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Trying to be a step-parent

I have three stepchildren - two older, one younger - plus two of my own kids. The older kids are great, the younger one is a handful (she's 10). Her mom spoils her to death, she had a cell phone at 9 years old, lost that got a blackberry. She buys clothes from high end stores for her - total opposite way of how we live. So when she comes over to our house, she's used to being pampered and we treat her like a normal child. My problem is - she never eats a meal. She stares at her plate for an hour, her father (my husband) lets her throw it away, and then he makes her a sandwhich or buys her a donut 20 minutes later. He says he can't let her starve (LOL).

I get annoyed b/c we budget for our household, having two babies is very expensive on top of normal expenses. If I buy the food, I have every right to get mad that it's going to waste, right? I already got told "she's not your daughter, don't worry about it" from my husband. Am I completely wrong in thinking I have a say in stuff in my OWN house? I know I'm not her mother, but I am asking for respect when coming under my roof. Any thoughts appreciated, step-parenting has only been in my life for 3 years.

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Asked by Anonymous at 1:11 PM on Jun. 23, 2011 in General Parenting

Answers (11)
  • No youre not being unreasonable. I would try to make meals according to what you know she likes. But, if she just refuses to eat anything, shes just being spoiled and stubborn. I dont think he should let her starve either, but maybe he should let her think he is....if you eat dinner at 5. And, she doesnt eat, but then around 6 is asking for a sandwich...let her think she will get nothing. "Nope, we already ate. YOU chose not to eat your dinner." Then, let it continue for a couple hours. Let her have something to eat about 30 minutes before bed. Yes, its not the "recommended" thing to do, but maybe she'll get the hint after going hungry for a while. I dont know

    Answer by mlmkjw at 1:15 PM on Jun. 23, 2011

  • You are absoulutely not being unreasonable. You should join Step Mom Central to chat with other moms

    Answer by maybaby22 at 1:19 PM on Jun. 23, 2011

  • That is completely inappropriate for dad and mom to allow this type of behavior in your home. They need to be teaching her better than that, you are on a budget and the way you do things in your home is not going to be the same as bio-moms home. She sounds like a spoiled brat and her bio-parents are to blame. Dad needs to support you and teach her some get what you get and you appreciate it !!!! or don't eat!!!

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:20 PM on Jun. 23, 2011

  • I think her refusal to eat is a form of control. She is controling the situation. I think you should ask her before you make her plate "this is what we are having, do you want it or would you like a PB&J?" From there, she is required to eat what is on her plate. Follow the same rules you have set forth for the other kids in everything. The rules in your house should apply to every child in your house. If your DH isnt backing you up or the house rules than you are in for some serious issues with your SD! I think you should talk to him about this and remind him that she is in your home to be a part of the family. She is not here on vacation and it sure as hell aint disney land! Good luck!

    P.S. Im a SM to 3 also! you should check out the group boards here?!

    Answer by Ms.Gwen at 1:26 PM on Jun. 23, 2011

  • Exactly!!! But if I speak up, I hear "why do you worry so much?" or "she's not your daughter" - don't you love that one?! I dont worry, and I know she's not my daughter, but is it THAT hard to show the girl that she needs to respect and eat what's put in front of her?? I refuse to make a seperate meal just for her, she needs to learn this isn't a diner. I'm not making two full meals - I cook in bulk for cheap. He doesn't support me one bit! But it's funny, because when she comes over, he's on her side. Yells at me for getting worked up over it (and it NEVER fails, every weekend she's there, it's the SAME thing). But when she's not over, he tells people "oh, i can't get her to eat a meal for the life of me, she's always been like that, blah blah blah"

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 1:26 PM on Jun. 23, 2011

  • Well, it's dealing with your DH that is the problem. I would be careful not to get worked up in front of his daughter, because then she will learn how to push your buttons, and have her dad back her.

    I've been in similar situations, and honestly, I just let it go. I try to find some kind of compromise, like offering a PB&J, and YOU not making it. If dad wants to make it, that's up to him.

    I think you are going to have a very hard, if not impossible time, trying to convince him to be tougher with his daughter, and you need his support to make it happen. I am willing to guess he is not very strict with his younger two either. And since they are well behaved it's not noticable. Warning, it's going to get harder when they get older.

    Answer by Candi1024 at 1:34 PM on Jun. 23, 2011

  • Well, I do get worked up in front of her on occasion. Because I get so tired of watching her stare at her plate and him not say a word to her! He has told me in the past that he's not gonna make her life miserable because she wont eat, since he doesnt see her that often. I told him, its not a matter of making her life miserable, its a matter of making her eat. I dont cook anything inedible - I cook chicken, rice, beans, pasta, etc, simple stuff! He doesn't stand behind me one bit. Last year he told me I was turning into the typical evil stepmother and I have issues with her - and i said I dont have issues with her, i have issues with the fact that she doesn't respect me in my own home by not eating and you dont say a thing to her about it. OR if she does disrespect (like the eye rolling, which I get on the regular) he talks to her in private, to not embarass her.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 1:37 PM on Jun. 23, 2011

  • That is crazy for him to have said she is not your daughter. Are you not involved in the child rearing of that child? That is crazy!

    Answer by samandbren at 1:38 PM on Jun. 23, 2011

  • It sounds like the child's father is the problem. He has daddy guilt from not having her all the time. He tries to make up for it by giving in to whatever she wants. He is wrong to tell you that she isn't your kid so don't worry about it. When she is in YOUR home, she follows the same rules as the rest of the family. What would you tell your children if they saw her getting preferential treatment? What if it hurt their feelings???

    Answer by Molly4630 at 2:04 PM on Jun. 23, 2011

  • It is definitely guilt - he has told me that he's not going to make her life miserable by being mean with her when he sees her, since he only sees her every other weekend. I said "how is making her eat a meal making her miserable?" both of her parents are trying to be her best friend - her mother by blowing her entire paycheck on gucci bags and dkny shirts for this girl - she's 10 years old!! then, he says to me, "i hope she doesnt turn into a diva" - ummm you're way beyond that

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 2:28 PM on Jun. 23, 2011

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