This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think step-parenting is harder than parenting. It can be tough to love someone like a daughter when they’re not your own flesh and blood; but the reality is that you have an obligation to care for them nonetheless. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why you might feel like you hate your stepdaughter and what you can do about it!
The struggle of step-parenthood
Step-parenting is incredibly tough. You’re in a position where you’re responsible for someone who has at least two other parents (spoiler: it can be tough for just TWO parents to get on the same parenting page), and they outrank you. Plus, you most likely haven’t had a life long relationship with this child, so they might not see you as a parent figure.
And there’s no guidebook.
Each family is different. There’s no way to know what it will be like to enter a family dynamic with different values and rules. You’ll find that you’re constantly in the shadow of their biological parent.
There’s also guilt.
Your stepdaughter might feel like you ruined her family. You might feel like you’re only complicating an already complex situation.
Like I said, step-parenthood is really hard.
4 reasons you might feel like you hate your step daughter
If you’re feeling like you truly hate your stepdaughter, here are four big reasons you might have such strong feelings.
She doesn’t respect you.
If your stepdaughter doesn’t respect you, it can be super hard to love her. She might treat you like an outsider, or she might constantly be trying to get away with things.
She won’t acknowledge your authority.
If she doesn’t treat you like a parent, or even an adult authority figure, it can definitely cause bad blood.
If she’s constantly manipulating you, or playing on your guilt about how difficult this is for her (and the fact that she has two other parents), it can be hard to love someone like that.
She’s sabotaging your marriage.
If she’s constantly trying to break up your marriage, it can be tough to love her. She might even try and turn other family members against you as well.
6 Strategies to improve the relationship
As the adult, it’s your job to put forth the effort to improve your relationship. Here are 6 things you can do to help improve your relationship with your stepdaughter.
Make time to connect
Set aside time each day for some quality time together. It doesn’t have to involve anything strenuous or deep! Just take a walk around the block before dinner, do a puzzle together, or watch a movie.
Get clear on your parenting role
Touch base with her biological parents and understand where you fit into the parenting dynamic. What’s your role? What do they expect from you as a parent figure?
Approach her with empathy
She might have a lot of complicated feelings about the family dynamics, so try to put yourself in her shoes before you jump to conclusions. Ask her how she’s doing, and express empathy for her complicated situation.
Don’t lecture or offer unsolicited advice
She probably doesn’t want to hear it. Avoid being confrontational, and try to give her the space she needs to figure things out on her own.
Get your spouse on your side
If your spouse doesn’t see things the way you do, it can be tough to get anywhere. Try and collaborate with them about how best to parent her so that she respects both of you equally!
Improve your relationship with the other parent
If you can get on the same page with the other biological parent, it will definitely help improve your relationship with their biological daughter. Having both biological parents in your proverbial corner will go a long way in improving your relationship.
What to do if nothing else works
You might be thinking “but I’ve tried all these things!” And if that’s true, then here’s what you can do:
Limit your interaction
If things are really bad, consider limiting your interaction with her. This might be the best way for you both to get along right now! It’s possible that the dynamic will change in the future, so be open to pursing a parent/child relationship in the future.
Protect your marriage
Make your marriage the priority. If you’re constantly fighting with your stepdaughter, it can put a real strain on your marriage.
Set your limit
At some point you may have to end your relationship with your stepchild. Parent/child estrangement is not uncommon, but it can be an uncomfortable situation. Know your limits and be clear on them with your family members.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that step-parenting can be really difficult, and you might feel like you hate your stepdaughter. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Try some of the strategies we’ve mentioned in this article to see if things improve with time.
What You Should Do Next…
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