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Any advice on helping a step-daughter recover from feeling abandoned after a divorce?
Its been over 3 year since my husband has seen his two daughters from a previous marriage and for the first time have visited us and their new little brother. The last few days seem to have been great but today not so well.The eldest has once again started to blame her dad for leaving her and accuses him of not loving her enough. I am worried she is going to hurt herself after running out the door tonight a couple of times in the freezing temperatures without a coat! It literally is 10 degrees outside!! She stated she "didn't care if she got sick or lived".. Any advice in dealing with this??
Dear Lupita: I became a stepmommy at the ripe ol' age of 22. My stepson was 7 at the time and we experienced much of the same. He was younger so he didn't use his words as much as he did his behaviors. He always seemed to sabotage us every chance he got. I finally sat with him, and made direct eye contact, as we talked about the "whys". Of course your timing has to be just right, so you have to look for the "right time" to sit and talk. I would probaly start by validating their feelings. They are real, as you know. 3 years to not see your children is a lot, so most of the work is going to have to come from the girls' father. He will need to talk to them together and separately, so that each girl can work on healing their own relationship with their father. I would strongly suggest professional "family" counseling for the family unit. If the girls don't deal with their feelings, it will get worse as they get older, and they will start acting on them. A little girl and her daddy have a special relationship in this life. They feel like he was taken from them...very tough to heal, but it can. Talking it through is a good start, but getting professional help is the way to go, since there has been so much time that has passed that he has been out of contact with them...good luck!
Thanks Kim for sharing your experience in dealing with this issue. It does start with him but my husband's communication style is to "ignore the issue" as I've seen with our own disagreements. He does need to work on reassuring them more, Thanks!
It's probably the ex-wife's fault. I think all you and your husband can do is to act sane, reasonable, and empathetic toward the girls. Listening and showing empathy without trying to offer solutions will go a long way, believe it or not. It's too late to see any immediate change as they will ultimately have to decide for themselves. Ex-wives often like to brainwash their children by telling them how horrible their father is. Sane children will be able to see for themselves sooner or later. You can make rules and consequences for breaking the rules in your own house. Consequences can include cutting off of money, cell phone, etc. But you can't control the behavior of others and you can't change the way others think. All you can do is control your own behavior and make rules and consequences.
Regardless of which parent is more at fault, both parents need to step up and reassure their kids in divorce situations. He left for solid reasons and the price was sadly leaving his kids but the lack of attention she gets is very obvious, THANKS
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