Recently, I was sitting at lunch with a friend, swapping stories about our families. I shared that I was concerned about how my adult stepdaughter was doing—she was facing a difficult situation thousands of miles away from home. “Well,” my friend said, “You don’t have to worry about that. You’re not her real mom.”

You’re not “The Real Parent.” How many times do stepparents hear that phrase?

You’re not “The Real Parent.” How many times do stepparents hear that phrase? It comes from stepchildren, biological parents, friends, extended family, teachers and generally anyone in society who hasn’t had the first-hand experience of being a stepparent. It’s a verbal reminder of what every stepparent knows: that we often have most—or all—of the responsibilities a “Real Parent” has, but without the inherent or legal rights of biological parents.

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We are expected to give our love, time and often money, as Real Parents do; to understand and always put the relationship of the biological parent and child first (sometimes above the marriage); to provide our stepchild with a positive role model but defer to the biological parent on matters of house rules and discipline. It’s a constant balancing act of being involved, but not too involved; loving, but respectful of the biological parent’s role and our place in the parental hierarchy.

Raising children in a blended family can be challenging, frustrating, and overwhelming at times.  It can be a real test of endurance to manage to stay together through some of the tough times that can erupt with your stepchildren.  It can also be a time of growth and lasting relationships—but as every stepparent we know would agree, it’s not always easy.

Stepfamily Conflicts? 5 Ways to Keep Issues from Escalating

Many stepparents feel resentful because they can’t stand an “Ex,” guilty for not liking their stepchild’s behavior (or sometimes personality) and frustrated with a spouse who just won’t get “on the same page” about parenting. Statistics show that the most common type of family in America today—65 percent of us—are part of a blended family where there are biological and non-biological parents present. Complex and often misunderstood, it offers unique challenges—and the opportunity for rich emotional rewards.

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The truth is, whether you’re co-parenting in an “original” or “complex” family, conflict is going to occur. It’s natural. You can’t live together without some disagreements occurring. These 5 tips can help you keep issues from escalating:

    1. Be mindful of your expectations. When blending a family, everyone has expectations. Unspoken or unrecognized expectations can set you up for conflict. Your spouse/partner may expect you to discipline their child at times, but their child may not be expecting that. Now who’s caught in the middle?You may be expecting your stepchild to love and respect you. That child may be feeling confused or insecure and actually behave in a way that communicates the exact opposite. Unmet expectations can lead to disappointment, anger, hurt and resentment. If you find yourself upset about something, take a moment to identify what expectation you had that wasn’t met. Ask yourself these questions:
      • Was the expectation realistic or fair?
      • Did the other person have any idea you had that expectation?
      • Is it an expectation you can let go of, or is it important enough to discuss as a family?

      Remember, you can only control yourself and your own reactions. When you have expectations for others to behave or feel a certain way, you have no control over that. Also, be mindful of the expectations you have of yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself. We all have expectations for ourselves as parents. Rarely do we always live up to them 100 percent of the time. If you don’t like how you’re responding to your stepchild, take steps to change things—within yourself.

    2. Give respect…even if you don’t always receive it. This doesn’t necessarily mean you respect a behavior, it means you respect your stepchild as a personOne biological parent said, “My son was always terribly disrespectful to my second husband. He would give dirty looks, ignore him if my husband said anything to him and in general just treat him with utter disrespect.” We recommend teaching your stepchild what you hope will be a lesson in morals and values, by remaining respectful toward them.  This is extremely challenging and requires patience.  When you’re responding, do not give in to requests that your stepchild hasn’t earned.  Ex:  This stepfather worked hard at treating his stepson with nothing less than respect. But when his stepson would ask for money or to get a ride to a friend’s house, this stepdad would simply reply, “You know, I’d like to do that for you. But you treated me pretty terribly earlier today, so I’m not going to be able to do that. Maybe next time.” Stay calm and polite but send the following message: In real life, if you treat someone disrespectfully, they don’t do favors for you. This is an excellent way to role model respect for both your stepchild and yourself. As in all parenting – with biological or stepkids – sometimes we don’t see the payoff in the short run, but these kinds of lessons last a lifetime.
    3. Identify your intentions. We’ve worked with couples where it’s clear there are different intentions. A biological parent may have the intention that “We’re all going to come together with everyone’s best interests in mind and build a family.” The new spouse may just plain dislike that stepchild and have the intention, “He needs to get out of my house as soon as possible.” These are competing intentions and expectations that will lead to conflict between everyone in the family, including within the marriage. If it feels like there are competing intentions occurring, communicate with your mate. You may need to speak with a therapist who can help you find common ground.
    4. Remember why you’re there. Many stepparents have expressed feeling trapped in a situation with a stepchild whose behavior is awful: the kids may break the rules constantly, be disrespectful, and possibly even physically aggressive. Whenever a child behaves this way, even biological parents can feel trapped and terrified. You’ve made the choice to come together with another person and form this family. Why? Most of the time it’s out of love. Remembering that you are choosing to be in this family—and focusing on the “why”—can help lighten feelings of resentment or helplessness and remind you why you stay.
    5. Communication is the key. In blended families, you have the coming together of two sets of rules, discipline and expectations.  If there isn’t some discussion ahead of time about things such as values and beliefs about limits and discipline, it can lead to conflict between parents down the road, which will trickle down to the relationship between children and their stepparents. These differences in parenting can have a very tangible effect. As one parent shared, “It’s hard to hold my son accountable for breaking a rule when my husband holds my stepdaughter to a different standard.”

Agreeing on how you will discipline your kids—and coming up with a plan together—is a good way to go about getting on the same page. Many families have a system where the biological parent will discipline his or her own child, with the stepparent’s support. This works as long as the two of you agree on a fair method of discipline for all kids.

But remember, all families are different and have different needs.  One stepchild we saw in therapy actually complained about her stepfather never providing any discipline for her.  She felt he favored her half-brother over her because he would discipline his own son, but avoided giving her consequences or setting limits with her.  Although this is a rare case, it brings up the importance of finding what works best for you, your spouse and your stepchildren. Communication between you and your mate is essential for a successful family, in any situation. Do you agree on parenting styles, discipline techniques, rules of the house and expectations? If you can talk about these things before joining a family, that’s the best case scenario—but it’s never too late to start.

Blended and stepfamilies can be tough at times, but they can also be an opportunity for unique and loving relationships. If you’re lucky, you’ll get acceptance along the way. Sometimes, surviving through conflicts can bring people closer together, but it takes commitment, forgiveness and an open heart.

About and

Kimberly Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner are the co-creators of The ODD Lifeline® for parents of Oppositional, Defiant kids, and Life Over the Influence™, a program that helps families struggling with substance abuse issues (both programs are included in The Total Transformation® Online Package). Kimberly Abraham, LMSW, has worked with children and families for more than 25 years. She specializes in working with teens with behavioral disorders, and has also raised a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Marney Studaker-Cordner, LMSW, is the mother of four and has been a therapist for 15 years. She works with children and families and has in-depth training in the area of substance abuse. Kim and Marney are also the co-creators of their first children's book, Daisy: The True Story of an Amazing 3-Legged Chinchilla, which teaches the value of embracing differences and was the winner of the 2014 National Indie Excellence Children's Storybook Cover Design Award.

Comments (97)
  • Shay
    I am crying as I write this. I am newly married to my husband and I am very resentful of him. While we have no children together he has 4 and I have 1 from a previous relationship. We have both decided on waiting to have another kid until weMore are both financially in a better position but I can’t help but feel that this may not happen as there are 5 mouths to feed already. I love my husband so very much but I am very angry with him for having so many children. I know he can’t change it and I’ve accepted it but I can’t help but feel like his decision to have all those children will affect my having another baby of our own because we cannot financially take care of more children. I am at my wits end and I need help on if I should leave my marriage.
  • Selena

    Husband broke up with me few months ago, we were in love, we were happy and everything was perfect not until he started dating my best friend, I cry myself to sleep every night, I tried everything to get him back. It looks like its hopeless, He spends time with my best friend and not me. I miss him so incredibly much and everyday, he was a great guy and I needed him back and i never thought possible that Dr Mack can restore broken relationship! At first I was scared cos I read a lots of stories of fake spell casters, scams and i never really believed in magic but I played along with a little faith, the love spell worked like a magic, 3 days after the love spell was done Dr Mack made my Husband to come back to me with greater love, i was happy, I was floored that his spells worked, everything felt dreamy and unbelievable, please if you have the same issues Email..( dr.mac@yahoo .com ?

    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I recognize what a difficult situation this must be for you with your boyfriend’s daughter, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for support. Setting boundaries with your partner’s children can be challenging even under the best of circumstances, and I see that you face additional difficulties withMore your boyfriend wanting to avoid conflict with his adult daughter as well. As outlined in “My Blended Family Won’t Blend—Help!” Part I: How You and Your Spouse Can Get on the Same Page, it’s going to be helpful for you and your boyfriend to talk privately and come to an agreement about your time together. Then, we recommend having your boyfriend communicate those boundaries with his daughter. In addition, sometimes it can be useful to work with a neutral third party, such as a marriage/family counselor, who can help you find common ground and develop a plan to move forward together. If this is something you might find useful, you can get information on supports available in your community by contacting the 211 Helpline at 1-800-273-6222. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going. Take care.
      • Selena
        Thank you, Rebecca. I will check it out and keep you updated. :)
  • Tammy kintner
    I have been married for 17 years my husband had a three year old daughter I have helped raise she is now 20 and living with us every argument we get in is over her no matter what it's about I own my home he never paid one payment IMore had payed my dad for it when we put it in my name before he passed my husband wanted nothing to do with it and didn't even want his name on the deed how can I get him and his daughter out of my house I'm at my wit's end I can't even feel comfortable in my own home I m to where I receint them both and don't even want to be in the same room with either one of them I need some advice before I blow. Help please
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Tammy kintner I’m so sorry to hear about your current living situation, and I hear your frustration.  In some communities, if you want to remove another adult from your home, it is necessary to follow a formal eviction process.  For more information about what is required in your area,More you can contact your local court clerk.  Another helpful resource for you might be the http://www.211.org, which you can contact at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a service which connects people with available local supports, such as counselors, housing support, legal assistance, and more.  I recognize what a tough situation this must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • Eperez23
    I recently just got married and I am expecting my second child. I have a daughter who is 6 years old from a previous relationship. My husband has 2 children ages 11 & 6 same age as my daughter and both kids are from different mothers. The problem I amMore facing is that this is the first time all the kids have actually gotten together. My spouse expresses that he feels like my daughter is an ungrateful brat and is trying to split us up. She is not following rules at home nor at school. Might this be because there's a new man in her life ? A new baby on the way ? Or the fact that she has 2 stepbrothers now. At times I see her kinda competing with them. Her father has been absent for the last couple weeks now. She doesn't listen and tries to find ways on how to kinda do her own thing if I were to tell her something or my husband she doesn't listen. Is gotten to the point were my husband wants to move out and just try after our new baby arrives I don't know what to do anymore I feel like I'm backed up against a wall. Any suggestions ? I feel like we've tried it all and just recently I have contacted the counselor in her school we have met with him and he just suggested patience and time but my husband has run out of patience I love my daughter so much that I just don't know what to do anymore. I have even considered taking her to a behavioral unit to get evaluated.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Eperez23 I hear how much you’re struggling with your daughter’s behavior, as well as how it is impacting your relationship with your husband.  If you believe that there might be an underlying issue which might be contributing to your daughter’s behavior, talking with her doctor and working with local resourcesMore can be very helpful.  Because her doctor has the benefit of directly observing and interacting with your daughter, s/he will be in a great position to assess what might be going on, or rule out any possible contributing factors to the behavior you are seeing.  I also encourage you to keep in mind that young kids often act out because they lack more appropriate coping skills.  It sounds like your daughter has experienced a lot of change in a relatively short period of time, such as your marriage, 2 step-siblings and another on the way, as well as the recent absence of her father.  This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have to follow the rules at home and school, though.  You might try https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/ about what she can do differently to follow the rules, as well as some strategies to try if she is feeling ignored, jealous, angry or upset.  Something else that could be useful is spending some one-on-one time with her, as well as encouraging her and your new husband to develop their own relationship.  You might find some additional helpful tips in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/blended-family-the-5-secrets-of-effective-stepparenting/.  I recognize that this is a rocky time right now.  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
    Heartbroken stepmother I’m so sorry to hear about the struggles that you are facing right now with your stepdaughter and your fiancee.  I’m also sorry to hear about what happened with your dog, and I hope that she is OK.  If you decide to stay and work things out withMore your fiancee, it could be helpful to talk with him to develop a plan of how you can each respond when his daughter is being disrespectful to you.  By getting on the same page, and supporting each other, you are presenting a consistent message to his daughter about how everyone is to be treated in the home.  Ultimately, the choice of whether to stay or not is going to be yours.  Sometimes, when we are faced with a big decision such as this, it can be useful to work with a neutral third-party, such as a marriage/family therapist, who can help you to look at your options and come up with a plan to move forward.  For assistance locating this type of support, try contacting the http://www.211.org at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a service which connects people with resources available in their community.  I recognize what a challenging situation this must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • Trying to Blend
    My husband and I are working on our blended family. It's a work in progress but I feel like we are doing a great job together. Recently his mother mentioned my children were not her grandkids. We have had trouble getting people to accept my children into the family. TonightMore when I mentioned it at work a coworker stated she shouldn't feel obligated to treat my kids the same as her blood grandkids. Am I expecting too much? Should I just let this dream go of them being accepted?
    • Zahra Lightway

      Trying to Blend So I take it that your husband has kids too? And these are the blood grandkids...?   Well i would say, having been one of those "not blood grandkids" that t is highly unfair to the children to treat them differently. They will feel like second class citizens when they are at your husband's family's homes if they are not treated equaly. My mother felt powerless to get my brother's grandmother to treat us both equally and it has scarred me terribly to feel so much injustice.  My father adopted me even and still his mother did not step up.  I completely disagree with Rebecca that this is okay. It's mean and selfish and totally unfair to the kids.  If, as you say, you and your partner are truly close and on the same page, i think you should speak to his family and ask them how they would like your family to treat your husband's children? Would they like to think that their blood grandkids will be feeling less important and like second class citizens when they are with your family? They should treat your children the same way they want your family to treat "their children."  

      In some ways age can matter as it's harder to develop close relationships with older children, but it shouldn't make that much difference. Just might take a bit longer, but in the meantime, they should be treated as much the same as possible.  I mean I even got second hand toys for Christmas and my brother got all new stuff.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Trying to Blend Thank you for writing in.  You make a great point that blending families together is often a process, and by working together as a team, you can make a lot of progress toward that goal.  As pointed out in the article above, it can be helpful toMore manage your expectations, and to be mindful that others might not share your those.  While you might have the expectation that your children will be accepted and treated like your husband’s biological children, his family might not share that outlook.  I encourage you to keep in mind that you can only control yourself, and your own actions and goals.  Even though you and your mother-in-law might not share the same vision or definition of your family, this doesn’t mean that either of you is “wrong”; you simply have different perspectives.   In the end, whether you choose to keep your expectation as is, modify it, or let it go is going to be up to you.  I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.
      • Claire
        My husband is my girl’s stepfather and has been for 10 years. I am fought in the middle not being able to stand up to him when he says he is the “man” of the house and he makes the final decisions regarding my girls. They do not have muchMore interaction with him being 18 and 16. My heart breaks that he only deals or talks to them when he is exerting his “man” of the House rules. They hate him and respond to him back tell Ng him they love him when he says it first. in response to his jesture. They do it to stay on his good sideburns can not stand him. I feel that it is my place to make significant decisionssince I have full custody..... my husband gets mad if I spend time with them saying they are manipulative and my job is to put him before them. I am miserable and so are my girls. He blows everything out of preportion and over reacts. U just want peace... help
  • vram06
    I have a daughter 9years old and a 4year old son. My daughter is from a previous relationship her dad is not really around but my husband has raised her since she was 6 months old. He would treat her good until she was about 3 we have had aMore hard time with her behavior since about that time and when she was 7 we found out she had adhd. He would discipline her but not the way i was okay with so we always argued about it. We have talked before and several times about disciplining our kids but we always end up mad.till this day we have arguments about the way he treats her it seems like he doesn't want her around and he is always finding something to yell or discipline her about. We have now been married for 5 years and i have tried telling him for us to go to counseling but he doesnt want to. He seems to always be in a bad mood and in his own world. He also disciplines our son but there is a difference when he does and family members have noticed it. I feel like i dont love him anymore because of this and cant stand him at times but family has told me to try and work it out but just so confused if i should since this is affecting my daughter. He tells me he loves her like his own but yet doesnt treat her as a real father should.
  • kwrobby

    15 year old step daughter is trying to break up her mom and me and if that's not bad enough she's enticing older men claiming she's 19 and constantly on the phone with guys from all over the US who think she's older.

    Mom has all but given up on her and I on the verge of giving up on both, I can't take this BS anymore but all I get is "that's how she is".

    Her mother is my second wife and truely is my love of a lifetime but the stress is affecting my health(already have major heart problems) and either the stress from my step daughter is going to kill me or a broken heart of losing my love of a lifetime will.

    • Gareth
      "That's how she is".... It's really hard eh. I'm in a similar situation with a 14 yr old step daughter who I used to get along with but now seems to absolutely hate my guts. I know it's hormones etc but it really sucks and is threatening our marriage. IMore hear you when you say the woman is the love of your lifetime but the stress from the stepdaughter breaks your heart. I don't have any answers really, just wanted to let you know that someone else has something similar and it really hurts. All the very best of luck for the future.
  • Newmommy123

    My husband and I have been together for 7 yrs. We have custody of his now 9 yr old. We have a 2 yr old and are currently expecting a baby. When I first met him, his daughter was 2 going onto 3. She was a handful and behaved very poorly. Her mom was on her 2nd child, and both my husband and I decided to wait a while before bringing kids into the picture. His daughter moved in with us when she was 4 and this helped us more with rules and a consistent discipline process.

    it was challenging for me, seeming that this was a whole new experience, burn it one I could not take on.

    As time passed and we became a more stable trio, we decided to have a baby. I was very excited yet worried about how I would feel with this new change. I also began to notice that my older daughter was not so excited about having a baby sister. When the baby arrived I became this other more affectionate person. I was in complete mommy mode and enjoyed spending as much time with my new baby. I included my older daughter as much as possible, but she has always had this jealousy for my 2 yr old.

    They both fight constantly and my 9 yr old is always comparing herself with the 2 yr old.

    Now that we decided to have our final child my step daughter has begun to act up. She is also 9 and at a age were talking back and challenging things is a must. She only behaves in this matter with me, as she is pretty scared of her dad.. I am running out of patience with her. I feel I am not enjoying being a mom two my two ur old and soon to. Be baby because I need to be careful of the affection I show them.

    I am not sure if this is a common feeling and it will fade, but I currently just want to take my two yr old and just leave....

  • ty1976
    hello my name is tijuan,i have been married now going 3 years to my wife i have known for over 25 + years before we re met and 2 years after we got married she has children from previous relationships all grown up except her 15yr old son and iMore knew it was not going to be easy after losing my first son over 18 years ago but i loved this woman to pieces but it seems we are fighting like cats and dogs over his actions sometimes  like taking out the trash or washing dishes or grades in school,the typical stuff that we as parents do i was a college teaching aide for 6 years till my city of NY scrap the education budget so i was very involved in the education because we are all their last resort for this world so now Ive been laid off for a while and i know it bears a lot on my wife to keep our household together so finding work in a state of very high rents has been very hard on me so what i m saying here is its stressful hearing the words that you are not my mom/or dad for me ,after we gave things when we have and still go through the fights and unmeaning  arguments that everyday rips me apart i cant come to this conclusion on how to fix this knowing that its a brick wall between mother and son but even a bigger brick wall between me and my wife and a marriage that i want to keep because its my first marriage and everyday is no communication, or anything but  its about her child all the time even when he does wrong like the beginning of the summertime who threaten a husband with divorce if i don t brush him up in subjects ? my (wife) which i would been OK with but his rewards and allowance would have to be put on hold till the grades got up but as a mother she still rewards him and falls back on this which i got fed up over its like where are my rights anymore? in a marriage as husband and wife when this is a child that his father passed and i lost a son has brought all of this to a standstill? thank you all for reading a story that i wish for you all to have a better peace to all of your families .
  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
    dvdgrsnbch Hi David-Thank you for reaching out.  I hear how challenging your stepdaughters’ behavior has been for you, and I also recognize how much you love and care for your wife.  The pattern of suicide attempts by both your wife and your stepdaughters is concerning, and I’m glad to seeMore that you are working with local supports to help your stepdaughters to remain safe.  If you and your wife are not currently working with anyone as a couple, that could be useful.  Sometimes it can be helpful to involve a neutral third-party, such as a marriage/family counselor, to help you get on the same page when it comes to discipline and house rules.  If you need assistance locating this type of support, try contacting the http://www.211.org at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a service which connects people with available resources in their community.  I realize what a difficult situation this must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • auguhaly
    hello my name is alyssa i have been woth a great man for 2 yrs n a couple months. he has 3 kids from his ex i have 1 daughter with him. im starting to feel resentful since his kids mom came back in their life 3 months ago. nowMore the kids wont listen have awful attitudes everything i worked om with having manners respecting n other kids, also learning to do things on their own of what they could do at their age have gone away. i dont know what to do or how to fix it. its making their dad and i argue all the time because of how much i worked on with the kids and them not listening and not wanting to do anything also thinks getting in trouble is funny. what should i do. i dont want to leave their dad or them but its becoming easier everydayn
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      auguhaly I hear you.  It can be very difficult when kids start acting out and behaving disrespectfully toward you and others.  It can be even more challenging in a blended family when you and your partner do not agree on how to address it.  In the end, the decision ofMore whether to stay or leave is going to be yours.  If you decide to stay, it could be useful to talk privately with your partner during a calm time, so you can try to https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-blended-family-wont-blend-help-part-i-how-you-and-your-spouse-can-get-on-the-same-page/.  It can also be helpful at times to involve a neutral third party, such as a marriage/family counselor, to help you develop a plan moving forward.  For assistance locating one in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org at 1-800-273-6222.  I recognize what a tough situation this must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • Slick84
    Hi, I'm frustrated and so devistated. I'm divorced with grownup kids. I've lived with my partner for a year now and have known each other for 3. He asked me to marry him and we picked out the ring but haven't got a chance to tell anyone yet. More He would see his 13 &15 year old daughters almost every weekend at times I would go with. Their mom was an alcoholic and the kids lived through never knowing if mom was going to be there or not. Well 6 months ago mom committed suicide. The kids are angry at dad and blaming him for everything which I know is normal. So now fast forward 6 months and the girls have to move. Him and I picked out a house together, made plans where their rooms would be, decided on where his office is, I decorated and moved everything in to get ready for them. He told me to go back to our other home because it would be to difficult on the kids if I was there because when they had counseling they said they didn't want to move because dads gf would be there all the time. So I moved back. We went to the counselor and talked in great detail in why the girls should be downstairs together. One has depression and feels unloved and dad favors the other one who is demanding. Well they moved in and the depressed one went to her room and the demanding one removed all of his office stuff out and everything that I did with that room and moved her things in. Dad said he gently tried to get her downstairs but couldn't. I'm so hurt. Now I feel like what we did as a couple just got undone because dad is afraid to put rules down. Then I can't be around dad right now because the demanding one doesn't want me there. My boyfriend cries, I cry, and now I'm getting resentful! If we would have been married they would have had to deal with me but since we are NOT he is allowing this daughter to demand what she wants and get it with no regards to me. He says he still wants to marry me but how do I live like this if he puts the daughter as a parent and me below her?? Counseling has done nothing so far because they are only there to chew dad out for all mom's failures. Counselor said it's going no where and he needs parenting tools. Any suggestions? All I do is cry and wonder if it's hopeless. I felt like I found my lifetime partner and I was willing to help raise them but not if he can't get a backbone. Any help is appreciated. Thx
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Slick84 I hear you.  Becoming a blended family can be difficult under the best of circumstances, not to mention the additional challenges you are facing with the children’s mother’s alcoholism and suicide, as well as disagreements with your partner on parenting issues.  Something which might be useful is to talkMore with your partner privately during a calm time, so that you can https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-blended-family-wont-blend-help-part-i-how-you-and-your-spouse-can-get-on-the-same-page/and come to an agreement regarding house rules.  I’m glad to hear that you are currently working with a counselor to help his daughters with their feelings and grief.  It could be useful for you and your partner to work with someone (such as a marriage/family counselor) as a couple as well, to help you both develop a plan for your family and your relationship moving forward.  You could ask your current counselor for recommendations, or you could try contacting the http://www.211.org at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a service which connects people with resources available in their community.  I recognize what a tough situation this must be for you, and I wish you all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • Krier

