My 14 yo step daughter loves troubling us. I initially thought taking her side and spending time with her may improve the situation. But I guess, I was wrong . She loves breaking rules. She talks very rudely with us and also Will walk on the street without covering her face (niqab) , would chat with boys in the night (considered a taboo here). She even purposely left her sanitary pad with blood purposely on her bed and I had to clean it. I was trying to forgive her thinking, its just "teen behaviour".

But today she crossed all limits. I was feeding formula to my 11 month baby and my step daughter was sitting next to me chatting on her phone. Suddenly baby gagged and spit some drops from mouth which landed on step daughter's face. She got angry and went to the bathroom and came out with a mug of cold water and splashed it on my poor tiny baby's face. The baby got very scared. My poorchild is also feeling ill. I took her to hospital and HV said she has cold.

I came home and firmly told my step daughter what she did was wrong. To which she replied " I dont care". I said, "Baby could have choked" And she was like " Good. Its high time that dumb bub dies".

I can't stop crying Any suggestions on how to make my step daughter understand. She is very self centred and malicious. Also she loves blaming others. Can she be have Narcissism disorder ?

More Information: Just wanted to answer few questions... My step daughter's mother is my cousin. It was my cousin who left her husband and NOT vice versa, so I dont think there is any reason for the step daughter to feel any resentment towards me or my husband ( her father).

Her relationship with her mother is lovely but she doesn't think of me as her mother or even step mother.

  • Have you tried any form of punishment? I mean that seriously could have hurt the baby. And who does that? I mean really. As wrong as it is to hit kids I would have probably slugged her.
    – user7678
    Oct 22, 2014 at 17:23
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    I don't think time out is really effective for a 14 year old. (I could be wrong I'm just giving my opinion.) Maybe try taking away here privileges. Like no phone / internet / computer / going out with friends / after school activity. Yes a slap was a little over the top, but at 14 years old she should have enough empathy for others to not harm a child. Try to make this a wake up call for her, and not the start of a pattern.
    – user7678
    Oct 22, 2014 at 18:20
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    @RachelD - I agree what the daughter did was drastic, but she doesn't deserve to be "slugged" for it. Your reaction would be no better than hers in violence and lack of responsibility, and would set physical violence up as a method of interraction. It doesn't harm an 11 month old any more seriously than, say, a cup of cold water thrown in your face while you were sleeping would. I agree a time out isn't the answer, but it's a start to cool things down while a better discipline is sought. Oct 22, 2014 at 19:49
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    I agree time outs are not effective but I had to start from somewhere. I love her and am meeting her after 3 years and dont want to upset her. I just want her to understand her mistake and accept it but she said my baby should die which upset me a lot and that's y I gave her time out.
    – Tiffany
    Oct 23, 2014 at 5:37
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    You are not setting proper boundaries that protect your dignity as well as hers. I'm that others have elaborated on this point in ways that you're probably more ready to hear. Remember that you cannot set a good example for how she should be moral and self-respecting if you cannot stand with your own self-respect. Oct 27, 2014 at 14:48

2 Answers 2


You have a rebellious 14 year old living in your house, and she is testing her limits everywhere. Several things come into my mind as I write this.

Why is she living with you? Where is her mother? Is she living with you against her will? How is her relationship with her father? Why were her parents divorced? Where does she get money to buy a new phone when hers is confiscated?

While what she did was very disrespectful, unkind and totally uncalled for, a cup of water on a 11 month baby's head or face, even if cold, will not cause the baby any significant harm. It will not choke the baby, or make him sick. She doesn't deserve to be "slugged" for it. How is her being slapped sending her a different message than the one she sent by throwing cold water on the baby's face?

You are not going to solve all these problems in a short time, especially if she's only staying for a month. It sounds like she has a lot of resentment towards her father, which would be very understandable if he left her mother. We don't have all the details. You have most of them.

I don't know if you have family therapists there. If you do, it might be a good idea for all of you to talk with one to get the issues out into the open.

If you don't, then befriend and talk with older women in your culture who seem to have raised their children to be truly good people, and hear what they have to say. Maybe they can give you some insight into discipline that was both effective and loving. In the meantime, if she is soon to leave, love her as best as you can in this situation, for she did not create it. If her father left her mother for you, accept that she will not love you immediately. But there are standards she should obey, and discipline she should endure for bad behavior that she can't skirt with money. This episode has already been paid for by the slap she received. Forgive her and move on from it. I doubt it will become a habit.

It does, however, show that her responses are not mature, so I would not leave her alone in the presence of the children for more than very short periods until she's gained trust back from all involved.

Edited to incorporate new information:

Some of the behavior you're seeing (talking to boys, not covering her face) are behaviors she picked up in the US. It is hard to go from a place of some freedom to a place of more restrictions when one is that age. She is unfortunately not mature enough to appreciate all that you do for her and the extra work of having her in your house.

