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Dealing with Children When you Have None of your Own

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 25 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Dealing With Children When You Have None Of Your Own

When you marry someone who has children, a ready-made family is part of the deal. Adjusting to the change from single and childless to married with children, however, can be a rather eye opening experience for those who are unfamiliar with the tasks involved with being a parent. Fortunately, with the help and support of one’s spouse and if needed, enrolment in child development classes, stepparents who are having their very first hands-on experiences dealing with children can fare very well.

Getting a Quick Lesson in Parenting

Most endeavours have an element of “learn-as-you-go,” and parenting is no different. New parents, even those who have dealt with children all of their lives, are often a bit overwhelmed as they embark on parenthood, fearing that they are not up to the task, so is should come as no surprise that childless adults who “inherit” children through marriage may feel a bit out of their element in the beginning. Much of the daily responsibilities associated with being a parent, though, require little more than caring, consistency, and common sense – and a healthy dollop of patience. Children are quite resilient and tend to adapt well to assorted styles of parenting, so there is little need to worry that the change in the household is apt to scar any of them for life.

Learning about the Developmental Stages of Children

While some new stepparents have a familiarity with children from their relationships with nieces and nephews, others find themselves in completely unfamiliar waters when they become stepparents. Having a basic understanding of child development can be an enormous help when trying to master appropriate parenting skills, so stepparents may want to consider taking classes to help them understand what is (and what is not) normal development – physically, emotionally, and socially for children the ages of their stepchildren.

Finding Common Ground with Stepchildren

Children and adults are really not all that much different from one another. Both need to feel loved and appreciated, and both bond better with people who take a genuine interest in them. While new stepparents, especially those without children of their own, may be reeling from the recent change in their lives, the stepchildren, too, have undergone a great deal of upheaval. Both may feel, on some level, that they are living with a stranger, and both likely hope to find ways to grow closer to the other. Stepparents can help facilitate this change by looking for ways to include their stepchildren in their existing lives. For some, that can mean introducing the children to their hobbies, while others may simply need to take a keen interest in the children’s existing activities.

Making Family Time Fun

One of the best things about children is their ability to have fun. Unlike many adults who have learned to take themselves and their lives all too seriously, kids have a natural tendency to relax and look for adventure. Families who play actively together not only contribute to their physical health, but form connections that are easy to maintain because spending time together is viewed as a pleasure, rather than an obligation. Stepparents who wish to bond well with their stepchildren should set fear aside and open up to the kids, encouraging them to do the same. Creating a home atmosphere that is accepting and light-hearted will go a long way toward making up for a bit of inexperience.

