What to do when the young adult step-daughter hates you?

My husband and I are both 2nd marriage parents. I have two daughters, one living with us and one living with her dad. My husband has two daughters, one is 21-living on her own, and the other is living with her mom. Their ages range from 13 to 21. I was completely ready to be a step-parent. In fact, my oldest daughter and his youngest daughter are only 1 yr apart and got along great. His youngest daughter would tell me she loves me and we got along great. All four girls were to be bride’s maids in our wedding a little over 1 1/2 yrs ago. So, it would appear things were good in my life. So, why am needing help? Obviously, you have caught on to all of the past tense words. Everything was good until THE DAY before the wedding. That was when the 21 yr old called and said she could not be the wedding. Did I say “could not”? Actually, it was “would not.” Come to find out, she does not approve of me.
Now, I need to add a few notes of information. My husband is a recovering alcoholic, and has had several relapses. Yes, I also knew of this fact when I married him. However, he had been sober for over 1 yr, which was a stipulation that he knew of. I didn’t have any experience with this disease before meeting my husband. I wasn’t aware of how easy relapses were. But, the oldest step-daughter, lumps me and alcohol together. Other than this item, I don’t know why she doesn’t like me. I know how difficult divorce is on children-I dealt with my 2 children who were much younger than she when I got divorced.
In addition to the alcohol, we have an ex-wife from another world (down under) to deal with. Truly, I didn’t realize that one person could be so mean, so vendictive, so selfish, so hateful (I could go on and on) all in one person. I know a lot of your readers probably have dealt with ex’s like this, but my ex-husband and I are actually friends and were able to end our marriage amicably. The ex-wife tells the step-daughters all types of lies and tries to create as large of rifts as possible. She is a very materialistic, money-hungry, controlling person. Since my husband and I have been together, there have been several periods of time where both of his girls would not speak with him. I have always supported him and encouraged him to keep trying.
I recently read an email from the oldest daughter saying “let me know when (your wife) is not home and I will come over.” Now that both daughters are talking with my husband, he does anything and everything they ask, just to keep them talking to him. Which I can understand; however, not to the extent of letting all of our personal business go by the wayside. Not to mention, how long will it last this time. Another issue I have is that I don’t want someone in my home that hates me, when I am not home. This has been going on for over 4 1/2 yrs. How long do I allow this to go on? Do I need to learn to ignore it? Is that possible? I have subtly brought up this subject with my husband but I don’t want to cause anymore grief. Any advice would be appreciated.

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  1. Kathy09, I should first point out that I am not qualified to give any expert advice. Your situation sounds like you could use advice from a trained professional.

    Having said that, I can imagine how difficult a situation it must be. I have a step daughter myself, but she has never lived with me. She has, however, made it clear that she blames me for taking her father away from her. Her father moved away from his homeland to be with me when she was 7. Prior to that he was someone she saw only occasionally. He and her mother had not been together since her birth. Even so she feels like I took him away from her and she resents me for it, but her animosity only reaches me occasionally from across the Atlantic so I really can’t claim an ability to identify from that perspective. I might, however have some understanding of it from your husband’s perspective.

    My husband is step father to my son. I don’t know your husband’s frame of mind, but as the parent of a child who is the step child of my spouse, I have always felt the need to protect my son and to safeguard my relationship with my son even if it caused problems in my marriage. It can be difficult sometimes to be in that situation where you have to chose between your spouse’s comfort and happiness and your child’s comfort and happiness. It’s never that you don’t love your spouse, but you feel as if you have placed your child or children in a situation they had no say in. You’ve brought someone into their life that you’re asking them to accept as a parental figure who isn’t their parent. Sometimes things don’t work out the way we would like. Of course we all want the Brady Bunch experience where the step parent loves the step children the same as if they were biological and the step children love the step parent the same way, but sometimes it doesn’t happen and it can be difficult for the bio parent because you don’t want to risk your relationship with your children and you also don’t want to damage your relationship with your spouse.

    It sounds like you’re very understanding in the situation. You want the best for everyone concerned. You understand your husband’s need to try to appease his daughters and your goal isn’t to have him chose between you and his daughters. You just want to have a healthy situation where there isn’t the kind of animosity that compels your older step daughter to refuse to visit her father unless you’re not home. You have every right to refuse to have such a thing going on and your husband should not be party to that. He should not agree to alert his daughter when you’re not home so she can come visit. Your step daughter does not need to like you but she does need to respect you and that is your husband’s responsibility to get across to her. In my own situation my husband and my son have never developed a really close relationship but they’ve never had any major conflicts because I’ve never allowed my son to be disrespectful to my husband and I’ve never allowed my husband free reign to do or say anything he has felt like doing or saying to my son. I think your husband has the greater responsibility in this. He is the reason you are in his children’s lives and they are in your life. He is the common denominator and his actions are what will determine the eventual outcome.

    But again, a professional family counselor is probably better qualified to advise you on what you should do. At the end of the day you and your husband have to live together so you want to do everything you can to keep that relationship strong and healthy because it’s never good to be living with someone you resent who resents you for whatever reason.

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    • Hi Kathy09, just read your post and its very similar to my own, Im getting married next year and it looks like my stepdaughter (to be) wont be at our wedding either, I have dont everything by the book, I never disiplined the kids myself, I never tried to be like a mum to them, I was kind to them all, I was fair to them all, I even one year used my college money to bring them on holidays to spain with their dad, the stepdaughter somehow got it in to her head that I said something I didnt and she has used that as a basis to launch a campaign of hate againts me, despite some of the awful things she has said about me and my children 3 and 7months old (her half siblings) I have never reacted, I have a mind set that says she has been through a lot, and with teenagers and young adults, the drama queen and the fly off the handle thing are an element, she has often berated me on facebook as the worst ever, responsible for all her woes and seen me the next day in town and been nice as pie to me???? baffled is an understatement, but I have never taken her to task on it, I still send her presents from her siblings and cards despite the fact that all she gives them is empty promises to visit, my daughter loves her to bits and has often sat up crying because she never got the phone call she was promised. Now shes attacking the fact that were getting married and im scared if she comes she will cause a scene, but I know if she doesnt her dad will be devestated :( my conclusion on this big mess… it really is nothing to do with me in the sense I cant effect it one way or another, so im gonna sit back and roll with the punches. what will be will be, and hopefully some day she will see things different. its diffictult to do but its the only way to maintain sanity.

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