Stepfamilies or blended families have become increasingly common as the world has evolved. For instance, statistics show that 62 percent of couples in the United States under 55 have at least one step kin. That’s a lot of step kids, and traditionally, it can be a pretty volatile relationship.
Stories abound of stepmothers who are unable to form bonds with their step-children, no matter how hard they try. There are many reasons for this and some of the most common being their loyalty to their biological parents, and possessiveness. Therefore, for some stepkids, liking you could be seen as a sort of betrayal to their mother.
In some other cases, if the stepchildren are really close to their single father, the presence of another woman in their family may be seen as a threat. So how do you thrice in a blended family? How do you get your stepchild to love and respect you, especially when they’re already giving you an attitude?
This article includes a few tips on how to deal with a stepchild that doesn’t like you, it should be noted that none of these steps is a sure thing as some kids will hate you no matter what you do, and it might be something you’ll just need to live with. With that said, read on to discover a few things you can do about the situation.
'I can’t do anything right', 'they reject me no matter what'. These are some of the common complaints of stepmoms around the world. In most cases, they aren’t whining. Many stepparents try their best to bond with the children they meet when they join a new family; unfortunately, it doesn’t always go well.
The mistake step-parents make is assuming it’s about them. It’s not. If you feel your step-child hates you, you need to understand that divorce is really painful for the children, and they suffer more than both parents. In most cases, the kids feel abandoned, and sometimes their rebellion is a way of lashing out in a very unfair situation.
So, while it might feel like the most terrible thing in the world to be hated by your step-child, it’s not about you… really.
Biological or not, every child has needs. These are varied and include emotional, physical, and psychological needs. If you step into a relationship with a person that has a child and decide to make it permanent, it means you are also entering into an agreement with the child. Therefore, you have to strive to fulfill the role you would as a mother (with a few caveats).
So, take them to school, help fix dinner, and listen if they want to talk. A step parent-child relationship is a slow one, and it takes baby steps before getting to a point where it can run smoothly. Hence, you might get rejected a few times, and your stepchild might think you’re trying to bribe them into liking you, but with time, they’ll realize that your actions are without ulterior motives.
Empathy is a tool you’ll require if you are to get any child to like you. It’s an emotion that children respond to and it shows you’re trying to understand them. Understand that the break-up of your partner’s marriage is tough for them, and due to that, they can prove to be a little difficult at first.
To foster a relationship with them, one of the most important things is to make them feel heard, understood, and loved regardless. This could mean you’ll need to be a little more understanding when dealing with indiscretions. Also, be there when they have problems and provide a listening ear when possible, this will be appreciated and could lead to an important breakthrough with the kids.
If your step-children have a mom that is still alive, she is likely to keep in touch with the kids. So, interactions between the kids and their dad are going to be high. It might make you uncomfortable, but you need to manage such feelings as well as you can. Showing respect to your step kid’s mother (even if the same courtesy isn’t being extended to you) is important.
This doesn’t mean you should be a pushover, that doesn’t help anyone. Instead, be courteous, even if the two of you aren’t friendly. As mentioned before, this could be difficult, especially if their mom is mean to you and poisons their mind against you, but kids are smarter than we give them credit for.
If they experience love and warmth from you all the time, it will only get harder and harder to believe the untruths their biological mom might be feeding them.
Children need a healthy home, a family they can call their own, it’s one thing they need to thrive mentally, emotionally, and even physically. While the responsibility of fostering close family ties doesn’t fall squarely on your shoulders, you do play a significant role in its success.
Therefore, introducing game night with board games in the living room, or insisting on having dinner together are a few of the hallmarks of creating a healthy home. It could also improve the relationship you have with the children.
This also concerns the area of discipline, which is necessary if the child is to respect you. The mistake some parents make is to try to enforce house rules as a means of displaying strength. This could backfire, and you’ll end up alienating the child instead.
A blended family usually has more complicated dynamics, so family therapy should never be scratched out or seen as a sign of weakness. It’s a means of seeking help from professionals who will have good advice to offer. However, due to the nature of family therapy, it shouldn’t be the first thing you do when you meet the child and should be more of a last resort.
A licensed professional can help families sort through their issues to improve relations later on. So, if you feel you have done all you can to get through and still experience friction with the child, then therapy might be the best option.
As mentioned before, children are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, so if you are dishonest, they’ll know. Therefore, strive to be as honest as possible with the child. This means even if you struggle to love the child, it will serve you better to be honest about it, hold conversations, and see how the both of you can work towards appreciating each other more.
Honesty also ensures that the child trusts that you will never lie to them even if the answer is something that could be hard to accept. This is especially useful if they have a ‘yes dad’ who doesn’t tell the truth, you can become their go-to person for an honest opinion. Try it, the kids will appreciate it, and you’ll feel a lot better too.
One of the things a step-parent should never do is to try and take the child’s parent's place. So, if they share a close relationship with their mom, don’t try to be like her, or step into her place. This is because the kids will see this, and it will probably backfire. Also, it might require a lot of pretending, which will not help your cause at all.
Instead, be empathetic, helpful, loving, and caring while respecting the role you play in their lives and not overextending it. By respecting your boundaries, you encourage the children to accept you wholeheartedly and find a place in their hearts to place you.
As mentioned above, making the family work doesn’t rest squarely on your shoulders, and your spouse also needs to pitch in. This is partly because dealing with you all the time without any input from their dad would probably end badly. So, your spouse should also encourage your stepchild to cut you some slack and foster a relationship.
No matter what, you’re now one big blended family, both you and the stepchild need to find ways to live peaceably. Most often than not, it’s their dad’s place to have this discussion, so there’s a healthier atmosphere at home when you and his kids are in the same room. Every family has it’s issues, and both parents have to work together to make things right.
So ensure that the kids spend a lot of time with their dad and that he puts in a good word for you as often as possible.
There are a lot of reasons for disliking your step-child. It might be their body language, how they treat their parents, or their reluctance to accept responsibility. You may not like your step-child, it doesn’t make you a bad person. As mentioned, they might be difficult to deal with, and it is only natural that you wouldn’t like someone like that.
There are a couple of things you should never do as a step-parent:
Don’t try to be overly strict
Don’t try to replace their parent
Never disrespect their other parent
Don’t expect that everything will be rosy once you do a few things
Don’t call them names
Blended families are quite common nowadays, and dealing with a bad step-dad can be tricky. This is especially true if your mom is smitten with him and won’t believe a word you say. First, keeping a diary could be really helpful. Also, you can talk to a trusted adult about your problems.
It’s okay, what wouldn’t be okay is if you never try. So, if you’ve tried everything you can to bond with your step-child and you still don’t get along, that’s okay as long as there is mutual respect in the family.
Yes, it’s actually pretty common. Just because you love your husband doesn’t mean you love his friends, the same is true with his children. Although it should be noted that getting along with your step-kids is infinitely more convenient.
I hope you enjoyed the list. Understand that if your step-child hates you, it might be coming from a place of pain, rather than malice. If you have any questions or more points, please leave a comment. Also, if you liked the article, give it a like and share it with others.