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Q: I am at the end of my rope. Ive been doing my very best do be a great stepmom, but nothing seems to work. My stepdaughter hates me. We fight all the time. She doesnt follow my requests, and even when we seem to have a good time, she tells her mother that we never get along, and that we never will. I tell my husband about it, but he feels caught between a rock and a hard place, and doesnt want to take sides. Help!

A: Dont fall into the fairytale trap. You may need to manage the myths of the evil stepmother. The myths are partly based on the fear of the unknown and the strong feelings of loyalty to our natural parents. Kids fight to protect themselves and their families. You may be viewed as the intruder, the one who stands between her two natural parents getting back together. This is a common and recurrent fantasy children of divorce have at any age, that their parents will someday reunite.

No matter how good you are, your stepdaughters loyalty is to her own parents, and a conscious or unconscious desire for the return of how things used to be is a strong force to tackle. Dont fight it. Rather keep focusing on being with her in ways that reinforces her trust in you. Trust is the foundation of every relationship, and it takes patience, hard work, and consistency to gain it and maintain it. It is a constant work in progress.

First and foremost, your stepdaughter needs to feel safe with you. Establish a relationship on confidentiality. Dont complain to your husband about her. Instead request her help to teach you about her. She wont make it easy on you, and she will test your sincerity over and over again. Heres where your own emotional intelligence will come in handy. Begin to raise your awareness about her needs, and fulfill yours in other ways than being the perfect stepmom. Ask your husband for his emotional support, but not for his interference. Dont expect him to do the relationship work for you. He doesnt really have that kind of power, but you do.

Don't get derailed by the mixed signals she may be sending you. On one hand she may want two perfectly functioning families, instantly, and at the same time assert her strong loyalty to her mom, especially if she is primarily residing with her. In addition, dont forget about her wishful thinking, my mom and my dad together forever. You have a choice in responding with patience and understanding to the signals that asks for a loving home, one that is safe, comforting, and supportive.

Meet the challenges of stepparenting by learning what kids need at their particular stage of development. If youve never had a daughter her age, discover her world through her, and through other means. Educate yourself. Get your stepdaughter involved in your new family life gradually, exercising sensitivity to her challenges and yours. This is a transition for everyone. Keep the lines of communication open and your expectations realistic. If you think that it is difficult to be a new stepmom, then you can empathize that it isnt easy to be a new stepdaughter, either. You are actually sharing similar experiences. Share them, with sincerity, honesty and respect for both of you as you build a long-lasting relationship with your new stepdaughter. And of course, dont hesitate to seek professional help and support, because there are always solutions even when they often seem out of reach. tries to provide quality information, but cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information, opinions or other content posted on the site. It is not intended as a substitute for and should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting, tax, medical or other professional advice. It should not be construed as establishing a professional-client or professional-patient relationship. The applicability of legal principles is subject to amendment by the legislature, interpretation by the courts and different application by different judges and may differ substantially in individual situations or different states. Before acting on what you have read, it is important to obtain appropriate professional advice about your particular situation and facts. Access to and use of is subject to additional Terms and Conditions. is a secure site and respects your Privacy.

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