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@Whyme!79 - it's not just you. This sounds like the majority of parents with teenage children. Both my s/d and own son are now 15 and 14. It's like one evening I went to bed with two moderately normal children and the next day awoke to monsters. I could cheerfully throttle them both on occasion. But, I find I have more leverage with my son, as he's my son, than my s/d who just throws it back in my face that I'm not her mum. What do you do? That simple sentence puts us at a disadvantage immediately. On the plus-side, I also have a 19-year-old that I went through the same with - but he's now a lovely young man so he did come out the other side!
DrJ - 26-Sep-17 @ 9:57 AM
Hi i been married for 3years now going to 4 i have a stepdaughter thats 14 years old i have a problem with Her when she was younger she was great now when she at this age of 14 she thinks she can do what ever she wants! I am the stepdad i talk to her discipline her but with out punishment she still dont listen and she have a attitude towards me her mom look like she scared of her own daughter she let her do what she wants! She gets upset when i talk the turth! I need help! I need answers
Whyme!79 - 25-Sep-17 @ 3:54 AM
My boyfr has 4 kids. He has twin 18 year olds. One moved to Mommas out of state and the other one has been a handful. All this started 3 years ago with both twins but the one has calmed down. The one we have has been calm up until June 26th when she spent the weekend on vaca with her grandparents (boyfr's ex in laws). When she came back, she sat down, told my boyfr that she was 18, I will do what I want and see who I want (she was seeing a 16 year old at the time) and you will have to get over it. He took away her cell phone that he was paying for and the car he bought for her to use. The boyfr's family went and bought the daughter a phone on contract and hired her to work at their thrift store. The grandparents told her and the oldest child (a boy) that their father's (my boyfr) rules were wrong and pretty much didn't have to follow them since they turned 18. The daughter talks back to my boyfr, has lied multiple times about dating this kid. She has disrespected her father, goes around telling people that her father is wanting to kick her out, is lying and doesn't feed her (which all our furthest from the truth, unfortunately). She stays out at all hours, sometimes never coming home. Most times, we won't know she didn't come home until he checks her room the next morning. Last week-ish she was gone for 8 days until we saw her for the boyfr's birthday. Thursday before Irma, she was suppose to come home and stay with us. Instead ,she said that Saturday that she was staying with the now 17 year old boyfr because their house is safe. Then, comes to find out after the hurricane that she was with the g-parents instead who live in a trailer and goes to hotels during storms. She tells her father she is one place when in all actuality, she is somewhere else. Homecoming, she had her friend who she was suppose to be spending the night with , had her drop the daughter off at the 16 year old's house and had sex while the parents were home. They think it's great as long as they use protection. The daughter tells him that she will be home in 2 hours and 8 hours later, she still isn't home. She has questioned him when he talks to me about the problems he is having with her. She even told me to stay out of her life-I have obliged her. This continues to this day. We have blocked the grandparents from the youngest cell phone and the house phone and she is no longer allowed to be around them due to the fear of them brainwashing her. She , along with the grandparents and the boyfr/his family have already done so much damage to the house hold, it's pathetic.
NASAnut1013 - 22-Sep-17 @ 1:20 PM
I have been with the man of my dreams for a year and a half he has to children. 3 and 10 .both girls he has 50/50 custody his 3 year old loves me to death. But then. It come to the ten year old I can do nothing right cause when her father was get a divorce. From her mother he treated. Her like his best friend then I came in to the picture. And it stop and she hates me for it. Plus her mother tells her to disrespect me cause I will never be anything to her and my husband. Does nothing to fix it my heart is broken not sure what to do Camo
Camo - 27-Mar-17 @ 4:12 PM
@Princessd - ignore the mother. Is the child that is your concern and if you have a good relationship with her than you should try to build on it. It's sounds to me like the mum is jealous of your relationship with her and is trying to ruin it. You carry on - you're doing a great job <3 Mel.
Meme679 - 16-Mar-17 @ 1:53 PM
I've been dating my boyfriend for 3 years now he has a daughter from a previous marriage who is five now. We get along she is very sweet and I do have a hard time adjusting to her because her mom does not like me one bit. Me and her mother have never had a conversation in person that has gone past hi and bye. However she will send long text messages to my boyfriend telling him how horrible of a human being i am and how their daughter has told her she hates me and doesn't want to be around me. I do not believe any of that is true because when the baby girl is with us she is a sweet heart she is very attached to me and I love her. Do you have any advice on what to do or how I should react to her mothers comets? Right now I don't even acknowledge what she says about me because I feel likes she's just trying to hurt my feelings (which to be honest it does hurt my feelings to read such mean things about me)
Princessd - 16-Mar-17 @ 5:04 AM
I have a step daughter who has no respect. Not even for her mom we try to correct her and she does not change. She talks back to me her and i are always at each others throats and she is only 10. My girlfriends son is starting to be the same way. They get mad when they do not get their way I have honestly thought about leaving. This has been going on for almost 3 years now ever since me and my partner got together my step daughter has just not approved of me I'm guessing she thinks that i have taken away her mother and she is acting out.
allce - 7-Dec-16 @ 1:26 PM
I have been with my boyfriend for almost three years and lived together for two years. He was previously married to his high school sweetheart for 11yrs but before they were married he and I had dated during a brief breakup so we have history. His previous marriage ended after he found out his wife had been cheating for two years!! After about a year his divorce was finalized and we began seeing each other again. He has two girls 14 and 9 whom I didn't meet for about 6mo initially. I cannot have children so the scenario of getting my family in one way or another was a beautiful thought, but about a year into it the disrespect began to rear its ugly head. The girls run all over him using him as everything from their butler to chauffeur !! His 14 tried to put on the appearance as miss perfect but has been the most volatile and disrespectful for example I asked her to please go sleep in her own room and she screamed this wasn't my house and to go sleep in my own bed then pushed me down practically. The 9yr old acts like a two year old throwing herself in the floor stomping and crying over the smallest slight!! Anytime I've attempt to draw a line on what I will tolerate as far as being spoken to and treated he will not support me and always makes me look like an idiot for trying to establish borders in the first place.
Deanna - 22-Nov-16 @ 2:24 AM
First, thank you for writing this article. It can be hard to find information on being a step parent, yet having no children of my own. Let's just say that I am angry a lot. My husband and I have been together for about seven years but married only 1.5. He has two kids now 12 and 14. When we first started dating and I met the kids his e was great about letting me hang with them and do things with them. Fast forward four years and that story changes. It seems that they started having such a great time being able to hang out that she didn't like it. I wanted to have a child with my husband, but he does not want to have anymore children. We started discussing this four years into our relationship, but at the time we agreed that I would be a big part of their lives and get to share in the love and upbringing when they are with us. Suffice it to say that this could be no farther from the truth. I am no longer allowed to be with the girls on my own if their dad happens to be gone for the day when it is our weekend. IF the mother happens to find out (they have cell phones and call her), she will call me and give me some excuse as to why she needs to pick them up for a while. Now, you may ask why the girls would call their mom to tell them they are with me, that is a whole other story in itself (basically, the mom lets everyone know that she and the girls are best friends and they tell each other everything and there seems to be encouragement when they are able to let her know that they do not like being around me. So of course, they like to please their mother. It makes me sad for her and for them.) Fast forward to today and I have basically given up on trying to do fun things with them, I only participate in the things we do as a family, and sometimes I actually plan to be away when they are around. When I initially ask them if they want to attend this event or go shopping or help me with a project they are excited and want to. As soon as they go back to their mom, one hundred percent of the time their dad gets a text from the mom giving some reason why they have changed their minds. I have quit asking.I should add, we participate in EVERYTHING they do school related, sports related, church related, so I am around them more than one would think (as well as their mom). Now I have hit a wall. I feel robbed. I am tired of people telling me that I made a choice to marry him and now I just have to live with that choice. I based my choice on the wrong inputs (maybe naive, but we weren't like this then). I love him more than I thought was possible, and he is great to me and for me. I just do not want to end up being angry at him or his kids (especially the kids since they are being taught to hate me ). I know I am not the only woman in this world that has step children, wants to have a child and for whatever reason is not able to. It sure seems like it though. I have spoken to stepmoms that have their own children, and they think they can relate (not pos
Just Me - 5-Sep-16 @ 12:38 PM
@rob - it sounds like one of them has to try and apologise to the other. Family Lives should be valued as precious - I think I would sit down with your husband and daughter and have a good talk to them both. When people are living under the same roof they often take each other for granted. But what if something happened to either one, neither would forgive themselves. It's a shame you are stuck in the middle - after a year it must be very tough :(
Gem90 - 20-Jul-16 @ 2:42 PM
Husband will not speak to my daughter because of a argument they had over a year ago. I HAVE ASKED HIM TO PLEASE STOP THIS BUT HE REFUSES AND SAYS HE CANT GET OVER THE ARGUMENT.Because my daughter is grown but not able to move out the house he is claiming all I care about is her this is very uncomfortable I don't know what to do
rob - 20-Jul-16 @ 7:51 AM
Pinhead7 - Your Question:
Hi, I am a 48 nyear old man who married my wife 12 years ago. She has 2 lovely daughters who lived with their fiather but would stay with us at weekends. I love them both but have no real bond with them. As they are both in their 20s they have their own lives but we do see them occassionally and give them lifts and take them out. I would love to have had cjhildren but it wasn't to be. My wife has been registered as disabled for the last 3 years. We have 3 cats but that doesn't replace the love of a child. I appreciate the love that people have on social media for their children and grandchildren, including my wife but sometimes it gets you down knowing that that love you have is going amiss.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear you feel this way. But there are many people that would look at you and think you are surrounded by the love of a close family that that you have grown with. Unfortunately, as you know life is not perfect and we all have to make sacrifices and compromise along the way and we just have to run with what we have and continue to forge our bonds with the people we have in our lives. Social media is a great way of portraying life on the surface. Plus, you could also consideroffering a loving home to a child i.e through fostering etc. Also, if your step-children have children, often this is where the love you are so missing can come in.