    Hello,

    So me and My husband were married for 18 year and have now get devoiced. When we got married I have a daughter from another relationship that was 8 months old. Then had a child with my husband. we devoiced 2 years ago and my oldest daughter has always had him as a dad. Now he has a new girlfriend and she say she doesn't have to include my daughter cuz its not his real daughter. what is some good advice for this?

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Krier 

      Thank you for writing in.I can only imagine how hurt you and your oldest daughter must have been

      upon hearing this from your ex-husband’s new girlfriend.Ultimately, your daughter’s relationship with

      your ex-husband is up to them to decide.You can support your daughter as she moves forward, and tries to figure

      this out with her dad.It can also be

      helpful to involve a neutral third-party, such as a family therapist, to help

      you, your daughter, and your ex-husband if he is willing, during this

      time.If you are not currently working

      with anyone, try contacting the http://www.211.org/

      at 1-800-273-6222.211 is a service

      which connects people with resources in their community.I recognize how difficult this must be for

      you, and I wish you all the best moving forward.Take care.

  • MRJ71

    Hello,

    I am in a blended family which in the early years was great. I met my partner,

    now my Wife, who already had kids, 9yo boy and 18month girl.

    As the kids got older, stepson now 26yo and stepdaughter

    19yo, still living at home, things got more difficult for me. My Wife never

    liked my discipline rules, the step-kids never did also. When I thought

    something wasn’t right, I used to get anxious and had to build my nerve up

    before saying anything.

    In my opinion, they are still to dependant on their mother,

    she does everything for them and she is the one they go to when they want

    something. My Wife never consults with me about anything when it comes to

    making decisions about them which leaves me frustrated.

    For example, my Wife has recently moved in my step-daughter’s

    boyfriend because he had a domestic at home… she never consulted with me to see

    if I was comfortable with this. Wife knows I’m not happy about it, but expects

    me to be ok with it.

    We had an argument about it which ended with my Wife saying “the kids come first, they are more important”.

    As you can imagine, I wasn’t feeling too good about myself

    at that point. Not only did she show NO concern about how I felt about the

    situation, she kind of ranked me below the kids. I understand that mothers will

    always want to look after their sons and daughters, but they aren’t kids

    anymore, they are adults and you need to let go at some point.

    • MaxFreeman
      MRJ71 I can relate. I married my wife after we had been dating for nearly 3 years. I got to know her kids very well and developed a bond with them. They were very young when I first met her and they are now 9 and 7. I got alongMore with my step kids very well until we got married and then moved in together. I must say things changed. The issue is her 9 year old son who acts out. He is a good kid but has demonstrated some behaviors within the last year such as being mean to the family pets (kicking them when we are not looking) throwing things downstairs and at walls, and being physically dominant of his younger sister which she does not like. This behavior gets worse whenever he spends time with his bio dad once a week. His bio dad is an inconsistent father and has always tried to cause problems.  I have tried addressing the issue with my wife several times nicely but she always turns around on me saying I don't like her son and Im over reacting. Im sorry but him kicking the dog and throwing a ladder is not over reacting. She is also in denial about his behavior and allows him to do whatever he pleases. If he decides not to use manners shell give him what he wants anyways and will get mad at me if I don't so whats the point. He rarely says please or thank you.  The other day I came home from work and all he did was ignore me and give me dirty looks. I tried chatting with him asking how school was and how his day was etc. but he just ignored me and gave me a dirty look. He does this all the time now. My wife doesnt seem to care much about me anymore either. I feel like Im just a stranger in my own house. We went on vacation and I dont think the kids or her could've cared if I was there or not until they needed me to buy them something. Im feeling pretty low right now and wondering if this marriage was a big mistake. Its my first marriage and I love her and want to stick it out. I care about her kids (my step kids) too. I feel bad for them sometimes.  I love my wife a lot. I just don't want to abandon them either but I feel really unhappy in this marriage and have for a long time now. I honestly dont see it lasting if something doesnt change.
  • Antonio West
    I have step children they tend to be the cause of all my marriage arguments.,, when we argue I sometimes confide in them and my wife wants to end our marriage because of it.,, what can I do to save my marriage
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Antonio West 

      I’m sorry to hear about the struggles you are

      facing in your marriage.Conflict

      happens in most relationships, so it tends to be more effective to make a plan

      for how to handle it effectively rather than avoiding it altogether. When you

      and your wife disagree, I recommend keeping this between you and your wife and

      not talking about it to your stepchildren.Instead, I encourage you to talk privately with your wife during a calm

      time to resolve this conflict, and to https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-blended-family-wont-blend-help-part-i-how-you-and-your-spouse-can-get-on-the-same-page/ moving forward.In

      addition, sometimes it can be useful to involve a neutral third-party,

      such as a marriage/family counselor who works with blended families, to help

      you resolve the issues you are facing.If you are not currently working with anyone, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.211 is a service which connects people with

      resources in their community.I wish you

      and your family all the best moving forward.Take care.

  • Jrob
    I have a biological son with my partner that is 6 months old and her son now my stepson who is 6 years old almost 7. The biggest problems me and my partner have are about discipline of my stepson. I have really only been able to act as hisMore "real" parent for about a year and a half now. Me and him have a good relationship we get along and we play and I teach him everything I can think of that a growing boy needs. The issues aren't when it is just me and him, he listens to me pretty good.The issues come when we are all together and he acts out, leaves a mess, doesn't do what he is told.I feel that I have higher expectations for him than she does, so when I get on him to do something, right away she interjects in front of him. Giving him the easy way out or all together taking the discipline out of my hands and makes her the one he has to listen now. So I feel there is a constant trend of undermining me. I feel like you're going to say we need to talk and agree on how to handle situations, but we have done that. We do stick to that plan about half the time but the other half she feels like she is the only one that can do any meaningful discipline.  Because even if I do ground him from electronics I am guaranteed to come home the next day and he will be on it anyway and she will be the one that let him because "well he did really good today', "I felt bad for him because...". So the only time I can really discipline him is when it is just me and him or its an instant discipline. I constantly have the urge to just say if you are so keen on doing it anyway I'm just not going to do anything for him any more. Obviously you don't want him to be my problem so I'm fine with that and done fighting with you to care for him how I think is best. But then of course that's not the kind of person I am and I love him and despite her own lack of discipline I don't want him to have the same problems later in life so I still try and I'm just stuck in a endless loop of aggravation. Now the other looming problem is when our other son gets older I feel like she will try to take over and do the same thing which I will not allow period end of story this son is just as much mine as hers so I have equal say unlike the way she makes it feel for her son; even though when I bring that up she acts like I do have and should have equal say in her first sons life. So what should be my next move? Should I just let her do what she is going to do and just try to hold on and fill in as minimal as possible or should I just keep trying to discipline the way I see  and constantly have opposition from her or what? I'm just not sure how long my psyche can hang on and hers too because this conflict is wearing on us both.
    • Zahra Lightway

      @Jrob Hi there, I am in similar straits with my male partner. He consistently undermines me with his children who are teens. The one who lives with us in particular.  She swears awful words very loudly and very often. She does not do much to help around the house and often when I ask her to do things he will turn around and say "No that's okay." I feel powerless and like this is not even my house. He will not hear me. Accuses me of some of the same things people on here are saying their partner's accuse them of - not liking the child or whatever.  It's so frustrating and painful I am very close to ending our relationship because I feel completely like a second class citizen. I have even been told that the children have "priority" on the house and I need special permission to have guests stay the night when they are here but they don't even have to ask about things like that. 

      Sad and getting heart-broken,

      Zahra

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @Jrob 

      I can hear how difficult this situation is for you right

      now, and how much these differences are wearing on you and your relationship

      with your partner.I’m glad that you

      have talked about these differences with each other, and attempted to make a

      plan to get on the same page when it comes to discipline.Sometimes, it can be useful to involve a

      neutral third-party, such as a marriage/family counselor who works with blended

      families, to help you find common ground and develop a plan which you can both

      agree to follow.If you are not

      currently working with anyone, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.211 is a

      service which connects people with resources in their community.I wish you and your family all the best

      moving forward.Take care.

  • Mamato4
    Hi! I am a stepmom of a 16 year old daughter and 13 year old daughter. I have been with my husband since hey were 7 and 4. My husband and I together have a 6 &4 year old daughters. We have always lived in a 3 bedroom house andMore my two older step daughters have shared a room together and my two younger daughters have shared a room together. We are moving soon into a 4 bedroom house, and my husband and I are not seeing eye to eye on things. He wants my step daughters to have their own rooms and have our babies share. Our step daughters are only with us 50% of the time. So half of the time two rooms would not be used. My 6 year old wants her own room very badly. I think it would be fair for our two younger girls, who are with us fully, to have their own rooms and the two stepdaughters to share, since they are only here half of the time. Any advice or thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
    • Zahra Lightway

      Mamato4 Hi there,  I have similar issues with my partner who has three teen daughters.  I think there is a case to be made both ways.  We had to make a decision about the rooms in our home because his two daughter's who were living here only 2 nights a week each had a room and we had to work at the kitchen table all the time. So we took one room for my office. It didn't go down well with the 13 year old who "lost her room".  He was supposed to tell her that her having a room was on a trial basis but didn't.  So anyway she was good and got over it.  

      In your case it's tricky. As you say, they are only there 50% of the time, but they are also older teens with greater need for their own space than a six year old. The two older ones have also had to share until now at the age of 13 and 16.  What if it was agreed that the oldest two get their own rooms and youngest continue to share with a couple of caveats.  Once the 16 year old is 18 and goes to college , your then 8 year old gets that room? And during holidays the older teens share.  And that in the meantime, perhaps for the 50% of the time that the other two aren't around, your six year old be able to hang out and have private time in one of their rooms as long as she cleans up after her (perhaps with your help?). 

      Those are my thoughts but keep in mind I don't actually know what your six year old's motivation is for so wanting her own room.  I know your heartstrings as a mother are pulled on this.  As a step mother I get it.  However, in this case the teens really do need it much more and by the time they go to college, your other two will be 11 and 9.   Perhaps if you explain to your 6 year old that the other two have had to wait until they are 13 and 16 to get their room, she will understand. Especially if you tell her it will swap around when she is only 8 or 11.  It really wouldn't make sense once the 16 year old is in college, to have her room empty for 9 months of the year, so your 6 year old only waiting a couple more years seems quite reasonable.  So that's another possibility.  Just be open. Also try on a thinking technique where your 6 and 4 year old are your blood children and they are 13 and 16 - reverse it all and see how you would feel then?  

      Hope this helps. It's not easy my dear.  Oh boy. It's not easy. 

      Zahra

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Mamato4 

      I

      hear you.It can be difficult when you

      and your spouse do not see eye-to-eye, and sometimes these parenting

      differences can be even greater in a blended family.Ultimately, there isn’t one right answer; it’s

      going to be your judgment call how to divide the bedrooms among the children in

      a way that is the most fair to everyone.I encourage you to continue to talk about this with your husband

      privately during a calm time so you can try to come to an agreement.Debbie Pincus outlines some additional tips

      in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/when-parents-disagree-10-ways-to-parent-as-a-team/.Please be sure to write back and let us know

      how things are going for you and your family.Take care.

  • KWood
    Hi Everyone,Here is my problem.I have a 18 yo Stepdaughter that I have raised since she was 6,instilled good moral values and taught her right from wrong.Now she has become a "know it all" and extremely Lazy and Sexually Active which shocks me as she found this one on Tinder.IMore know she hates me,why?Because she knows I call her in what she hasnt done like Chores where as Her Mom will just do the Chores,Wrong.My wife has a good job and owns her own company and bought her a 1 year old car,I have paid the Insurance now almost one year.I get zero financial help,not that I need it but my Wife is very generous with her Parents,Paying half there Rent,all there Electric,Auto Insurance and so on.I believe Charity starts at Home and told her that I will no longer be paying for her daughters Car Insurance because she works and needs to take responsibilites,I paid her 4 Year College Tuition enough already and I buy my wife a New SUV every 2 Year which will stop as well.Whats your input on this?Im tired of playing Santa Claus expecially when my Wife pays her Parents Bills and they earn a decent living working for my Wifes Company.I feel like Im being taken advantage of,Ive brought then on Cruieses,Vacations etc I dont  regret it but in Two Years I havent taken a Trip as Im waiting for my Wife to pay the Tab or at least ofer,same as Holidays,she will say "Im getting you this or that" yet doesnt follow through.It cost me about $1400.00 per month to run this Large home,yes i can afford it but she only buys Groceries when she wants and I still have to go to the market,spends maybe $400.00 per month on Food but there are 2 of her and One of Me.Im far from Cheap but after 12 Years of Marriage i thinks its time to "chip in" or ay least pay the car I bought Her Auto Insurance or pay Our Light Bill of $300+ NOT her Parents.Any ideas?Must be nice to live for Free!
    • Marissa EP

      @KWood 

      Hi there, I can certainly hear your frustration with your

      current situation. I can’t speak to your relationship with your wife, but as

      far as your stepdaughter goes, she is an adult, and at this point, you are not

      required to provide anything, including basic needs. What you do choose to

      provide is a privilege, and it is not unreasonable to have expectations that

      she help out with chores, work or go to school, or even pay a small amount of

      rent or contribute to household expenses. We often suggest making a living

      agreement with your adult child, and Megan Devine has a great article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/ground-rules-for-living-with-an-adult-child-plus-free-living-agreement/ 

      about how to do it, which also includes a printable living agreement for you to

      use. Ultimately, you are in control of what you do or do not pay for. Best of

      luck as you continue to work through this.

      • KWood
        Marissa EP Thanks Marissa for your kind words.Since that note things have goten worse,my Wife says maybe 5 words a day to me and She and my Stepdaughter of 12 Years now 18 totally avoids me.So,since Im "Such a Bad Person" Ive taken an Ax and started chopping away atMore all the extra Expenses i shouldnt have like my Stepdaughters Car Insurance Ive been paying for 1.5 Years,Her and Her Mom went to a Dealer and Bought it without my knowledge until they went to drive it off the Lot,they needed Insurance so my Wife took it upon herself to add this Car which she has a Loan on to my Policy which I pay.Friday I told my wife I no longer will be paying her insurance,she became a bit arrogant and said "Can you get your Money back from her PrePaid College 4 Year Tuition?" I said of course,I own it.She then said "Go ahead,she will continue College with scholorships"....so,Monday I will be contacting Florida PrePaid.My StepDaughter will need this Money as she wants to be a Doctor which is 8 Years but "Mommy said to do it and I am"...I was so upset to see she bought a $1600.00 Apple Air Mac Computer with extra Freshman Scholarship Money,not Frugal like her Step Dad who can afford it.She received $3000.00 and never gave a thought about who pays her Bills so I wont give it a thought either when I get the Big Check either.These Two,my Wifes Parents and One Brother are US Citizens because of me and my Finances.Im too much of a giving person which has to stop as its not appreciated at least not by these Two.If my Wife wants a Divorce thats fine too,I dont need her and the negative energy that goes with it.I just Thank God I have a PreNup.
  • cjillian0709
    My partner's son is 15 and sometimes I really struggle with how he chooses to parent- or really not parent. His son literally has no rules. When he spends time with us, when he's not at his mom's house, he is zoned out on the laptop from the moment heMore gets home from school to the time he finally passes out between 1-4 am. During the weekends, he literally sleeps all day unless I finally tell my partner that it's time that he get up and out of bed. He does no chores- at all. He comes home from school and either passes out for hours at a time, or immediately gets on the computer to play video games online with his friends. My partner acts like its no big deal, and never says anything about it. Lately I have been at my wits end. Things really came to a head the other day when I had an interaction with his mom (I've never actually met her face to face, just spoken with her on the phone). On days his mom is supposed to pick him up from our house around 5:30 pm, his son has a terrible habit of going to sleep when he gets home, and will not answer his phone when she calls to let him know that she is on her way. She called the house around 5:15, I answered and she asked to speak to him. I told her that he was asleep, and she very rudely said, "Well YOU need to get him up, because I am on my way to get him." I couldn't even mutter a response before she then hung up the phone. I told my partner that this has to stop, I cannot be the middleman anymore. I am trying to put some rules into place, and we have talked about this before- but he never follows through with any consequences or discipline for his son. I am over it.
  • Adrienne

    I'm feeling slightly frustrated with my step daughter who is 10, my husband has had custodial custody of her since she was 3 and the mom was absent for awhile and before my husband and I met he was with another women who didn't treat very nicely. Any who her and I bonded the first week we met and I built a very healthy relationship with her and her mother because I felt like was one of the most important things to do. I constantly communicate with her mom and her and the mom wants her to be with her for one week and with us for one week however my step daughter does not want to at all. Most of the time she doesn't even like going to her moms but I tell her she needs to spend a little time with her no matter what so every other weekend she goes from Friday to a Monday and when she come back to our homes she is beyond emotional and wants

    all my attentions constantly. My husband and I now have a 5month old I know some of it might be she feels left out but I included her in everything and truthfully I love her as if she was mine and I care for as she was my blood but I want to pull my hair out when she comes back from her moms, how can I help her???

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @Adrienne 

      I hear you. 

      It can be so difficult when a child comes back from staying with the other

      parent, and is showing challenging behavior.  As Debbie Pincus points out

      in her article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parenting-after-divorce-9-ways-to-parent-on-your-own-terms/, kids often have a hard

      time transitioning between homes, so you are not alone in this situation. 

      Something that can be useful is to plan out some adjustment time with your

      stepdaughter when she comes back from her mom’s house.  For example, she

      might unpack her bag, take care of laundry, shower, journal, or do other

      activities to help her transition back to being with you and her dad. 

      Please be sure to check back and let us know how things are going.

  • Bob01
    Having a real hard time with my situation. Searched for answers on Goggle but nothing! Anyhow when I met my girlfriend she was single and alone. After we got together she and her daughter planned on her moving in here with me in June. Never asked me just told meMore what was happening. We were planning our marriage at the time she told me this..Got married in May! Anyhow said that her daughter, 19 yrs old, was going to get a job and find a place in a nearby town.. So I said it was ok... Problem is that since that time she has not done anything! It caused one major argument and fight already.. They left, basically threw them out,  and my wife came back the next day. Her daughter wasn't coming back.! So all went good for about a week and the daughter realized she had nothing where she was, so again I was told she would do this , etc.. And she came back! And nothing done once again, except my wife giving in to her every chance she gets..Running her to see friends, scheming behind my back to do so, etc... Out of clues as to what to do! I've tried to do the right thing many times and it keeps happening.. Any suggestions?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @Bob01 

      I’m glad that you found our site, and are reaching out for

      support.Parenting differences can be

      quite common, and these differences can be more pronounced in a blended

      family.Something that we often

      recommend to parents in this situation is to talk privately during a calm time,

      and try to https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-blended-family-wont-blend-help-part-i-how-you-and-your-spouse-can-get-on-the-same-page/.Sometimes, it can

      be useful to involve a neutral third-party, such as a marriage/family

      counselor, to help you find common ground and develop a plan to move

      forward.For assistance finding these

      and other supports in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.I realize how difficult this situation can

      be, and I wish you all the best moving forward.Take care.

  • AJO34
    I'm having a really rough time with my teen step daughter. She's spoiled. She lived with her grandparents her whole life till her father and I got married. Then she moved in with us. It was pretty good in beginning. But now she walks away from me when I talkMore to her. Pouts about pretty much anything she doesn't want to do and when I reprimand her by grounding her from TV and tablet she goes to her grandmother and tells her how unfair I am and that I don't like her. Then the grandmother talks to me and tells me I should look to myself to see what I am doing wrong! I don't beat her or even spank her so I don't understand this behavior. I am strict with their daily chores but other than than we play game frequently together. She frequently talks back and so does my son so I make it fair and give out the punishment equally. I'm at my wit's end. I don't know what to do anymore and I feel my marriage is suffering because of this.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      AJO34 

      I hear you. 

      It can be so tough when you feel as though you cannot enforce the rules of your

      house.  Something we often recommend is that the bio-parent takes the lead

      in enforcing the house rules, while the stepparent takes on more of a

      supportive role whenever possible.  You might find more tips for this

      situation in our article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/blended-family-the-5-secrets-of-effective-stepparenting.  Blending families

      is not an easy task, and I hope that you will write back and let us know how

      things are going.  Take care.

  • Jean1221

    How do we go about my boyfriend not feeling guilty with living with me, our son and my youngest ( with another man) and not being able to live with his other son with another women, who up to a year ago still lived with him on a full time basis? Their relationship ended and his ex and son moved out. Since, we've reconnected ( we have a son) and been talking About living together and getting married until a few weeks ago, when he told me he felt guilty and uncomfortable with the situation that he will see my youngest more then his own son with his ex. Can I reassure him somehow; how can I help him through this and understand the difficulties of this situation? I would love if all 3 lived with us, but that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

    Thank you in advance.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Jean1221 

      We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

      sharing your story. Because we are a website aimed at helping people become

      more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions we can

      give to you regarding your relationship with your boyfriend. It may be helpful

      to look into local resources to help you develop a plan for addressing your

      particular issues. The 211 National Helpline is a referral service available 24

      hours a day, nationwide. They can give you information on the types of support

      services available in your area such as counselors, support groups as well as

      various other resources. You can reach the Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222

      or by logging onto http://www.211.org/. We wish you the

      best going forward. Take care.

