy for the 15 year old. To do otherwise will make this even worse. Between you and her, only one of you gets to act like a child, and it shouldn't be you. If you keep extending the olive branch, over and over, eventually she won't be a teen anymore, and you'll get past this.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

How old is the teen?

I have seen many teens "flip a switch," usually sometime between 13-16. They go from being sweet and loving to sullen and annoyed, overnight. They can make any family miserable, not just step-families.

My experience is that you have to draw boundaries on their miserable behavior, but you have to give up wanting them to like you for a few years. Most of them outgrow their miserableness between 18-20.

You have to keep being the sane, loving adult. You don't need to "shower" her with gifts, but of course you need to give her Christmas gifts. You don't punish her for being what is probably a typical teen.

You need to keep being as kind and loving as you can be, without allowing her to walk all over you.

I personally, am THRILLED that my kids are out of the teens. My marriage barely survived it.

p.s. If "all you do is yell," you need to stop yelling. Maybe the problem isn't all your stepdaughter. Reread Veruca Salt and Laurie's responses.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

Am I understanding correctly that your son gives up his room when they are there?

I ask because just my husband moving in, an adult, it was hard to make him feel comfortable in our home. We had everything arranged a specific way, things were done a way, everything was already set. Even for an adult, with the other adult consciously trying to figure out ways to welcome it is hard.

If my husband had kids I am quite sure we would have sold the house and bought a new family home because integrating would have been nearly impossible.

That is why I ask if you force those girls to sleep in your son's room because I could see why they never actually feel welcome in your home. No one would.

You said in your last question she said all you do is yell and you dismissed that as being manipulative. You could be right but have you considered you are not?

Perhaps you need to speak with a neutral observer, someone who won't take sides. You seem to think you have done so much and everything is their fault, if you are trying to make peace that isn't going to cut it.

AV I thought of that but it doesn't make sense. She has two kids, a boy and a girl. If there was a guest room the steps would get that so no guest room, which leaves the boy and the girl in the same room which would have been worded my kids share a room so they can have their own personal the boy sleeps on the sofa when the girls are there?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Being moody in return just makes for a whole lot of negative feedback building up.
She's a child - cut her some slack - not a whole heaping lot - just some.
Don't bend over backwards trying to buy her goodwill but don't totally cut her off either.
If she doesn't want to come then she's only cutting off her nose to spite her face.
She can sulk if she wants to - just let her know if she changes her mind she's welcome anytime - then just ignore it.
Her Dad should ignore it too.
Life goes on and the world doesn't stop spinning just because shes in a bad mood.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

A good friend has dealt with this with her step daughter and everyone she knows who has been in the same situation says it's very typical. I think how I was moody as a teen but didn't have this type of issue. Compound the two and it sounds unfortunately normal. Sorry I don't have a way to fix it. Just wanted to let you know it doesn't sound unusual. My friend has mainly just taken deep breaths and tried to remain nice without bending over backwards. Keep repeating to yourself that she is a teen. Even teens in non split up families can be pretty horrible. Deep breaths and patience and someday she will be in her 20's. I likely wouldn't shower her with gifts this year but would still get something. And as incredibly hard as it must be to remain kind, from what i read about the importance of fathers on their daughters' development, I would try to free up your husband spending time with her as much as possible. I think when a girl feels like her dad isn't there for her, she tries to fill the hole with other men.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think that Dad needs to handle his DD and expect basic respect in the home. It is hard to say if this is a teen thing (I was no angel) or a step thing or both. If his daughter refuses, take the younger kid and do your family Christmas. Don't let her hold everyone else hostage. "We are going to x event on x date. You are welcome to come, but only if you can be civil and not ruin anybody else's event." And then just go. No drama, no cajoling, no begging. If you don't respond to drama with drama, then it is likely to be less. That statement should come from her father, not you, BTW. I think he needs to take the reins here.

He can also consider family counseling with her. I find that sometimes the older a child was when you met or the child was at the time of the divorce, the harder things are for/with that child. And if that child has a parent feeding the teen angst, then you're just in for a ride. The difference with your SD and many teens is that she has another house to "run to" when she doesn't like something.

I would tell the givers that giving SD a gift is up to them. Leave it to them to decide if they want to and if they want it to be at the same level. Up til recently my aunt gave my sks gifts, but the sks never came with us (split holiday, I hate it) and they are now both over 18. Time to move on.

And then, try not to waste too much energy on someone who is just determined to be angry. Focus on the other kids.

As a SM 10 years in, I look back and realize sometimes I should have just let go. You WANT to be inclusive. Society gives you the message that you should love them as much as any other kid...and then you often get this unlikeable situation where it all seems unfair. SHE doesn't love YOU the same as her bioparents, and it's OK to love the kids differently. Do what you want for her, without expecting a specified result.

And 16 yr olds are VERY black and white. Both my SS and SD were very troublesome at that age when they got hold of an idea, no matter how gray it really was. It could have been something where everyone else saw shades of gray in the situation and she saw it as being very very wrong. Sigh. Kids. They usually grow out of it in a few years.

BTW, there was one year where I was about to leave my SS out for bears. He totally blew off me, DH and DD for Christmas when he was 19, and he's terrible in general about gifts unless someone spoon feeds him. I was very very angry the following year and only gave him one small thing from me for his birthday and DH put my name (with his) on things he'd gotten SS for Christmas. SS still lives and gets better presents, but I fully admit I put more effort into SD because she reciprocates. If you only want to give something small directly, an iTunes gift card is useful to most teens.

You may need to also talk to DH (gently) about how to salvage the holidays with everybody else. My DH struggled to come to terms with the sks growing up and not coming on vacation with us anymore. I reminded him that there was still me and DD and maybe in the future he could do a Man Weekend with SS or something. People grow and change. You can't always be together like a six pack of soda. It is hard. But you need to look for a compromise vs letting this tear everyone apart.

ETA: The way I read it was that her son gave up a room of his own for his stepsisters, so they could have their own room together and he shares with someone else. Not that they stay in his room EOWE.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

This has been going on for months. WHEN are you going to get help? What are you waiting for? You all need professional counseling. If your husband and his daughter refuse to go then go by yourself to start. This family dynamic isn't working, GET HELP.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Tell him you've had enough. He has to stand up to her or she's going to keep doing this forever. Tell him she can come to the house if she wants to but she has to follow the rules at least somewhat. She's getting older and is going to push the boundaries. She is going to try and push and push and push. It's up to you and hubby as to who and how her behaviors are going to be handled.

If she doesn't want to come to your house but wants dad to come to her I'd let it be known you don't approve. If he wants to get past this attitude of hers then he has to make her understand he is not allowing this anymore.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

How old is she? My guess is there is more going on than just the symptoms you have stated. If you don't already know what it is, you need to get to the root of the problem. Could be issues with her, her mom, or just feeling left out (even if she isn't, she may feel like it).

Also, what would you do if this way YOUR child? Meaning, you probably wouldn't take the stand that "you don't want to waste anymore time and energy"... That fact that you have stated it regarding her, tells me that she may feel she is treated differently.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would encourage your husband to take her out alone for awhile. Father/Daughter dates. If anything this will help him see how she is changing and hopefully he can shower her with attention when they are together or he might be able to get her talking about what is really going on. Much luck to you.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions