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My stepdaughter gives me anxiety

ROOP's picture

This is my first post. But boy do I need to let it out. My stepdaughter is turning 4 in a couple of months, and she’s been nothing but a nightmare from age 2. We have her every other weekend, and I DREAD her coming to our house for the weekend because she is terrible. I understand toddlers are difficult, but this is by far the most difficult child I’ve ever dealt with. 

For a year, I banned her from coming to any of my family functions. Now I am 8 months pregnant and we are married, but her behavior is definitely not getting better. She’s super difficult at home, but being out with her in public or at someone’s house makes me want to jump off a bridge. Last night we went to a restaurant with his family, and within 12 minutes she had 3 tantrums. I’ve had enough of her. 

When we go somewhere her personality changes like a light switch. She has a pissed off face for most of the time, she refuses to do anything she’s asked to, like take off her jacket, for example. She cries she screams she has bad attitude. She won’t cooperate with anything or anyone. She makes my heart rate go through the roof several times a day, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t want here around. And I especially don’t want her around after I give birth. 

Ive consideres seeing a therapist myself since my husband refuses to take her to a child psychologist or get behavioral help. He says she is just spoiled and has a bad attitude. When we argue, it’s typically because of her. 

I will take any suggestions 

SteppedOut's picture

I am so sorry, I know exactly how you feel. I was in that spot, except it was ss12 and sd16 spoiled children I was dealing with. It got FAR worse after I gave birth to my BS. I left when my son was 8mos. 

If he will not get help for her, it will not get better. It will get worse. Keep your baby safe. I had to keep my eyes and ears open at all times to ensure the safety of mine. Guilty dad didnt see, thought it would get better, 1000excuses. 

ROOP's picture

I told him if we don’t fix this now, she will get worse. And it will get to a point where HE won’t even want to be around her. He’s even admitted that he doesn’t want her at our church wedding because he knows she will ruin everything. And he’s right. She will. I leave the house now when he brings her. I’ll go to target and look at stuff. Last time I bought 4 pairs of socks. I try to not be here when she’s here, which is not cool either. But I’m 8 months pregnant. When my baby comes, I hope at least the first two months he will keep her out of our house. She’s always sick and coughing all over the place. I don’t want my newborn to get sick. 

SteppedOut's picture

I hope you and your baby get the 2months of peace also. Will dad really be ok with that, what about his parents and other family? I was looked down at and essentially blamed for ss behavior...if I just loved him enough it would be better. Oh also a golden nugget, sometimes i and my son would just have to "sacrifice" for ss because "that's what families do". Except we were always the ones to "sacrifice"...and I refuse to sacrifice my baby's health to ensure spoiled, rotten ss got whatever his hearts desire and was allowed to make himself the center off all attention.

ROOP's picture

im really sorry that you had to walk away. It really sucks that these kids ruined your new life with your husband and baby. That really sucks. And you’re right, you shouldn’t have to be the one sacrificing all the time. That’s not fair. 

SteppedOut's picture

He was a part of the problem... didnt recognize behavior, or if he did, wouldnt correct it. Also, we were always placed second in line. It wasn't just the kids fault. 

sammigirl's picture

Ugh....I'm sorry you had to endure teens that were spoiled.  That would send anyone down the road.  

Bless you, I hope it is going well for you and your son now. 


SteppedOut's picture

Not only were they spoiled, but incredibly jealous. SS lived with us and rarely stayed with his bm.  

He would do things like: wake my son up EVERY TIME he was sleeping, try to wipe peanut butter on him (he eats it out of the jar...with his fingers..double dip and all), oddly I kept finding GLASS SHARDS on bs play areas (gym and blanket on floor), oh lets not forget he would leave the freezer door open...ruining all the breast milk (and the rest of the food) in there. Why? He "forgot to close the door" - so it would be open all night (he didn't have a bed time, so would go down after we were sleeping).

OP, your SD will likely also get jealous in addition to her poor behavior. 

SayNoSkidsChitChat's picture

Holy sh** no wonder you left! He was actively trying to starve and possibly kill your baby! What a POS! How do you keep your BS away from that evil skid?

sammigirl's picture

With no more information than I get here, I'm guessing there are underlying issues with this SD4, which we do not know here on STalk.  I have a SGGD who is 10 now and has always been like this.  Very spoiled and she has always known how to push the buttons of anyone around her.   When she would visit, I would try to give her something to do to keep her busy.  I kept a cute little case full of children's activities, when she was the age of your SD4.  Coloring books, puzzles, DVD's, etc.  She knew where the case was kept and would go get it every time.  I sat and taught her card games and board games, which were kept with the case; with that said, I also gave her little household chores to do with my supervision.  We baked cookies together, etc.  I only allowed her to take up a certain amount of my time, she learned to entertain herself.  Some trips, I ask her to invite a friend to come with her and we also had a neighbor with a little girl close to her age.  The neighbor girl was allowed to visit and play.  

Raising children takes a great deal of your time and effort and can be very annoying most of the time, especially part time visits.   Before you take her in Public, have some boundaries set with your DH.  Tell him he will be in charge of her behavior and that he needs to take her out of the room, when the tantrums begin, that you do not want to endure the embarrassment.  If it continues, hire a sitter, while you and DH go out; explain to your SD4, that when she learns to act nice, she can also go with you and not have to stay home with a sitter.  

Keep your new baby safe, but try to include SD4 in helping you out with the leg work.  Take pictures of them together; make you SD4 feel included in everything you do.  You do not have to hang these pictures on the wall; I fixed my SGGD a little picture album of her own, to keep at our home.  When she visited (often), she would go get it and look at it for hours.  I had all types of family pictures and pictures of her pets and our pets.  She loved it!   If she misbehaves, she has to have time alone to think about what she is doing; I also included my DH in any discipline; assist your DH with the discipline, but never do harsh discipline without him present.  If you are going to stay in this situation, you have to take control and set boundaries; nobody will do it for you.  

I feel bad for you, I've been where you are.  I am only giving you suggestions, no advice, because I am not totally informed of your situation and BM's situation.  Good luck and congratulations with your new baby. 

ROOP's picture

That really is great advice and suggestions!! Thank you so much. I try to keep her involved in the preparations for the baby. Since they will be “sharing” a room, I didn’t want to make any changes to the bedroom unless SD was present, and that’s what we did. The baby even got her Christmas presents lol. We tell her she’s going to be a big sister and she will teach the baby how to walk and talk and how awesome she will be. And then one day the little mfer walked up to me with her Moana doll (hard plastic) and hit me in the belly. I was LIVID!!! 

As far as punishments go, I’m not a fan of yelling. I think it aggravates the child more. So I calmly put her in punishment corner for 3-4 minutes. If she starts screaming like a maniac, I give her more time until she calms down. 

I have giant foam blocks for her. She also has alot

of toys and giant pieces of paper with jumbo crayons. We color together, and I play with her when she asks me to. One time she asked me to draw a Christmas tree for her. I did. She then took a black crayon, scribbled all over my tree and said “look! I killed your tree!” With such delight! 

Revently she told me was going to scratch my belly. I told her if she touched my belly without my permission she will go to the punishment corner.

sammigirl's picture

You are doing what you are able, this is obvious.  If she's violent, as you indicated here, you might want to reconsider the sharing of a bedroom with your bio child. 

I would watch it all closely and continue to keep your ears and eyes open.

Good luck with your delivery and keep us posted on your new addition.  ((hugs))

GSF300's picture

What is her structure if any at BM house? I think your idea of a child therapist would be excellant! Do you reward good behavior? Tiny things like her saying please or thank you? Even a chore chart of basic tasks, like going potty, picking up toys and then checking them off and giving her a treat. Thinking about you- i hope things get easier ! Give rose

ndc's picture

When she had a tantrum at the restaurant, did your husband physically pick her up and remove her?  When I was young, my parents decided up front which one of them would be in charge of sitting in the car with crying babies or misbehaving children, and we were out of there at the first scream or cry.  Disturbing others in a restaurant was NOT an option.  In your case, that duty falls squarely on your husband, since this is his child.  If he's not reacting to her tantrums promptly with consequences, then she's not going to stop having tantrums.  It sounds like you think there's more involved here than bad parenting, though, since you're suggesting counseling for her.  Your husband says she's just spoiled and has a bad attitude.  What is he doing about that?  If the answer is nothing, then I think you're in for a long, miserable slog.  I think your idea to get counseling yourself isn't a bad one, though.

ROOP's picture

no he doesn’t pick her up and remove her from the table. Me, I can’t handle a child screaming and carrying on in a public place where other people are dining out. So I’m the one that gets up and takes her to the bathroom and talks to her. She’s not communicating properly for her age. Her vocabulary seems to me limited. When I took her to the bathroom for the second time last night, as I walked in, I had her by the hand, and she let out a loud shriek and pulled her arm away. I pulled her into the bathroom and I asked her why she screamed. Her response was “because I scream” again I asked her why, she said “because I scream” this was the only response she was giving me. 

And if I was physical with her, like spanking her, then I could understand that kind of reaction. But I’m not. I’ve never been. My punishment is to put her in the corner. Max 4 minutes, if she continues to scream and yell and kick, she stays longer until she calms down. 

Indigo's picture

You are anticipating a baby shortly & honestly, there's a lot of biology tweaking your emotions. Ideally, you'd probably prefer SD-3+ just not exist. That's normal.

Reality is that you will likely be a day away, at any time,from having SD fulltime for the next 15 years. One car accident ...

Your reservations are normal. Banning a 2-3yr old from family functions due to behavior, Yup, that's on your DH & his parenting skills IMO.

theoldredhen's picture

Supernanny is available on computers via youtube. Have your DH sit beside you and enjoy a Supernanny marathon for a few days. Her methods of resolving tantrums and other unacceptable behaviors are effective and straightforward. 

As mentioned above, small children, like puppies, need firm and consistent discipline in order to become pleasing family members.

oneoffour's picture

I think DH has to step up and take care of business. He needs to remove her from the table and take her out to the car and tell her that she stops screaming NOW. He needs to discipline her at home and not you. He needs to step up and tell her off for hurting people (you) and this is not tolerated in your home. Get the picture? This is your DHs problem and not yours and he appears to be pretty lazy about training his daughter how to behave.

That being said, I wonder how she is at her mothers place. Is there a new sibling over there? Does mom have a revolving door of b/fs? Is there a possibility she has been abused in some way? What kind of TV shows or videos is she watching? Your DH needs to get to the bottom of this. And saying he thinks it is just her attitude or personality is a piss poor excuse. If a child smacked me in the stomach with a doll that doll would be taken from her and put away for quite a while. If she said my Christmas tree died I would take her crayons and tell her "Well, obviously this is done for a while. Go in the corner...NOW!" You can use a firm voice without shouting. I use it to pull my grandchildren into line all the time. My DH is a shouter, I use my firm but 'I mean business" ninja voice. 

Seriously, start with your DH. No one should be driven from their home by a 4 yr old. And frankly if he doesn't want his daughter around anymore, suck it up and pay BM a lot more money in CS and see the girl for 4 hrs once a month. Daddy/Daughter playdate. He should be honest with you and his ex. 

ROOP's picture

Ohhh I like you and the way you think! The most frequent excuse I hear is “she’s 3 years old!” I’m like no, she will be four very soon, and this behavior is not normal for that age. Sorry. As for the social anxiety, it crossed my mind. But we have taken her to places where there are hundreds of people, and she didn’t panick or freak out. However, today for example, we went to my uncle’s house. She’s been there before. She’s seen my family members many times before, when we approached the door, she started crying hysterically and wouldn’t go inside. 

You’re right, he needs to be more hands on with this situation. In fact, I almost left him last year, because I couldn’t deal with her crazy tantrums. The mother, from what I know, is a lazy B. The child has an older brother who is autistic. The BM asked my hubs to take the kid to a child psychologist because she was out of control, wouldn’t listen, and even hit her own mother. We did take her to a psych, he said she may be high functioning autistic and said he wanted to do a home evaluation. When hubs told the BM she said no! She said no way is her child autistic. I’ve asked him to step up and take care of this, and he has a little bit. But not when we go places. He is embarrassed to reprimand or punish her in front of people. When I go to intervene, I’m told to just leave her. 

Last night we went to a restaurant and she had 3 crying fits/tantrums the first 12 minutes we were there. His brother in law told me to not worry about her and just focus on my dinner. I said I can’t focus on my dinner when there’s is a badly behaved child who is throwing a tantrum sitting at my table. 


theoldredhen's picture


Youtube can be a treasure trove of information and advice on sensible child rearing. I particularly love this video of a father teaching his 3 year old daughter to stop 'playing the fool.' There's a lot of wisdom and common sense in his approach.

Ispofacto's picture

OP, you've exactly described my SD at that age.  She is now 14 and the resentment built until I now hate her.  She was still throwing screaming hissy fits at age 12 when I disengaged.  I regret every second I have spent in her toxic presence.  If I were to do this over again, I would have refused to go anywhere with her from the start, and I would have refused to share a meal with her, ever.  Save your sanity, either get out or disengage.

JanRebecca's picture

We no longer take SS8 anywhere in public when he's over for the weekend . DH takes him for walks but even that is a stress because he does not listen and will just step out right on the street when DH says  NO! He isn't safe when he won't listen. We dont' take him in stores because he throws huge tantrums when we say we can't buy him every toy in the place. We dont' take him out to eat because he also will start screaming - throwing a tantrum and it's way too embarrasing. 

blayze's picture

He has every right to parent her how he sees fit...and you have every right to not be around an unruly, unparented child! She doesn’t need a child psychologist. She needs a PARENT. If your man is not one, he has a lot of nerve bringing you into this situation and if I were you I would unleash the full force of my anger on him for not caring enough about you to handle this very fixable problem.   Things you can do:

1. Drive separately to ALL events where she is attending. She acts up once, you leave. No questions asked...just pick up and go. He will start to get the message. 

2. Switch shifts at home. You alternate who is in the house with her. Until he can get her under control, you BOTH have to be uncomfortable- leaving the house. He leaves for a period of time with her and you leave for a period of time. I would insist on this... no way should you be the only one going to Target or leaving because he refuses to parent. Challenge him on his BS. You alternate until he gets it straight. 

3. I’m so sorry you got pregnant and have to subject your child to this. No words can describe how sad I feel for you because if your man does nothing while your mama bear instincts are in full force it’s going to get to a point where you hate your sd for existing. 

4. You say you almost left. What stopped you? Getting pregnant? I say...Give him an ultimatum and follow through. Being spoiled is simply not an excuse for a child to have 3 tantrums in 12 minutes in public. I would tell him that either he starts parenting (and you will help him by taking a class or watching vids with him) or you have to leave... then LEAVE if he doesn’t.

This. Does. Not. Get. Better!

You really do not have to live with JERKS. No matter if they are 40 or 4... that is no way to live. Your husband is failing you and his child. Take care of yourself because life is too short to put up with a man who won’t listen to your cries for help. 

ROOP's picture

Although your words are harsh, you do bring up some very good points. I decided to stay, because I told him then when she was about 18 months old, and her tantrums were outrageous, I told him I cannot deal with this. This cannot be my life, I work hard and I don’t want to spend my weekends with a screaming crying child. I want to enjoy my weekends and enjoy my life. He assured me that it wouldn’t be every weekend and that things would get better with her. 

I decided to stay because he really is an amazing man, and I love him very much. I’m not going to let this child ruin something so good. I got pregnant 8 months ago, so it was not the reason I stayed. 

He is way too lenient with her for sure. Hw reprimands her and puts her in the punishment corner when we are home. But when we are in public, he won’t say anything to her or do anything. “Just leave her” 

she had gotten better for a few months. Because I took over the disciplining because I was about to snap!!! Every time she cried for no good reason, she got 3 minutes in the corner. This was before I got pregnant. The child would cry if she was finished eating and didn’t want anymore, if the tv show she was watching ended, if she needed to go potty, if you told her it was as bedtime. It was absolutely ridiculous. So I wanted to make her understand that every time she cried, she would be met with the horrific punishment of sitting in the corner. She did get better. But in public she got worse. And his sister and BIL definitely enable the behavior, when I say it’s time for a time out, they say no no she won’t do it again she will be a good girl blah blah blah. 

