Hello, I hate my step daughter and don’t want her near my husband, but I need help overcoming these feelings. I have been with my husband for 5 years and my step daughter is now 11 years old. A couple years ago, she started to act out and become disrespectful and lazy. We tried everything to discipline and teach her how to be kind and empathetic, but no improvement was made. At this time, we spoke to her mom and step dad and all agreed she should be tested for a disability. Turns out she has Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), but her mom refuses to consider medication or alternative holistic approaches to helping in this matter. My husband has zero legal right in any medical treatments or therapy until she is 16. Long story short, this last summer she started to put herself in between my husband and I when he would show me affection. We put an end to that quickly and explained that we will not tolerate her jealousy or manipulative tactics to separate us. Recently, she told her grandma that she is scared of me. This resulted in a massive fight between the grandparents and my husband and I. We discussed this matter with the daughter and asked if she was truly scared of me and she said she was joking. She has been saying things like this about her step-dad for years now, however we know he treats her very well and there is no reason for these cruel remarks. She has used manipulation techniques like this for a couple years and started by playing the mom and dad against each other. I have done nothing but accept her into my life and have her become like a real daughter. About a year ago, her behavior started to change and she started displaying annoying and selfish behaviors that upset me greatly. She still expects her father to carry her up the stairs to put her to bed, massage her feet, snuggle with him on the couch, pick out her outfits and be in our bedroom without permission. I feel like she is challenging and competing with me. Every time I am snuggling with my husband on the couch, she immediately comes and lays on his lap and invades my time with her dad. At this point, when I hear her name, my skin crawls and I want nothing to do with her. The only time I argue with my husband is over her. How can I stop hating, detesting and loathing her? She tried to hug me last night and I couldn’t hug her back. I love children and it hurts me to feel this way about a child. Therapy is not an option for us because her mom won’t approve it. Thank you. (From the USA)
A: ODD is particularly difficult and I would recommend you begin therapy with your husband. Just because her mother won’t approve therapy for her doesn’t mean you have to limit yourselves. Check this site as well as our own therapist listing at the Find Help tab at the top of this page.
Search for a family therapist with a specialty with children with ODD. Someone with generic skills will not be able to help as much as someone with experience. You may have to call and interview the therapists by phone first to see who specializes.
The work is with you and your husband having a unified approach that is directed by a professional. You don’t want her behavior to become a wedge between the two of you.
Wishing you patience and peace,
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral