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Seeking Attachment With My Stepdaughter

Hi, I'm 31 years old and my partner and her daughter came into my life two years ago. Actually, it was my partner and her son, at the time. Not even a year into my relationships with them, this child, just turned 7 year old, announces they feel more like a girl than a boy. She chooses a name, makes her announcements at school, and there you go. Transition at 7 years old. The school was stupid, I was compelled to defend her fiercely and vehemently about bathroom rights, bullying experiences and the staff's ignorance.

My partner and I totally supported the kid in her gender transition, since we are both acquainted with a lot of folks who held off on transition for too many years and suffer from mental illness and general sadness and well, they all unfortunately regret puberty and we thought if this kid is truly transgender, the only way to really know is to allow her to express gender her way. A year and a half later, she is still solidly expressing her female gender and is fierce about her right to do so. My partner's family was not so supportive of this approach we decided to take and advised us to bully the kid into the gender assigned at birth, so there is definitely some tension between me and the in-laws.

Throughout the beginnings of the transition, I felt as though I was really connecting with my new daughter, really supporting her and she was appreciating my efforts and was feeling safe and happy because I was there to help her mother parent her and protect her.

My partner and I decided to try and conceive another child and that I would be the one to carry. Trying to conceive was a breeze. Hormones came with pregnancy and I got pretty annoyed with my new daughter pretty frequently. We all told ourselves it was hormones, it would pass. Well, the baby is 9 months old next week and I am getting worse and worse with the stepdaughter. I scream at her a LOT. I feel little to no compassion for her unless something dire happens, eg. she has to fall out of a treehouse for me to feel concern for her wellbeing. I hate cooking meals for her. I think she eats too much. I think she's terribly sneaky and lies a lot. I find it difficult to listen to anything she has to say. Most of the time when I look at her I grit my teeth because I feel such contempt for her.

So I blame my mother for this stuff. My mother treated me like I was the scum of the earth, beat me, insulted me, yelled at me, the whole shebang. I have put walls around the part of myself that was treated this way. I do not feel much about the experiences I had as a child because I think I have just totally dissociated. But it's affecting me anyway, in the way I'm parenting my stepdaughter. I can literally see myself transform into my mother whenever my stepdaughter's around. I DON'T physically abuse my stepdaughter. I've never hit her, pushed her, done anything physically violent. But I do overdo it with the yelling, the time-outs, the groundings and I have a terrible attitude with her. I treat her like she's a real pain in the butt.

My stepdaughter is actually an extremely good kid, when I compare her to other children her age. This does not seem to have an effect whatsoever on the way I feel about her in the heat of the moment, though.

I'm here because I want help, need advice and am looking for support in the formation of an attachment with my stepdaughter. I feel ill when I think about how awful I treat her, as compared to how I really want to treat her. I think I need to create a bond with her, beyond her queerness, which is what the preliminary connection was based on. Now that she's pretty well set into her desired gender, she's just like most other children her age; they all sneak, lie and talk back. It's what 8 year olds do, right? It's just that there's no connection holding us together during the times we challenge one another. I have no fundamental feeling of love and respect for her that I can rely on during the times she misbehaves.

This is ultra personal and I don't know if this is really the forum for it, but I hope you folks can give me some support. :) Thanks for "listening".
fsonj fsonj 31-35 1 Response Aug 17, 2011

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What you describe is extreme irritability. See a psychiatrist as you may have a mood disorder such as bipolar disorder, which can be effectively treated with medication and counseling. Your pregnancy/birth of your baby may have been the catalyst to this disorder.



Your problem is more than just yourself. Your entire family needs long-term psychiatric treatment. There are so many poor boundaries here that it is frightening to read your story. I truly wish the best for you and all involved.