Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Step daughter and step father clashing

Questioner: Becky

Subject: step-daughter and her father clashing

Question: My 15 year old step-daughter and her father have regular if not increasing arguments that are getting emotionally out of control. She is always reduced to crying and he is wild with anger towards her.
She lives with us half the time and her mother the other half. I've only been in the picture 6 years.

She prefers her mothers house and has always acted resentful towards having to come to our house. My husband and her mom were never married and had a custody battle when the daughter was a baby. My husband feels the mother has poisoned the daughter against him and emotionally made her feel guilty for coming to her dad's and leaving her mom.

He also feels she doesn't like him and is constantly insulting his physical appearance and his behavior. There is no physical warmness between the two of them. She seems to be adjusted to me and her two teen age step-brothers and seems to be very nice and respectful towards us. I feel like I am constantly trying to calm my husband down or ease his hurt over this. He often brushes over her insults until he has a weak moment and then explodes by yelling and threatening to punish. It is escalating as her hormones increase.

My husband does not want to go to counseling but would like some advice on how to handle further clashes.

Answer: Dear Becky:

You are asking for advice not your husband. I doubt what I tell you will make a difference until your husband wants help. Going to counseling would be a really good idea. What he is doing is not working.

First of all parents need to realize they are the adult in the parent-child relationship. Reacting to her hurtful comments, not helpful. Worry that she doesn't like him and wondering if the mom has poisoned her, not helpful.

Finding ways to enjoy the time he spends with her very helpful. Listening to her in a non-judgemental, non-lecturing manner, helpful.

My advice: Enjoy your relationship with your step-daughter and let your husband work his relationship out with her on his own. It's his responsibility to be with her and build the father daughter relationship.

I think this relationship can be helped however the adult in the relationship has to take responsibility for getting help. Probably not what you wanted to hear. However, you can not fix this and cannot make it okay between them.


M Kay Keller

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