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Can’t Get Along with My Stepdaughters

Questioner

W (40-female-US)

Reply Date

Aug 08, 2018

Question

I have two stepdaughters who live with me. They are 14 and 16- years -old. Sometimes I just want to leave the whole situation. They are constantly whining, bitching and complaining. Plus they use my stuff and never bring it back. Besides, they are so spoiled even the family counselor said that was their problem. Their mother lives only 20 miles away and sees them maybe once a week. I will be so glad when they are gone. My biggest fear is that they will never move out of our house. I wish they would move back in with their mom. I feel like I married them and not their dad. Please advice.

Counselor

Answer


In this counseling answer:

•Set the basic rule for the “meeting” that each person is allowed to speak and have their say without being interrupted, or any undermining comments – this will help to teach patience, how to listen to what the other person has to say, as well as how to be a part of the decision-making process.

•Let the girls speak first, then you, and then your husband, because this will allow him to come to terms with a decision-making process. Let the meeting include activities that can be done together, chores in the house, study time, etc.


As salamu ‘alaykum dear sister,

I want to say that you did marry them as well as their father, for they are his daughters, and both of you accepted for your stepdaughters to be raised with you. The problem arises because you are having to cope with the legacy of how they were raised before you.

Young girls will moan, and whine, and bitch as long as there is someone to listen to them, and as long as there is room for their “manoeuvres”. OK, they are not your daughters, but you are more or less responsible for them now until such time the domestic situation changes in a halal way. By this, it is meant they have to live with amahram. So the question is, how are you going to live with each other in the meantime.

Firstly, you have to accept that you are responsible for them, and therefore you have the right to set limits. The first limit you must set is to no longer listen to their whining, and their complaints. Inform your husband that this is what you are going to do and why, and that you expect his support, otherwise all hell will break loose as the girls are more likely to play one person off against the other. If your husband really cares for his daughters, he will support you in this.


Check out this counseling video 


Becoming an adult takes longer nowadays, and the way forward from adolescence to adulthood is rife with ambiguities. Richard Settersten, co-director of the Schubert Center for Child Development makes us aware of the following:

Adolescents need greater support and guidance from their family and social support systems in navigating their way through to adulthood

“Adulthood no longer begins when adolescence ends,” Settersten said, especially where the “big five” traditional markers of adulthood are concerned—leaving home, finishing school, starting a job, getting married and having children. In prior generations, these transitions were completed by the mid-20s.

Today, this set of transitions is often not completed until well into the early or late 30s for many people. And what we might think about as a neat “three-box model” of life—with education up front, work in the middle and retirement or leisure at the end—is crumbling.

“A brand new challenge to understanding this period is how individuals develop a sense of autonomy amidst increasingly long periods of dependence on others, without strong or clear scripts to guide them, and when the institutions through which they move are based on models of early adulthood that no longer reflect the realities of the modern world,” he said.

Because this is a period of “sink or swim” for American kids, those who manage to swim often do so only because they receive a great deal of family support or have other informal safety nets to prop them up as they make their way.

“These circumstances put young people in a position where they now are more attached to their parents than ever before,” Settersten noted.

So basically, you are over dramatic teenage step-daughters still need you. To foster a sense of interdependence and independence mutually:

Set your limits as to what they can and cannot do by sitting down and explaining it to them.

•Post reminders around the house including a scheduled family conference once a week whereby “issues” can be thrashed out. Everyone including your husband should be present.

•Set the basic rule for the “meeting” that each person is allowed to speak and have their say without being interrupted, or any undermining comments – this will help to teach patience, how to listen to what the other person has to say, as well as how to be a part of the decision-making process.

•Let the girls speak first, then you, and then your husband, because this will allow him to come to terms with a decision-making process. Let the meeting include activities that can be done together, chores in the house, study time, etc.

•Learn to listen to the girls so that you can differentiate between what is reasonable, and what is unreasonable. With what is unreasonable, help them to see why it is unreasonable, and ask them what the solution could be.

Once they can see that you are establishing and intend to maintain a new rule of domestic law so to speak, in which they are parties to the decision-making process, the whining, bitching, and complaining will subside. Frankly it is media hype that contributes and promotes the idea of wreckless, and lawless youth. Yes, they are going through hormonal changes, but their ability to navigate those changes is strongly influenced by the emotional stability of their environment.

For example, aggression is linked to high testosterone levels, but testosterone level is also influenced by the environment, hence interdependent, otherwise all teenagers worldwide would go through the same turmoil, anxieties, carelessness etc., and as we can see, that is not the case. Make regular dua`aa’ for your family in order to give you strength and sense of purpose, in sha ‘Allah.

We wish you the best, sister!

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Hwaa Irfan

Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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