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Reader Question: How do you Deal with a Stepfather and Daughter Who Don’t Respect Each Other?

Written by Susan Swanson on . Posted in Biological Kids, Parenting, Remarriage, Stepparents

Question from a reader: How do you deal with a stepfather and daughter who don’t respect each other and have said some horrible things to each other that obviously can’t be taken back and were quite hurtful? I am always stuck in the middle, love them both, and honestly don’t know which way to turn. Any ideas?

Answer from Susan: What a terrible bind for you. This is a dilemma many stepfamilies face. I would sit them both down — not on a day when they’ve been fighting but at another time — and tell them exactly what you told me: that you love them both, you don’t know what to do, and you’re at a loss. Tell them that the way they hurt one another hurts you to watch and experience, and you know that these words that they are saying will only bring them more and more pain. 

Be sure to tell them that it’s bringing you pain to watch two people you love and care about hurt one another. Be firm. Talk with them about how, from this moment forward, respect can be the new word of the day and that they can learn to say things in a more constructive way. Suggest that if they can’t do that, perhaps they could do some father/daughter counseling to help them learn how to do it.

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Comments (2)

  • Michelle Allen


    I am in a similar situation with my husband and 9 year old daughter. What if your spouse feels that speaking to the two of them together makes him feel as though he’s on the same level as your child?


    • Susan Swanson


      Hi Michelle: This sounds like it’s your husband and your daughter, is that correct? Is he the stepdad or the bio dad? If he’s the stepdad, you cannot talk to the two of them together for the reasons he is expressing. But you can talk with him about your need to experience your husband respecting your daughter and that you will teach your daughter to respect him; at the very least that each of them respect that you love both of them and cannot be put in the middle. However if it’s his daughter, you can talk with him alone (which I’m sure you’ve tried) and then it’s appropriate for each of them to hear how it’s affecting you by talking to them together. Let me know……………….


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