Respect issue with bf's teen daughter

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-02-2013
Respect issue with bf's teen daughter
Wed, 10-02-2013 - 12:45pm

Hi, I need your feedback.  I've been dating a great guy for 10 months.  He has 2 kids...10yo boy (Jake) and 15yo girl (Maria).  Last night, we hopped into the car to go to dinner to celebrate Jake's birthday.  My bf was complaining during the ride about the traffic and how he dreaded the trip. I offered to drive and he said no.  The kids (Jake and Maria) were sitting in the back seat as usual, and they started to argue a bit (as they commonly do). My bf told them to stop and then he pulled off on the nearest exit and turned back to head home.  I was angry with him when we arrived back at home and told him that he was just looking for the first excuse to head back home, as it seemed to me that he didn't want to go anyway.  I felt it was important to celebrate Jake's birthday, since he had been looking forward to going to his favorite restaurant and the fact that his Mom (my bf's ex-wife) didn't do a thing for his birthday. I felt it was very important to celebrate Jake's birthday in the manner that we all discussed and planned. I know that the arguing among the kids wasn't good, but other times when we've been in the car and they argue, he will threaten to turn around but never does. But this time my bf's fuse was short and he turned right around. I felt he was being selfish because he himself didn't want to go.  So anyway, when we got home, my bf and I ended up shouting at each other in the driveway.  He felt he would've received my support and I felt he shouldn't have turned around.  I think I was correct in my assessment that the issue was really my bf not wanting to go because he went off to find Jake in the house, who went off crying as soon as we got home.  Pretty soon Jake and Maria came outside to get back into the car, but my bf didn't say anything to me besides "Are you going?"  His tone with me conveyed anger.  I told him that I'm not going to go if he's in a terrible mood. Then Jake started crying because I said that I didn't want to go (he wanted me to go with them).

So after a few minutes, I decided to go to the dinner for Jake's sake. I walked to the vehicle and Maria had already sat in the front seat next to my bf. I just stood there waiting for her to move to the back, but she just glared back at me. I looked at my bf and he didn't say anything either. So I had no choice but to walk around the vehicle to get into the seat directly behind my bf.  I felt this was pretty disrespectful, with the child in the front and me in the back. I decided to let it go at dinner and salvage Jake's celebration.

During dinner, Maria asked me "Can I sit in the front next to Dad when we go home?"  I calmly said "No....why, what's the difference btwn front and back?"  And then she said "Exactly, what's the difference, so can I sit in the front?"  I ignored it and she asked me again why she can't sit in the front.  I replied "Because I'm the adult."  My bf said nothing during this exchange and the issue went dead.  When dinner ended and we were walking out to the car, Maria yelled out "I should yell out shotgun, but I'm too tired!" Then she ran ahead of me and started getting into the front seat of the car.  I looked at my bf and said "Are you going to allow this?"  He then quietly told Maria to get in the back.  She had never pulled this type of behavior previously, so I feel that since her Dad didn't make her move to the backseat on the way to the restaurant, that she was testing the limits by pulling the same stunt over again.  It's especially disappointing since I've gone out of my way to do nice things for her (I've rushed from work to take her to a boy band signing at our local mall, I made a big deal out of her birthday, I've taken her to school and guitar lessons, hung out with her, etc.). 

Collectively, both episodes have me questioning how to handle Maria in the future. I feel she has really taken some disrespectful steps.  My bf and I haven't talked about any of this.  There's tension between us (my bf and I). I'm angry with him and he seems to be angry with me.

Can I get your opinions? I'm not a big power person, but I do believe in respect.  I'd like to handle this in a composed and classy manner.

Thank you.


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2010

I'm thinking that you probably should not be involved in disciplining his kids at all, even to tell him when you think he's doing it wrong. Not trying to be rude but its only been less than a year with you in their lives, so you are still "just the gf". If you were their stepmother the situation would be different but still not easy.

You might want to repost on the Stepmothers board or even Blended Families board to get their perspective on when and how its appropriate for someone other than the bio parents to discipline.

Community Leader
Registered: 05-14-2001

It seems to me she's testing the limits -- seeing how much power you have and how much power she has.  Have you and your boyfriend argued in front of her before?  Your argument likely spurred her behavior, more so if you've not argued in front of her before.  

As for being upset because you've gone out of your way with her in the past, you're living in a dream world if you think a teenager is going to always treat you well or respectfully because you go out of your way with her.  I promise you there are more challenges and crappy behavior to come and it won't be affected by how much you go out of your way for her.  Welcome to life with a teenager.

I would suggest that you have a talk with your boyfriend about how to handle his daughter.  Is he ok with you handling situations like the one you described on your own?  Will he support you in these struggles with her?  It's important that his daughter knows he won't let her get away with these things but it's equally important for her to see that YOU won't either.  If handling this depends on daddy being around to tell her to stop, you'll be in a world of hurt.

~ cl-2nd_life