My husband is not the bio father of my eldest child (had her in highschool). That said, he has been around since she was 4/almost 5, and we married when she was 6. She has called him dad since we got married and initiated that on her own. She loves him VERY much, and he loves her. He treats her like she is 100% his child (she knows who her bio father is, but they don't interact).
She is 12, and fast approaching that lovely, very attitude-filled stage. DH is really taking all of this very personally. He suddenly feels like her attitude is a sign of "you aren't my real dad" vs just something that almost every normal, hormonal girl goes through. I get the 'tude too, it's not just him. He grew up in a house of all boys, in a family with only male cousins, so he just doesn't get this stage.
How do I help him with this? Simply trying to explain to him that it's a normal phase that we need to work on together is not working. I'm afraid that it will eventually damage their relationship.
I'm in a similar situation, but my DD is a bit older (16 in two weeks). One thing that helped is DH taking a child development class for school. It helped him to see what the normal stages in general are. Also, going to therapy helped quite a bit, as well.
Will your DH read any books or go to a counselor? Or if you go to church, maybe the youth pastor.
Another "neutral" third party might be your DD's teacher. As a Middle School/High School teacher myself, I have often explained the stage a student is at to their parents. It helped the parents to hear that it wasn't just them and that they weren't crazy -- kids in the pre-teen/teen years are going through a tough transition.
Thank you for replying. While he wouldn't see someone to talk to (god knows we've needed that in our own marriage and he wouldn't), he would probably hear it from a teacher very well. We have conferences coming up at the end of the month. I'll make sure that he comes along and maybe bring up the subject of girls and attitudes to get her take on it and let him hear that it's normal.
We have almost the exact same situation with regards to everything, except my ds1 is now 15. It is such a hard place to be. We've slowly moved through the worst of it, I think, and come out the other end.
What helped us the most was my husband talking to parents of other teenage boys. He doesn't have any friends who have teenage boys (I had my son at 16) as most of his friends are just starting their families but I tried really hard to facilitate ways for him to be around my ds's friends and their dads. Doing lots of father/son activities naturally led to discussing stuff which led to my DH realizing that what my ds is going through is completely normal and not about him not being the bio father.