Eliminating the Verbal Abuse and Bullying

 Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright 2000

Dear Annette,

I got married almost 2 years ago to a 45 year old man with a 14 year old daughter. I was 36.  His first wife left after about 5 years of marriage when his daughter was one and a half. Apparently, the wife had been a lesbian before the marriage and decided to go back to that lifestyle.

For the next 12 years the father, with the help of his mother, has devoted himself to his daughter. He travels almost every week for his job and the daughter would stay with his mom during those times. When she started school, Grandma would spend the night here with her.

When the daughter was about 6, her mom started being more involved in her life and had regular visitation then couple of years after that moved to Seattle.  The daughter flies up there 7 to 8 weeks every summer, and every other Christmas and spring break. At least since I have been here, her mom seems to write and call about once or twice a month.

The father is a convert of 3 years, the daughter joined last April. It was an answer to many heart felt prayers. We go to church every Sunday as a family. the daughter says she now understands why her dad and I used to be so happy when we would come home from church, it makes her happier.

HOWEVER! There is a BIG problem in our family. My biggest shock after our marriage is the complete lack of respect, and hateful attitude the daughter has for her dad and even her grandmother. (and now me) I can understand that, as a teenager, she thinks adults know nothing. I remember being a teenager (15 was a horrid year for me). But this completely blows me away. EVERYTHING we do is criticized. NOTHING is ever enough or even good enough.

My sin is that after we married, I began cooking more meals at home, instead of going out almost all the time. These were homemade meals instead of from the can or freezer section. Though I am used to a "whole grain" approach, I didn't insist on converting meals over completely. My cooking, until now, has been pretty good.  The daughter detests EVERYTHING I make, and declares it at great volume, with the most hateful, cutting remarks I have ever been subject to.  No other effort is acceptable from either me, her dad, or her grandmother.

Though a straight A student, she constantly calls herself stupid and ugly. WE are all stupid and ugly. How could I have ever married her dad, it reminds her of beauty and the beast. How come I am so lazy I don't go get a real job. ( I have a small business I can do from home) The laundry is never right, the clothes we have bought her and she picked out are not enough, not right, and will eventually be given away with the tags still on. She is overweight and clearly unhappy about that, though resists all efforts to help.

She used to call hateful names but I have almost put an end to that. (Just like my Primary classes, EVERYONE will treat each other with courtesy and no name calling, even if you don't like the other person.)

The daughter asks me CONTINUALLY, why I don't like her. In the beginning, I stood back and let the father takes care of all discipline, but after her horrible treatment of him, I stepped in and now am pretty much the disciplinarian. I have really only punished her seriously twice, once a week of dishes when she didn't clean out the lint trap on the dryer (she had been reminded over and over again, and that time there HAD to have been over 5 loads and back then she did her wash almost every day)

The other time is more recent when she had a 2-year-old temper tantrum at KFC because I limited her to "only" 2 sides with her order. (Grandma would have let her get all she wanted PLUS desert) We grounded her from eating out for 4 weeks, the ensuing temper tantrum after that added a week and her hateful arguing about is in the following week added 2 more weeks. This finally backed her down when she realized I was serious. (The only exception was an out of town trip we went on and we ate out 2 times!)

Eating out, shopping, and collecting movies are her only things in life.  Since she joined the church and attends YW and their activities and she has 5 advanced classes in school, so spends almost every hour doing homework, she is not glued to the TV all the time.

She is very demanding, constantly berating to get what she wants, and on the rare occasion she feels loving, is very immature in showing it. It is actually like being around a 2 year old. I mean she even had a whine when she wants her way that is just like a baby.

Most of this had begun to back off some, but after 2 miscarriages, I am now 5 months pregnant. This is something she wanted too, asking when we were going to give her a sibling. I have been so sick, and no, cannot go and do many of the things I used to. I understand this changes everything, it requires her to do more for herself, I cannot rub her back at her every whim, get ALL the laundry done for THE shirt she planned to wear, and frankly, shopping tires my body AND my will, since whatever we buy is never enough.

So I guess what I am saying is HELP!  I have suggested family counseling to my husband and he really doesn't want to. Just this week, we are trying to have family prayer morning and night (we tried before but it was such a hassle I just backed away from it) Now I just get ready and act like it is not something we question, we just are doing it. The father supports my efforts with the daughter , but I am so tired of it, and maybe its because of the pregnancy.

It is strange though that all three times I got pregnant the daughter was not around. (once on our honeymoon and twice she was at her mother's)

I love the daughter, but I am tired of having to "prove" myself to her over and over again. I am aware that her mother left her and her emotional growth has suffered. My mother left my father with 5 kids when I was 9 so I know something of how it feels. I had a lot of resentments of my mom too, even though I loved her and I learned to deal with her shallowness.

When we were dating, the father said the daughter was very important to him and he hoped we could get along. I told him I was probably as prepared as anyone for the situation. I am not so sure now, I think I need a PhD. in Psychology. I have given us a lot of time to adjust.

 I am concerned about the effect this does and will have on our unborn baby. I hoped to have him come into a loving family. I will continue to work at it, but I could use some pointers.

Thanks for listening.

Dear Stepmother,

Here are a series of articles that should do the job.  If you need further assistance or would just like to talk, please write back.

Taking Control of Your Family



Helping Our Children Overcome Bad behaviors


Stop Sibling and Family Abuse



A Contract with the Family's Youth for Optimal Family Living



Helps for Blended Families



Family Council



Understanding Adolescents and Teenagers



Allowing Rewards and Consequences for Children



The Family Job List Binder



Here is an article that I found on the web.  It is how to bully proof your children.  Look at the attributes of the victim that the bully picks on.  You are the victim change how you are relating to this girl and she will have to change also

Bullying - How to Stop It!



May God be with You,

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage

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