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My husband's daughter has come to stay with us for a month. I have tried playing and talking with her, but she isn't interested. She also back answers me. She doesn't even look at my twin babies which breaks my heart. When my friends come over, she doesn't have the basic manners to say 'Hello' and wish them. She comes home very late at night (around 12) when I clearly explained to her not to go out after 7.

She is always on her phone continuously chatting with some guy even in the middle of night. My husband found out and confiscated her phone, but she bought a new one and resumed her chats. We don't know if she is actually in a relationship with some guy, because I am sure she would never do something so morally incorrect before marriage. Also, she doesn't wear her niqab (Burkha, a view to cover face) when she goes outside which is very disturbing, as strangers on the road can see her face. It's just been a week since she has come here, and already she is the talk of the town. People are commenting on her morals.

I am very afraid that she will be a bad influence on my twins.

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    Morals are relative. – Dave Clarke Oct 18 '14 at 16:47
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    I guess , you Dont have much idea about my culture and religion where a women needs to cover her face even.in front of her father , let alone strangers. I understand you may feel this weird and regressive, since u Dont belong to this culture, but a person who has been brought up in this culture and has seen every human following the same morals, shouldn't have a problem right? – Tiffany Oct 18 '14 at 17:22
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    @Tiffany how is her interaction with her biological mother? Is she defiant to her as well? I think teenagers the world around challenge their parents, the only difference being the means by which they do it. I, like some others here, don't understand your culture but as a former teenage human being, would like to offer some advice-please forgive if it's not applicable due to my admitted ignorance of your norms. – Jax Oct 18 '14 at 21:01
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    I honestly doesn't matter if it is wearing too much makeup or too short skirts or not covering her hair, or not wearing a niqab - it is all about not following the rules of the parents and rebelling against clothing standards. – Ida Oct 20 '14 at 17:39
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    My advice would be for her to move to a country where women are respected as people. – Dan Nov 13 '14 at 16:42
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A related question is Teenage daughter and stepfather and reading that you can see that teenagers invoke similar emotions in the adults who have to deal with them, even when other things about the family are different.

Let me suggest a few things for you to try:

  • don't expect her to adore the new babies. You adore them, her father adores them, strangers on the street adore them -- instead of her! -- and on top of that she is expected to adore them too? She might secretly even like them, but as long as you expect her to fuss over them, she won't. Just let that be. They have decades to get to like each other
  • do expect her to follow your house rules, but make them clear and explicit. This includes consequences for breaking them. If you and your husband don't want her to leave the house, you will have to rearrange your lives a bit to keep her company and ensure she doesn't. If she is embarrassing you by what she wears outside for the neighbours to see, you can go with her and remind her what to wear. Neither of you will enjoy that, of course, but parenting can be hard. (This is why some parents give up and let teens do whatever they want - it's really hard to do otherwise.)
  • do ensure she feels truly welcome and at home in the house. She has to follow the house rules, but she is not some country cousin or stranger, she is family. She needs to feel accepted, or she will "reject you first" and say she doesn't care. She needs to feel loved even when she is acting unlovable. She needs to know that the adults in her life, who upended it and changed everything, are still willing to support her and help her and value her.
  • when you reach the point that your biggest problem is that she's a bit sulky, on her phone too much, and can't be bothered to be polite to your guests, congratulations! She's a regular teenager treating you as teenagers treat their families, even the ones they grew up with.

Infant twins are not going to notice that a teenager is on her phone, much less who is on the other end of that phone. They're not going to notice what time someone comes in and goes out - though they might notice that her coming in means you and her father are both upset for a while. They're going to be influenced by what you do and say. Make sure you're saying "family is family" and "we're in this together", not "disappoint me and I'll cut you out of my life."

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    Thanks chrys. Loved the way you have put it here. Yeah, I guess she is just being a regular teen . Since teens dont behave this way here, I am quite suprised . Its very suprising, since she behaves very well in front of her mother and always covers her face. Then y this sudden change? Could it be her new found independence away from her mum and no family to judge her? – Tiffany Oct 20 '14 at 15:11
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You ask if she is a bad influence on your twins. The answer is no, not at this point, because their powers of observation are not so sharp that they will learn behaviors from her.

