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My husband and I have been married for 5 years. It was my first marriage and I did not have any children. He was married before and has three children with his ex-wife. We had tried for 4 years to get pregnant and decided to go through IVF which resulted in a pregnancy with twins!

During my pregnancy my 10 year old step daughter made several alarming comments, such as "What would you do if one of the babies were dropped over the banister?", "What would you do if a poured cleaning solution in their mouths?", "What would happen if someone gave them a whole bottle of drugs?"

Now the twins are here and are 3 months old. She has continued the scary comments and questions, with the last being when I said I might leave the babies in their car seats to sleep for a bit if they were still sleeping when we got home. She said if you leave them in the garage to sleep we should pour gasoline over them and it might start a fire".

All of this is very stressful and keeps me awake at night when she is here. Her two brothers (one older and one younger) ask similar questions, but not as often as her and not a violent.

My husband won't talk to them about it because he says it's just their way of dealing with jealousy toward their new siblings. I just don't think it's something to take lightly and I don't think it's normal!

Does anyone have advice who has been through a similar situation?

  • Does she live with you ? What are the living arrangements? – Hilmar May 12 '18 at 16:07
  • We have 50/50 shared parenting. She and her brothers are with us two days a week and every other Friday, Saturday and Sunday. – Jaime B May 14 '18 at 16:24
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That is indeed very concerning behavior and should be dealt with

  1. It's probably (and hopefully) an attempt for her get attention. If she doesn't get, she may turn it up until she gets it and the last thing you want is further escalation, so ignoring this is not a good option.
  2. You need to align with your husband on what to do and do it both consistently. You need to convince him that this needs action
  3. One way to address this is to set clear rules of the road for behavior and make sure they are properly explained and than consequently enforced.
  4. The rules should be clear, obvious and easy to understand. We have often used "no double D" means: nothing dangerous or destructive. No damage to other people or to other people's property. It's easy to explain: "you don't like to get hurt and you don't like your stuff to get broken. All people are the same way so we don't do this things and are can expect that other people don't do it to us either. This is also hard to argue with. These are "non-negotiable". If a double D is violated, consequence is imminent.
  5. "Consequence" does NOT mean punishment. Whenever possible the consequence should be a natural outcome of the deed. If you are on the park and the kids do something dangerous, end the trip and go home. If they break something on purpose, sit down together and discuss how the kid can help repairing or replacing the damage.
  6. The roles should be general and NOT specifically targeted at the specific behavior you like to change. Ideally, the change is natural outcome of the behavior.
  7. Let's try to apply this. When your daughter suggest something outrageous like pouring gasoline over the babies, just reply "Of course, we will not do this. It's dangerous and destructive and we don't double Ds". Don't make it about her and the babies, make it about the rules.
  8. This needs constant repetition, consistency and patience.
  9. Once the ground rules are in place, this may go away or ease up. If not, you need to talk to her. Try to find a time when you are not upset and prepared to do a lot of listening. "Hey, you have been suggesting to do really mean and nasty things to our babies and that is worrying me. I know you are a good person and any good person would never do anything like this. I don't understand why you would suggest this. Is something bothering you? Can you explain to me why you are doing this?" Then be prepared to a lot of emphatic listening (for example https://www.crisisprevention.com/Blog/October-2016/7-Tips-for-Empathic-Listening )
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Your stepdaughter had her mom replaced and now is being replaced herself. That is what it probably feels like to her.

You, and especially your husband, should show unconditional love and let her know that another kid doesn't mean you have less time for her. Regardless of her imagination how she visualizes things it is normal. And you should talk to her about it. If you (AND YOUR HUSBAND) do then don't focus about what she said. Talk about how it will impact her life and her feelings.

She is a 10 year old and you won't ask her to stay alone at home with a newborn baby. Over the internet we can't make a medical judgement but I'm assuming she is not a psychopath. She won't have much opportunity do really do anything. My kids also claim I'm the worst dad ever - especially if I tell them to go to bed. Don't make a bigger deal out of it then needed. (Of course you can say one that you don't like that kind of talk but after that it really is a kid trying to see how far she needs to go to provoke a reaction or make you change your mind about getting a baby)

When the baby is born try to involve her. Like teach her how to make a bottle and praise her how great of a big sister she is. Make her honorary godmother or something else that show how important you think it is to have her around. Take her with you on checkups and leave your husband at home once. Anything to let her bond with your unborn baby. That it won't be her against you and the baby but bonding like a family.

Update, I missed the part that the twins were born. Still it is important to let your daughter bond and play with the twins instead of escalate trash talk

  • "She won't have much opportunity to really do anything." She probably won't get a chance to murder your baby, so don't worry about it? Whew this is why people need to seek professional consultation on serious issues. 11 is old enough to know better. The armchair psychology about what the girl is thinking or feeling is purely speculative without some kind of professional psychology screening."Probably isn't a psychopath" probably isn't the correct term to be throwing around even if the kid is suffering from a disorder. I strongly disagree with the answer for the reasons stated. – user27219 May 12 '18 at 15:48
  • Your right I can't make a diagnosis from here. (And I'm not qualified) However my personal experience is that kids who are jelous talk louder than what they actually mean. And giving them a chance to bond improves the situation and being scared/defensive fuels their fear of being replaced by the cute baby's. Maybe after the twins were born it's too late. But the poster will have lost a stepdaughter. There is a lot of shades of grey possible between perfect and psychopath (and again that is my personal experience) – Batavia May 12 '18 at 17:09
  • It isn't the "usually" that you need to worry about, it's the exceptions. Usually when a child plays with fire they don't burn the house down. But sometimes they do. Assuming the usual isn't a good idea when the cost of being wrong is so heartbreakingly high. – Francine DeGrood Taylor May 14 '18 at 16:10

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