  • In Need Of a
    My husband's nine year old has been living with us for about a month and some now. For some reason, I can't find myself wanting to bond with him. My husband and I had unresolved issues before taking in his son. I can't say he doesn't have manners, I justMore find him to be very irritating. It has been eight years since I have had a nine year old in my home, this was kinda forced upon me due to the situation of his son having to come to live with us. I don't expect him to be a perfect nine year old, but it's very hard when it's not your biological child, and his personality has already been somewhat set.  I don't know if my husband and I will make it unfortunately because I really don't want to raise his son. I am not only having to deal with the son, but a his mother who is very ungrateful for me allowing him to come into my home. My husband and I lived separate for almost a year. I allowed him back into my home and maybe less then a year a son comes with him. I need advice soon. I feel bad for feeling this way, but I am unhappy.
    • JenH

      In Need Of a

      Hi there. I stumbled across your post and see myself in all of it.  I have been with my husband for 4 years now. He has a 9 year old girl, me a 11 year old boy.  I share 50/50 custody with my son's dad so we have him half the time. My step-daughter lives an hour away, so thankfully (sorry, but I'm thankful), she is with her mother during the school year and only visits us every other weekend.  However, since my husband petitioned his ex for more parenting time, we now have her the entire summer as well.  I feel like I barely made it out alive this summer.  I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.  My stepdaughter is a pretty compliant kid.  If I ask her to do something, she usually will do it without any issues.  She has, however, started looking at me, THEN looking at her dad as if to say, "do I have to?" Super irritating. Thankfully, my hubby backs me up (most of the time).  My stepdaughter is way behind both mentally and emotionally in everything. She just started 3rd grade and is at a 1st grade level.  My son, not to compare kiddos, is a quick learner and pretty darn smart. I say this not to brag but because I am used to my own kid...I am used to how he behaves, reacts, his knowledge, his temperment, etc, as I should since I'm his mom.  That being said, I do not know how to deal with my stepdaughter. I have been in her life since she was four, but more recently am finding that I have very little patience for her.  A huge part of it, I know, is that we simply cannot afford to have her during the summer. I make way more than my spouse, and he already pays his ex $500 a month for support.  In the summer, we continue to pay this AND the cost of summer care which costs about $1200 a month we simply do not have.  We are having to take on 2 jobs each to pay expenses and get behind on bills because of it.  I have come to resent my stepdaughter because of the situation having her has put us in. I don't know how to let the feelings go and my husband and I fight about it.  We have even talked about going our separate ways, not because we want to, but because it is the easy way out.

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      In Need Of a 

      Thank you for

      writing in.  I can hear how unhappy you are with your current living

      situation, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for support.  Sometimes,

      it can be difficult to bond with a child, simply due to differences in

      personality and temperament, and it sounds like there are additional factors at

      play, such as your relationships with each of his biological parents.  As

      suggested in our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/blended-family-the-5-secrets-of-effective-stepparenting/, try to find something

      positive about your stepson, and understand that building a relationship takes

      time.  In addition, sometimes it can be helpful to involve other supports,

      such as a marriage/family counselor or support group, to help you move forward. 

      For information about available resources in your community, try contacting the

      http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  I

      recognize how difficult this situation must be for you, and I wish you and your

      family all the best.  Take care.

  • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

    @Desperate72614 

    I hear what a tough situation this is for you, and I

    appreciate your reaching out for assistance.  Something that I often

    recommend to parents in similar circumstances is to focus more on your son and

    his behavior, rather than trying to make him feel a certain way about either

    his father or your boyfriend.  Regardless of https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-blended-family-wont-blend-part-ii-what-to-do-when-your-stepkids-disrespect-you/, he is responsible for his own behavior and

    choices. The truth is, he doesn’t have to like your boyfriend or dislike his

    father in order to follow the rules of your house.  I’m glad to see that

    you are working with local supports to help you with your son, such as

    therapists and doctors, and I encourage you to continue doing so.  In the

    end, the choice of whether to have your son live with his father or stay with

    you is yours.  Sometimes, it can be helpful to work with a neutral

    third-party, such as a marriage/family therapist with experience working with

    blended families, to help you explore your options and develop a plan moving

    forward.  For assistance locating supports in your community, try

    contacting the http://www.211.org/ at

    1-800-273-6222.  Take care.

  • Bob patker
    I, like you all have had some issues the last with trying to be a leader in my home and a true role model. I tend to blame myself for not leading effectively as I am not one to blame my ex, or my wife's ex for any issues thatMore take place in my home. Recently though things have taken a turn for the worst and the blame game started and it all points to me. In my situation my wife and I started setting boundaries and working on getting our family in order. Recently my daughter ran away due to the fact that she got caught stealing money from my wallet. When confronted she decided to run away. I feel as if she was troubling with something so when she can home I forgave her and started reading and looking up ways to help her. Her grades have been slipping and she has I have had to go the her school in numerous occasions. Recently she started lying to her grandpa about things I have never done and defying our instructions. She believes as a 15 year old she should be able to hand out late, go where she wants and do what she wants, as well as stay in the phone till whenever she wants. He grandpa came to my house last week to talk to me about her behavior knowing nothing of what has been going on. Him and I had an argument about the way my wife and I oparate, and the rules we have. I politely told him thanks for your advice but no thanks. He has money so his rule is spoil and give what ever they want. I am not for that. Long story short I have been now the kids have been really nasty towards me saying things like you not my father I don't have to listen to you. They have not been listening to me because they were told they don't have to. I speak to their father and help arrange visitation even though he is not around much. I keep him up to date with issues. He advised me recently that the reason his family was torn apart was because of my wife's parents and the more I sit here the more I see it. I am ready lo get a divorce at this point as all I do is not appreciated. I've given and never taken. My last straw was when I had it out with my father in law and I kicked him out my house. He the proceeded to devise a plan to get a lawyer to deem me an unfit parent. He thought he would have the ex on his side but he called me and advised me of this plan. I was hurt and really upset as I have never done anything but help in this family. Never asked him for a dime. I respect any words of wisdom.
  • Distraught mother

    I am extremely distressed as the partner to a father of two 14 (boy) and 17 year old girl . I hAve two daughters 18 and 15. My girls live with us full time his two half time .

    The trouble is we disagree on discipline and fairness . I feel kids should help and earn things he feels differently about his .

    The latest arguement occurred when he brought home a big bag of free cosmetics from a supplier giving them all to his daughter none to me or my girls . I feel so hurt by this thinking he could have shared it ... He is now buying his daughter a car and even though my daughter is older and has a job he feels it's ok as she is his biological child ... If feel we should work in the best interest of all the kids and work together .

    Please help

    • Darlene EP

      @Distraught mother 

      It is common for parents to

      disagree or not be on the same page when it comes to discipline and fairness.

      It typically becomes even more challenging in blended family situations. If

      your partner does not agree with you on these issues it is not about convincing

      him to change his mind and agree with you, but instead focus on your children

      when it comes to these topics. Your husband should be the primary decision

      maker with his children and you with yours. James Lehman talks more about this

      in his article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-blended-family-wont-blend-help-part-i-how-you-and-your-spouse-can-get-on-the-same-page/ We appreciate you writing in and wish you and your family

      the best as you continue to work through this. Take care.

  • Sonja W

    Situation:  Mother of two left husband due to being abused by him. They seeked shelter for almost 2 years. She has a son aged 9 and a daughter aged 5. She had a interdict against him, but now back on her feat. he still harresses her. The court has give him permission to have his kids every 2nd weekend. He refuses to settle their divorce. He has moved on by having another child with a younger woman, who have a daughter from her previous relationship. Her daughter is 8. Their Baby is a few months old.

    Problem: the unofficial step mother buys clothes/toys for her daughter and the baby whilst the father's other 2 children visit them and does not included them in the treats.  The 5year daughter now has extreme anger burst outs by screaming at her mother and hitting of screaming at her brother of 9.

    How does this mother deal with this??

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Sonja W 

      After a divorce or

      separation, many families experience conflict in the way issues are addressed

      in the different households, and it’s not uncommon for kids to act out

      inappropriately in one parent’s home as a reaction to something experienced in

      the other parent’s home.  Overall, though, it tends to be more effective

      to focus on the behavior that is happening in your home, because you can’t

      really control what happens when your children are with their father, or the

      way that their stepmother treats them, as long as they are not being abused or

      neglected.  You might find some more helpful information in our articles, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-dos-and-donts-of-divorce-for-parents/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/parenting-after-divorce-9-ways-to-parent-on-your-own-terms/.  Please let us know

      if you have any additional questions.

  • blended family

    My wife has 2 kids from a previous marriage and I have 2 from a previous marriage, plus 1 together (5 total).  I have to issues that I would like to get feedback.

    She is always wanting to sign her kids up with multiple activities at a time, while I have asked her to limit it to 1 activity per season.  With this many kids and my kids living 2hrs away, our lives would be chaotic to manage (it's already crazy).  She doesn't listen and says that she will do what's best for her kids and sign them up with as many activities as she wants to.  Earlier this year, we literally had a child activity (all of her kids) every single weekend (sometimes multiple times the same day..all day long) from Jan - March.  Not to mention the multiple practices throughout the week. 

    The next issue and most recent is, I just found out that she decided, along with her ex, to give her 10yr old (soon to be 11) daughter an iPhone for her birthday.  She told me this after he already purchased the phone and has it ready to give to her for her birthday (in 2 weeks).  My wife came from a blended family and has always insisted that we do things equally for all of our kids.  My daughter is 11 and is in the same grade as her 10yr old.  What sent me over the edge is that my wife never came to me to ask me for my opinion on what age would be appropriate for the kids in our household.  She just  decided with her ex to give her a phone, without consulting with me about the impact this would have with my daughter wanting one.  My daughter already feels that my step-daughter is spoiled and gets anything she wants (which is partially true...my wife does constantly favor her), and if she finds out that she is getting a phone and I won't allow her to get one, it will send her over the edge.  

    We have had many arguments over this recently and it's only getting worse.  She feels that the decision is between her and her ex.  But since  our kids already have iPods/iPads, are always around someone who has a phone, and she has always stated we should do things fair and equitable between kids, she is basically is ignoring my wishes to NOT allow our kids to have a phone. 

    I am trying to get an apt to see a counselor, but it will probably be after her birthday party.  I do not want my daughter to know she has a phone and I already told my wife I don't want that thing brought to our house.  She says she is getting it and that's the bottom line.  

    Help!

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @blended family 

      Most families

      struggle with these issues of how much leisure time versus activities should a

      child have, or what age is appropriate to get a phone.  These parenting

      differences can become even more pronounced in blended families, so you are not

      alone.  It is going to be important to talk with your wife privately

      during a calm time to try to find common ground and compromise between

      you.  It can sometimes be helpful to involve a neutral third-party, such

      as a counselor, to help you both get on the same page, and I’m glad to see that

      you are reaching out to these supports in your community.  In the

      meantime, you might find some useful tips in our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-blended-family-wont-blend-help-part-i-how-you-and-your-spouse-can-get-on-the-same-page/.  I recognize how frustrating this must be for you, and

      I hope you will check in and let us know how things are going for you and your

      family.  Take care.

