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Parenting Stepchildren/My daughter disrepsects my husband.


I remarried a year and a half ago and I am having issues with my daughter not treating my husband very well. My daughter spends 1/2 of her time at our house and the other 1/2 with her dad, whom I have a decent relationship with as far as communicating about her school/health/wellbeing, etc. I have tried discussing this with him but it doesn't seem to help as far as him trying to talk to her also. I should note that when she is with her father, who has never remarried in the 14 years since we have been divorced, that it is just him and her and they are very close and do everything together. He makes a very good loving and provides her with everything she wants/needs and even things she doesn't. She lives a very comfortable life when she is with him. this has resulted to a sense of entitlement from her that is getting worse by the year. He is a wonderful dad, but he does nothing to enable/encourage her to do things for herself. Everything is done for her.
When she is with my husband and I, she is sullen and extremely dismissive of my husband. She is impatient and does not consider his children, or treat them equally as she does her birth siblings, who are much younger and seem to have adjusted better to the new family dynamic than she has. He takes her to school every morning that she is with us, and picks her up for me when he can as I work later in the evening. He has helped her with projects, fixed her computer, etc...trying to be a nice guy and bond somewhat with her. She does nothing to acknowledge his helpfulness. Doesn't speak to him unless spoken to. When we are all at the house together, she deliberately finds things to do with me that exclude him. His feelings are hurt, and he is frustrated and at the point where he doesn't want to even bother providing her with transportation so that she can spend more time with me, or make an effort to develop a relationship as all attempts have been rebuffed. I have talked to her and asked her to be more open but it isn't happening. My husband and I are fighting about her attitude, and I fear we will grow apart and he will continue to feel alienated. I do not want it to come to a point where I am forced to choose between my husband and her. How do I proceed in talking to her and attempting to repair this issue?

Hi Jennifer - your problem is common to many stepfamilies. There are a number of possible explanations for your daughter's disrespect. Whatever the reasons, the fundamental issue you mates face is one of loyalty [priority]. Stepfamilies force bioparents to choose between their mate and their child/ren. If the stepkids come first too often in a stepparent's opinion, the re/marriage decays. See and discuss these with your husband:

I would also encourage you mates to use respectful "I-messages" with your daughter to let her know how her behavior affects each of you.

Search my nonprofit Web site  [ for articles on "stepchild" and "stepparent" for more insight and options.

Overall, adopt a long-range view and study this free online "lesson" in stepfamily management with your mate and ex:

If any of these bring up new questions, Jennifer, please ask

Respectfully, Pete

Parenting Stepchildren

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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about remarriage preparation, stepparenting, stepchild discipline, child visitation, grieving, stepfamily norms and myths, mission statements, stepparent job (role)descriptions, communication skills, loyalty and values conflicts, stepfamily identity problems, common pitfalls, ex mate and relative problems, stepfamily merger and adjustment tasks, name confusions, choosing an effective counselor, resolving money disputes, co-parenting support groups, and the family effects of court (legal) battles. I can`t answer questions about medicine, family law, legal stepchild adoption, or financial planning.


I have studied and worked with stepfamilies clinically since 1979, and I have been a "step everything" personally. I was invited to be on the board of the Stepfamily Association of America (SAA) by it's founders, Drs. John and Emily Visher; and later was re-invited by president Margory Engle, PhD. For more detail, see this.

Former Board member, Stepfamily Association of America (SAA)
National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC)Experts Council

Hundreds of Web articles on ; I've uploaded over 150 self-improvement videos on YouTube; and have self-published 6 books. My ad-free Web site offers a unique, practical 7-lesson self-improvement course.

Stanford University BSME (1958) George Williams College MSW (1981) Hundreds of post-graduate seminars on a wide variety of "mental health" subjects

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of appreciative emails and comments on my Web site and videos from people all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
I have worked clinically with over 1,000 midwestern divorced and remarried family members, and have had over 800 stepfamily students in various seminars and courses since 1981

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