Stepfamilies can be tough to navigate since no one knows what they’re in for. It’s easy to love your partner, but extending that to your stepdaughter can take a great deal more effort – especially when they seem to be dead-set on testing your patience.
The best way to deal with hatred is through understanding – what exactly are the problems the two of you have with each other? How do you address those issues to minimize friction? There might not be any love lost there, but the two of you need to at least respect one another’s position as valid members of this blended family.
Outside of that, it’s mostly a matter of coping with their presence. Time is your friend here, and if that’s not enough it may be worthwhile to bring in professional counseling aid.
You don’t need to force yourself to get over your less-than-stellar feelings about them, but you will need to treat them with the dignity they deserve as your partner’s beloved daughter.
1. Think about Your Grievances with Them
Hatred is an exhausting emotion to carry – what exactly has your stepdaughter done to earn it?
- They might be trying to drive a wedge into your relationship.
- They could be undermining your authority whenever the opportunity presents itself.
- They may just be plain rude whenever you try reaching out to them.
There are a lot of reasons why your stepdaughter may not like you, but discerning the “why” of this problem helps you identify the root of this issue. It becomes a lot harder for emotions to get the better of you once you see where your stepdaughter is coming from.
Identifying why you’re so upset with them also makes it easier to separate their actions from their character. It’s easier to be upset with your stepdaughter’s mistakes rather than your stepdaughter.
This isn’t necessarily done for their sake – animosity in a relationship will never be solved with more hatred and anger. It’s a valid emotion, but you can’t give in to the impulse to act on it. The consequences you’d risk aren’t worth the damages your relationship might sustain.
If you have to hate them, do it quietly. Don’t act on it. Hate them for what they’re doing, but never who they are. It’s a very slippery slope to fall into otherwise – one you could lose yourself in.
2. Remember to Respect Them as People (No Buts!)
While you don’t have to pretend that you have a good relationship with your stepdaughter, you can’t forget how important they are in your partner’s eyes. No matter how frustrating they might act, you must never seek out ways to get even with them.
Avoid feeling pleased whenever your stepdaughter fails or gets in trouble. No matter how you think of them, you need to be better than that – even if it’s just for the sake of your partner.
Consequences vs Punishment
Your stepdaughter needs to understand that consequences will follow her actions – especially if said actions actively strain your blended family dynamic. That said, there’s a big difference between enforcing discipline and taking advantage of situations to hurt them.
If they make a mistake, only respond with the penalty appropriate to their actions. If you aren’t sure what would be apt for the situation, seek out a second opinion from someone trustworthy. It’d be wise to start by asking your partner what they think their child deserves!
Discipline your stepdaughter appropriately and make sure you avoid the temptation to abuse your power over them. You may not like your stepdaughter, but nonetheless, still remain partly responsible for parenting her. Never stray from doing the absolute best you can!
3. Try to Grasp Things from Their Perspective
Right now you might hate your stepdaughter just as much as they hate you, but you’ve got to recognize that the two of you are in very different circumstances.
Children are driven by emotion a great deal more than logic – and right now, the most credible threat in their vicinity is you! From their perspective, you waltzed into their lives, started living in their home (or had them move into your home), and began competing for their parent’s attention.
No matter their age, children will always remain children when their parents are involved. They’re much younger than you – in some cases, they might still be in school!
It would be unrealistic to hold them to your standards – to adult standards. It would be unfair to expect that they fall in line while they’re trying to adjust to a new life they never even asked for!
Stepchildren often have insecurities gnawing at the back of their minds. They might be scared of being replaced or harbor some guilt over their parents being separated.
In the former case, you’re threatening their position. You could find another partner in time, and you could take care of yourself until that point. Your stepdaughter doesn’t have that luxury, and they’d have to put up with your presence no matter their feelings about you.
For the latter, your presence means that their parents are moving on – no fabled reconciliation in sight. In their eyes, you’d be the main obstacle to things going back to the way they were.
Hatred is exhausting. Your stepdaughter probably isn’t out to get you – chances are, they want to punish something else. You just happen to be a convenient, accessible stand-in for their target.
Neither of these things justify the poor behavior on their part. Your stepdaughter still needs to respect you as a person – and they must be held accountable for anything less. Pointing these out aims to contextualize and perhaps explain their problematic behavior.
Respect Their Boundaries (Without Enabling Them!)
It would be best to clarify and accept your stepdaughter’s boundaries as early as you can. They may not always align with what you believe in, but still deserve to be articulated, understood, and respected regardless. You only need to reign these in if they’re being overtly disrespectful to you.
Your stepdaughter may not be comfortable calling you their parent. They may not be happy with your presence. They might not be as attentive or obedient with you as they are with their parent.
Your stepdaughter isn’t obligated to love or even like you, ever. They just need to respect your position, authority, and dignity. They might grumble a bit here and there, but that’s fine.
Your stepdaughter has the right to be honest with their feelings, so long as they aren’t disrespectful. Don’t take that freedom away from them in an attempt to soothe your own ego.
4. Leave the Rest to Time
There are a lot of things you can do to deal with frustrating stepdaughters, but you can’t expect things to change immediately just because you made all the right moves. These things take time to set in, and you might need to wait for a little while before improvement starts to show.
Your biggest enemy right now isn’t your stepdaughter – it’s impulsiveness.
It’s okay to take things slowly – you can’t force this sort of progress at the pace you want. Doing so just creates more problems, often ending with things spiraling out of control. Sorting through the emotional fallout here could set your whole family back quite a bit, so don’t push it!
It’s also worth applying this to smaller-scale issues. There will undoubtedly be days when the world seems to be frontloading you with problems. You won’t always be ready or able to handle these immediately, so knowing when to step back or let things slide is a crucial skill when dealing with difficult stepdaughters.
5. Consider Supplementing Your Efforts with Formal Counseling
Sometimes you can do absolutely everything right and still fall short. Other times, you’re just not equipped to properly handle the family situation at hand.
In both cases, consider bringing in outside help such as formal counseling.
Recognizing your limitations is not a personal failure, nor is needing professional assistance a weakness. These people are professionals trained to handle sensitive situations with minimal bias.
We stress professional assistance here.
While it might be quicker, easier, and far cheaper to go to a friend to have them mediate the situation, most people lack the training to make this experience constructive. They’d also likely be biased towards one party, which can hamper efforts to facilitate healthy communication.
That said, your stepdaughter might not even be willing to avail of these services with you. If they’re not ready to work things out quite yet, don’t force the issue.
Formal counseling works best when bother parties walk into it open to compromise. Doing otherwise would just be a waste of your family’s time, effort, and money.
You’re welcome to keep trying to convince her though – or better yet, get your partner to do it!
Dealing with a stepdaughter you hate is a pain in the neck, but it’s not something you can hope to avoid with your current relationship.
The best thing you can expect to accomplish here is minimizing the damages and always remaining mindful of the boundaries you and your stepdaughter agreed to set. If you really don’t think you can do this as you are, it might be worth disengaging from your stepchildren until you’re in a position to accomplish this.