Last time they came over they did that one time, prevent me from putting her in time out. The second time she acted up, the sister tried to prevent it again and I’m like NOPE, idgaf, she’s going in the corner. Let me tell you, she was screaming bloody murder, kicking and screaming, turning around to look at me and screamed more. I remained calm (even though my heart rate shot up to 130) and I told her she’s in punishment and she stays there. When her punishment was over, I took her into the bathroom to clean her face and nose, and she apologized to me. After that she was like a completely different child. 

I told the sister very firmly, that when it’s time got her to get punishment she will get it no matter where we are and who is at our house. End. Of. Story. I will not allow this child to ruin every other weekend for the rest of my life. 

And punishment is sitting in the corner, so she needs to chill out and back off. If I was spanking the kid, then yeah she has a right to get involved. But 4 minutes in the corner is not a tragedy 

blayze's picture

Sending you a hug for my harsh words *give_rose* ---  I just have no sympathy for men that can't tame a child.  It's weak and unattractive, and most importantly, it's not our job as their women to swoop in and help them parent their children.  It is literally THE reason why I'm not with my ex-SO who is perfect for me in every other way.  I became so turned off by him that all respect vanished and I had to break it off.  I can't fathom being openly defied, outsmarted, disrespected and humiliated by MY child... especially to the point that my partner considers leaving... yet that's why most stepparents are on this site - because their partners don't have authority over their own children. 

I don't spank, but I would string my kid up by his toes and flog him if he acted like my ex's daughter! *ROFL*

Your punishment/consequence - time in the corner sounds consistent for your SD... and that's great.  However, I wonder how consistent you've been with your husband. 

Adults could probably use the same "training" that we give children (specifically when the adult acts like a child by abdicating his/her parental authority).  Behavior modification requires consequences.  If your husband is consistently given positive or negative reinforcement whenever he fails YOU by not parenting, he has a better chance of changing.  This is one thing I wish I did better in the relationship with my ex.  I thought that by having "logical, adult discussions" with him that his parenting would improve. 

HA!  Nope. 

Just like a child, he ONLY responded to consequences:  Me leaving the house, not helping him on the weekends with his kids, not being in the mood for sex after he unattractively bowed to his kids, not cooking for him, etc. or the flip side, me being a totally amazing woman who adored him when he acted like a FATHER to his brats. 

If your husband doesn't know YOUR boundary, that you always, always, always stick to, then you'll continue to see inconsistent parenting from him. What reason does he have to stick with it if you'll either fill in for him or give him an empty threat? 

I'm just throwing it out there.  My ex is still trying to get back with me 2 years later.  I think it's because I proved I'm worthy of his respect.  I put myself first, stuck to my own boundaries and ultimately, left an untenable situation just like I said I would.  He supposedly became a better parent after I left.  I'll never know because that ship has sailed with his kids.  

I really hope this helps... your SD sounds like a jerk, whose father could fix her!  Don't let up on HIM>  this is his job.

ROOP's picture

He disciplines her at home. (Time out in the corner) but when we are in public he won’t say a word. And that’s when it bothers me the most. That’s when I get fed up and take her into the bathroom and have a talk with her about what the hell her problem is. She’s the worst when his sister is around with her family.

theoldredhen's picture

Yo, blayze,

Consequences for lax parents are the solution for many compromised and/or failed relationships that we continually see on these blogs.

If more ineffectual fathers were forced to confront single parenthood because SMs, fed up to the teeth, drew a line in the sand and stuck to it, there would be a helluva lot less divorce!

Blayze, I can’t agree more with your observation about empty threats. Until the Disney Dad realizes, in no uncertain terms, that his mate will leave if his kids continue to terrorize the household, he will continue in his negligent behavior.

Hon, you are living proof of what you preach; here's hoping that OP takes a page out of your book! 

ROOP's picture

And he knows she’s terrible. This poor man has shed tears over the behavior of his daughter. I feel bad for him!

Evil3's picture

Your SD needs her dad to parent her properly. My DH was always the same way and he always strung me along and claimed that they'll outgrow it. Disney parented kids with yellow bellied dads do not outgrow their horrific behaviour. In fact, they get much, much worse. They do not launch when their peers do, so don't make the mistake of counting down until they're 18. Your SD will be coddled forever. I'm very concerned about the safety of your baby. Do not have your baby and SD share a room. Your SD's tantrums can cause significant harm, possibly irreperable damage to your baby. Since your SO isn't accepting that or willing to do anything about your SD's behaviour, you will have to ensure the safety of your baby.

Stop going anywhere in public with your SD. Just refuse. I did and I've never looked back. In fact, at first, my DH never took the SKs out to eat because even he knew how bloody bad they were. When DH saw that I could take our DD out since she was a baby without incident, DH tried the same with the SKs. After a couple of times, one of which resulted in SS climbing and sliding across the restaurant table numerous times, I refused to go out in public with the brats, especially since I wasn't allowed to say a word to the perfect, superior beings.

You will have to be very frank with your SO and tell him that you will under no circumstances relent on your efforts to ensure the safety of your baby, continue to tolerate such chaos in the home that results from your SD's behaviour, or allow your SD to influence your baby. You will not have your baby turn out like your SD and I would even recomment that you flat out tell your SO what I told mine: "I do not approve of how the kids are being raised, I do not approve of how they are behaving and I do not approve of how they seem to be turning out. I can see an imminent train wreck and I will not have that for my baby. Whenever your unparented child is here, you will have to take her elsewhere for visitation. It is not practical for me to constantly leave the home with an infant. We can take turns if you want, but I will not be leaving with our infant every bloody time."

You might even consider a trial separation and tell your SO that you will move back in with your baby when he gets his feral child under control. I'm so sorry that you're going through this. I've been there and it's complete hell. Just think of how bad it gets when your SD becomes bigger than you and your baby and she punches the crap out of you or both of you. Unless your SD is parented, that is what your future holds.

ROOP's picture

Oh Lord no. I am a martial artist. That’s how I met my husband, I demonstrated a choke on him. I actually outrank him lol. If she tried to get physical at a later age, I would definitely smash her and make sure she never steps foot in my home again. 

I am trying the disengaging thing. But let it be known, is she strikes my baby with hands or anything, there will be absolute hell to pay. I will not allow her, or anyone to physically abuse my baby. I don’t plant on EVER leaving her alone with my baby. And the 2 nights a month she does spend with us, my baby is staying in my room. No way would I leave her at night with this child. 

I am definitely not backing down about that. My baby will come first and my baby will always come first. 

Evil3's picture

I'm a martial artist too. I have a black belt in karate and I think that's why my SD28 knew not to mess with me. I would have beat her a$$. It's good to know that you let it be known that if your SD strikes your baby at all that there will be absolute hell to pay. I'm glad you're not backing down on protecting your baby.

Rags's picture

This is exactly what a strap in car seat in the  parking lot is for.  Next time instruct DH in no uncertain terms to take his toxic spawn to the car, strap her in, and stay there with her until she can either behave or until everyone else finishes their meal in peace.  No matter what she does she needs her butt spanked either with an immediate trip the restroom or when she gets home.  Any time she pulls this crap, correct, strap in, spank her butt.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

This crap pisses me off to no end.  I have on a number of occasions requested for restaurant management to remove a screaming hellion from the restaurant so that the rest of the patrons can dine in peace.  I do it loud enough that the table who won;'t get their little shit kid under control can hear.

I have also on more than one occas sion stopped a kid from running around my table and trying to take things off of my table. That was fun. I had an offended dad try to bow up on me over it one time.  Until I informed him that was was prepared and capable of defending myself with deadly force and if he insisted on taking his ire any further he would be responsible for what his family witnessed next. He sat down and kept his kid under control.

I have read on a number of Parents of Autistic Children sites about how much they hate what they call "the look" that they get from people in public when their children go into melt down mode.  Back in the day "the look" was the end of any ill behavior from a kid. When a kid got "the look" from one or both of their parents the behavioral crap stopped immediately because no kid wanted what came after the look.

Parents need to re-activate the look and ... what comes next.