Mumsnet Logo
My feed

to access all these features


AIBU not to know how to support my stepdaughter?

6 replies

onetworedblue · 16/07/2017 23:12

I urgently need some advice on how to deal with my partners 16 year old daughter. I don't know how to deal with her but feel like I should. AIBU or is this impossible? She can be a really lovely, sweet girl. She is very young for her age, quite naive and suffers from severe anxiety and depression. Her mental health problems have been severe for the last 12 months, prior to that she was quite anxious and highly strung but over the last year she has deteriorated. She self harms occasionally and is being treated by camhs. (Counselling, psychotherapy and medication). She stays with us one night a week and is usually much better than when at home (no self harm, no meltdowns etc) but is often anxious and unable to join in day to day activities and often crashes when she gets home, I think due to the stress of holding it together at hours. I am very sympathetic to her problems and would like to offer her support, but am finding it really hard not to get frustrated with her. I have never suffered from depression or anxiety so am struggling to understand how she feels. On the surface her behaviour can often seem very manipulative and it often comes across that she makes her own life difficult. I KNOW this is not the case but am finding it really hard to understand some of the things she does. When either my partner or I try to talk to her about her issues, not to pry but to understand, she gets very upset, defensive and often then complains to her mum that we have been upsetting her. We then get world war 3 from her mum and then missed visits etc. It feels like I don't understand but I'm not allowed to speak to her to try and it's making doing anything with her extremely difficult. Any ideas as to what I can do to be more supportive of her?

OP posts:

Mumteadumpty · 16/07/2017 23:21

How do you get on with her Mum? Rather than WW3, would she be able to give constructive suggestions which might help?


onetworedblue · 16/07/2017 23:37

My relationship with her mum is non existent and there is some hostility between my partner and his ex. He tries not to let this be apparent to the kids and has asked what we should be doing to better support his daughter. Unfortunately the answers seem to be let her do whatever she wants and don't put her under any pressure, but don't give us any understanding. Things have been difficult today because we needed to go to the supermarket. She got really upset and anxious about the thought of going out because it might be busy so I went on my own with her 10 year old sister and she stayed home with her dad. Then when I got back she asked if we could go into town and have lunch out (mega busy on a Saturday). I asked her if she thought she'd be ok in town, given that it would be busier than the supermarket. 10 minutes later she has text her mum saying I'm accusing her of making up her anxiety. I just don't know what to do as everything I say is wrong!

OP posts:

onetworedblue · 16/07/2017 23:39

I think the trouble is, I genuinely don't understand how she feels so it's really hard to do the right thing for her. I thought I was being helpful asking if she was ok to go to town. And I don't understand why she feels able to go to one busy place not another. I am totally confused!

OP posts:

WinnieTheWitch50 · 16/07/2017 23:41


onetworedblue · 16/07/2017 23:43

Thanks Winnie, I will take a look at that.

OP posts:

corythatwas · 16/07/2017 23:55

My dd (20) has very similar problems but has gradually been able to work on things to the point where she is planning to move out and go on to HE in the autumn. Enormously proud of her and absolutely sure she is not manipulative. It can be very, very frustrating, not least because it is sometimes difficult to see any logic in what stresses her out and what doesn't.

These are things that I find help for us:

finding something relaxing we can do together when she is feeling stressed (for us it is box sets)

not questioning how she feels or why but limiting questions to "what would you like me to do?" and "what do you think you should do?"

listening rather thank talking

accepting that the apparent lack of logic is part of the illness: if she saw pink elephants I wouldn't be questioning why those pink elephants hadn't been there the night before

otoh also having the confidence to say "sorry, I don't feel up to taking you out to lunch" and not feeling guilty about it

learning to recognise the signs when things are getting too much for her (usually she becomes very vivacious, talks very fast and rather loudly, sometimes obsessively about one thing)

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?