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Working Through your Problems with your Step Children

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 20 May 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Children Parents Stepparents Problems

All families have problems at times, but those who make the effort to work out their differences stand a much better chance of finding happiness than those who choose to ignore awkward situations in hope that things will improve on their own. Children can be difficult to deal with at times and may go out of their way to make trouble for their stepparents, but with the help and support of their spouse, most stepparents find that they can develop close and loving relationships with the very children who at first, may feel like unwelcoming strangers.

Getting to Know your Stepchildren

Children are not likely to open up to someone simply because that person is married to one of their parents. Relationships take time to develop and once the children understand that their stepparent wishes only to befriend them, they are likely to loosen up and be cooperative to the idea of acceptance.

Stepparents can improve their relationships with their stepchildren by initiating conversations that are non-confrontational and offer little reason for disagreement. Talk about the kids’ interests, such as sports, music, and pop culture is unlikely to cause upset and can provide an inroad to deeper conversations once a relationship has been established.

Seeking the Support of your Spouse

Typically, children will behave in the manner that they know is expected of them, so when children’s natural parent and stepparent present the kids with a set of rules by which they are expected to behave, they most likely will. It is important that the kids understand that both of the adults in the household are in agreement about the rules and the consequences that will come if the rules are disregarded, so that the family can avoid a situation where the children play one parent against the other.

Ideally, the children’s non-residential parent is supportive of their ex’s new partner, too, providing the children with a consistent set of guidelines that they are to follow, no matter which household they are at. This level of family cooperation isn’t always possible, however, but it can make life easier for all of the parents and in the end, for the children, as well.

Handling Disrespect and Refusal to Acknowledge Authority

Some children, especially older kids and teens, may be prone to letting their mouths get them into trouble, but there is no reason for stepparents to accept rude or disrespectful behaviour as the norm. Kids should be allowed and encouraged to be open about their feelings and to express their discontent, but they should not be allowed to do so in a manner that is hurtful to others.

Stepparents, especially those that reside in the home where the children spend the majority of their time, need to be recognised as authority figures and as such, must be afforded the ability to discipline unruly children. In life, actions have consequences and children need to learn young to associate their behaviours with the results that they get. Most kids learn pretty quickly to behave in ways that elicit positive reactions from those around them, so if parents and stepparents are consistent in their expectations, the kids will probably adjust as necessary.

Choosing your Battles

Parents often worry excessively about their kids, causing problems between them and their children that are barely worthy of attention. Smart parents and stepparents learn to choose their battles wisely, focusing their attention on important issues while allowing the kids a little leeway on less urgent matters.

Behaviour, academic responsibility, and safety issues are all worth fighting over if need be, but issues about the kids’ sense of style or taste in music are usually not battle-worthy. Every generation seems to look at their children and wonder what they are thinking when they choose clothes, hairstyles, and music, so parents and stepparents can take some comfort from knowing that in a few decades, their children will be grown, looking at their own kids, and shaking their heads in disbelief.

Talking about Family Problems

Sometimes, one family member may be feeling hurt or angry, but the others are unaware of their unhappiness. Some family problems remain unsettled for years because no one speaks up, but by doing this, family members deny themselves the chance to develop and maintain close, loving bonds with those nearest to them.

Encouraging kids to be open about their feelings is a good idea, and parents should set the example by offering their children and stepchildren an honest look at them and their needs. When kids see their parents and stepparents directly addressing problems and looking for solutions that benefit the family as a whole, they not only gain respect for their parents, but also valuable insight about the importance of dealing with problems as they crop up rather than letting them fester and cause additional discord.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Jay- Your Question:
I've been with my partner and step child for 2 and half years, and the problem I feel is that I don't fit in and that my partner is always making my step daughters action right and never sticks with a punishment?And I find it hard to bond with my step daughter as I feel that she is trying to push me out and trying to cause a rift between me and my partner?Also I feel that past issues have damaged the way things are with all three of us which is majority my fault but it now seems like I can't change it or make it better and I get kept as the outsider

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this and you are not alone, while some people have a natural bond with their step-children others don't. Obviously, trying to cross the barriers that separate you are important, as is trying to get to know your step-daughter as a person in her own right and not as an extension of her mother will help please see link here. You can only bridge the divide if you try to develop your relationship with the child. It can sometimes take years. But if you see some of the problems as being your fault, then it may be you that needs to change.
BeingAStepParent - 20-May-16 @ 2:47 PM
I've been with my partner and step child for 2 and half years, and the problem I feel is that I don't fit in and that my partner is always making my step daughters action right and never sticks with a punishment? And I find it hard to bond with my step daughter as I feel that she is trying to push me out and trying to cause a rift between me and my partner? Also I feel that past issues have damaged the way things are with all three of us which is majority my fault but it now seems like I can't change it or make it better and I get kept as the outsider
Jay - 20-May-16 @ 10:47 AM
I've been in my step daughter and son's lives going on four years now. At first they didn't like me when they found out I was dating their mother, after a while they warmed up to me a little and started calling me "D.C."(Daddy Cowboy) cause my friends called me "Cowboy". My problem is, my daughter still sees me as just the guy sleeping with her mother. What can I do to get her to start seeing me as her dad. By the way my son is 10 and my daughter is 12.
Wanting to be a Dad - 9-Jan-16 @ 4:33 AM
ayzie - Your Question:
I'm struggling to fit in, I feel I want to quit

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Fitting in with a new family takes time and effort. As specified in the article, children can be difficult to deal with at times and may go out of their way to make trouble for their stepparents, but with the help and support of their spouse, most stepparents find that they can develop close and loving relationships with the very children who at first, may feel like unwelcoming strangers. If you can, stick with it, hopefully the situation will improve the longer you are in it and part of it.
BeingAStepParent - 19-Oct-15 @ 12:12 PM
I'm struggling to fit in, I feel I want to quit
ayzie - 18-Oct-15 @ 6:26 PM
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