It’s a bit hard for some step parents to admit when they’ve had a bad experience in step parenting. People want to focus on the positive aspects of being a step parent that often, when bad things happen, it makes the step parent feel like a complete failure. How can so many step parents out there have good experiences with their step children while others feel like they’ve been married into a family with evil children?
When you’re at your wit’s end in step parenting
But it happens more often than not. Step children who are not well adjusted to their parent’s divorce or don’t like the change that your marriage represents may act out in ways that make it seem like they are trying to break you and your spouse up (and it’s not surprising that sometimes they may actually be trying to break you up).
Step children do this in different ways. In my case, my step children would steal from me, would deliberately take advantage of anything nice I did, and many many other things that would make your jaw drop.
While it’s easy to blame the kids for their outrageous behavior, in many cases, it isn’t the kids who need to be confronted.
The child’s fault or the spouse’s fault?
There are some people out there who will say that a child is never at fault for anything but I disagree. When you have a child who knows the difference between right and wrong but chooses to do the wrong thing anyway, part of the fault does lie with the child. How your spouse handle’s the discipline, however, is the telling part of whether you have a step parenting problem or a relationship problem.
If you answer yes to 1 or more of the following questions, then you have a relationship problem.
-Does your spouse basically ignore your concerns regarding the behavior of his/her child?
-Does your spouse fail to discuss a plan of action in how to deal with his/her child?
-Does your spouse treat you almost like a child yourself, as if you’re tattling on the child instead of addressing concerns?
-Does your spouse often believe his/her child instead of you when they lie about something you’ve brought to his/her attention?
If you’ve answered yes…
Stop confronting the child about their behavior. No matter how often you address these concerns with the child and/or how agreeable they are at the time, as long as your spouse fails to back you up or fails to deal with the problems appropriately, that child will not absorb what you say. It is up to their parent to take care of those problems, not you.
Put due blame where it belongs; with your spouse. If they fail to understand what you are going through, suggest counseling for all of you.
Remember that problems with your step child have less to do with the child and more to do with your relationship to your spouse.
If a solution isn’t found to the problems, if your spouse fails to discipline appropriately or continues to undermine you by not taking you seriously regarding your concerns, know that the situation does not gradually get better. If you can’t get counseling or help, either you’ll have to live with the frustration or reconsider your position in the relationship.
More by this contributor:
What do you think about calling your step children “bonus” children?
The origin of the word “step” in blended families and how it relates to your family