View Full Version : Help with my stepfamily

07-10-2008, 11:53 PM
Hi All!

I need serious help. Here's the deal:

For the most part, things have gone really well when my 2nd husband and I married. I have my 3 daughters who stay one week with me and the next with their dad. Every other week, with each parent. My new husband loves my daughters and though things were difficult in the beginning when we all moved into a new house together, they got better quickly. Things changed to "almost perfect" when my eldest daughter left for college in the fall of 2006. My middle daughter is 16 and she is the one who has always had the best relationship of the 3 with my husband (their stepfather). However, now that she is 16, things have gone to HELL! She is snotty and argues with him like she never has before. (Me too). The hard part is she tells me that its because he never listens. And he thinks he does and he's perfect. And does nothing wrong and he is always open and listens to everyones opinions. But he doesn't and he won't hear that from me.

Help! What do I do?

Jan in CA
07-11-2008, 12:04 AM
Sixteen is a difficult age even in intact families. Kids that age know everything and think no one listens to them. It's a very common issue. Have you considered some counseling? Sometimes it takes an impartial therapist to make people understand what the problems are and how they can deal with them. In the meantime, time and patience, time and patience. :hug:

ETA: I thought you were a guy based on your name..imagine my surprise... :shifty:

07-11-2008, 01:20 AM
Yes, I know, you are right. Time and patience. Its true and I usually am the most patient person I know. Its just hard because its been so easy and now after four years, its gotten so difficult. Thanks for responding.

p.s. I'm davespurl cause my husband's name is dave and i'm his pearl! Get it?

07-11-2008, 01:57 AM
Being 16 is tough. She wants people to hear her and listen to what she says. Something we used was to rephrase and repeat back, so a person knows they are being listened to. You might suggest that to Dave, and see what he says. No way anyone goes through those years unscathed.

07-11-2008, 08:33 AM
I agree with everyone else. The thing with being 16 (and it wasn't that long ago for me) is that you aren't a child anymore, but you're not an adult. With her sister going off to college she became the oldest, am I right? This makes her feel like she should be treated like an adult...but not all the time. I remember feeling mad a lot when I was 16 because I wanted my parents to trust me and let me do what I want, but I also wanted boundaries. I think that boundaries are very important. My parents weren't super strict, but they had rules- No boys in the house when they aren't home, no boys in my room ever....you get the idea. I also had responsibilities- like cleaning up after dinner. I'm sure your daughter does too, but my main point is that she's probably going to be a snotty, rude teenager for a couple years and then she'll be an adult. Probably one you can go to lunch with, or knit with! Don't lose faith! She needs you more now than ever.

07-11-2008, 06:33 PM
16 is a hard age. I think the hardest time in raising my daughter was 15 & 16.

I suggest trying to talk it out reasonably with her and ask her to come up with reasonable suggestions to help communication between her and your husband. Just remember that this is very normal adolescent behavior. Keep your eye out for anything that you think are clear warning signs of something more dangerous and trust your gut in that regard. But if she just seems to be more argumentative, moody and "snotty" with no other negatives I would count to ten, remind yourself that this too shall pass, perhaps give her some time to calm down and engage in conversation with her.

Of course, if she's anything like my daughter you'll be talking at her more than having a conversation with a few mmhmm's or nods when you ask if she understands, but eventually she'll relent :) :) Here's keeping our fingers crossed that it'll be sooner rather than later and you'll have peace in your home again Crossed Fingers

Now, the other thing is to reiterate to your husband that this is pretty normal adolescent stuff and not to take it personally, but instead do his part as her dad. I know that my BF had the hardest time with taking my DD's behavior personally. I had to remind myself that he didn't have the opportunity to be a dad from day 1. Its hard to walk in, be dad and then have the kid get angry and blame you for all their problems. Stepdad's want to be special to the new family (good one's do that is) and it hurts to feel rejected. Its hard enough for biological families to get through their kids' adolescence and I venture to guess its even harder for steps.

07-11-2008, 06:57 PM
Thanks evona! Yes, my husband does get his feelings hurt and takes it personally. I'm trying to get him to understand this too. He's having a harder time dealing with the behavior change than I am!!!

07-11-2008, 07:32 PM
:hug: 16 is a hard, hard age like everyone else has said! My mom and I have always been super close but once 15-16 hit all bets were off. I think we fought almost the entire year. Mom told me recently that between my older sister( who is 3 yrs older) and I, she was ready to give up parenting and move to Fiji. But we all survived. I just asked her and she said the only way she survived was reminding herself that this was absolutely normal and that she probably did it to her parents.
I know it's hard but it will pass! Tell Dave to hang in there. Somewhere deep inside is the daughter you both know and love.

07-11-2008, 07:50 PM
16 is it's own special brand of insanity. It'll pass eventually.

07-11-2008, 09:18 PM
I can relate in many ways...being a step-mom myself to some kids that have gone through a rough time due to divorce and their mom's lack of stability in her own house. We have full custody though.

What I can tell you is that if you can find a good counselor, it can keep your marriage and your relationship with your daughter on track. If she is open to counseling too, I'd recommend getting a separate one for her so that she feels she can safely confide in someone rather than feel as though anything she says will go right to you - although if you prefer family counseling, that can be helpful too.

