I have been living with the loveliest man for the past year. He is divorced with custody of his two girls, one fifteen and one ten. The ten year old and I get on like a house on fire but the fifteen year old is a real problem and obviously hates me. My partner’s ex wife left him for another man leaving the girls behind but after a year, her relationship failed and as far as I know she is not in another one. I am also divorced but never had any children, to me the girls are a real bonus as I have always loved children. My present problem is that we are planning to go on holidays and everything we suggest, the fifteen year old dismisses as rubbish and I can see her father is quite upset by this. Her mother as made it quite clear that she is not interested in having much to do with her children so surely we are her best option? How can I fix this?
Oh the terrible teens, I remember it well! After my divorce I dated a very nice man who was very kind, had never been married and had a real interest in Suzie’s welfare – she was thirteen at the time. We didn’t live together however, any inkling that things were getting serious and the shutters came down – he was fine as her mum’s friend but nothing more. You’re situation is different, you are trying to make a happy home together for the four of you and, before this young lady taints her younger sisters opinion of you (which at the moment seems very good), you have to nip this in the bud. As clearly giving her an option where holidays are concerned isn’t working…DON’T. Choose a holiday with something to please all of you including interesting things to do for teenagers as well as yourselves. Book it without reference to her, after all she is still a child and as the old saying goes, ‘children should be seen and not heard’, they were a lot more well behaved in those days! I know it’s difficult when you are trying to make an impression and keep a happy home but it would be well worth your while to sit this young lady down, just the two of you, when she is hopefully in a more placid mood and point out that you love her father very much, it was not his decision to break up her family but doesn’t she think he deserves some happiness now. That judging by her mothers input into her sister and herself, you making a happy home with her father and sister is her very best option and that you do love her but she is making it very difficult for you. Suggest she give it her very best for three months, there are three other people’s happiness at stake here and if she truly does love her father and sister, she will do this for them. A happy holiday on neutral territory could well ease the way for better things – best of luck!