  • Yeah , i understand. But what happens when my twins grow up? – Tiffany Oct 20 '14 at 15:09
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    One step at a time, Tiffany. Life today has enough problems of it's own; you don't have to worry about what may or may not ever happen. – anongoodnurse Oct 21 '14 at 3:23
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    Um, I think I know what you were intending, but I'm sure you did not intend to imply her twins growing up may not ever happen. Only pointing out for clarity because a cultural difference exists. – Sylas Seabrook Oct 22 '14 at 13:27
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She is a child that has had her family torn apart, she may partly blame you, even if that is unfair. Ultimately the burden of responsibility for building a positive relationship is upon your shoulders, it probably won't be easy, even with out the cultural issues they are never easy, but it is going to be a lot harder if your primary concern is that her 'immoral' behavior is going to corrupt your own children (her brothers/sisters ?).

You should evaluate what your priorities are, is it building a relationship with your step daughter or is it what the neighbors think ?

  • I am concerned about both. I want to build a stronger relation with her but also. oam worried for her. In our country, parents search husbands for their daughter and they marry the stranger and if after marraige if the girl doesn't bleed.on her first night, She is returned back to her parents and divorced. So it is the additional responsibility of parents to ensure that their daughter stay away from Boys before marraige. – Tiffany Oct 18 '14 at 18:23
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Pushing back against rules and turning from the family group to form new peer relationships, is a teen's JOB. Letting a teen push back and enforcing consequences for their behavior is the parent's job.

This young person knew their role in their original family; now they're been handed a new family, just as the teen is in that pushback mode. No one can be forced to love another; that's merely coercion.

Be patient. Ask her for age-appropriate help, so she can be included. Resist any urge make her into another parent for your children. Respect her process of development. She doesn't have to be a free-standing adult just because her adolescence is problematic for you.

I don't have a good feeling about this male who's got all kinds of time to talk with her late-night on the phone. I think it's possible that he's grooming her. Getting habituated to see older, influential men as "rescuers" rather than friends, colleagues or potential partners will harm her development and future relationships. If this night caller is an adult male, I'd frame this as stalking. If you have his name or can get his phone number and/or screenshot his texts, do so. Re-direct her need to talk outside her family to a counselor, who will support her finding her wings. The RAINN network is 24/7 and among other resources, offers the late-night phone support she's gotten used to. 800-656-HOPE (4673.)

A 7PM curfew isn't enough time to see her friends and socialize outside of school and homework. Give some thought to your part in creating the pressure cooker that's making her choose coming home at midnight. If she's not a respected member of her family and seen as having her own needs, that will show up in her actions. There is room for a compromise and several hours of the evening that are between 7PM and midnight.
If her values and core beliefs are different from yours, the emotional growth and acceptance needs to come from all parties. Having a new family isn't a do-over that erases the responsibility to the existing one. Be well. Asking for help is a strength, not an admission of weakness.

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Where are the patrols when your stepdaughter is out at midnight? If she is not allowed out after 7, how did she get out? Were you not at home? Who are her friends? Where did she get the money to buy another phone? Why was the second phone not removed? If she could be put in lockdown for not wearing the niqab, I am struggling to believe that she is either out till midnight, or speaking to a boy/man, never mind in a relationship. Would you and your husband not be in serious trouble, if this we're true? Does she live in another country, under normal circumstances, and is, maybe, not fully aware of the seriousness of the rules. If she is aware, then you must keep her in for her own safety.

  • My step daughter is my cousin sister's daughter. She goes out at 6 and comes back around 11 or 12 which we arent okay with. She stays in US since past three years as her mother escaped from our country along with her daughter. My husband has scolded her a lot. I even give her time outs but nothing works :( – Tiffany Nov 12 '14 at 10:04
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    @Tiffany: That is some rather crucial information you left out there. So she was in fact not entirely brought up with your cultural values and instead has been socialized during some of the most formative years in a culture that views yours as insanely oppressive from which escape is the only appropriate action. And that's what she will want to do at the earliest opportunity. Scolding and timeouts will only make this worse. – Michael Borgwardt Nov 12 '14 at 13:58
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    @Tiffany: I really don't see any way to resolve this, except possibly having a very open, honest discussion about it where you explain to her the possibly grave consequences of disregarding the culture she is now living in and try to find ways for her to deal with it that she finds acceptable. – Michael Borgwardt Nov 12 '14 at 14:01
  • Michael, I have done everything I could but nothing has changed. She even in anger, once shook my baby and another time poured cold water on my other baby. – Tiffany Nov 12 '14 at 15:18
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    @wilma "My husband's daughter has come to stay with us for a month", says the question, posted on Oct 18; further, " It's just been a week since she has come here". Hopefully the girl has been able to go home now... – AakashM Nov 14 '14 at 14:47

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