How to Deal With a Stepdaughter That Hates You

Being a stepparent is tough, but with time, patience and a little effort, you can forge a healthy and happy relationship with your stepchild.

If you are in the process of blending families with a new spouse, you’ve likely already noticed that a stepchild takes parenting problems to a whole new level. Parenting a biological child is hard enough, but when you have a stepchild who sees you as the enemy, it can seem particularly daunting. Luckily, implementing a few key strategies can help you to restore both your sanity and order in the home.

Get Your Spouse on Board

You and your spouse are a team and need to be on the same page when it comes to parenting. Talk to your spouse about the behavioral guidelines that you both expect all children in your home to follow. Determine house rules, behaviors that won't be tolerated and consequences for breaking the rules or misbehaving. Then together, sit down with the children and explain the behavioral guidelines they are expected to follow, along with the consequences they face for failing to do so. Having your spouse on your side when it comes to discipline will make your stepchild more likely to comply with the rules even if she doesn’t like you.

Model and Insist on Respect

Your stepdaughter might never love you, and that’s okay. While it would be nice for you and your stepdaughter to love or even like each other, the most important element in your relationship with her is mutual respect rather than your affinity for one another. Model what you want to see by always treating your stepdaughter with respect, and make it clear to her that disrespect will not be tolerated.

Spend Time Together

While it might be awkward and feel forced at first, spending some alone time with your stepdaughter is a crucial part of developing a positive relationship with her. Reserve a special time for just the two of you to do something together. Ideally, let her choose the activity, so long as it is safe and reasonable. Try to find a common interest that can help the two of you bond.

Schedule Regular Family Activities

Find activities that will bring you all together as a family, and engage in them regularly. Maybe you can share a picnic lunch together at a local park on Sundays or designate a certain night of the week as game night when the whole family gets together to play a variety of board games. Whether it’s a weekly movie night or baking up goodies in the kitchen, the key is to have fun together as a family on a regular basis.

Tips for a Healthy Blended Family

No matter how tempted you are to badmouth your stepchild’s other parent, don’t do it. Even if your negative opinions of the other parent are warranted, voicing them to or in the presence of your stepchild will only damage your relationship with her. Recognize that transition times, such as when your stepdaughter is coming from or going to her other parent, will be challenging, and be prepared to exercise extra patience and understanding during those times. Always encourage open and honest communication between all members of your blended family, and be patient; things should improve with time and as you get to know each other.

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