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Doctor Kevin
Doctor Kevin, Ph.D.
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  25 years in private practice
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6 months ago my 15 year old step daughter moved in. I have a

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6 months ago my 15 year old step daughter moved in. I have a child on my own boy aged 11. I feel my husband treats her differently, and she gets her own sets of rules, whilst he ignores her behaviour. I feel like I am going to have to leave for the sake of sanity. Any stratagies I could use? I feel I have tried everything. She lies, says really mean things to me in public social networking forums. He may tell her off on ocassion but then he argues with her for 2 solid hours. In the end accomplishing nothing. I think he feels a little bit of guilt for not having her for so long, and is trying to learn to be a father again.... but I get attacked every time I mention something. I even went to see a psychologist to find out if it is just me.... and from what she could tell I was taking on too much responsibility. She told me to rephrase how I say things to him.... the truth is, i dont know how many different ways I have said it... I am at my witts end. The only time we ever argue is when it has to do with the kids, otherwise we are quite content, and lately its a big argument almost every week.
Dr.Kappler :

I agree with your therapist but would add that his daughter has seen exactly how to split the two of you apart and then do what ever she wants while the two of you fight. Secondly she know how to get to you by using every chance she can to flaunt her new found freedom and put you down, partly because she knows her father is ineffective in controlling her. To top it off you own daughter is now feeling the effects of this chaos and feels that the rules you have worked out with her don't apply when her step sister can get away with so much more. Here is the dilemma. If you don't do something soon your relationship with your daughter will get worse and your trust in your boyfriend will disintegrate. He needs to get control of his daughter and you beed to reinforce that your rules apply to your daughter and her only. You must let your boyfriend deal with his daughter and not continue to suggest things because you will end up being blamed for it.


I know I need to do something... but what? If I reinforce that the rules apply to my own (son) and him only.... then we are essentially going to be living two seperate families in the one house. I know he needs to get repect and control of his daughter... and your right.... I have told him that... but I cant say anything anymore because I look like the bad one, and we only fight. It all seems quite hopeless to me. Is this something that can sort itself out? What if I say nothing more and he doesnt realise? What if the effects rub off on to my son (which I have noticed) and he thinks he can do the same as her, undoing all the good work I have done with him? The sad part is that my husband is pretty much the only father he knows, and most of these rules were applied by my husband, but not to his own daughter.

Dr.Kappler :

I just wrote out a long response to you and this site erased it all! I will start again! You have to understand the family dynamic at this point. His daughter is trying to tear down the authority structure you and your husband set up. Your task right now is to keep your relationship with your son intact and help him deal with the same frustration you are feeling. Until your husband is able to stabilize his relationship with his daughter you are living as two separate mini-family systems in the same house. Your son can understand that nothing has changed between you and he; same rules, rewards and consequences. It may be a good time for your husband and your son to spend some brief time doing something together that they enjoy doing just to reassure your son that their relationship is still stable. As to dealing with his daughter; she wants you to be frustrated and angry and so long as you can avoid that you are fine. You and your husband need to discuss her privately and you need to leave her parenting to him until she is more respectful of him. Then once she has been able to get over her anger and treat him with some respect than you can begin to emerge as the mother she never had who is consistent, caring and adoring.


Ok. Thank you. This is really hard for me and goes against my nature, because I feel disrespecting him is also disrespecting me, and sometimes it is direct disrespect to me. I feel I am going to have to shut up or leave which is basically what I suspected that I will have to do. Its going to be tough. The decision I have to make is am I prepared for it? Cheers.

Doctor Kevin and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Sometimes the decisions you make are the hardest to do. But I have accepted the fact that some of the time I have to deal with difficult decisions like this. I know when you say "Cheers" how much you hurt. This is not an easy situation. I wish some times I had an easier solution.