Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I have been in my step daughter’s life since she was 3 1/2. I married her dad when she was 9. She is now 12. My husband has shared custody and she is with us exactly half the time.
I never noticed any jealousy from her until we got married. I always thought it was cute and funny, but kinda thought she would grow out of some of it by now. I get under the eyelid glares when she is hugging him and she practically knocks me over to be next to him. She constantly reminds me that he is her dad and I don’t know him like she does. She is as tall as me now (5’6″) and sits in his lap to watch TV but gets up and leaves the room if I come in.
I’m starting to feel uncomfortable in my own home, but I feel guilty for feeling this way. I’ve brought it up to my husband, but basically the kid can do no wrong. I feel things are getting worse between us and I fear for the teen years. What should I do?
The Odd Girl Out
Dear Odd Girl Out,
Things can always get a little sticky between step children and step parents. In her eyes, the day you and your husband got married, you probably went from cool, fun girlfriend who buys her stuff to permanent wife who is trying to steal her daddy forever. It’s a tough situation but you need to take action right away because if she glares at you at twelve, she’ll probably have a website called “The Wicked Step-Monster” by the time she’s 15.
First of all, have a real conversation with your husband. Tell him how much you love your step daughter but that you feel she is competing with you instead of connecting. Try not to say anything that will make him defensive – this is his 5′ 6″ little girl after all! Tell him that you sense some resentment from her and that you want to be closer as a family.
I would suggest a visit to a family therapist, so everyone can put their feelings on the table in an emotionally safe environment and then move forward. Or maybe you and your husband need to go to a therapist first – someone who can help him see that there is a real issue going on here. Because you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable in your own home.
Make sure your step daughter knows how much you love her. Make a serious effort to spend time with her. Show her the upside of a step mom. Take her to the movies, a special mani-pedi or to a cool new restaurant. I would avoid activities where sharp objects are involved like archery or a rifle range. I would also seek out other step moms, either online or in real life. Find out what worked for them in trying to bond with their step children.
But definitely stop this madness of fighting over your husband. I can always send over my husband if you need another one around there. That offer is good anytime.
Good luck to you and let us know how it goes.