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My Stepdaughter

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi fellow mamas-
I am truly struggling with getting along with my stepdaughter. It is quite obvious she sees me as a threat and her actions have not only become disrespectful but also spiteful.

Let me start with what happened last night.
We were watching Uptown Girls, which she loves because there is a song in it called, "Daddy's Girl." We were all also playing Uno together as a family. My SD is 7, SS 3, S 4 and the baby(9 months)was crawling around.

It started off with her sitting on one side of her dad and I sat on the other side of my husband. Immediately, she says, " No, I want to sit in between you two." To which both her dad and I respond, "No, you are already sitting by your dad/me." She then proceeded to try every excuse in the book to try to sit in between us, and failed. It was obviously an issue that I was next to her dad too, and if she was in the middle of us, then I wouldn't be next to her dad? This is constantly happening in our house, even when I hug my husband, she will come right up and squeeze her body in between us. It's truly frustrating and I have tried every angle of dealing with it. I have tried backing off. I have tried not backing off, the behavior does not cease. I feel that it is other things that are creating this behavior. I also feel like I should be able to hug my husband and not feel like I cannot touch him when she is around.


So...moving on. That issue was over. I just absentmindedly starting singing that Daddy's Little Girl song, mostly because it was in my head, the movie was playing and I didn't think two thoughts about it.

Suddenly, she starts screaming at me, " You are NOT my Daddy's little girl, I am, that is NOT YOUR SONG!"
To which I said to her, " I never said I was your daddy's little girl, I was just singing the song.
She says, " Well, it's not your song, it's MINE!
I respond, " I know I am not your daddy's little girl, I am your dad's wife, and I was just singing it."

To which she responds- YOU ARE NOT HIS WIFE YET!

At this point I should tell you that we ARE legally married, yet have not had a ceremony, so to her, I am not his wife.

Stupidly I say, " Well, legally I am." Which 1. Does she understand the LEGAL parts of it? 2. I don't know why I said that, maybe because it hurt me that she said I was not his wife, and I was lashing back?

She rolls her eyes at me but the game moves on. When it is my turn to go in Uno, she says- Go you baby. At this point, I am not going to be disrespected and called ANY names, no matter how juvenile. So I tell her, Unless you want to be done playing this game, you need to apologize to me. You DO NOT talk to me like that or disrespect me. She laughs and apologizes. I tell her NO, really apologize or you can leave the game. She does really apologize and we move on. Well, then she throws her cards down and stomps off. I put her cards under the deck and keep playing. Then she comes back and says, "No, I wanttoplay....
I tell her she already quit the game. She apologizes and says she wants to play, so I give her more cards and we all play til the game is over.

I am so sick of battling with her all the time. I admit I have started acting like a child myself at times with her because I am so exhausted and don't know what to do. I need an ADULT way to handle this. This is how it plays out all the time. She pushes to see what she can get away with.

Also, her and my stepson are constantly saying, "My mom does this like this, or My mom took us to see that movie if we are talking about a movie. Or, " My mom has a better one at her house." I don't want them to think they cannot talk about their mom, but the disrespectful way it is being said needs to stop- How do I go about this?

Please Help.
post #2 of 22
Do you think you could not engage in the pain of of her power struggle/ I know this is hard but for instance the song example redone:

Ok You singing
she says "you can not sing that song! you are not HIS little girl"
So instead of explaing yourself at all which is defensive say something like,
"it hurts you to hear me sing that song."
Engage her in how she feels...Let her know you understnd her and are not there to battle with her. Right now you are engaging in the battle.

I would constantly mirror her feelings back to her and never force an apology b/c it means nothing anyway. She isn't sorry and making her say it is trite.

Instead if she calls you a baby tell her that that is name calling. Tell her she sounds hurt or upset or angry. Try and give her room to be angry with you but set boundaries with care.
Good luck I am sure this hard!
post #3 of 22
In my experience, it works out better if the favored parent is the one who intervenes. Whenever possible, your DH should be the one to insist on her behaving with respect toward you, and the one who delivers the consequence for not doing so.

When you're alone with her, do not "take the bait" when she wants to start a fight. If she'll enter a reasonable, respectful conversation about how she feels, then great. I would guess, however, that she is not interested in such conversations and any attempt on your part to have one will blow up in your face. You can acknowledge her statements with phrases designed to communicate that you're not discussing this any further.

Here are some examples of things you can say in response to a rude comment:

"I love you too much to argue."

"Hmm... oh, that's nice."

"Okay."

"I'll play Uno with you when you're ready to be kind." (walk away)

These are best delivered with a smile and a calm voice (never with sarcasm). Even if she really gets your goat with a comment she makes, you are better off not showing this.

Just my two cents. Good luck, whatever you do!
post #4 of 22
Boy, does that sound familiar... We've been through all of it almost word for word.

Dsd couldn't stand for her dad and I to hug, or to sit next to each other at the movies, couch, restaurant, etc. and boy did I fight it (foolishly!). At the same time, even to this day I grin and bear the "my mom does this..." comments. Her mom hasn't called or picked up dsd since Christmas, we are going on three weeks of not even minimal contact, but it doesn't matter, she makes those comments out of love to her mom and I will HURT her if I say something about her mom other than good. I am 100% convinced that dsd is grateful for me not jumping on those comments, and she did used to say those with a nasty tone when she was young. I never engaged though, it's one of the baits you never want to bite, and it will pass, truly. She'll see that you are not there to criticize her mom, even if it takes a couple of years. Nod along, listen to what she has to say, and move on to another topic.

What I am trying to say is that I understand the frustration, but the important part of it all - she is just a hurt kid. If she didn't see you as a threat, she wouldn't behave the way she does. She is jealous, and hurt, and she just wants her daddy to be hers. The more understanding you are of that fact - the quicker the problems will be resolved.

Here is what I notice in your post that I would reconsider:

* I think it would work better if her dad was engaged in discussing rudeness. "We don't call people names, honey, that was hurtful. <insert request for apology>" would be much more powerful coming from him, not from you.

* I WOULD let her sit in between without an argument, unless it is truly a major issue. This is one of the things I look back on with a lot of regret, and feel the most foolish about. She needed her dad, she is insecure, and she is hurt. I could enjoy the closeness the other five days of the week that she wasn't there. It wasn't fair to her, and I didn't quite get it for the longest time. Besides, if it was any other child longing to sit next to ME, I would smile and slide over, and make room for the kid. Somehow we start feeling threatened with it if it's the stepkid who asks to sit next to dad, and we really shouldn't.

* Defending your legal status is unnecessary. You are what you are, and getting into argument like that sounds silly if you are an adult and she is the kid. (mind you, I had a handful of those myself, so no judgement here, really.. I believe that stepparent and a stepchild is one of the most complicated relationships, and we are bound to make mistakes even when we try very hard to make it work).

* If she makes a comment like that about a song, it is once again a reminder to her that there are other people in her dad's life that take away HER love from HER daddy. Of course love doesn't work like that, but a child doesn't rationalize no matter how many times you try to explain it, all that little girl knows is that she is hurt, and you are happy, and her relationship with her dad that is hers by right is now being split into bits and pieces she doesn't want to even acknowledge.

* "My mom does this..." comments will never go away. Ever. Whether done out of rudeness or just because they fit the conversation... DSD is 15, and she says "my mom does this... " now and then. BTW, I noticed I say "my mom does...", and that tells us a whole bunch. We just mention how our parents do things and that's that. We hold it dear. To argue about it with insecure hurt children won't turn them into polite kids, and won't make us look good, kwim?
post #5 of 22
Great advice, just wanted to encourage your DH to step in with this.

And REALLY look into the mirroring emotions statements, it's really powerful with kids, especially because these intense emotions are overwhelming and scary to them in the first place.

Good luck, it's SO hard not to take the bait.

What does your DH say about all this??? I'm surprised he's not up in arms about making sure sd treats you with more respect, and I'd also think he needs to be reinforcing THEIR relationship so sd isn't so threatened by him/you as a team.

Theoretica
post #6 of 22
Wow. Hard situation. But I want to give a big ole' "Yeah, that!" response to Oriole's post. My immediate reaction to your post was:

1. Your dh should have been responding when she was acting out, not you. When she was being disrespectful to you or questioning whether you were "really" his wife, he should have jumped in immediately and not left you to respond. He needs to have a series of conversations with her that make it clear that he loves her, that he will always be her dad, but that he is your husband as well. He needs to help her work through these feelings. They are deep-seated and they aren't going to go away overnight. She is obviously very dependent upon him and very scared. But again, the point of this "point' is that he needs to be dealing with the brunt of her insecurity, not you.

2. Don't stoop to her level, as tempting as it may be (and believe me, I know how tempting it is. I have a 6-yr-old dsd with a serious Electra Complex! LOL). Sitting between you isn't a big deal. Let her. And when she is sitting between you, make sure your dh reaches around and touches your shoulder, or you lean over and give him a kiss. Let her see that she can be with you, with him, "between" you and your love and devotion to one another isn't affected. Believe it or not, that will be reassuring to her--in the long run.