My step-daughter is pretty easy to deal with at age 17, but she was a bear at 13. Now my previously easy step-son is 14 and he is just like his sister was at that age...sigh. I remember telling my step-daughter when she would get into a snit that she had every right to feel any way she wants to but she does NOT have the right to spread it all around the house to us all so when she felt that way, she needed to go into her room and work it out - lie down, call a friend and complain about how awful we are, sit and pout, scream into a pillow, whatever. Find a constructive way to deal with it and come out when you are human again. What do you know, it worked. :cheering:

Good luck...PM me if you need to vent or chat...hugs to you. Parenting isn't easy (understatement of the year) - and try to remember that step-parenting is at least as hard too. My husband forgets that on a routine basis!

The best sign I've seen in years was one that said 'Parenting a teenager is like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree' - that pretty much sums it up.

07-12-2008, 02:43 AM
The best sign I've seen in years was one that said 'Parenting a teenager is like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree' - that pretty much sums it up.
That's hilarious! thanks for the smiles!! you rock!

07-12-2008, 03:16 AM
The best sign I've seen in years was one that said 'Parenting a teenager is like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree' - that pretty much sums it up.
That's hilarious! thanks for the smiles!! you rock!
Oh i think that sums pareting up totally :roflhard: .

im 26 so 16 wasnt that long ago (just feels like it!!). i remember taht my parents were ultra stricked and i totally resented them for that (if i am being honest i still do because they are still like it!!).
sounds like your hubby's having a hard time dealing with teenage daughters. prehaps a parenting book might help him understand that his isnt personal its just frustration and rebelion talking NOT her.

sending big :hug: to the pair of you, and her as i bet shes hurting as well, it probably feels like the end of her world (you know how drematic teenagers are)

good luck

Sunshine's Mom
07-15-2008, 10:09 AM
16 IS a very tough age, but I remember it well. I believe that all us girls were probably snotty at 16 even though we didn't think we were.

Just a thought here, but...perhaps....she may also suffer from some mild to moderate PMS syptoms that she doesn't realize she has. I'm told I was a holy terror at that time of the month when I was a teen and I had no clue. Until one day there was a story on the news about the "new thing" = PMS, and my parents jumped right on me and told me I had it. Since that day my parents and sister were quick to point out my moods and tell me to back it off. It worked! Although, I have to admit that it was hard to have people pointing it out to you all the time, but we're a rather laid back family so I didn't get mad.

Even if she doesn't suffer physically, she may have angry and/or vunerable moments. I'd have a conversation with her when she's not in a "mood" and ask her about it. It's not an easy conversation, but it could help. I now take Midol and when I feel myself getting angry for stupid reasons I let everyone know, especially DH, that I'm PMS'ing and not to take my mood seriously - this too shall pass. I work on controlling myself not those around me. Just a thought.

07-16-2008, 11:42 PM
Well things have been getting better lately. My daughter and I and she and my husband (separately) have been talking and things are going well. She admitted to not feeling like herself, and when I put all the life changes she's going through now (first job, first boyfriend, dad moved, dad is getting married etc) I realized that she has a lot on her plate (which I knew) but I think all that is affecting her. So she's seeing a woman counselor every other week and really likes her. Yeah! We don't have a big family so there isn't grandma, aunt, etc. for her to talk to so I think another female in her life, even for a little while will really help.

Thanks to everyone for their support and words of encouragement. You all have fabulous and uplifting words of wisdom to share and I appreciate all the help you have been sending.

07-17-2008, 10:48 AM
Oh how wonderful...I'm SO glad she has found another woman to talk to - it makes a world of difference for young women to have someone who isn't going to 'parent' them in the same way that they can confide in and spill their stuff to...it took a while to find someone like that for my step-daughter but it did really help. The counselor got her to become aware of her moods so when she did, she could take steps to remove herself from the situation or calm herself down and come out of it instead of spending HOURS in a funk.

I also highly recommend you and your hubby having someone to talk to (whether it be friends or counseling - I wouldn't use family in that way because they can be too involved or insert themselves where they don't belong, etc.) just so you are keeping the lines of communication open and not keeping things in that can hurt you later.

From years of treating patients, I am here to tell you that one of (if not the biggest) cause of disease is when people have negative emotions (hurt, anger, depression, etc.) and don't get it out through talking and dealing with it so it manifests in physical symptoms. I'm a BIG believer that we all have a ton of 'stuff' we've been through so we can all use a confidante!

Good luck and keep us posted...

07-17-2008, 01:38 PM
it's an age thing not specific to gender. I've gone through it with each of my 3 stepsons, no matter what I did wasn't good enough, I didn't listen well enough, i kept their father from getting back together with their mother (never mind the fact their mother is the one that walked out and took the kids with her, she wanted to be the town tramp and that's exactly what she became.

I just needed to remember: No matter what, I AM NOT their mother (most days it's a thank the gods!). Once the now 20 year old moved in with us, things improved with him because there were no more conflicts in loyalties for him. He seldomly has anything to do with his mother and her side because he can't stand his stepfather (constantly criticizes and she can't stand his uber long hair which is down almost to his waist, his black clothes, the pants with the chains on them... keep in mind he's holding down a full time job, working on going back to college and keeps his hair neat and clean as well as pays rent here when school's not in session and babysits once or twice a month for us)

It's hard, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.