Q. My 14-year-old stepdaughter refuses to visit us since her father started making her listen to our house rules. What should we do?
A. If I were 14, I'd see "our house rules" as my stepmother forcing my dad to change the way he parents me and I'd blame her for being a control freak. So I'd disrespect my dad for bowing down, and I'd stay away.
What should you do? Back off and let him take the primary role. He should privately ask her, "You don't want to hang out at my house anymore. Why is that?" If she complains about the new decisions, he needs to say why he made them and reinforce that he wants her to be a part of his (and your) life, then ask what she needs to feel more comfortable in your home. This conversation probably won't make her come running back, but it's a good start.
Originally published in the January 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.