Daddy’s Girl in the Blended Family

Layla* was a shy, reserved, nine-year-old “daddy’s girl” who had done poorly since her parents had divorced and she had lost the full-time emotional support of and connection to her father, Luke.*  Lisa* was divorced from an emotionally abusive man. After several years of dating, she had found the right man, the aforementioned Luke. Lisa and Luke hit it off right away but moved slowly, each bearing the scars of their first marriages. Finally, though, Luke decided it was time for his precious daughter to meet the woman who would, most likely, be his new wife.

Layla stood behind Luke, holding his hand, as they rang the bell to Lisa’s home. Lisa motioned them in and moved in to greet Layla with a hug when Layla stiffened, holding her off. She looked Layla straight in the face, and, without so much as a hello, stated her claim: “He’s MY Daddy,” she said, and walked back behind Luke.

Consider the territory officially staked out.

Jason* also had an attached daughter, and she, too, took it hard when he left the house, and married Julie. But his daughter Jesse’s issue wasn’t with Julie*–it was with her daughter Jessica. For, you see, Jesse* and Jessica* were parallel ages. But Jessica, definitely on the manipulative side, all agreed, staked her claim to Jason, her step-father, in a take-no-prisoners fashion. Especially when Jesse was over visiting with her father on weekends and holidays, Jessica could be found sprawling in Jason’s lap, holding Jason’s hand, demanding Jason’s attention in dinner conversation and his help with homework, laying claim to the new man in her life, and making it indisputably clear that Jason was now hers, not Jesse’s. Jesse became progressively more withdrawn.

On horse

Territory officially conceded. Because “my daddy” or not, children of combined families will have to learn to share their parents with some newcomers–no matter how much they protest, squawk, and try to make life generally miserable.


**There are no Layla, Luke, Lisa, Jason, Julie, Jesse, or Jessica, whose names have been changed to protect their privacy. Rather these are teaching examples, composed of bits from real life combined with illustrative details added to make the stories more interesting and instructive.


I help adults and adolescents through the particular struggles of our time: tension between couples, parenting frustration, blending new families, separation and divorce, (un)employment, cancer, and loss. When relationships come to an impasse, I use mediation techniques to try to ensure that each party will have his/her needs heard and accounted for in a dignified way. In addition to talking, listening, and reframing, I utilizes the tools of metaphor, active teaching, role-playing, visualization, and hypnotherapy.for families and businesses, as well as in cases of divorce.

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