  • amarsh114
    I need some advice!! My husband and I got into an argument that turned into me yelling and being out of line to his son. My 11 year old step son. The evening progressed into chaos and I called my husband's ex to get the boys out of this toxicMore situation. I have 2 step boys. My husband and I have worked out our problems, but his ex won't let the kids come over on their weekend unless me and my 12 year old son leave the house. This is putting my husband in the middle and making him have to choose me or his boys. I feel like we're all a family and need to apologize and deal with getting back on track as a whole, no one else sees it this way. My husband thinks he needs to spend time with his boys alone and have a weekend with them to apologize and get back on track before including me. I don't feel that way at all! We're a family and should stick together and admit our faults as a unit. Any advice here? Should I leave? Help!!!
    • Darlene EP

      amarsh114 

      It sounds like you are facing a

      challenging situation. I see your point that you want to face this as a family,

      however, it ultimately is up to their father how he wants to proceed with this.

       He is the one who should be making the final decisions with how he wants

      to handle situations like this with his sons. He is probably also trying to

      work through this so that their mother is feeling comfortable as well,

      something he needs to do to co-parent effectively. I know this is not ideal for

      you, but I would support your husband’s decision and try not to take it

      personally. I know  this is not an easy position for either of you to be

      in. We wish you and your family the best as you continue to work through this.

      Take care.

  • Seeking Advice
    I have an 11 year old daughter. We used to live with my parents until just a little over 2 years ago and I we have now moved out on our own. Her biological dad is not in the picture, she has seen him maybe 15 times in her entireMore life due to his substance abuse issues. My father has been an amazing role model to her - very little discipline and lots of love and spoiling :) . She started a new school and a new daycare and is still taking a little time to adjust.  Socially she has done well, but it is still not the same as her 'home' - in her words. She spends one night every other weekend at my parents place and my parents come over often to spend time with both of us. I began dating my boyfriend almost 3 years ago. I met him through his sister who was my old neighbour. His nephews and his sister were very close with my daughter when she was about 2-5 years old. In the initial stages of our relationship, we would spend time together in groups (my family, friends and my boyfriend). She seemed to enjoy his company.  Since my daughter and I have moved out, there was one incident (less than a year ago) that she was sleeping and she overheard a heated argument between my boyfriend and I when we were visiting his place. She heard banging and yelling. It was an argument that got out of hand. Both my boyfriend and her apologized and explained that that isn't how adults should react when disagreeing.  Since then she has been standoff-ish and slightly disrespectful.  Over the past few months, she has told me, my parents, and most recently my friends, that she does not like him. My parents are very supportive of our relationship. He grew up in a very strict household and is from a completely different culture (of African descent) and his ideas of discipline are stern as well. We have agreed that I will handle disciplining her while taking his advice and support between just the two of us so that she does not resent him even further than it seems she already does. So that I can be the 'bad guy' and he can re-establish a friendship with her and relate more. She has said to me that she liked it when it was just me and her and she doesn't know why I introduced this other person into our family. My boyfriend and I were planning on moving in together in the next few months. She is a good girl, and she said recently that she does see what he has done for us as a family and she will try to give him a chance, but I worry that she will still hold on to the resentment. She only tends to bring these issues up when she is angry about a completely different issue and then she explodes and brings this up. Any comments/advice is welcome. Thank you.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @Seeking Advice 

      It can be difficult when your child does not get along well

      with your partner.  It sounds like you are using many of the strategies we

      recommend, such as being the primary disciplinarian while allowing your

      boyfriend to build a relationship with her, and keeping open communication with

      her.  In the end, the way that your daughter feels about your boyfriend

      and your relationship is really up to her, and she may prefer the period when

      you were living with your parents.  This does not mean that she is allowed

      to be disrespectful or not follow the rules, though.  What you can control

      is making sure that you have clear expectations for her behavior, and holding

      her accountable for her actions.  Thank you for writing in; please be sure

      to let us know if you have any additional questions.

  • mrrobertsonmrs10
    My husband and I have three children together and he had three children from a previous relationship. The three older children visit every other weekend and he is constantly complaining that he doesn't spend enough time with his older boys and that its my fault because I make him feelMore guilty. I tell him that he is the one who chose to have two sets of children and he owes it to all of them to spend equal time with them but he seems only seriously concerned about the boys and not his little girls. I'm at a loss because I hate that these older children's actions are rude and interfering with how I want to raise our girls but powerless because I'm constantly having to compromise due to the older kids other home life to please my husband. When I voice my concern with him I'm the evil person that now hates the older kids please help
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      mrrobertsonmrs10 

      We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

      sharing your story. I hear how much conflict you are experiencing with your

      husband regarding the amount of time he is spending with each set of his

      children. Because we are a website aimed at helping people become

      more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions we can

      give regarding your marriage. It may be helpful to look into local resources to

      help you develop a plan for addressing these issues. The http://www.211.org/ is a referral service

      available 24 hours a day, nationwide. They can give you information on the

      types of support services available in your area such as marriage/family

      counselors, support groups as well as various other resources. You can reach

      the Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto http://www.211.org/. We wish you the best going forward.

      Take care.

  • Helpmomof4
    I'm so lost on what to do with my marriage I been married now for 2 years I have 2 kids that live w us and he has 2 that live w us and together we have a 1yr old and I'm pregnant due in November anyway he can't standMore my boys they r 10 and 11 he bullies them and treats them like they r adults sometimes my kids hate him to the point when he walks into the room they scatter I can't tolerate his 18yr old nothing but problems and his 4 yr old drives me nuts together we have a 1yr old he loves to the moon and back I'm confused bc I have pretty much withdrawn myself from him I don't even sleep In the same bed no more for the past week I been on the couch I love him and our daughter loves him but my kids don't he has restricted my boys from seeming my mom and is so controlling over me and them I'm,begging to fall out of love but bc I'm prego and our daughter I'm scared to leave I really have no where to go plus what if he trys to take my babies from me bc I'm a stay at home mom and no job need some advice
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Helpmomof4 

      I hear how conflicted you are about what to do in your

      current situation.  Because we are a website aimed at helping people

      become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions we

      can give in regard to your marriage. It may be helpful to look into local

      resources to help you develop a plan for addressing your particular issues. The

      211 National Helpline is a referral service available 24 hours a day,

      nationwide. They can give you information on the types of support services

      available in your area such as marriage/family counselors, legal assistance,

      support groups as well as various other resources. You can reach the Helpline

      by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto http://www.211.org/.

      We wish you the best going forward. Take care.

  • A freaked out mother

    I'm having a huge, stressful and crazy issue. My husband and I have been married for 2 years. My step son is 9 and I now have a son with my husband who is 1. My husbands ex went to federal prison for drug trafficking. She's in a half way house now and is done being incarcerated in August. While she was in prison her son told us he did not want to talk to her, long story short we respected his decision and blocked her number from calling us. In May she served us with papers and took my step son from our home because it was "her day" according to 5 year old orders. We went to court and tried to fight because my step son said he was scared to death of his mother and it all turned out to be a huge lie, he never was scared and lied to us up until this point. I'm personally afraid for my life, my family's life, and my step son when she's around us or has my step son in her care. I constantly have knowers in my stomach and am terrified. I've had people sitting outside my house watching my family and following us around. HELP. She's now trying to show him court info and persuade him to live with her when he turns 14. He has awful night terrors and nervous ticks. Every time he comes home he's stressed from being at his moms house. I need clarity, help, an ear, some advice , SOMETHING!

    Sincerely,

    a freaked out parent

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      A freaked out mother 

      I hear how concerned you are for your stepson, yourself, and

      your family right now, and I’m glad that you are reaching out for

      support.  If you are not already doing so, I encourage you to continue to

      consult with a family lawyer for your legal options at this point.  You

      might inquire about your concerns regarding the people following you and your

      family as well.  It could also be helpful to find some support for your

      stepson and your whole family to process all that has happened in the past few

      months, such as a family counselor with experience working with blended

      families and/or formerly incarcerated parents.  If you need assistance

      locating resources in your community, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  Thank you

      for sharing your experiences, and I wish you and your family all the best

      moving forward.  Take care.

  • JamieMo
    Been married for almost 6 years. We both have 2 children. My stepdaughter & my son both graduated high school in 2015. My daughter is now a junior & my stepson is in 8th grade. We have recently separated. My wife is renting a house with her kids. My sonMore is off at college, so it's just me & my daughter at home. I am struggling with all this. My wife does not want a divorce, just separation now. I believe this happened due to my stepson & my daughter being unhappy. The kids relationships have been up & down. My relationships with the kids has been the same. The hardest has been between my stepson & myself. We never really hit it off from day 1. We tried to get along in the beginning, but it did not work. I have admitted my faults. I am seeing a counselor & continue to change myself for the better. My wife has helped me through recent needed surgery & it seems like all is almost normal when we are together. My problem is that I am confused & hurting deeply with our separation. Any suggestions or comments will be appreciated.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      JamieMo

      Blending two families can result in some tough challenges

      and it’s not unusual for families to face struggles when figuring out how to

      get along. I am sorry you and your wife have separated. It’s normal to feel

      hurt and confused during times like this. I’m glad you have reached out to a

      counselor for support through this difficult time. Hopefully, s/he will be able

      to help you work through those feelings and find a way through this ordeal.

      Best of luck to you and your family moving forward. Be sure to check back and

      let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • Sal D

    Been Married to my Wife for 5 years. We are both 58 years old and have kids and grandchildren. My 19 year old son lives with us, has a great relationship with my wife, all 4 of my grown Married Daughters adore my wife. Their kids call my wife Grandma, 4 of the 5 grandkids were born after we were together. It's her kids I have a problem with. One of her sons, mid 30's, is total jerk. Never visits us, (they are all less then an hour away,), if she wants to see her grandkids, she has to go up their. One of her sons is "cordial" to me, has visited us may be 3 times in the over 5 we have been together. The other son is a jerk. Never comes down, treats his Mother horribly, never gives me the time of day if I see him, His now 13 year old son likes me, has stayed with us several times, wants to spend part of the summer with us. I feel its long over due, her kids have never met mine, and I have pretty much no relationship with hers. I know it hurts her, What do I do to help remedy This.

    Thanks,

    Sal

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      Sal D

      I am so sorry to hear that your wife’s adult children

      haven’t made much effort to meet your children or spend time with you as a

      family. It’s understandable you would want to help your wife with an issue that

      seems to cause her distress. No one likes to see someone they love suffer.

      Unfortunately, there may not be much you can do to remedy the situation other

      than to continue offering her support when it seems like she is having a

      difficult time. Because your stepsons are adults, they get to determine how

      much, or how little, time they spend with their mom or with you. The positive

      side is that your children seem to have welcomed your wife with open arms and

      have really strived to make her a part of the family. I wish there was more I

      could offer you here. I do wish you and your wife the best of luck moving

      forward. Take care.

  • Rosa

    Been together for 10 years married 3, I have 4 kids my husband has none. He just left me because he can't deal with my kids, he says they don't love him. He wants nothing to do with them. He tired of always coming 2nd. I feel stuck cause I love my husband and my kids.

    Can someone please give me advice

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      @Rosa

      What a tough situation. I am so sorry you and your husband

      have separated. It’s understandable you would feel torn between your husband

      and your children. It might be helpful to talk with a marriage or family

      counselor about what is going on in your family. Many people in your situation

      have found working with a neutral third party to be beneficial. It could be

      helpful for you, even if your husband isn’t willing to go. The 211 Helpline

      would be able to give you information on counseling services in your area. You

      can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by going

      online to http://www.211.org/. We wish you the best of

      luck moving forward. Take care.

