I divorced in 2009 and remarried in 2011 to my beautiful wife who has two lovely daughters. It’s been four years now and my youngest daughter (20) is distant from me. I always make the effort to call her, to always say I love you and to try to bond with her but to no avail. Her last year in high school she made a family collage of pictures called Family First. Everyone’s picture was in it except mine. Feeling sad. HELP. -Ed
You’re a good guy with a big heart. Don’t let this get you down. Bonding becomes harder as kids get older. If my math is right, your stepdaughter was 16 when you married her mom. Bonding takes 3 years or more in most cases. Teens are especially tough to bond with. It’s normal and nothing to worry about. Sixteen year old girls are nearly adults. They have strong opinions and are often emotionally distant -even with their biological parents.
The mother’s dating history and a girl’s relationship with her biological father can also contribute to her desire to be guarded. If that’s the case with her, there’s nothing you can do to change those things. What you can do is continue to be there for her. The men in girl’s lives have a direct impact on the men they date and marry. A strong male parent can become a model of what to look for in a man. Being a caring man and a good husband has a ripple effect.
You’ve got a great attitude about being a Stepdad. You care about your stepkids. That’s admirable. When we marry a single mom we make a commitment bigger than just “I do.” Continue to be a father figure and love your kids but don’t let it drag you down if your affection isn’t reflected back. Don’t overcompensate. Just be a great parent and continue making memories as a family. Everything will work out. One day, maybe a few years from now you’ll realize you’ve all grown to be a family. Just be patient.
Good luck and keep Stepdadding!