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Frustrated stepmothers say: “My stepchildren don’t respect me. They turn their back on me, they’re rude, and they don’t even say ‘Hey’. They head directly towards perfect precious Daddy with loves, hugs and stories.”

“It’s not fair because we’re the ones who do all the work! As stepmothers, we often feel like slaves with little gratitude offered our way.”

Stepchildrens’ side of the story: The truth is your stepchildren don’t know you, trust you, or feel about you the way they do their Daddies. They’re not disrespecting you; they’re just NOT INCLUDING you.

How to minimize the gap between stepmoms and stepkids:

  • Understand you’re not their biological parent. You don’t have the bond or the shared history with them that “Daddy” has. Your relationship with them needs to grow. And it will if you want it to.
  • As any good husband, Dad should include you and treat you with love and respect in front of his kids. By his behaviors, the kids will get it that you’re here to stay as his wife and their step mom.
  • Be patient. It’s not about you. Let go of your negative reactions and insecurities, which slow down building positive relationships with stepchildren.
  • Get your support and warm fuzzies from your husband, your family, and friends. And when you least expect it, something good will come your way from a stepchild – a birthday card, a hug, a story for you specifically, a movie with a snuggle on the couch, a good report card… Who knows? When it happens, enjoy it because there’s more to come.

Understand that your stepchildren may not disrespect you, they may have just not brought you into their loop yet.

What are you doing to gently get into their loop?

Susan Wisdom LPC
December 2007

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  1. Debbie says:


    i am getting ready to read stepcoupling and am currently reading stepmonster because I am at my wits end.

    my stepdaughters just started thinking that I am invisible. they will walk right by and not say a word, then in to the next room to greet their dad.
    its blatant and obvious. what i am truly concerned about is whether this is being modeled to my bio son; and will he think its ok to not greet people that live under the same roof?


  2. Susan Wisdom says:

    Sounds pretty typical in the early stages of stepfamilies. Hopefully it would never occur to your bio son to ignore you that like. It’s a different relationship. But over time this usually smooths out…hopefully. Patience and gentle getting to know your stepkids usually makes it happen.

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