I can't tell you what the right thing to do is. I can tell you what I would do, however. She has been through a lot. If you want to maintain a relationship with her, I would try to keep the peace. I would be as kind and loving as I could be for the rest of her stay. You only have two weeks to go. Before she leaves, maybe you can have a talk with her about the things you enjoyed with her, and also be honest about things that disappointed you, especially her attitude towards your (completely innocent) babies. If you believe it, express how you will enjoy seeing her grow into a lovely young woman. If it's true, tell her you love her when she is leaving (or before as well).

Before she comes back, make sure you and your husband write to her with a set of expectations you have for her. If she cannot possibly follow those behaviors, then don't feel that you need to allow her to visit you. If you have little say in the matter, perhaps your husband can hire someone to help you with the twins and the extra work when she returns. If she continues to harbor ill-will towards your babies, maybe she can stay with her grandmother and visit her father and you (with or without your children).

I'm hoping that with your love and acceptance, and with time, she will mature and appreciate what a wonderful step-mother she has.

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    Very good advice, I agree the step-daughter acts like an upset teenager. I would like to add that since the poster mentioned that she 'cannot stop crying', that she is overwhelmed by taking care of the baby, and that makes the situation hard to get around. Is there anyway you can get family or community backup to look after the baby and maybe get some time to yourself. Or maybe even (bonding) time with your step daughter?
    – Ida
    Oct 22, 2014 at 20:18
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    Tiffany, I am very sorry; it sounds like a lot of people were hurt. What you have been doing with her is very admirable. Maybe your step-daughter is angry at her mother for leaving her behind and acting out for that reason? How is her relationship with her father? If it's not good, do you know why? Where does she live the rest of the time? (Sorry to ask so many questions.) Oct 23, 2014 at 6:35
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    Yes, she is only visiting and will go back after 2 weeks.
    – Tiffany
    Oct 23, 2014 at 6:50
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    Thanks a lot :)this is very helpful. I loved the idea of writing down expectations on a paper for her. I also always say to her "I am fond of u and I wish u will not be so rude" but I guess, I need to rephrase it . I will also discuss this with my husband. Initially adjusting to him was difficult (since I wasnt given choice in my marraige, it was more of a punishment) , but I really have started understanding his caring and loyal nature and feel lucky to have him as my husband.
    – Tiffany
    Oct 23, 2014 at 7:30
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    Thanks :) Also I understand that she must have picked up some behaviours from US which may be normal there but considered a Taboo here. I remember my mum telling me stories about her life before marraige and I was amazed to know such a country exists which is so liberal and provides equality and freedom to women . My mum is a white (Brit) .I was so jealous.. Lol :)
    – Tiffany
    Oct 23, 2014 at 7:38

In addition to anongoodnurse's (great!) answer, I would like to add some advice that may help IF it works within your family and culture, and attempt an outside analysis, because I hope that will help a bit in any talk with your daughter.

First: I did read through your other questions as well, but I am unsure if she has her own room where she can close her door (the closed door can make a HUGE difference, especially for a teen)?

If yes: can you try to establish 3 "zones" for rules?

In her own room, she has the lowest possible set of rules. I am from an admittedly totally different culture, so how few rules you can set will need to be your own decision. I would certainly go with "Keep the room clean, and it is all yours" as a minimum requirement.

Outside her room, but within your household, the rules are stricter. Again, this will need to be according to your culture, and family situation.

Outside, of course, she will need to respect the local customs.

We all behave differently in different environments, but very seldom consciously think about it. In her case, she may just need a reminder to do just that: be consciously and fully aware of the differences between the "zones".

You will of course need your husband on board with this, so I hope he will help there.

The second part: I do suspect your daughter must be deeply confused by all this. From what I read, she is in the following situation:

Her mother left her father, leaving (and escaping) the culture she was born in, to now live in the USA. Seeing just the cultural differences, to a teenager, that could just as well be another planet.

Shortly after that, her father got married again, to her mother's cousin. However deeply this was explained to her, wrapping even an adult-head around this can be hard, let alone a child or a teenagers.

Now, she is back in the culture her mother escaped, together with her stepmother (who is also her cousin) and with two babies (who are her half-siblings, AND her cousins). As she has been exposed and living with American family structures, this must be hard to see through for her. And depending on how much or little she consciously thought about this, she may not even be fully aware WHY the situation feels confusing. Also, if I misread anything about the explanation, please correct me.

If you get to talk to her, try to help her sort through all that. I know trying to do that kind of analysis always helped me, so perhaps it will help you and your daughter, too.

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    Thanks for your lovely advice.. I do understand it must be difficult for her to see her aunt getting married to her father but I also want to add, she knows why it happened and it was forced on me . She dislikes her father because she hates all the restrictions imposed by him. I can't allow her to " its your room, keep it clean & no rules". Just because she is in her room, doesn't mean she can call and chat with boys. Just because its her room doesn't mean she can keep the sanitary pad on bed.
    – Tiffany
    Oct 23, 2014 at 19:31
  • The pad would defintiely be part of the "clean"-part. About the chattign with boys, I admit freely that I really don't know enough about your culture and family-customs to say if, for example, chatting for a male friend from the USA may be appropiate. I certainly hope you will find a way between the two of you, you really seem to be doing the best you can in the situation you are in. Good luck.
    – Layna
    Oct 23, 2014 at 20:28

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