Dear Coleen: My step-daughter is rude and snappy – even if I ask what she wants for tea

Dear Coleen
I’ve been with my partner for two-and-a-half years. He was married before and has a 14-year-old daughter, who comes to stay with us every other weekend.

She made it clear from the start that she doesn’t like me and isn’t interested in making any effort.

I thought things would get better with time, but they’re getting worse. She’s quite rude and snappy – even if I ask her a simple question like: “What would you like for tea?”

I get so stressed before she comes to stay because I know how it’s going to play out, but my partner just seems able to ignore it.

It’s driving a wedge between us and I’m sick of it. Can you help?

Coleen says
It’s tough being a stepparent and I’ve been in your partner’s position in the past, feeling stuck in the middle between a new partner and my children.

My eldest son was 12 when I met my second husband Ray, and he pushed every button he could – “You’re not my dad” was a commonly used phrase.

I won’t lie, it’s going to take a lot of effort on your part. But it’s also important to involve your partner and discuss ways of dealing with it together. He can’t always be the good guy – he should back you up and agree not to undermine you in front of his daughter.

It’s crucial to present a united front or she will use the divide and conquer tactic. He must pull her up if she’s rude to you.

All you can do is try to be her friend – reassure her you’re not trying to take her mum’s place.

Now she’s getting older, maybe you can find things the two of you can do together that might help you bond, whether it’s shopping, movie nights, horse riding – try and do something you both enjoy.