  • Lostinkerrville
    My boyfriend and I decided to move in together after dating for over a year with an hour commute from my city to his town. I up and moved my daughter who is 10 in with him and his two kids who are 17-16 girl boy. It seemed likeMore a fairytale relationship He's a great person but has this thing that he doesn't see how disrespectful his kids are. They yell at him constantly slam doors in his face put him down and even though my daughter adores him I find her starting to act the same way. Now I find myself getting after her more than ever when his kids get away with bloody murder. I've talked to him over and over and finally snapped at the son after he threatened to kill our dog for barking. After I scolded him the daughter started yelling at me that I can't tell her brother anything cause I'm not thier mom. Well mom has been gone for over two years now. I love my boyfriend so much but find myself wanting out because these kids are relentless. And he doesn't do anything about it. Yes he yells at them sometimes but it goes in one ear and out the other. He doesn't commit to punishment and it drives me nuts. Then proceeds to tell me that I don't commit to my 10 yr olds punishment. We live in a town that is small and nothing to do. The only punishment that would effect her is a spanking and I do do that. But his kids live on thier phones and going out and gaming yet nothing gets taken away. I'm so torn.
    • Andrea Nagle
      Im in the same situation, im slowly pulling away. I know jis kids are lieing to his face, on the internet, wearing loads of make up. I find his kids to be untrustworthy, disrespectful and very sneaky. I know things they do but he dont want me to tell himMore cause then he has to do something about it. Im told to mind my business. So I tell him nothing ,hold everything in and eventually I will have had enough. Its very sad cause ive lost allot of respect for my boyfriend. In order for us to be together I have to be a crappy mom to my kid cause thats all his kids know . I choose my kid. Im not the one they messed his kids up, and hes made it clear hes not willing to do anything to help his kids. I have built a wall keeping his kids on the other side of it for my and kids protection. Ive moved out and dont see us ever living together agian as long as his kids are live with him.
    • KellyP0901
      Lostinkerrville Exactly what my fiance does.  He gripes at them.  No punishment.  No consequences.  His son was hitting the 6-year-old in the private parts and I caught them.  He took away their game systems for a day.  He didn't speak with them other than being mad that they had lied aboutMore it.  I don't even know what to do with all of this.  I'm so sorry.
  • Exhausted Mama

    I'm a single mother of 2 special needs kids (I stay home to care for them) I moved in with my boyfriend which has 2 kids (full custody) and now we are a huge blended desaster. None of our kids are happy, I'm definitely not happy and it just needs to end ASAP

    Everything was great in the beginning. I watched and cared for his kids as my own. Took them to fun places, ran errands with me, got up and fed them breakfast as he slept in (he works FT) as mentioned I stay home FT (I worked from home) I washed all laundry (and paid for it...coin operated) even bought all additional household needs which adds up to a ton with 6 people under one roof...even foot the food expense. He has it made here, not a worry in the world. All he's to do is pay the rent. I prepare all meals and keep his castle shinning. Turns out he has a gabbling addiction and has put us in complete debt. I gave him a few 2nd chances and he continued to gamble. Ive gotten to the point that I had to sacrifice my (in home job) due to the stress that he's caused and as much as I hate to admit it I have emotionally detached myself from his children too..(I know none of this is their fault) but I don't see a future with us. I've lost trust in him and do not at all feel secure in this relationship. I told him that I'm no longer watching his kids while he works and that id like him to leave. He manipulates me into believing that I'm going to cause him and his kids to be homeless because he's going to lose his job if I don't continue watching them. I've set a time frame for him to leave and we both agreed that at the beginning of this month he would...but he has not. A part of me feels very resentful, I had enough on my plate to begin with raising 2 of my own special needs kids but then I opend up my home and life to you and poured my heart and soul into raising your kids and all I feel is used, manipulated and taken for granted. Im physically/emotionally exhausted in this relationship and my kids and his kids are suffering the most while he continues on like its no big deal.

  • Had Enough
    I have 1 daughter she is 25 I've been married for 17 years to my first husband and I have 3 adult step daughters and my husband been married 3 times I'm the 3 wife. My oldest step daughter had one daughter and we don't know who is the fatherMore she live in high life drive BMW buy only expensive clothes n brand name. Never cook at home go out for dinner every night with different men but what it makes me angry she always ask her dad for money to fund her life style. We just bought a house on our old age we have a $330,000 home loan try to pay off because my husband is 60 years old n I'm 50. I earn more than him my step daughter always say I will pay the money back but never n when I say something to my hubby we end up a big fight. My daughter adore my husband even call him dad she always shower my husband with gifts shout for any meal vacation etc. he knows what his daughter doing is wrong but he is too afraid to say something. I am a Polynesia and the way I was bought up do what you told and don't answer back. Hiding was a big thing in our culture to us absolutely nothing and that's the way I bought my daughter up My husband has a step son his is a brother of 3 sisters but he doesn't know his father is he is a trouble maker in and out the jail drugs raping stealing you name it but he love him to death and I said to him are you hoping one day u will go back to his mum . Another daughter has 4 kids with 3 different fathers n the youngest daughter working full time single live on her own but she 100 thousand dollars in deb because she support a guy in America he was cheating behind her back 5 years ago and she keeping lying to us. If I say something to my husband he always blame me and point his finger at me n I told him you married 3 times not me and one finger pointing at me n 4 pointing at you. When I married him he was a single father no job I pull out all my saving to feed him and his kids his bank acc was ooo balance I help him for 3 years to pay his 40 thousand dollar deb because I have no owing what so ever even my daughters private school fee was updated. I am 50 now enough is enough I need to say something to the oldest daughter to back off do not ask us for money to fund her life style if the father is too scare to say something to her I will and I don't care if that's the end of my married
  • ClaraMc

    I have adult children and have been remarried for 4 years now.  I was single for 20 years before I remarried.  My husband does well with my two "boys" who live in another state and only visit once in a while. However, he has done a great job of ruining his relationship with my son who lives here.  Consequently, I feel he is also ruining our relationship.  This son has twice had to move back home for a time due to school, then a health issue and divorce.  My son has ALWAYS been respectful to my husband, even when my husband is being a complete disrespectful jerk. It finally escalated into my husband assaulting my son a few months ago.  My son is out of the home now, and won't even come over to see me if my husband is home.  Can't blame him!  Even when I mention something about my son, my husband's cockles get fired up, and he can barely keep his mouth shut.  He comes from a terrible family, parents and siblings.  They are amazingly dysfunctional and often just mean and rude.  My husband never had the support of nurturing parents, and so I believe he has no clue what that should be and is incensed at the relationship I have with my sons.  

    I don't know what to do anymore. I feel like my husband is forcing me into choosing between him and my son.  My son does not have a similar expectation.  I am in a terrible situation.  I have a chronic illness that keeps me at home a lot, and I feel gets worse at times due to the stress of my volatile husband.

  • Fedup
    I came to this website in hopes of finding some answers.  Being a stepmother for the most part has been a nightmare.  It doesn't matter how old the kids are either as I have experienced how adult step-kids can ruin your relationship just as easily as the younger ones asMore the bond between them and their father is usually always stronger.  I never had children as I never saw the value in having them.  They are just as obnoxious to their real parents with the exception that the "real" parents can discipline them the way they see fit, but as a step-parent, you have no rights!  I thought this time being older myself would be different, but it never is.  Your never the real parent and there is no respect.  When you try to do the right thing by the "child" (high school age isn't really a child), his real parent always thinks your being too hard.  Your in a lose lose situation if your spouse doesn't back you up.  The kids today are spoiled rotten.  In my day if a child had a fresh mouth they got a slap in the mouth.  They usually didn't wise off again after that.  I wish everybody who comes to the forum a lot of luck.  I love my husband and hope our relationship will survive this.  I chose to divorce my last husband because of all the bs with his family.  I don't want to lose my relationship because of a spoiled brat.
    • KyKelly

      I agree with you.  I grew up in a blended family and I was not allowed to disrespect my step parent - period.

      If I did, I was quickly dealt with.

      Isnt it funny how the trend is to try to bargain with children instead of laying down the law.  We have more

      children on medications and going to therapy now than 30 years ago.  Juvenile crime is increasing as well.

      There are no real consequences for rude, disrespectful, and undisciplined children.  Many of the worst acting

      kids are spoiled rotten and their parents are to blame.

    • Fedup
      I would also like to add that my mother-in-law has a very negative affect on my stepson as she and I don't get along.  When he doesn't spend time with her we usually get along very well and enjoy each others company.  His bad attitude comes after he has spentMore time with her and the change in him  is huge. He is like another person.  I know he is a good kid normally, but his attitude after being with his grandmother is seriously testing my patience and we don't want to keep him from being with her.  She lives in the same house which is why this is such a big deal.  Its a now daily problem.
  • ehefree

    I have been in a relationship for 4 years, living with my partner for 2 years.  We are a blended family.  I have a 7 year old daughter who was 1 when I separated from her father.  He has an 8 year old son he adopted with his ex-wife when the child was 2 years old and they separated when he was 3 years old.  The kids have known each other since they were 2 & 3 but we did not begin dating for a year after that.  

    Originally I did not have any issues with what I consider to be my step son (we are not married) but recently the last 3-5 months have been very difficult.  He is mad at me and keeps asking his father when he will go back and marry his mother.  Making comments about how everything was great until I came in.  He used to be very loving and sweet and now has developed this anger.  The only change I can consider is his age and the fact that his father was promoted and working more.  I have had to take on a more authoritative role.  

    I know that our unmarried status can cause confusion for the children but I am not prepared for his anger.  It seems so hostile at times.  I don't know what we are supposed to do.  My partner does reinforce that he is supposed to listen to me and respect me but at this time is so distracted by work that we are having increased difficulties.  I don't know what else to do to ease this transition.  Any advice or thoughts are appreciated.

    • Kelley
      ehefree Bless your heart, I think I would really struggle to hear my stepsons asking my husband when he may get back together with their mother. Are you able to talk to your partner about how it makes you feel and figure out whether your stepson is asking to beMore mean or asking because he really wants to know? It's your partner's responsibility to address the topic of those comments directly so they will stop. It's so hard to know what an 8yo is thinking. I wouldn't waste time trying to understand what went wrong, because you may never know and trying to guess will just frustrate you. My 9yo stepson wanted to come and live with my husband, my son (his stepbrother), and me. When his Mom told him no, he sort of turned on us. His behavior at our house this summer was really terrible and exhausting. He turned on my son as well, everything that could be an argument became an argument. It was really awful. Just keep parenting the behavior. You make sure you are standing up for yourself. I am sure you are hurt, but parent the disrespectful behavior and make it clear that it won't be tolerated. If you can see the behavior in black and white, without emotion, it makes the discipline part easier to do...it becomes an issue of him just not behaving and being appropriately corrected/disciplined. Good luck.
    • Marissa EP

      ehefree 

      Blending families can be a challenge, regardless of how old

      the children are, and I can understand the confusion around the sudden change

      in behavior of your stepson. You and your partner should have a conversation

      with your stepson, reinforcing the family rules about how you treat people in

      your home, with an emphasis on no verbal abuse (name calling, swearing,

      hurtful, mean statements directed towards someone). Ideally, the biological

      parent should take the lead in this conversation, with you providing a strong

      back-up support, showing your stepson that you are a united front. Let your

      stepson know there will be consequences if he crosses the line into verbal

      abuse. We would also suggest having a conversation with him about what he can

      do when he is angry or upset, instead of taking his emotions out on you. For

      your part, it will be important http://www.empoweringparents.com/do-you-personalize-your-childs-behavior-when-he-disobeys-you.php. Chances are good that his attacks

      are not about you, but about his lack of skills to deal with a problem or

      feelings in a more appropriate way. You might acknowledge when your stepson is

      upset and then disengage, to help prevent a power struggle. For example, when

      he makes comments about how things used to be before you joined the family, you

      could say, “I’m sorry you feel that way”, and turn and walk away, taking the

      power and attention with you. I hope this is helpful and wish you and your

      family the best of luck as you continue to work on this with your stepson.

