I am at
the end of my rope. I ve 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
doesn t 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
doesn t want to take sides. Help!
Don t 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 stepdaughter s 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. Don t 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.
foremost, your stepdaughter needs to feel safe with you. Establish a
relationship on confidentiality. Don t complain to your husband about her.
Instead request her help to teach you about her. She won t make it easy on
you, and she will test your sincerity over and over again. Here s 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.
Don t expect him to do the relationship work for you. He doesn t really have
that kind of power, but you do.
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, don t 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.
challenges of stepparenting by learning what kids need at their particular stage
of development. If you ve 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 isn t 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, don t hesitate to seek professional help and support, because there
are always solutions even when they often seem out of reach.