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Struggling step parent

Struggling step parent

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Struggling step parent

I don’t know where to start with this. It’s coming up 5 years into my relationship and my partners daughter (13) decides not to go home to her mums. So far there has been no encouragement for her to talk to her mum and after reaching out to her, she has just continues to disregard me. I don’t get any acknowledgment from her and to be honest she brings my mood down. My partner refuses to listen to me and just avoids any confrontation. I have begun to shut down myself and I’m considering leaving. Ideally it would be preferable if she could do 50/50 that way she still maintains a relationship with her mother. I’m so uncomfortable in my own home! There’s a lot of issues going on with this girl, it was only 18 months ago she was complaining to her mum that she wasn’t happy when she’d come for the weekend. My stepson stoped coming for 2 years and not a lot effort went into reconciliation, he even blocked communication access from us, he was only 14 at the time! There is barely communication between my partner and his ex. Sorry for long story, but over emotional right now!
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Re: Struggling step parent

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Hi @Coops 

 

Firstly, welcome to our forums, and thanks for sharing. It sounds like you're feeling really bothered by your step-daughters lack of acknowledgement of yourself, and feeling quite uncomfortable with her in the home - is that right?

 

Can you tell us a little bit more about how she isn't acknowledging you? How bad is it? Is there any way to discuss this with her?

 

These sort of circumstances can be really hard to navigate and I can hear that you are feeling unheard and quite powerless about it all.

 

It does sound like your step-daughter may be going through a rough time. If you feel comfortable, it might be worth referring her to Kids Helpline so that she can get some support for whatever is going on for her. I'd also encourage you to give Parentline a call so that you can get some support, because it sounds like you're feeling (understandably) quite upset about it all. They are a phone service for parents and carers of children from birth to 18 years old and offer confidential and anonymous counselling and support on parenting issues. The number for Parentline differs per state. Scroll to the bottom of this page to see which number to call if you're interested. 

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Re: Struggling step parent


Thank you for responding,

Regarding being disregarded for eg, When saying goodnight I’ll be sitting right next to her dad and she will say goodnight to him and then walk off, she has to be constantly reminded to say goodnight to me. About a month ago, I had been home from work for at least 2 hours before she came out of her room, still not saying hi. She won’t take any guidance from me and always waits for her dad only to be given the same guidance!! I reached out to her the day she refused to go with her mum, but that just fell on deaf ears.
I have suggested to my partner that I’d be more comfortable having her 50/50 as I do my kids as I dont think it’s fair in the other parent to miss out. When she stays with us, she gets away with just doing her own thing and is more relaxed, spend 90% in her room. Where as she has more structure when with her mum.
Another thing I have struggled with since the word go, is becoming a step mum and feeling guilt towards my 2 kids ( now 19 and 16 ) but they are pretty easy going it’s more me.
My partner is fantastic with my 2, but feel I can’t talk to him about his daughter. There isn’t a lot of interaction between them either, but saying that, they do get along.
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Re: Struggling step parent

Mmmm I see. I can understand why that would be hard.

 

It really is tricky. It would be awful to feel ignored like that. At the same time, it is his daughter, and it is important that he maintains a good relationship with her for her own mental health. That is not to say that rules, boundaries and respect aren't important. They are...but it really is tricky in these types of situations - and a lot of your next steps depend on the dynamics of your relationship.

 

Given that you can't really change his daughter's actions, and because it does seem to be getting to you quite a bit, I'm wondering if thinking about the situation a little differently might help. For instance, the next time the daughter does something that upsets you, try and notice the things that you tell yourself, and then maybe try to challenge some of the unhelpful things. E.g., if you catch yourself saying "she's ignoring me. She hates me. Maybe I've done something wrong." you can challenge it by saying "well, she's a young girl, she's going through her own issues at the moment, there's nothing wrong with me and I'm not going to take it personally."Or you could try telling yourself "well, it is the way it is, all I can do is continue to be diplomatic and hope that things improve." Of course, there's always the option of moving out like you said, but that just depends on how you feel and what you really want.

 

I thought I'd tag a few other parents to see if they have any insights for you.

 

@JAKGR8 @compassion @PeteNorthside @sidneysdad @Zayray @Pammy62 @Jac_a_T @Ngaio-RO 

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Re: Struggling step parent

Hi ,

oh wouldn't it be great for parents and step parents if we could fast forward some life skills and experience into the heads of teenagers. Pretty much it's all about me if they perceive their world to not be perfect. I think Tom was really onto a good idea with the suggestion to re- evaluate the terms of engagement with your step daughter. So yes she is being a little ?&* in her treatment of you. A little respect and consideration goes a very long way in enabling us to put up with teenage angst drama or just plain selfishness .However you are not getting enough back up from your partner and maybe banging heads with your step daughter wont achieve anything except more of the same from her. An expression that used to annoy me but actually doesn't any more was the kid speak " what ev's" So maybe you can use that with her . Example being hi ...... how was your day ?   Or when there is no good night to you you can say , oh no hello , oh no goodnight  , oh yeah whatever . Then over time if there is still no response it comes down to , Hi young lady you don't have to like me but if you want to stay here full time, a few manners go a long way to making this work for you, AND ME, and your dad . Not sure how you will be able to get your partner to engage more but you did mention the 2 of them are amiable.You will need to explain to him , hey buddy it's about me to !, How are we going to work together to solve the problems I am experiencing with your daughter . Ask for help . If it's not forthcoming explain that your relationship is a partnership and you need some help . He may just need his bubble burst. If he refuses to help you, well I guess you don't have a relationship you have a convenience store , the goods are going out but the customers are not paying up . I am not wishing to sound over the top but as a bloke I can tell you sometimes we really do need a good poke to stir us into action . If you are happy day to day it has a flow on effect for everyone , ignore the insults ,temporarily from your step daughter , draw his attention to how you are trying to cope and if help is not forthcoming poke him with a big stick . Cheers 

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Re: Struggling step parent

Thank you, I’ll take that on board. I tried to talk tonight about it and my partners attitude is that it shouldn’t even be a problem or a discussion whether she lives with us permanently or not. All I’ve put forward is that he makes contact with his ex and organise 50/50 care. I really don’t have any other say in this. He will choose his kids over me, which is fair enough I guess.
I can only hope that she decides to repair her relationship with her mum!!
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Re: Struggling step parent

HHmmm ,

no it should not be a problem if she lives permanently with you . It could be great.However it is a problem.Not sure how you are going to get that into your partners head . ERR excuse me darling but this is a problem. Does he really think it is acceptable that she totally ignores or is downright rude to you in your own house. Is her arrogant attitude towards you learnt behaviour from him .I am sorry but you may need to wake him up to the fact that a family is a complex unit and for it to work ok maybe everyone isn't best friends .but respect and courtesy are the bare minimums .That goes for him as well as his daughter. If you were 2 people leading separate lives and he  chose his daughter over you well ok you can make your deciscions accordingly. If you are a family or supposedly a family his attitude does not reflect any respect towards you . Cheers