I have 3 step daughters, 18, 16, and 11, whom I've known since they were 12, 10, and 5. Lucky for me I've had the "privilege" of being part of my older two's teen years...raising teenagers is something else, lol. My concern and heartache is with my 11 yr old. For the past 5 yrs we've had a great relationship, and I've fallen in love with an amazing little girl. She looked up to me, always wanted to do things with me, play games, bake, go shopping, etc. Now we are entering her pre- teen years, and the years of age where I feel she is more aware of feelings. I'm struggling because I feel I'm losing how to interact with her. As a pre-teen I see the hormones working, as she is now starting to have a different attitude. She answers back, is sarcastic, doesn't like to be corrected, can be rude, etc. Typical teenage attitude I guess. My struggle is dealing with it. With the older 2, I wasn't so involved because my husband and I were just starting to date, as they got older I had more of a passive role with them. With my 18 yr old I was more of a go to for advice person and vent to person for her; when I didn't agree with things she'd do I'd give her my input and shared my thoughts with my husband leaving it up to him on how to approach things with her. My 16 yr old is a little more hands on, I correct her when needed on her attitude, go to school meeting when needed, we talk about life after high school goals, etc. With her, I have a little more of a parenting role, but she is mostly in her moms care and is a mama's girl, that I don't need to have such an active role.
With my 11 yr old it's a little different. I've been a very active role in her life, and her in mine. I have a stronger bond with her since we have spent a lot more quality time together. Now that she is getting to her teen years, I'm worried about how it will affect our relationship. Do I correct her attitude, her sarcasm, her moodiness, her laziness? As a person that cares about her, and wants the best for her...of course I want to correct these things but I'm worried about it hurting our relationship. I also feel that she is now at an age where she is worried about liking me and hurting her moms feelings. In no means do I want to replace her mom. I think her mom is good mom to her and although it hurts me that I will never be equal to her mom, I would not even think of coming in between that mother-daughter bond.
I just want her to know that I care about her and love her and want the best for her. I want her to know that I don't have any intention of replacing her mom or trying to be her mom but as her step mom, I do care for her as if she were my own. I want her to know that if I think she is wrong or needs to be corrected I'm going to step in and when I do it doesn't mean I don't like her or I just want to be mean to her. The problem is I don't know how to communicate all this to her. I know it may sound simple, but I get nervous, especially telling her that I love her. I don't want her to feel confused or obligated to say it back. I don't want her to feel like she's hurting her mom to love me back. But I don't want her to dislike me either just because her mom doesn't like me. This little one struggles with talking about feelings as well. If anybody has any advice on how to approach these topics please help...thanks!