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10-Year-Old Girl Clashing with Dad’s Live-in Girlfriend

Question:

My boyfriend and I live together with his three children. I thought this situation was going well until his oldest daughter (age 10) started acting out against me.  When I sat her down to discuss this, she told me that she hates me. How should I respond to this? Should I curtail my time at the house?

Answer:

We are glad you talked with your boyfriend’s daughter about her behavior. For her to say she “hates you” as a reason for her behavior is not that simple. If she doesn’t like you in the home and hopes to instigate your leaving, this may be the purpose of her behavior. If she is jealous of the time and attention her father gives to you and wants more of his attention, this could be another cause of her behavior. If she would rather be living with her mother and is striving to frustrate her father into sending her to her mother’s, that may be the purpose of her acting out. 

Every behavior has a function or purpose. Once you determine what her purpose is, it will be much easier to deal with her and make changes.

Does her father recognize the current situation, and is he attempting to stop it from happening? Are there consequences for her behavior? Have you and your boyfriend come up with some ideas on how to address and improve the current situation?

Being raised by one parent is hard on children. They often take on responsibilities that are not typically given to a child their age. At age 10, your boyfriend’s daughter may have placed herself in the role of the family caretaker to support her father’s efforts to keep a home and care for his children. She may see you as someone who is threatening this role. She will fight to protect it.

If you can provide a little more information on her acting out, including concrete examples of her misbehavior for instance, we can offer you suggestions and strategies to improve the behavior and the overall situation in the home.
 

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