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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5838
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am in a committed relationship. 10 months now. We are both

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I am in a committed relationship. 10 months now. We are both divorced, me 4 years and her 9 years. I have a daughter, 11 that lives with me part time. She is a perfect joy.
My girlfriend has two daughters, 11 and 13. The 13 year old hates me.The 11 year old gets the vibe, I can tell. The 13 year old is taking Lexapro. The 13 year old has broken up one relationship and is focused on this.
I have done nothing except love the mother and love the children like they were my own. Both girls don't treat their mother with respect and they both run the show so to speak. The mom is very stressed. What do I do?
Also the ex in involved. He hates me, won't acknowledge my existence and won't even look at me. I am guilty of nothing except loving a woman with all my heart. What do I do?

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like your girlfriend's children either could be upset about their mother's relationship with you (and maybe her relationships in general) or that they are being
"coached" by your girlfriend's ex (their father?) to cause issues in the relationship so you both cannot be happy with each other and for alliance with him.

When you try to blend families, each person brings in their own needs, wants and desires. And trying to make everyone happy when there are coming from a broken family is difficult. However, it can be done as evidenced by how your daughter is handling her feelings within the family.

What might be happening with your girlfriend's children is that your girlfriend feels guilt over leaving their father or breaking up the family. Many parents who have to divorce or break up with their children's fathers/mothers carry a lot of guilt. If they do not feel enough guilt on their own, the carry the children's distress over the break up with them. As a result, the parent allows the children to act out and they do not correct them or discipline them in fear of alienating them or even losing custody. No parent wants to discipline their child only to find that the child decides to "prefer" the other parent who is "on their side" i.e. more permissive.

Because your girlfriend's children are not disciplined when they disrespect her, this may be why they are acting out with you. They are not being taught that while it is ok to express their feelings about the situation, they are not allowed to be disrespectful as a result. This is a boundary that is difficult for most single parents to enforce. But it is necessary not only for the families well being, but for the child's. Any child that grows up without these boundaries is going to find difficulty as an adult understanding the limits of behavior.

What you may want to do is suggest to your girlfriend that you attend family counseling together. See if she will agree to at least have the kids see someone, if not all of you. You need someone to support all the family members and to help your girlfriend learn to separate disciplining her children from coping with their emotions about the situation.

Also, set up some rules for the home with your girlfriend. Agree on the guidelines and provide a united front with the kids, equal for everyone. Anyone breaking the rules gets the same punishment.

Make it clear that there is open communication between all of you. That means any one can talk about feelings, but there must be respect and consideration for others.

Talk with your girlfriend about her ex. She needs to put limits on his interaction with you and with the family. He may have partial custody with the kids, but other than that, he should have no say so in the family at all. She must set these limits, you cannot do it for her. That way, her ex has to deal with her and cannot drag you into the situation between them.

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

How can the children have any kind of positive feeling toward me when their father is still pining for the mother, lets himself deteriorate and won't acknowledge my existence. The father does not have any say in my girlfriends house but I can imaging what he says when he's with the kids. I have only been positive when asked about him. I don't know him and believe it is important to maintain a positive image of the father because he is the girls father.

The 13 year old says I will ruin Thanksgiving if I come over. She really hates me and for no reason. She said this morning to her mother that the mother loves me and not her. She is worried that we will marry and if so she will run away.

Can you imaging how this stresses the mom?

I think your suggestion of therapy is a good one.

I love the mother with all my heart and I love the girls. It will take lots of love and patience. I know I can do it. I hope the mother can find ways of gaining control and not letting this hurt her.

The mother has mentioned that she does love the daughter more than me and has enough love for everyone. I'm not sure if I would have said exactly that but she is reassuring her.

How do I interact with the daughter?


It is very difficult to deal with the many dynamics that go on in a situation like this, but you are doing a good job. Being kind to your girlfriend's daughter, no matter what she does, is not only the best thing to do for you, but also for her. She will eventually see that her anger towards you was more about the situation than about you. But that might take a while. So in the meantime, talk with your girlfriend about her daughter. She might have made a mistake telling her daughter she loves her more (a better answer might have been that she loves everyone and to focus on her daughter being special to her without comparing her to you), but she can make that clear now with her daughter and keep reinforcing it.

Your girlfriend also needs to deal with her ex. She needs to make it clear to him that what he is saying to the kids behind your back is not helping. In any separation or divorce, the children must be put first. That is rule number one. Not that they get to do anything they want, but that all parties must get along for the sake of the kids. Your girlfriend needs to emphasize that with her ex. And repeat it until it sticks.

Allow your girlfriend to handle the holiday arrangements with her kids. She can reinforce that although you will be there, she still cares about her kids and that they are important. They seem to feel threatened about losing their mother's affection so she needs to focus on being there for them and reinforcing her feelings for them.


TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

You may also want to consider this resource to help:

Stepcoupling: Creating and Sustaining a Strong Marriage in Today's Blended Family by Susan Wisdom and ***** *****


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