Parents know that parenting isn’t always easy, but being a stepparent brings about an entirely new set of difficulties. The blending of a family can be a challenging transition, particularly when you add a teenage stepdaughter to the mix. A self-centered teen is common, but navigating a self-centered teenage stepdaughter can be difficult regardless of whether or not you have a good relationship. As a stepparent, your role as disciplinarian might differ from that of your stepdaughter’s biological parent, and that makes a difference in how you handle her.
Understand that narcissism and self-centeredness in teenage girls is common, advises Laura Markham, psychologist and parent. It can help you keep your patience and deal with your stepdaughter when you understand that this is a phase that happens and that it will eventually get better.
Discuss how you want to handle your stepdaughter’s self-centered behavior with your spouse, advises Carri and Gordon Taylor, nationally-known experts in blended families, for Empowering Parents. Being a stepparent means deferring to the biological parent as the main decision maker in regards to his own children as well as the proper way to handle your stepchildren. How you handle your stepdaughter’s self-centeredness should be something you and your spouse agree upon.
Talk to your stepdaughter about her self-centeredness and how it makes you feel, advises Markham. Do this without being confrontational by making it a “me” statement. You can say to her, “When you don’t do what you say or respect the family rules, it really makes me worry.” This may help her feel that you are not attacking her by talking about how you feel rather than what she is doing wrong. It may also help her realize that her behavior is self-centered because it is affecting others.
Create rules for your teenage stepdaughter and give her a choice when you discuss the consequences, advises Markham. If she fails to consider how it makes the rest of the family feel when she doesn’t come home in time for family dinners, tell her that the family rule is that you eat together on Sunday evenings and that it makes the rest of the family feel unimportant when she doesn’t show up on time. Follow that statement with a choice. Ask her if she can make it a point to be home in time for family dinners on Sunday or if she wants to have the privilege of going out on Sundays taken away.
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