Deep breaths...there is nothing easy about being a stepparent. Even on the best days. But on the best days, when it works and you realize that you've brought back a sense of security into the lives of children who have had their worlds turned upside down, it's the most amazing feeling in the world.
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by hipumpkins View Post
Do you think you could not engage in the pain of of her power struggle/ I know this is hard but for instance the song example redone:

You're singing
she says "you can not sing that song! you are not HIS little girl"
So instead of explaining yourself at all which is defensive say something like,
"it hurts you to hear me sing that song."
Engage her in how she feels...Let her know you understnd her and are not there to battle with her. Right now you are engaging in the battle.

I would constantly mirror her feelings back to her and never force an apology b/c it means nothing anyway. She isn't sorry and making her say it is trite.

Instead if she calls you a baby tell her that that is name calling. Tell her she sounds hurt or upset or angry. Try and give her room to be angry with you but set boundaries with care.
Good luck I am sure this hard!
I really like and agree with this. Validating her emotions and then leaving it at that is a good idea. She probably just feels she is not being heard (regarding her feelings) and that may be increasing their intensity.

I also agree with the other posters who said her father really needs to be the one interjecting when his daughter lashes out at you or disrespects you. He also needs to have a heart to heart and reaffirm how very special she is to him.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

thank you!

Thank you everyone for all your suggestions. I definitely will be using your tips, Oriole and everyone else! It is so hard when you are so emotionally invested in something, to step back and see the other alternatives I could have chosen as my reaction. Knowing my stepdaughter, those methods WILL be really useful. I think I will also let my husband read this posting and subsequent responses. I know he has expressed that to let me deal with these issues shows her that she cannot treat me like that, something about her respecting me more because I am not running to him. I partially agree however see the need for him to step in-especially this last time. I did feel completely unsupported and on my own.

Thank you...
post #9 of 22
You chose to be in her life, not the other way around. I agree with those who say to respect her feelings and push it back to dad.
post #10 of 22
I agree with the other mom's but also wanted to add simular things can happen with bio-children at that age.
post #11 of 22
just offering hugs and sympathy for all of you -- blending families is tough!!! I would just add one quick default way to deal with anything and everything, and that is: relationship is more important than behavior. build your relationship with her, make sure dad is building his relationship with her, build up your entire family relationship, try to ignore rude comments as much as possible (she KNOWS when she's out of line, it's up to you to let her know that you'll love her and her daddy anyway), and the rude comments will go away when she feels safer and more secure. You can tell her if something hurts your feelings, but not in an accusing or guilt-inducing way, ya know? I agree that dad needs to "defend" you, but also not in a "respect her or else" kind of way -- try to avoid power struggles, forced apologies, etc. she is really hurting, and needs a lot of love and reassurance from everyone...speaking of everyone, how is her mom handling things on her end? kind of maybe sounds like not so well judging by the "you're not his wife yet" comment... ??

best of luck!! and yes, let her in on all physical contact she swoops in for, even if she's really there to wedge between you -- use it as an opportunity to give her a hug!! I wouldn't avoid touching her dad, unless you're doing it to make a point, she'll sense that, and, well, ick.
post #12 of 22
What a great bunch of replies! WOW! Where were you all when I was a kid!!! Just kidding.

I would like to add that having a special, consistant, predictable Dad/Daughter thing- day/time/activity that is just for them might help them to strenghten their bond. Something that's fun, and just for them. Also, having something that YOU and she can bond over regularly might help too. I was the same way with my mom after my dad died, and we started making brownies 2x a month. It was predictable, and consistant and it was one of the only normal things we did. It was one of the only times I felt connected to her too. Maybe something 'special' will help her feel like her place in the family is solid.

What about some counseling with her and daddy? Even if it's through the church pastor (if you are religious) can be very benefical for her to have a place to feel 'safe' and 'normal' for what she is feeling. She may be able to open up to DH a little more too. It also sounds like he needs to be more open to DD about what is going on. I get the feeling that she feels like she is in the dark. Like she doesn't know anything- and I'm sure you keep her 'in the loop' but if she's hurt, scared, angry and about a million other emotions it may be VERY easy for her to forget or not hear what you/he are saying.

HUGS and take things slow!
post #13 of 22
I haven't had this experience myself, but I did see a way of at least attempting to fix the problem. You would need your husband to be the ref in this game, but the idea is to switch role playing. She is you and you are her and you act the way you feel the other acting. It helps you see through each others' eyes and try to understand how the other is feeling. It won't an instant fix, but it can at least help to mend the relationship.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by yarngoddess View Post
I would like to add that having a special, consistant, predictable Dad/Daughter thing- day/time/activity that is just for them might help them to strenghten their bond.
I second this. It will become even more important as she is growing up. Right now dsd and her dad have a coffee house ritual. Sometimes they go on the weekend when he wants to talk to her about something, sometimes during the week, and it's just two of them, and it is priceless. I'm sure she will look back on it with great fondness when she is all grown up.

Her and I do the baking and cooking bit. We also have "our" shows we watch together.
post #15 of 22
I have just started to find peace with my stepdaughter. I had a talk with husband, basically saying that I am not her parent, so I will not be the one to discipline her, tell her when to go to bed etc. This has brought me a lot of peace for some reason. If she were to talk to me like that, I would ignore it and then talk to him about allowing her to act like that to me.
Her father needs to step in. He needs to tell her that in life, you won't have many friends if you treat people you don't care for like that. Then, he needs to ask her what her concerns are about you. He needs to hear her out.
In the mean time, you just need to treat her like a guest in your house and bite your tongue when she is rude. I have backlashed with my stepdaughter before and all it did was make us have a love/hate relationship. Since I've started practicing my "I'm not the responsible party" attitude, life has been much better for both of us.
post #16 of 22
My heart is breaking for that little girl. Try putting yourself in her shoes. She truly believes and feels like you are taking her father away. Dad & Daughter definitely need to have more one-on-one time.
post #17 of 22
I can tell you from the perspective of a step-child who had an insecure, jealous stepmother, that it sucks to feel like you are competing for dad's affections, especially when you don't get to live with him full-time. Don't ever let her feel like you resent her or are threatened by her. If she wants to sit between you and her dad or get in the middle of a hug, LET HER. Embrace her in the middle of that hug, let her know that her place with her dad is totally secure, that you are not going to crowd her out.

You can also engage her in talking about her mom, let her know through your actions that you are not trying to replace her. Go ahead and let her tell you how her mom does stuff. Use it as a conversation starter, even if it starts off snotty. Recognize the emotions underneath it. They need to know that it's okay to have negative feelings about their parents splitting up and you marrying their dad -- all the grown-ups can handle the negative emotions, and the kids with the negative emotions will still be loved and treasured. Try to do things at your place that let the kids bring their mom there in a positive way -- have her bring a recipe from mom's house to make at your house. Help her make a photocollage of her and her mom for a surprise for mom's birthday, have a day to make Valentine's cards for everyone in the family, etc.

A pp mentioned having special daddy time, but you might also want to do special step-mom time, maybe some activity that is DSD or DSS's choice. Do you have some skills you could share and teach them? My step-mom taught me to crochet, and I was so excited by that.

Remember, from your SD's perspective, her parents split, and here YOU are, in HER life, in the spot that her mom used to occupy. Consider her needs to feel secure, to know she is loved, that she won't be pushed out of her dad's heart or life. Little kids are not rational.

Ultimately, you are making a lifetime investment by having a good relationship with this little person. My dad and step-mom still have strained relations with both my sisters because of how they related with us when we were little.
post #18 of 22
Your dh needs to step up here, but I don't think you should bow out at all. She needs to see this as you and dh are a unified front.
post #19 of 22
An anecdote. I do recognize ours are very different paths.

----------

When I was dating a man with children, his kids (10yrs and 15 yrs) were uncomfortable for many months with DP and I being physically affectionate in any way, but tolerated (uncomfortably) hugging.

The younger, E, while uncomfortable with our adult affection, was earnest in her efforts to make a positive connection with me. She was (and is still, I'm sure) a warm and loving child, which eased my struggle to yield my natural urge to fawn affection on my partner to her desire for security. Most of the time, when DP and I would hug, E would try to squeeze in. We immediately made a joyful deal of it, calling it an "E sandwich". In fact, we began calling regularly for such group hugs, and she eagerly joined in each one. She felt safe. Included. Loved. By the end of her summer visit, DP and I were much more open in our affection with one another and E seemed much more relaxed around our adult affection.

Our feelings in those group hugs were so genuine. There was a lot of joy between us.

Ok, I'm a little sad now.

Good luck.

*hugs*

Phanta
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantasmagoria View Post
----------

Most of the time, when DP and I would hug, E would try to squeeze in. We immediately made a joyful deal of it, calling it an "E sandwich". In fact, we began calling regularly for such group hugs, and she eagerly joined in each one. She felt safe. Included. Loved. By the end of her summer visit, DP and I were much more open in our affection with one another and E seemed much more relaxed around our adult affection.

Our feelings in those group hugs were so genuine. There was a lot of joy between us.

Ok, I'm a little sad now.

Good luck.

*hugs*

Phanta
Hey! When my dsd's were little we called them 'sandwich hugs' - they were pretty popular, too.

I second the idea of looking at it as a desire, not just to get 'in between' you and your dh, but to be included and in the middle of the family, even if she's not always articulate about it, and may have conflicting feelings.
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