background: I’ve been with my SO for nearly 10 years and been in his daughter’s life from day one. Her mother forbid me to be called stepmom etc and I am not allowed to call her my stepdaughter etc. So I don’t, I am only doing that here for ease of understanding. This weekend is the first weekend my SD didn’t want to come see us. She really hurt her dad’s feelings by telling him she didn’t want to see him, in those words. She came out anyway and e-mailed him that she did not want to come because I am Mean. She couldn’t give any specific examples except that I ignore her when we fight? The thing is we don’t fight and if her dad and I have a disagreement while she is there I specifically apologize to her and tell her we should save those kind of discussions for after the weekend. We do fun things together like crafts and baking. She told her dad not to tell me she said this until she left and he listened. I feel robbed of the opportunity to talk to her. I always thought she and I got along so well. I’m extremely proud of what a smart young woman she is becoming and try to make sure she knows that. She asked her grandmother to stop at my work just to say hello last week. This came out of nowhere. Now her dad wants me to talk to her, her mom wants me in counseling, and I want to ignore it because I am honestly thinking this is some kind of trap being set by her mother in hopes of getting full custody. There’s more background on her mom but I don’t have enough words left to get into that. The trust issues are not without merit. Also, Her dad works away a lot and her mom won’t let me see her when he is away. This time he will be gone for a month.
I’m not sure how much power you have in this situation. You chose to join a blended family situation. That was your decision. Decisions have consequences. Blended families can be complicated, often because of having to deal with ex-spouses, jealousy, and so forth.
Do what you can to make positive changes. If it means going to therapy, then you might have to acquiesce. If you want to have a relationship with your stepdaughter, you might have to do things that you don’t want to do or don’t think are necessary. That’s all part of attempting to correct these types of issues.
You can also try these few ideas to help improve your relationship with your step-daughter:
- Communicate regularly and openly: Try to have regular conversations with your stepdaughter about her interests, hobbies, school, and friends. Create a safe space where she can share her thoughts and feelings without judgment or criticism. Be an active listener and show empathy towards her concerns.
- Spend quality time together: Find activities that you both enjoy and make time to do them together. It could be as simple as watching a movie, going for a walk, or trying out a new recipe. By spending quality time together, you can build a stronger bond and create positive memories.
- Show appreciation and affection: Express your love and appreciation for your stepdaughter regularly. Offer words of encouragement, praise her accomplishments, and show physical affection such as hugging or holding hands. These gestures can help her feel valued and supported.
- Respect her boundaries and individuality: As a step-parent, it’s important to respect your stepdaughter’s boundaries and individuality. Allow her to make her own decisions and express her opinions. Avoid comparing her to others or criticizing her choices. Instead, focus on building a positive relationship based on mutual respect and trust.
I wish I had better advice for you in this situation, but the reality is it can be difficult for stepparents to affect change. You might suggest family therapy as a way to begin to remedy this issue. Hopefully, that will help. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle