Children are expected to respect their parents, but in a newly blended family, this feeling can sometimes get lost in the translation. While the instinct is to yell and demand the respect you deserve, you may have not earned it just yet in the eyes of your stepkids. Moreover, you serving as the new parent is likely one of many colossal changes they are experiencing. It will take some time to be able to establish that respect if you are wondering how to get your stepdaughter to respect you.
The way to get your stepdaughter to respect you:
- Establish ground rules early
- Give respect in order to get respect
- Get to know your stepdaughter
- Reinforce positive behavior
- Work hard at what you do.
You will need to be patient in the process. This change will not happen in a day, a week, or even a month. However, there are some crucial steps that you can take to better ensure that the two of you get on the right track.
Establish Ground Rules Early
Once your family is melded together, rules need to be set in place.
It is important to also have the other parent involved in the talk because they are the “biological” ones and have more authority than the step-parent. They need to make it crystal clear that what the new parent says, goes. Moreover, consequences need to be established and enforced when there is disrespect or when lines are crossed.
Remember that whether you like it or not, many kids will see you as a replacement for their “real” mom or dad. This can lead to a bit of an attitude so try to give them a little grace.
If they begrudgingly do their chores, there is no need to knit pick about their minor attitude. However, if they use downright rude or abrasive language, then it needs to be addressed immediately.
Give Respect In Order To Get Respect
The Golden Rule to “treat others the way you want to be treated” is a principle that you should use at all times. Your stepdaughter is more likely to give you respect if you give her the same consideration.
One thing to keep in mind is that you did not carry this child and you were not there from their birth. You are not “the normal” that they are accustomed to, and that is okay. Despite all of your best efforts, this transition period can take a while. It is important to note that this is a big change for them as well.
You are a new role model in the house so it is imperative that you present yourself as such. When frustrated or mad, handle the situation in a mature and composed manner. Take time to think of others in the household and try to do tasks that will make their lives a bit easier.
When talking about respect, you need to understand that giving your stepdaughter privacy is key. Just because you became their new parent does not mean that you should know everything about their life just because you feel like it.
Get To Know Your Step Daughter
It is really easy to dislike someone that you don’t know. It is likely that your new stepdaughter has only spent time with you around their biological parent.
This can cause discontent and even resentment because you are replacing someone they love and cherish. Taking the time to get to know her and build a relationship can help deepen your bond and remove the stigma of the step-parent. Remember to never force them to spend time with you, but take the time to suggest activities that would interest them.
Finally, it is also extremely important to bring up that you are not a replacement, but are a bonus person in their life. Let them understand that you are someone who will always be in their corner through thick and thin!
You never want to take away from their relationship with their mom or dad, no matter how your spouse may feel about that person. Clouding their view of this family member will drive a wedge between you two.
Parent All The Kids Equally
There is no longer “your kids” and “their kids”. It is OUR kids now.
There can no longer be preferential treatment towards your biological child. Excursions and purchases need to include the entire family. If you choose to take your biological child for ice cream privately, then you should also plan an outing of equal value with your stepdaughter and it needs to occur soon after the initial trip.
This also goes for when they all misbehave.
Consequences need to be equal if all parties were involved in the indiscretion. However, if your stepdaughter is acting out but your biological child is not, then they should not have to endure a group punishment for her independent actions. It is important to individualize punishment and personalize praise for all of your children.
Moreover, never compare your kids.
By saying “It would be nice if you took some initiative to help around the house like Peter does”, you imply that she is not as good as your son. Instead, phrase it as “I would appreciate some help in the kitchen when you have the time”.
By drawing attention to contrasts and implying that one person should change to be more like the other, you are inadvertently making them feel less valued. This can easily strain your new relationship which is the last thing you want to happen.
Let Your Significant Other Be The Primary Disciplinarian
As previously mentioned, having established consequences is paramount for the new parent.
If the child has been told what to expect when they are disrespectful or break family rules, then there will likely be less backlash when you have to dole out a punishment. Conversely, for instances that have not been discussed, it is best to let her biological parent be the one to discipline her for inappropriate actions.
This allows you to continue to build a positive relationship with your new stepdaughter without crossing too many boundaries. “You are not my real parent!” is a statement that all parties would like to avoid. If this does slip out, remember to not take it as a personal attack because you need to remember that the child is dealing with a new way of life. They might be struggling to understand that concept in the beginning.
For the initial transition period, it is best that you function as a caregiver who reports back to the original parent. Give it time and gain their respect. This will make the task of administering punishments later down the line much easier.
Reinforce Positive Behavior
Our choice of words is a powerful tool and you should use it to your advantage.
Make sure to tell your stepdaughter when you are proud of her. Focus on big accomplishments and seemingly small gestures. Moreover, express your affection and remember that this should always be at a level that makes her comfortable. Even a fist bump or high five can show your feelings!
Additionally, over 90% of communication is non-verbal. A picture is worth a thousand words so how you stand, the gestures you use, and the facial expressions that cross your face say a lot about how you feel so pay attention to your actions.
Work Hard At What You Do
A way to gain respect from not only your stepdaughter but from anyone else is to work hard at whatever you do.
It is a quality that many people lack and it sets you apart from the rest. Once your stepdaughter notices that you are a hard worker, she will understand and know that your time is important.
This will, in turn, make her build a level of commitment within herself and make her work hard at whatever she pursues. She will respect the fact that you go above and beyond to be great at the things you do.
Final Thoughts – How To Get Your Stepdaughter To Respect You
Leading by example is the number one way to gain your stepdaughter’s respect, admiration, and love.
The way you treat her biological parent, the way you compose yourself around her, and your overall demeanor in life are all factors that play a huge role in her consequent actions. The goal is to slowly build a bond and to use positive reinforcement to strengthen good behaviors.
Rome was not built in a day. Lower your expectations and have patience throughout the process. Be willing to make changes to your habits and keep to your promises. Most importantly, be kind and humble even if she does not always reciprocate.
To have your stepdaughter respect you, it will take effort and time from both ends but it can be achieved easily.