Stepdaughter makes life miserable
"You are not my mother."
MY HUSBAND and I have been married for six months.
His first wife died in a car accident many years ago and I divorced my first husband five years ago.
I don't have children and my husband has an 11-year-old girl who lives with us.
I love my husband dearly. He is an amazing person who has brought joy into my life.
The problem I have is with his daughter. I understand how difficult life has been for her. Her mother died when she was very young.
They moved into my home because it is a little bigger than their old home. As a surprise I prepared a beautiful room for her in the hope that she would feel at home. She didn't even thank me, but that is the least of my problems. She has been extremely difficult and I don't know what to do.
When her father is home she treats me with respect, but if he is not there she is cheeky and a really horrible little girl.
One of her favourite things to say to me is: "You are not my mother."
I haven't spoken to my husband about this because it will sound as if I am not trying and being unreasonable.
I have tried everything and I don't know if I can take much more of this.
Frustrated, Gallo Manor
DEAR DUDU RESPONDS
Being a stepparent is one of the hardest jobs in the world.
The first person you need to turn to is your husband. Together, you should form a united front in parenting his daughter.
It is not about whether anybody thinks you are trying or not. It is all about bringing up his child to be a well-mannered, decent, happy person in a loving, peaceful home.
Speak honestly with your husband and explain what has been happening. Assure him that you want to play a positive role in his daughter's upbringing, but that the two of you have to work together.
Both of you need to explain what your expectations are and how you will go about achieving these goals.
You might have thought that once you were married everything would just fall into place and you would be a happy little family. This is unrealistic.
The child is probably feeling insecure and doesn't know what her place is in the new family. She might feel threatened and expect you to come between her and her father.
Building a relationship might take years. Just focus on respecting each other and slowly building the relationship.
You and your husband must reassure her that you have no intention of taking her mother's place, but that you would like to have a good relationship with her.
She should also spend time alone with her father so that she becomes confident in her relationship with him .
Be patient. Perhaps the three of you should go for counselling to the Family Life Centre.
Call them on 011-833-2057.