People say that being a parent is the hardest job you will ever do. Wrong. It is the second hardest job, the first is being a step-parent and more precisely being a stepmother.
At this moment approximately half of all Americans live in a stepfamily, this means that every single day millions of women are dealing with the taunt of “You’re not my mother!”
Many stepmothers find themselves not only having to deal with hurt and angry children but also mean, vicious and angry adults – the ex!
Women as a race can be notoriously cruel to their peers especially if they feel threatened or feel like they are losing out to another.
In this article
- What Do I Do If My Step Daughter Hates Me?
- Is It Normal To Not Love Your Stepchild?
- The Final Thought
What Do I Do If My Step Daughter Hates Me?
Adjusting to a stepfamily can take time and there is more often than not going to be a time when you and your stepdaughter may not connect as you hoped.
If you feel as though your stepdaughter hates you, you need to remain patient, consistent, and empathetic. Remember that this can be extremely challenging to go through as an adult, so dealing with it as a child can be completely overwhelming.
Understand Your Stepdaughter’s Needs
No matter the age of the child they may be feeling a sense of abandonment by their dad. They may also be feeling uncomfortable as their family dynamic shifts to include another person – a new woman.
They may also feel as though they are in competition with you for their dad’s attention.
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To help them overcome these feelings and work towards creating a unified family try to take into account the feelings of your stepdaughter after all children need to feel:
- Cared for
- That what they say matters
Empathize With Your Stepdaughter
Adolescent children will often have the hardest time adjusting to a new family dynamic, after all, they have become accustomed to one style of parenting and one set of rules.
From around ages 10-14 children go through some huge developmental changes. Then add into that mix a huge family upheaval, this could most definitely be leaving your stepdaughter feeling overwhelmed, scared, anxious, and confused.
Encourage open discussions where they can talk about how they are feeling and have an opinion. Try to remember that you made the choice to create this new family and your stepdaughter/s did not.
Respect Is Key
You may often feel like your stepdaughter does not respect you. Speak to your partner about the house rules and ensure that you are both on the same page – consistency is key!
Do not let her get a rise out of you and try to remain calm. This can be tough but it will help to reinforce your role as a parent.
All children that live in the house should have the same expectations put upon them no matter whether they are your biological children, stepchildren, or children with their dad.
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Discipline As A Stepparent
You and your partner must first decide if you are going to parent equally and if so then you will need to put clear rules in place so that everyone understands this. Here are some top tips:
- Create family rules and age-appropriate consequences and share them with all the children in your family.
- Enforce the rules calmly.
- Do not keep secrets from your partner and definitely do not make deals about breaking the rules with your stepdaughter. This will quickly backfire and you will not be seen as a parental figure.
- You may find that your stepdaughter will say something hurtful to you while you are discussing them breaking the rules. Stay calm and say something empathetic and validating, then re-focus the conversation on the initial rule-breaking and the consequences of that action.
Connect With Your Stepdaughter
It can be extremely difficult to connect with your stepdaughter, especially when they make it very clear that they do not like you. And remember connecting with a young child is not going to be the same process as trying to connect with an older child.
With a young child
Take time to get to know them, take an interest in their hobbies and encourage them to spend time with their dad alone as well as altogether as a family. Young children tend to adjust and adapt much quicker than older children.
Connect with a tween or teen child
Give them plenty of space and respect their boundaries. Show them that even if they say something rude or hurtful you will still be there for them.
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This age group can be tricky but it is especially important that you do not let them get under your skin. If they see that them saying something puts you off balance they are sure to use that pain point against you in the future.
Have some quick responses ready so that if something similar comes up in the future then you know how to reply. Some great lines to use here are, ” I hear what you’re saying”, “Let me think about that”, and “I’m sorry that you feel that way.”
With an adult stepdaughter
You don’t need to be a parent to your stepdaughter but it would be nice if you can create a healthy relationship with them.
Give them plenty of space and time to adjust to this new family dynamic and show them that you will always be there for them, even if they say that they dislike you at first.
Try To Keep The Peace With the Biological Mother
This may be one of the hardest things that you will have to do. But remember that both biological parents will play an important part in how well your stepfamily adjusts.
Your partner’s ex may not be overly enthralled with the thought of another woman being in their daughter’s lives and you certainly can not control how she will treat you but you can control how you treat them. Here are some top tips:
- Remain positive and kind toward the children and their biological mom.
- Let the child know that you are not trying to replace their mom.
- Be honest about how you feel when the other parent talks badly about you, but discuss this with your partner in private.
- Never speak negatively about their biological mom with them even if you feel pushed to do so.
Remind them that they can love both their biological parents and stepparents at the same time and that there is no need to disrespect anyone.
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Create Family Connections
You may be feeling that your stepdaughter does not want to spend any time with you but it is still important to plan family outings. This gives you all the opportunity to bond. You can try to encourage reluctant children to take part in these outings by:
- Letting older children choose a family activity.
- Allow them to bring a friend. This of course will depend on the size of your family.
- Let them know that you are there for them.
Creating new family traditions is another great way to help children adjust and bond with a new family unit.
Always Be Fair
One of the most common challenges in a blended family is that you as the parent treat your stepdaughter and your biological children differently.
The best way to tackle this is to ask for facts when you are challenged as being unfair. Discuss these facts and reinforce that all children biological or stepchildren are treated equally and that everyone follows the same rules.
Is It Normal To Not Love Your Stepchild?
The quick answer is yes, of course, it is, after all, they are not your children and you fell in love with their father, not them.
A shocking statistic that 65-70% of second marriages with children end in divorce. Much of this relationship failure can be due to the unrealistic expectations that many couples bring to a stepfamily.
Many men naturally feel protective over their children and almost expect their new partner to love their children as their own.
But speaking honestly here, it is often tough to have feelings of love for your biological children, especially when they are going through their teenage years.
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Imagine how difficult and totally unrealistic it is to love someone that you have no connection with and who treats you like dirt.
Professionals state that in the very best of situations it can take a minimum of four years for stepchildren and stepparents to feel comfortable with one another.
Yet, fathers insist that the women they fall in love with love their children instantly and unconditionally. It is ridiculous!
The best you can hope for in the beginning is that all parties in the stepfamily unit treat each other with respect and kindness. Stepmoms of course can treat their stepchildren with love but that does not necessarily mean that they love them.
And at no point should they feel guilty for not feeling an intensely personal and strong emotion for someone they do not really know.
Stepmothers can not be held responsible for cleaning up the mess left by their partner’s previous marriage. They can also not be expected to put aside their feelings so as to not upset the children.
Many stepchildren do not like or love their stepparents, this is despite their parent’s immensely strong desire for them to do so.
Stepmothers are often singled out as the worst of the worst and research has shown that stepmoms are often the dogs that get kicked.
As a stepmom, I have often felt like I have been thrown under the bus when it comes to my stepchildren and that they are prioritized over me and that I should love them no matter what they do or say.
My stepdaughters are disrespectful and their dad never corrects them and it has taken many years for him to step up and teach them basic manners such as saying “please” and “thank you”.
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What To Do When You Don’t Love Your Stepkids
Firstly know that it is completely normal to not love your stepkids straight away.
Remember that only in a very small number of stepfamilies does love come naturally and this is after 6-8 years in the family unit.
Let go of whether your stepdaughter likes you or not.
This is an important lesson to learn, to let go of how others feel about you.
Basic good manners and compassion always.
Treat your stepdaughters in a respectful way.
Set boundaries and house rules.
It is not acceptable for you to be disrespected in your own home. House rules apply to everyone and they should be presented to children as a united front.
Your partner needs to let go of his fantasy of having one big happy family.
These expectations are unrealistic and can put immense strain on a relationship.
Focus on your relationship with your partner.
Be honest with them and remember that you are with your partner despite the fact that he had children, not because of it. Ensure that you have date nights and nurture your relationship every single day.
The children in this new blended family have already experienced the breakdown of one family. Try to prevent it from happening again to both you and them.
The Final Thought
As a step-parent myself I know how hard it can be and the strain it can put on a relationship. But building a happy blended family can be difficult for all those involved.
Trying to work on building a relationship with a stepdaughter who doesn’t like you is a far too common experience for many stepparents.
It can be heartbreaking and hurtful to constantly be dealing with this dynamic in your home. But you must remain consistent, calm, and patient throughout the process in the hope that there will be a beautiful relationship at the end of it all.