Letter to our Agony Aunt

Dear Patricia Marie,

I have one daughter aged 16. Her father left us when she was a baby, and we were on our own until I met my partner 2 years ago. Everything was perfect until just recently, when we told her we were expecting a baby of our own.
Since then, she refuses to speak to us, slams doors and is constantly rude. We have tried to reassure her that having this baby won’t make any difference to her life or between us, but any mention of the baby and she either becomes angry or bursts into tears. She has become an absolute nightmare. I have tried to be patient, but she is spoiling what should be one of the happiest times of our lives. Please advise.

Patricia Marie says...

You are clearly frustrated by your daughter’s behaviour, which you believe to be unreasonable and unfair. Nevertheless, labelling her doesn’t help.
Understanding her feelings can. Step into your daughter’s shoes and try to see things from her point of view. After all, having a baby may be exciting and wonderful for you and your partner, but your daughter perceives this news as a threat to her place in the family. Of course she’s upset - for 16 years she’s been the number one in your life. She’s scared that she’s no longer important and must be feeling rejected and very unsettled.

At this time, plenty of love and empathy is what’s needed. Don’t pressure your daughter to be more accepting of the news, or make her feel guilty about not having a happy response. Instead, give her time and space to get used to the idea. Ask her if she would like to help decorate the nursery. Tell her you would value her opinion on name choices. Involving your daughter in plans around the forthcoming birth will make her feel very much included, and will also help her to come to terms with your pregnancy.

Be honest and tell her things will be different, but the love you have for her will never change. As your daughter gets used to the idea of having a sister or brother she may become far less angry and anxious. Gently explain to her that although the baby will initially demand your attention, you will also ensure the two of you get to enjoy special time together. When she trusts the fact she’s still loved and wanted, she will hopefully soon grow to accept and adore her new sibling, so that you can all get to enjoy the special times that lie ahead.

For further help, advice and guidance, I highly recommend Family Lives (formerly Parent Line Plus)
0808 800 2222 familylives.org.uk

Patricia Marie, our Agony Aunt, wants to hear your problems, dilemmas, and quarrels. Just email them to patricia.marie@lady.co.uk