Sandra writes:
Dear Rachel I recently got married and am having issues with my 8-year-old step- daughter. At times she has an attitude and I don’t want to have to deal with it. My husband has a lot of guilt around his divorce and not living with her full time and she manipulates this to get her way. Can you give me relationship advice on how I can deal with this in a way where I don’t resent her or my husband?

Sandra, step parenting can be tough.

· You need to set a boundaries with his daughter on what you will and will not tolerate. You may not get immediate results but if you are consistent the child will eventually respect the limits. Trust me, she wants you to like her too, and when she has attitude, let her know you will not tolerate it. Children respect adults who set strong limits with them.

· You also need to understand that you don’t have to spend all your time with her when she is around. You can give her and her father the space to spend time alone. The less invested you are, the better it will be for you. Your husband may eventually step up as he is stuck dealing with her attitude on his own.

· You can also speak objectively to your husband about her. Stay calm and give him your opinion on the impact of her behavior and how ultimately it is best for her to have limits and consequences. This takes time, but remember, as long as you set your own strong limits, you are modeling and operating in the best interest of your relationship and the family.

Best Wishes to you Sandra. And for all of you watching feel free to email me at if you want me to answer any relationship questions.

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