Stepfathers and Stepdaughters
The father and daughter relationship is often portrayed as an overprotective father with a daughter who is the apple of his eye. She can get away with just about anything, and he will protect her until the end. For some odd reason, stepfather and stepdaughter relationships are often portrayed as inappropriate, with an abusive stepfather and an attractive or manipulative stepdaughter. There is often a suggestion of incest or inappropriate behaviors. In reality, stepfathers can be quite fabulous for stepdaughters.
Almost anytime there is a positive adult in a child's life, good will come from it. If your goal as a stepfather is to be a positive influence in your stepdaughter's life, you are more than halfway there. If she has a biological father who is involved and active in her life, you might find that you can develop a more positive relationship with him as well, particularly if he sees you as someone who is also out to protect his daughter and keep her safe. As the stepfather, you are far enough removed that she may feel a bit more comfortable talking to you about certain issues like dating. She may also run things by you before bringing them to her biological father.
In the article, “What to Do When Your Youngster Hits Puberty,” the author cites a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics which states that the average age of menstruation for a female is now ten years of age; only 100 years ago, the average was fifteen years of age. Some doctors believe that the decline in the age at which menstruation occurs is related to diet and the environment.
Perhaps the most awkward time for a stepfather and stepdaughter is when the stepdaughter is going through puberty. Not only is this incredibly uncomfortable for her in general, but also you are a male in her life who may view her differently now that she is changing. She may now seem embarrassed in front of you or to be avoiding you. Instead of fighting this and forcing her to spend time with you, try and treat her with respect and let her have the space she needs. Treat her with the same love that you did before puberty and try not to say too many embarrassing things. For example, don't ask her if she has her period when she is in a bad mood, don't joke about her bra size, or suggest that she needs a bra. These are not appropriate ways to deal with her physical changes and will only embarrass her and make you feel like you stuck your foot in your mouth.
As your stepdaughter grows up, you might find you are a great buffer between her and her mother. Many mothers and daughters argue quite a bit for a chunk of time around middle school and high school. If you are the one living with her mother, you may be the one who can keep the peace, or at least remind your partner that your daughter is struggling with growing up and that these fights are part of adolescence. This can be a very trying time for both your partner and your stepdaughter, as most do not enjoy the fighting, but find it almost impossible to avoid. Listening to both of them may become a bit difficult for you, but it may be what they both need in order to get along. You can be a great sounding board and often the only voice of reason.