  • Gods Child

    I have been married for 2 years not. I have a 9 year old son and his father is not in his life at all (by choice). My husband and I are having an issue now because he feels I show too much affection too my son. Maybe 1 time out the week my son would forget to clean the table off or brush his teeth before bed. This would happen maybe once or twice a month. Since I am home most of the time with my son so I do emphasize his chores. He always complies and even when my husband tells him to do something he does it with no issue and no disrespect. I feel my husband has resentment towards my son. I established a boundary that my marriage comes first but my son is still in the nurturing stage and effection is my primary language. I show it to my son and my husband. I do not disrespect my husband but if I do not agree with something I tell him behind close doors. I am tired of playing the mediator between the both of them. My son comes to me and ask me for everything and to do everything. My husband does not take the initiative to spend time with him but expects him to do everything he says. I am just so tired and I feel my husband is trying to play his role as a step parent out of pity, he always critiquesmy parenting never tells me what I do right only what I do wrong and he is trying to run our home like the military or how he was raised. I need help!

    Thank you

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @Gods Child 

      Parenting differences occur in almost every family, and

      these differences are frequently emphasized in a blended family.  I’m glad

      to hear that you bring up your differences with your husband behind closed

      doors, and I encourage you to continue to do so.  Something that might be

      helpful is to talk privately during a calm time to try to http://www.empoweringparents.com/My-Blended-Family-Wont-Blend-Help-Part1-How-to-get-on-the-same-page-with-your-spouse.php as you approach parenting your son.  If you are having

      difficulty agreeing on expectations, it can be useful to consult with a neutral

      third party, such as a marriage and family counselor with experience with

      blended families, to help you both get on the same page moving forward. 

      For help finding resources in your area, try contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  I realize

      how challenging this situation can be, and I appreciate your writing in. 

      Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • Confused Mama

    I recently re-located to be with my boyfriend.  We both decided that we were ready to blend our families.  I have an adult daughter who doesn't live at home and a 15 year old son.  He has a 12 year old son whom he has full custody.  The mother is non-existent, unless he makes contact.  She has other children, all of whom she has lost custody.  My step son has no boundaries.  He was failing all of his classes.  My boyfriend is inconsistent with parenting and I think he has given up.  He has spoken to his son about being disrespectful towards me and he has tried to establish boundaries with the mother as well.  My step son wants me to do everything for him and he is under me all the time.  However, when I challenge him to do his homework or clean his room, I am constantly reminded that I am not his mother.  I do not tolerate disrespect from my own children.  I explained to him that I will limit my interaction with him until he is able to show more respect.  recently, he spent the weekend with his mother.  While there, he texted his father all day.  At midnight, we received a message that he had been dropped off at a neighbor's house since 2PM because him mom had to "work".  My boyfriend yell and screamed and was extremely upset.  He even snapped at me because I didn't agree with him allowing my step son to go over there in the first place.  He said he wanted to teach him a lesson and that maybe he would learn to appreciate us more.  I said so the only way to teach him that is to leave him in the care of someone who has already lost custody of 3 children?  When he finally spoke to the mother, there was no yelling, no sarcasm, nothing!  He didn't even seem upset.  He didn't even challenge her on why she left our son with a stranger.  I feel unappreciated and that there are no boundaries.  I absolutely love my boyfriend and stepson, but I'm not sure how much more of this I can take!

    Confused Mama

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      Confused Mama 

      The process of blending families together is rarely an easy

      one, as it involves not only combining your kids under one roof, but also working

      to come together on co-parenting with your partner.  We speak with many

      people who are frustrated because they are http://www.empoweringparents.com/My-Blended-Family-Wont-Blend-Help-Part1-How-to-get-on-the-same-page-with-your-spouse.php as their partner when it comes to boundaries, rules and

      enforcing those consistently.  I also want to point out that it is pretty

      normal for most kids your stepson’s age to lack gratitude for what they have,

      especially when it comes to appreciating things like rules and structure. 

      You are not alone.  It could be useful to talk with your boyfriend during

      a private, calm time about a few basic house rules that everyone is expected to

      follow, such as “No name calling”, “No yelling”, “Do tasks the first time you

      are told”, and so on.  It could also be useful to http://www.empoweringparents.com/Why-the-Word-No-Sets-off-a-Child-with-Oppositional-Defiant-Disorder.php in order to avoid power struggles, so that your stepson is

      being held accountable to following the routine, and knows what to expect at

      certain times of the day.  We recommend that the biological parent take

      the lead in enforcing house rules with their child, so that the stepparent can

      focus more on building a relationship with the non-biological child in the

      house.  It could also be wise to come up with a plan for your stepson to

      follow the next time he visits his mother if he is left alone, or in a

      potentially unsafe situation again.  I hope that this gives you a good

      starting point to begin working together as a family.  Please be sure to

      write back and let us know how things are going.  Take care.

  • SQLMOM

    I purchased a house with my boyfriend of 2 yrs.  We have lived there for a year now.  My adult son (24) lives with us.  This is a huge house for us.  My son has a room with a bath in it and is rarely home when we are home. My boyfriend constantly criticizes my son from his hair, to his choice of foods, his work schedule, etc...   Nothing is good enough.  He even criticizes my son's girlfriend.   I found a letter on my computer that my son printed to my boyfriend telling him what he thinks about all the criticizing. I am heartbroken.  I know that he rides him when I am around but evidently he is doing it when I am not there even harder.  I can find an apartment for my son and pay for it but my dilemma is that some day I will want to spend time with him and he will always feel not welcome.  I know in my heart that my boyfriend means well but he is way too critical and focused on what he thinks things should be instead of being open minded to the fact that others may not follow his path. 

    This is what I found.  I can't talk to anyone about this issue.  I have no where to turn.

    Bill,

    I will try and set something up with the Camaro so I

    can figure out how close I am. People kept moving the block of wood last year.

    I am sure you know, but the bench was not there last

    year, and the Camaro has been out two weeks. I didn’t hear once in those two

    weeks that I was parked too close.

    Tired

    of it? I am too.

    I am tired of walking as quietly as possible and being

    afraid that I’ll wake someone and never hear the end of it. Heck, even walking

    around during the day can get remarks, as if I walk loudly to upset you. I’ve

    walked like that for a long time, I have messed up legs, and it hurts less to

    walk like that.

    I am tired of backhanded comments about how lazy or

    stupid or weak I am. I didn’t wait to shovel because I was lazy, I just worked

    ALL night and figured “If it is done before mother gets home, good.”

    Or the time I shoveled more than half after coming home from work, I just

    wanted mom to be able to get to work. Not to get some comment how I am a lazy

    piece of crap.

    Now, while working 60 hours a week, I am sure I will mow too late once and

    never hear the end of what a lazy person I am.

    How

    many times have I done dishes, then realized there were still some at your

    chair, and said nothing? How many times have I had a terrible time trying to

    pull in/out because the truck is parked weirdly, and said nothing?

    How many times do I clean mounds of salt and pepper from the island or other

    counter tops?

    How many times do I trip over your shoes? Whether in the garage or back when

    they were in the kitchen?

    I started buying my own food so I wouldn’t hear complaining.

    I started doing dishes before YOU got home so I didn’t heart complaining.

    I don’t make proper meals at night so I won’t risk waking you up, but I still

    hear complaining…

    I don’t shower mornings before work, so I don’t wake anyone.

    I cut my hair off, just so I wouldn’t deal with rude comments anymore.

    I got a second job, because I was so lazy working 20-30 hours a week off season

    and 40+ on season…

    I show respect to you when you insult me by playing it

    off, I respect your rules… Just a whole lot of respect for someone who shows me

    none.

    So you are mad about how I park? It is justified, I

    should have considered how close I was. I am boiling over mad a lot of the

    time, but hopefully I can make my lazy, worthless, piece of crap existence more

    bearable and accommodating for the next year I live here.

    Sincerely,

    • Guest
      @SQLMOM - wow....I hope your boyfriend takes notice.  Your son sounds like a lovely young man and I feel genuinely upset for him.  Just keep the positives up for son as by the sound of it he needs it.  And I would definately tell your boyfriend to back off. Probably easierMore said than done.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @SQLMOM

      It’s a very difficult position to be in when you feel caught

      in between two people you love and care about.  I also understand wanting

      to address the conflict between your boyfriend and your son.  Since you

      are all adults, it could be useful to have a private conversation with your

      boyfriend to come to an agreement on what the expectations are for your son in

      the next year he will be living with you, and what you are both willing to let

      go.  Once you have agreed on what you want to enforce, it could be useful

      to sit down with your son, and create http://www.empoweringparents.com/parenting-living-adult-children.php which outlines what all of you can expect from one another

      while you are sharing this living space.  If you are having a hard time

      finding common ground between the three of you, it could be useful to include a

      neutral party, such as a counselor or mediator, to help you find a workable

      solution.  For assistance locating this type of service, try contacting

      the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  I

      recognize that this is a challenging time for you, and I wish you all the best

      as you continue to move forward.  Take care.

  • familyof5

    My husband and i have been married for almost a year. It is the second marriage for both of us. He has two children, a 14 year old daughter and a 5 year old son. I have a 6 year old daughter. We both divorced about four years ago so we were single about three years before re-marriage. My daughter has adjusted wonderfully to our blended family. She is fun-loving and full of personality and she adores my husband. His children, on the other hand, are both challenged in their own ways.

    The 5 year old follows my daughter CONSTANTLY. My husband says, well he is the little brother, it is his job to be annoying. But then my daughter gets in trouble for being bossy - telling him to leave her alone or go away. Double standard? The five year old starts kindergarten next fall and still cannot remember the sounds that the letters of the alphabet makes. I work with him on a daily basis. He looks at you like he doens't understand what you say half the time, I have to tell him things four and five times before he listens - he still sleeps with his mom when he is with her. She is in a relationship with another woman. The kids have NO IDEA. I try to give him kisses and love on him - he pushes me away - doesn't want it, but he kisses his dad's arm and leg, and says i love you daddy every night 10 times like his is two.

    • familyof5

      His daughter, for the first 6

      months we were married, insisted on sitting by him ALL the time, wanted him to

      pick her up on occassion, wanted to hold his hand when i was, threw crying

      hysterical fits 'you don't love me' - it was awful. anything we did

      with her dad, she despised and cried about. She called him Daddy, he had to

      tuck her in. She doesn't hang out with any friends from school, isn't very

      social, not very confident, etc. I talked with her a few months ago and kind of

      called her out on it telling her that she had no idea the hurt and pain she was

      causing her dad when she said 'you don't love me' - she finally admitted to

      doing it all for his attention. I told her that we talk about things like

      adults in this house. If she has a problem, she needs to write it down or come

      and discuss it. We don't throw fits. I had been telling my husband that i knew

      that's what it was but he would NEVER confront her - it was ridiculous so i did

      it myself. And now it

      is that she doesn't know what to ever say to me, so she is mute when she is

      around me - i feel like i walk on eggshells in my own house. Unless her dad is

      around, she is moping around, on her cell phone, doing nothing. And you can

      forget helping me with laundry, cleaning, washing dishes, lol - but if she

      finds something she wants from PINK Victoria Secret she finds a way to mention

      it to me.

      • familyof5

        I am madly

        in love with my husband but i am having a really hard time with his kids. This

        is so much harder than i ever thought it would be.

  • Passionately Silly

    I started living with my partner about 3 months ago after two years dating. I already have 2 sons. Every evening we sit down with coffee and briefly talk about what happened that day. He keeps his irritations towards the kids inside, I do all the parenting, and talk about this.

    We do absolutely not want him to be the step father coming home for dinner, correcting the boys and after dinner off they go to bed.

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