Step Daughter Problems


I have an older step daughter who has been out of the house for a few years now. She’s 24 now. She was 14 when I came onto the scene, and during the years I was responsible for her I was not in the church, didn’t expose her to any kind of religion. Her grandmother did, although I’m not sure what and how. My stepdaughter does not believe in God and isn’t into religion at all.

When I decided last year to return to the church, she was not real happy. And she was less happy that her mother, my wife, was open to coming along. Although she never really voiced it to me, she made her feelings known to her mother.

Shortly before Christmas she was here at the house visiting and we got into an argument. It started over something between me and my younger stepdaughter, the older one decided to get into it and it didn’t end well. At the time, I thought her reaction was really weird, she was very angry over a situation that didn’t really warrant that kind of anger.

Since then we haven’t really spoken. The last month or so I’ve been trying to get her to meet with me so we can address the issue and put it behind us. She won’t answer my calls, and most of the communications is through my wife. I was told that she was willing to make up and put it behind us, etc. So over the weekend I left a message for her asking her to meet with me again.
It’s going on 3 months and imo it’s gettin ridiculous and petty.

My wife told me that after I left that message my stepdaughter called and kinda went off on her about my religion and faith and God and catholicism, etc. And my wife kinda hinted around that it’s not the first time that she’s done this. And I’m getting the picture that this whole rift is about more than the argument before Christmas, and that that argument was about more than what I thought at the time.

And I’ll add that my stepdaughter is very liberal. I think that has a lot to do with her opinion about me and catholicism, etc. And I think all that is what is creating this problem between us. I think she’s mad because of what I believe and that I don’t think like her, and that all this is a lot deeper than what it seems.

So now I don’t know what to do. She’s my stepdaughter, I helped raise her, I love her. She’s a part of our family, and a part of our lives. Except she won’t involve herself with us because of this thing between us. I’d rather have this end sooner than later so we can all get back to being a normal family. I don’t want the kid to hate me, I’d love to apologize and put this stuff behind us. But she won’t even talk to me, and it seems to me that there’s not a whole lot I can do to put an end to this.

So I’m stuck. Any suggestions?


I’m sorry this is happening. Prayers for your family situation.

I would have to point out (somewhat sadly) that Christ did warn that belief in him might cause a wedge between family members. So you do need to understand that this is normal.

As for how to resolve the situation… I suggest you let your wife take the active role for a while and you just be as polite and hospitable as you can be. As hard as it may be to hear, you may not be the one who can fix this. But you can make a point of not starting arguments and of being understanding of the awkwardness that stepchildren sometimes feel, however unreasonable it may seem.

If Catholicism really is the reason that she is upset, then this is more about her than it is about you. The Truth can be very convicting and quite threatening to her liberal ideas.

This may also seem to your daughter that you are trying to steal her mother away from her. If she had any feelings like that when you first married her mother than this is likely to did them up again.

My advice for now is to be polite like you should be to anyone with whom you have a disagreement. Don’t let your own hurt provoke you to anger. But you can point out to her (or your wife), again politely, when her words hurt you.

And pray, pray, pray…


Her reaction seems disproportionate to the actal issue. Since you don’t know what the actual issue is, and she is unwilling to discuss it, then I’d say just let it drop.

You’ve offered the olive branch, now just go about your business. She will eventually come around.


I agree, at this point you’ve tried and she needs to take the next step. Live your Catholic faith, show her (and everyone) what it means to be Catholic.

The best thing you can do for her at this point is pray. Pray the Rosary, pray the chaplet of Divine Mercy (see my signature if you’re not familiar with it). I’d also suggest praying the St. Monica prayer (see the sticky thread in the Family Life section – it says “praying for our husbands” but you can pray it for your kids as well. St. Monica was St. Augustine’s mother, and before he came to be who we always think of him as (a great saint) he was quite the opposite. St. Monica’s prayers helped bring him to Jesus. :heart:


a problem of 10 yrs standing runs deeper than the issue of your religious conversion, and won’t be resolved until the real issues emerge. in the meantime work on your own marriage so you and your wife have the strength to deal with children and those issues, and most of all, continue your own faith journey, which you need to be the good solid head of your family.


I was reading the OP and I didn’t really understand why Stepdaughter was unhappy about her parents being Catholic… Especially if she is 24?? Then you mentioned she is really Liberal. I can SORT of understand but it is still a little unclear.

All I can suggest is to witness to her, love her, support her. Even if she is hard to do those things with.


Take a back seat at this time. You can have your wife let her know that she’s welcome, that you welcome her, etc., but this has to be on your stepdaugher at this point. You keep on your journey.

To make you feel better, do you realize that even if she had been your very own bio.daughter, if you had been on “sabbatical” from the Church for a bit then came back, and your wife as well, she would probably be doing the very same thing? Don’t beat yourself up because you are a step. The odds are good even if you were her “real” dad, she might pull this. Trust me on this. The “borns” can cause as much trouble- if not more- as the “pre-owned” children.