BeingAStepParent - 14-Jun-16 @ 11:14 AM
Hi, I am a 48 nyear old man who married my wife 12 years ago. She has 2 lovely daughters who lived with their fiather but would stay with us at weekends. I love them both but have no real bond with them. As they are both in their 20s they have their own lives but we do see them occassionally and give them lifts and take them out. I would love to have had cjhildren but it wasn't to be. My wife has been registered as disabled for the last 3 years. We have 3 cats but that doesn't replace the love of a child. I appreciate the love that people have on social media for their children and grandchildren, including my wife but sometimes it gets you down knowing that that love you have is going amiss.
Pinhead7 - 13-Jun-16 @ 8:39 AM
What next- Your Question:
I have been dating my partner for over 2 years and lived with him and his 3 kids ranging from 14 to 22 for 10 months, the eldest have since moved out and started his own life working away, the two youngest 14 and 16 are still at home, anyway the most problematic is mr 14yr old we are having troubles with him at home and at school, when he's happy all's fine in the house everyone gets along but as soon as something doesn't go his way all hell breaks loose, my partner works ridiculous hrs gone from 10am and usually home at 10 pm so I'm the one who is here dealing with everything trying to care/discipline and guide the youngest two, I'm at my whits end with Mr 14yr old, I'm at the point of stop caring what he does, he goes out when he wants he has no respect for me or his father, he's even threatened with knives,fists and damaging cars, I feel like I'm whinging every day to my partner about him and his attitude etc, what should I do I'm contemplating looking for another place to live, but hope to keep my relationship going, is this a good idea?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this and especially as you are left at home to deal with these teenage issues. The pages: Dealing with Teenage Stepchildren, here and Dealing with Disrespectful Stepchildren, here may help you further. However, it is a difficult decision to make and if you feel the situation is beyond your control, then you have every right to decide whether you want to remain in this situation. In the first instance I would firstly and rationally tell your partner of your thoughts, specifying that while you still love and care for him you are unable to tolerate the situation any longer and also sit down with your step-son and ask him that due to his behaviour you will have to move out and if your leaving is what he wants? It seems you are the pivotal person in the house and your step-son may be pushing your boundaries. If you leave, then this will mean your partner will have to re-assess his position in order to make more time for his son and his son will have no one to care for him at home. Sometimes we can be taken for granted, and it sounds with your partner working the hours he does and expecting you to take on board his boys, then this could be happening here. However, you have to make the decision that is right and best for you. But, this decision may just give your partner and step-son the jolt they need.
BeingAStepParent - 8-Jun-16 @ 11:37 AM
I have been dating my partner for over 2 years and lived with him and his 3 kids ranging from 14 to 22 for 10 months, theeldest have since moved out and started his own life working away, the two youngest 14 and 16 are still at home, anyway the most problematic is mr 14yr old we are having troubles with him at home and at school,when he's happy all's fine in the house everyone gets along but as soon as something doesn't go his way all hell breaks loose, my partner works ridiculous hrs gone from 10am and usually home at 10 pm so I'm the one who is here dealing with everything trying to care/discipline and guide the youngest two, I'm at my whits end with Mr 14yr old, I'm at the point of stop caring what he does, he goes out when he wants he has no respect for me or his father, he's even threatened with knives,fists and damaging cars, I feel like I'm whinging every day to my partner about him and his attitude etc, what should I do I'm contemplating looking for another place to live, but hope to keep my relationship going, is this a good idea?
What next - 7-Jun-16 @ 1:20 PM
Sunshine - Your Question:
I married my soul mate 2 1/2 years ago. We have been together for almost 4 years total. I have thee children from a previous marriage. Their father is not in their lives at all. Problem is I have one 15 year old son left at home. My husband is very critical and screams at me because my son leaves his clothes in the dryer for a day. He calls my son lazy. Granted, my husband does have a point about the lazy part, but I think he is over re-acting. My husband has never had children. He says all I do is make excuses for my son. I think he is being petty and very critical of my son. He doesn't say anything to my son, he yells at me. I don't see what the big deal is. I told my son to quit leaving his clothes in the dryer. Maybe he got it, after four weeks. My husband is very angry and it is causing a lot of tension and fighting between my husband and myself. Help. I can not stay with him if I think he is being too mean and petty. My son has been through enough with his biological Father. My husband said to quit babying him and making excuses. My son is a good kid. Pick your battles. My husband said I am raising him to be lazy. Help me please!!!!!!

