Building a relationship with your stepdaughter can be a long, arduous process. Older stepchildren require less parental involvement and are often less connected with the new blended family, according to the American Psychological Association. Just when you think you are connecting, she can send you right back to square one. Stepparents who choose to take it slow and start with a foundation of respect often have better success when it comes to forming a new family.
Speak with your partner honestly about the kind of relationship that you want with your stepdaughter. Realize that you will probably never have the same feelings for her that you have for your own biological children. Form a plan that will allow the girl’s natural parent to give you the space you need to build a respectful relationship. Set a relationship goal along the lines of being like a coach, mentor, or aunt or uncle.
Let your stepdaughter’s biological parents take care of disciplining her while you are building your new relationship. Be consistent in your behavior toward your stepdaughter and others. Demonstrate the respect and civility that you want to receive. Explain that you will not settle for anything less than mutual respect.
Spend one-on-one time with your stepdaughter doing the activities that interest her the most. Make the effort to plan special outings, meals or celebrations along with simple activities like bike riding, walking through the park and playing board games at the kitchen table. Show her that her interests and ideas are important to you.
Offer encouraging words to your stepdaughter, and say five positive statements for every negative comment that you make to her. Say “You must feel very proud after giving such a great speech -- those were truly creative ideas” or “”I am impressed at how focused you were during your soccer match this afternoon.” Speak words that will build her self-esteem and confidence.
Avoid speaking negatively about your stepdaughter’s biological parent. Encourage her to always choose her biological parent over you if she ever feels her loyalty being tested.
Do not try to win your stepdaughter’s respect by buying her things -- she will see right through you and have less respect for you. Accept that while you may never have a close relationship with your stepchild, you can come to a point of mutual respect and politeness.