I’m sorry this is happening in your family:( --it can be tough…family tension. First, I’ll say though, she is not a ‘kid’ anymore…maybe compared to your age, she seems like a kid–but she is a grown woman, able to make her own choices.

Her lashing out like this could be unresolved anger from her bio dad not being in the picture. You sound like you have been a great dad to her, but she could still have some unresolved anger over that, and thus, is lashing out in this (what seems to you and others) as odd behavior. Has she and any other children involved with their parents’ split, had any counseling of any sort? If not, it might not be a bad idea to suggest that to your wife, to suggest that as a family, or maybe to her, separately. (she might lash out more, as she might not see her anger as something SHE needs to deal with) But, she does need to deal with it. Usually, when someone is angry or has unresolved anger, it can cause them to be angry with God, thus not wishing to worship Him, etc. I am just throwing some possibilities out there–I doubt you turning towards Catholicism has anything at all to do with her sharp anger. I could be wrong,of course, but just my objective opinion–I think the best thing would be to pray…and to keep being there for her.

Where is her bio dad? Does he stay in touch with her at all? If not, that could have a lot to do with it too. They (experts) say that when kids go through divorce, and one or the other spouse doesn’t stay in touch, see them, etc…even if the step parent is ideal in every way–the child still feels this sense of insecurity and abandonment. Just curious if that might be playing a part in this at all.


I don’t really understand it either. For some reason it really really bothers her, especially since her mom goes to church with me now.

What brought this to light is my wife telling me about her rant about St Patrick’s day earlier this week. She ranted to my wife about the ‘crazy catholics’ and ‘how dare the Pope change St Patrick’s day?’ My wife kinda let it slip she’s been ranting about religion and me for a while. I’m not sure why, why it bothers her that I’m going to church. But it does.

And she’s not just a bit liberal, she’s very liberal. She works at a store that is known for it’s new age views and liberal attitudes. It’s very hippie-ish. So she’s pretty much 180 degrees in the other direction and not real interested in hearing about or learning my point of view.

And here’s the thing. I don’t talk about religion with her. I’ve never said anything to her since my reversion about church or God or anything. I’ve tried to avoid the subject since she seems so weird about it. Yet she is somewhat on the offensive about this whole thing.

Her bio dad doesn’t really have much to do with her, and she’s pretty much cut off ties to him. And the rest of his side of her family. She has this history of cutting people out of her life when she doesn’t agree with them, which is what ultimately worries me.

I think what I’m going to do is just sit back and wait for her and not push the issue. I don’t know what else I can do.


Hmm. I have a lot of friends in Liberal circles and it is rare that I hear really anti Catholic/religious comments. It does happen. I have no idea what causes it except maybe some of the feminist movements are really angry at the church heirchy.

I guess it should just be left alone and not up to debate.

Does she know much about the Church? (as you know, most non Catholics and even some, are totally misguided about our Church - just look at how the media and movies portray our faith).

Plus I am sure this is more about your relationship with her than being Catholic.

I used to be a lot more idealistic and extreme in some of my Liberal thoughts when I was in my early twenties. Now that I work “in the real world” and am starting a family and am married, I see things differently yet again. Maybe the same will happen to her. Who knows! :slight_smile:


My relationship with her was fine until I came back to the church last year.


Wow ok…

Do you debate political issues with her?


I agree with many of the above posters. Only thing I have to add is: I remember when I was 24 and I knew EVERYTHING. At that time my parents were a drag, old fashion and didn’t know anything about the “REAL” world!! I am not saying that this is what is going on with your step daughter. I do think that her mother should handle this situation. If there is more going on hopfully your wife can figure it out.
Oh also, a lot of depression happens during the holidays. Could be the reason this erupted over Christmas.


No, I refuse to because I know we will disagree and I wold rather not argue with my family over stuff like that. She tries to engage me about stuff but I just avoid as much conflict with that stuff as I can.

Like I said, our relationship in the past few years has gotten better. I have told her I am proud of how she turned out and that I love her and I’m glad she’s my stepdaughter, etc. I thought we had gotten really close before the fight. I don’t know where all animosity or problems with religion came from.

I told my wife today that this situation really hurts me and I don’t know what to do. And I also told her I don’t feel that there’s much I can do about it as long as she doesn’t want to face the problem or make up. And that she needs to speak with her since she won’t talk to me. Then I prayed about it tonight after mass and asked God for his help. I left her a phone message, since she won’t answer my calls, and asked her if we can put this behind her, apologized for the argument, told her I loved her and that I wanted to end this problem.

I think that’s as much as I can do about it. I hope it gets better and not worse.


I think you did the right thing. This should be your last call, your last “apology”.

I think your wife needs to start setting boundaries and not allow her to “rant” about your religion. She needs to politely but firmly tell her that she is being disrespectful of your choices. She has made her own choices about how she wants to live and you do not criticize her-- she owes you the same respect.




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