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What to do when my child doesn’t get along with her stepdad?


​My daughter has some issues that I need help with. She has issues with her stepdad. He hasn’t done anything wrong. She doesn't like listening to him or when he corrects her. Her real dad hasn't been very helpful. What can I do to help her?


Boys Town - Step Dads and kids

We are glad you are reaching out for help. One of the things you can do to help your daughter is to be the one correcting her behavior. If you observe she is doing something wrong or your husband tells you she did something wrong, confront your daughter about it. Talk with her about what she should have done instead that would be more acceptable behavior and give her a good reason to do it. Make it a “kid" reason that shows the benefit to her. Make sure your husband sees and hears how you respond to her and encourage him to do the same.

It can be helpful also to have negative consequences ready ahead of time. That way, you don't have to come up with anything creative and they will not be based on your emotions. For example, if she doesn't obey the phone rules, she loses her phone until you see the behavior change be maintained for a number of days. Then when she earns it back, it is only for one day to see if she obeys the phone rules you have in place. Or if she doesn't do a chore like she is supposed to, confront her about this and let her know how it will help her to learn to keep things tidy every day and not to allow them to get in such a mess that it will be a major cleaning project when she finally gets around to it. Negative consequence for this would be to do the task that was assigned and then give her another room to clean. Let her know that because she didn't do the chore, now she will need to complete it and do another one. She will have NO privileges until they are both done to criteria. Or if she doesn't come home on time, then confront her and let her know how it will cost her trust – and that trust gets privileges. The next night or day, perhaps she can't go out at all or has to come home an hour earlier. If she makes it on time, then she is rebuilding the trust she lost by being late. Parenting is all about teaching and if you and your husband can focus on that, emotions won't guide the interaction and that will to make sure you are always teaching.

We suggest you and your husband sit down and write down your expectations, then write down all the privileges your daughter enjoys having when she meets those expectations and does what she is supposed to do. If she does NOT do what you expect her to do or argues about it, those privileges are lost. It can be one of them or some of them or all of them.

So, what we are suggesting is that you and your husband sit down and document expectations and privileges, and when you agree on them, present them to your daughter and other children in the home. Let them know this begins immediately. Then the two of you have to agree, support each other and enforce the expectations consistently. Do not allow your children to punish you into changing back to how things were. Both of you should be predictable and consistent from one day to the next.

We hope this is helpful. Let us know if there is more we can do to be of help.