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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: Why Did My Husband’s Teenage Daughter Change Her Behavior towards Me?

March 1, 2020

Dear Stavroula,

I’ve been married for a year and a half. My husband was divorced and has a 15-year-old daughter who comes and stays with us every other weekend and half of her vacation days. My husband’s daughter and I were getting along very well, going out shopping together, talking, and generally showing me that she accepted me and that she loved me. But her behavior changed suddenly and I don’t understand why. She doesn’t talk to me about her personal life anymore, and every time I start a chat she responds to me monosyllabically and doesn’t want spend any time with me. Really, I can’t understand why her behavior changed so abruptly. The last time she came to our house, I asked her to help me with something and she refused me rudely. My husband, who was listening to her, tried to talk to her, and she got upset and called her mother to pick her up early. I am very worried and I don’t know what to do to approach her again.

Melina

 

Dear Melina,

Your husband’s daughter is in a strange phase of her life, in her teens, and that alone explains many of her behaviors. Teenagers tend to think using the emotion-related area of ??the brain, and this often results in behaviors that often seem strange to us adults.

I could not understand from your letter whether the girl’s behavior has only changed towards you or if it has changed in general. In the first case, this may have happened for many reasons.

Maybe her mother was jealous of the good relationship you had and showed her that she didn’t approve of it. Children are often unconsciously behaving in a way that does not bother the parent they live with, for fear of losing stability in their lives. She may have spoken negatively about you, or dismissed responsibility for her divorce in order to keep her daughter at a distance from you.

Maybe the girl misinterpreted something you said. Or maybe she heard you say something to her father, maybe something she told you privately. At this age, children are very sensitive and we need to be very careful with their feelings.

You can do this by maintaining a stable attitude towards her based on love and respect. Avoid getting into a verbal dispute with her, avoid judging her or imposing anything on her. As for the typical parental orders, “clean your room or pick up your plate,” let her father take the initiative. If you find that the climate is right, try to ask her what has changed and she avoids you, after first expressing your feelings about this change and especially the idea of it. In any case, be patient and show love. Even if the girl is temporarily influenced by her mother, growing up will lead to her forming her own conclusions about you and your relationship.

But if the child has changed behavior in general, and to the extent that it concerns you and your husband, you need an expert’s opinion. Because many things can be hidden behind a child’s sudden introversion or unexplained anger.

Otherwise, as we said, it is adolescence and will pass! An unrequited love, a betrayed friendship, and even a low grade on a test at school can affect a child in adolescence and temporarily change his or her behavior. Our role is to be there for her, to support her and to help her find her way in life with confidence and security.

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