Author and stepfamily expert answers CommitmentNow viewer questions about the stepfamily experience.
Question: I am trying to get my teenage stepdaughter to love (or at least like) me, but nothing seems to work. I am very nice to her, I buy her presents, I try to start conversations about things she is interested in, but she is either rude, or if she is not rude, she is dismissive. She just nods and says "Uh-huh," then turns to my husband and starts another conversation as if I am not in the room. My husband says to give it time, but we have
already been married for four years, and I don't think things are getting any better. How can I get my stepdaughter to accept me?
Izzy: No question about it, the “love thing” can be a tough one for stepfamilies. I write about this a lot in memoir The Package Deal, although I discuss how I didn’t feel an instant bond with my stepsons. In fact there are days still when I question my feelings. Do I really love them? Do they love me? And I admit, these doubts feel pretty crummy, but I decided a while ago to give myself a break. Just because you adore the man doesn’t mean you’ll feel the same way about his kids. Or they, you. Love takes time and it has to develop naturally. That’s not to say it doesn’t hurt to be rejected or that you have to accept rude behavior. Your stepdaughter might not love you, or even like you, but that doesn’t give her a free pass to be a jerk. My personal stepfamily rule is that we all need to respect each other and be generally decent people. My husband agrees with me on this point and that’s the key. (The kids know they can’t isolate me and beat me up.) If the two of you aren’t in agreement on what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, you’re more or less, stuck, which is not a comfortable place to be in. My advice is to talk to your husband. Explain to him how alienated you feel and that you need his support. My guess is that if the two of you become a united front, your stepdaughter will eventually drop the fight and may even warm up.
Izzy Rose is author of The Package Deal: My (not so) Glamorous Transition from Single Gal to Instant Mom. Visit Izzy at www.stepmothersmilk.com.
To purchase The Package Deal: My (not so) Glamorous Transition from Single Gal to Instant Mom, click here.