Each month our resident counsellor Debbie Pattison responds to a reader query. This time, a dad has asked Debbie for guidance on how to create a peaceful relationship with his new stepdaughter:
I’ve moved in with my girlfriend and her daughter and it’s not going well. Her 13 year old daughter seems to hate me and will barely speak a word to me. She doesn’t seem to want me in the house.
I’m not trying to replace her dad. I just want to be a decent stepdad and be with my girlfriend. What do I do?
Firstly, well done for wanting to be a decent stepdad to your girlfriend’s daughter. Dealing with a stepfamily can be difficult.
You have to take into account the fact that your girlfriend’s daughter will have got used to having her mum all to herself at home and suddenly this has all changed with you moving in. There may be some resentment and some jealousy from her daughter. Try to be patient here, as it will take time for all of you to adjust to the new living arrangements.
As far as possible, follow the family’s daily patterns, give them space and time to have time together just as mum and daughter. Try not to react when your girlfriend’s daughter is being difficult or rude to you, as hard as that may feel at times. Allow your girlfriend to deal with her daughter’s behaviour.
Get to know what the daughter likes to do, and suggest some fun activities you can do together, to gradually build a relationship with her.
Above all don’t give up here, most changes can be difficult in the beginning, but with a sensitive approach, respect and patience, things should settle down and become a lot easier and your girlfriend’s daughter should gradually adjust to you living there.
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