Our Response:
It is always difficult being the person in the middle as it means always having to be the diplomat between your husband and son. You may be interested in the article: Working Through your Problems with your Step Children here. The most important thing is to keep communicating. Discuss with your husband why you feel the need to support your son and discuss with your son why he needs to help, support and be respectful of your husband. It may also be wise to encourage your husband to build a relationship with your son, and that may encourage them to speak to each other. If all else fails put them in a room together and encourage the pair to thrash it out. While they are not communicating with each other, it is you who is being left to shoulder the diplomatic burden and that can be a heavy load.
BeingAStepParent - 6-Nov-15 @ 11:21 AM
I married my soul mate 2 1/2 years ago. We have been together for almost 4 years total. I have thee children from a previous marriage. Their father is not in their lives at all. Problem is I have one 15 year old son left at home. My husband is very critical and screams at me because my son leaves his clothes in the dryer for a day. He calls my son lazy. Granted, my husband does have a point about the lazy part, but I think he is over re-acting. My husband has never had children. He says all I do is make excuses for my son. I think he is being petty and very critical of my son. He doesn't say anything to my son, he yells at me. I don't see what the big deal is. I told my son to quit leaving his clothes in the dryer. Maybe he got it, after four weeks. My husband is very angry and it is causing a lot of tension and fighting between my husband and myself. Help. I can not stay with him if I think he is being too mean and petty. My son has been through enough with his biological Father. My husband said to quit babying him and making excuses.My son is a good kid. Pick your battles. My husband said I am raising him to be lazy. Help me please!!!!!!
Sunshine - 5-Nov-15 @ 6:54 AM
I'm 41, childless by choice, kids are ok but never been broody. My fella has a 10yr old daughter who stays at ours every other weekend. She likes me, there's no real aggro but I find it all so wearing. Her Dad has an incredibly laid back approach, let's her eat junk and stay up late cos he doesn't want to be nagging her on the couple of days he has her, but he also isn't very interactive with her, he'll do his own thing and leave her watching DVDs or playing on her phone etc. So she gets bored and starts wanting me to play board games or read to her or just gets under my feet if I'm busy with something. Sometimes it's fine, I feel like playing a board game or whatever, but a lot of the time it gets on my nerves because I work full time so my weekends are precious and as I chose not to have kids I feel I should be able to choose to opt out when I want to, whereas he is a parent so it's his job to entertain her etc - isn't it? I've told him how I feel but nothing changes. I've taken to having long baths or going out on my own but then I still don't feel I'm really spending my precious time how I want. She's a nice enough kid but she isn't my responsibility. I don't want to sit in a different room or have her think I don't like her, how do I get a balance where I can join in when I want to, thereby joining in a fun way rather than feeling I have to do stuff with her and doing it grudgingly? I probably sound selfish but I don't want to be a substitute mum, just dad's girlfriend and her friend. Any ideas to stop me losing it when she's doing my head in?!!
Ica - 18-Aug-14 @ 10:41 PM
This is the first time I have ever shared such private feelings to strangers but I need to try to understand my feelings that I may have sometimes ( less now than 4 years ago ) I have been married for 3 1/2 years, together for 6yrs to a loving wonderful, my soulmate man. We have 2 kids from his previous relationship. We both felt it was right to not have our own children, more me than him but If I ever feel that it is something that I am missing ( which being 34, him 42 we would adopt or foster ), I knew at 25 that it was not my life path) I do love his ( our ) kids in my own way and I know they can feel and see it in almost everything we do. They live a few hours away with thier mom. My husband drives every other weekend to pick them up .He is one of the good ones that never gets recognition. I love him even more because of his dedication and never complain about the support payments we pay ( $800 / month not including extraciricular ) but is it wrong for me to say that I will never feel the extent of love that he feels for his creation? Don't get me wrong, I have as have they had a huge impact and awakening on what it takes and means to love unconditionaly. We have our challenges with more to come in the future, Zak is 10 and Ceilee is 8 . I have a very special bond with Ceilee and have a base foundation with Zak which we both work at. Being we only have them every other weekend it is difficult and frustrating to instill structure and responsibilities ( which is not much in my view) when there life at moms is completly opposite.I could ramble on and on but just really want to know if I am a normal human for having a different love for them. Am i wrong?
spike - 9-Jul-11 @ 10:08 AM
I have two lovely step children who I have a great relationship with - I have been with their Dad for 8yrs (married for 2) we would love a child together but due to my husband's vasectomy we are not entitled to NHS treatment, this is heart breaking as we do not have the money available to have private treatment, we both work full time and have no spare money to put away.I have written to our MP and the health minister but Ive been told no we are not entitled - I feel im being discriminated against because of a decision that was made when my husband was married - his ex wife went off with someone else and has since had another child. - where is the fairness in that. If any one has any advice on how I can get some help I would greatly appreciate it
MrsJ - 3-Apr-11 @ 7:45 PM
I've never had children of my own, (although I work with them!) but I'm now engaged to a wonderful man who has 2 teenage sons aged 17 and 20. One of them has aspergers syndrom. I am finding it really hard to adapt to family life, even though the boys are only with us 1 night a fortnight. The boys are so quiet and teenagery! I find myself getting wound up over the most trivial things. I would love to be able to just chill out and go with the flow. Any suggestions?
lou lou - 21-Mar-11 @ 12:31 PM
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