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How Not to Hate Your Stepkids

By July 24, 2016 75 Comments

Being a parent is hard. Personally, it’s one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. But I think being a stepparent is even harder. Research shows that relationship challenges with stepchildren is one of the top two hardest and most common challenges for stepmoms. The dynamics of relationships with our stepkids are so complex and multilayered.

 We automatically think that if we like kids in general, then having stepkids should be easy peasy lemon squeezy! BUT IT ISN’T!! Our relationship success is not a guarantee and it isn’t easy because the layers. I’ve heard many women talk about how hard it is to make a positive connection with their stepkids.

Attachment is second nature for most birth mothers. Its roots take hold before a child is born. That bond and attachment make it easier to forgive and forget the behaviours that children throw at you when you are at your wits end. It’s something that John Gottman calls the emotional bank account. As a bio parent, the emotional overdraft protection is pretty much a given. However, what about creating a connection to a child you haven’t given birth to? Stepparents have no automatic overdraft protection. The wits end maybe the end of our rope.

If we are able to make a connection with our stepkids it can be positive and rewarding and it can fill our maternal cup. But if the opposite is our experience, it can wreak havoc in our heads, our hearts, on our health and in our home!

I’ve spoken with women being sent to the sidelines and the fringes of the already established or premade family. Women have shared with me experiences of alienation and out right rejection by their skids in their own homes. Women’s self esteem and more importantly their self worth goes into a nose dive. Losing all sense of themselves, repeated failed attempts at being a caring authority figure or caring mother figure, are often the by products. They react by withdrawing emotionally and set up protective barriers around their hearts.

Then sometimes thoughts of “I hate my stepkid” or “I resent my stepkid” or “if that child were mine they would NEVER get away with that” start to ooze out of very desperate places. And then almost immediately panic, shame, and self judgement overwhelm them at the admission “I can’t hate my stepkids. I shouldn’t hate my stepkids…I am better than this. This isn’t me. Only cold,  heartless people hate children. AND I am definitely not one of those”. It goes against the very grain of what we believe women are supposed to be and who we are- nurturers and care takers. However, we get stuck on an emotional field of landmines. You are told- and you believe- that you are supposed to love them like your own.


But what if you don’t love them like your own? What if you don’t even like them? What if their presence is barely tolerable? They drive you crazy. They are lazy, selfish, disrespectful. They are ruining your relationship with your spouse because of their behaviours.  

Here’s one thing  I know – that what you are feeling is common. It does happen -women do detest their stepkids. But know two things: DON’T tell your spouse you hate their child and DON’T tell the child you hate them. Doing that and saying that will cause irreparable damage with both your spouse and your stepchild.

Is it ok to have these feeling? It’s always ok to have any feelings as they are there for a reason -to give you information. There is more going on. Much more. So get it off your chest..confidentially. Then process those emotions. Once they are released then they won’t get buried and come out when you least expect them and when you least want them to. Denying they exist will cause MORE problems.  Shame and self blame increase resentment. So stop, take a pause, and figure out, is it the child you hate or their behaviours? Likely it’s the behaviours. So you don’t really hate them but what it is that they are doing or not doing, and how that behaviour impacts your home.

Now,  let’s look at those behaviors that you detest so much. If you understand what’s underneath those annoying  behaviours I guarantee you’ll find compassion. If not for them then for yourself knowing not to take it personally. Here are some things that might help shift that perspective and help you separate the deed from the doer.

First, your stepkids have been influenced from birth by other people who’s values, morals, and opinions of how children should be raised may look very different from yours! Most parents raise their children in much the same way as how they were raised. If your parents were physical disciplinarians likely you will be too. Most people don’t consciously think about how they will parent their children. “It’s how I was raised and I turned out ok”. For first time families , this can take some negotiation if parenting styles are different. It’s compromise and conversation. But for stepmoms, those rules of engagement for handling minor infractions to major let downs were created by other people for personal reasons. Then these rules of engagement are often not shared or negotiated  with the stepmom because they are “just the way things are done because they’ve always been done that way”. It feels like you have no say. And when it’s time to renegotiate the stepmom is not likely part of the negotiations. And it’s likely “worked” for them so why change that?  

But they may not necessarily work for you. Because in the earlier stages of your new family you haven’t yet earned that right. It takes time to earn the right to discipline a child. Both from the parent’s perspective (sometimes especially the bio mom) AND the child. Keep in mind the previous parenting couple had their own family dynamics and parenting strategies-  or none at all- long before you came into the picture. Perhaps,  there was some unhealthy ones. So those really loathsome behaviours like whining, temper tantrums, back talk, and laziness are the result of kids achieving a goal as a result of their behaviour. And because those behaviours got them what they wanted they were positively reinforced. So, they keep doing them and often their parents continue to respond to the behaviours in the same way.
They seek attention by whining or some other annoying behaviour. They attempt to gain control and assert their power when they tell you either directly or indirectly that they don’t have to listen to you because you’re not their mom. They seek revenge when they make it clear when they say “ my mom does this better” and they display inadequacy when they say they aren’t capable of cleaning up after themselves. These are the Goals of Misbehaviour by Rudolf Dreikurs. (Check them out for more details).


Then you add on after the divorce or separation,  the skids are being raised separately by newly single parents. There are no consistencies and routines and structure. It may be pure survival mode for both their bio mom and your spouse following that separation. And then there’s Daddy Guilt. Another blog I’ve posted about (http://www.aliwilks.com/supporting-our-man/it-really-isnt-about-you/).  Disney Dad appears and it’s hard to put him away because Daddy gets some pleasure (or guilt relief) from indulging. Again he may believe if it’s not broke don’t fix it!


I’ve also posted about your stepkids experiencing grief and loss because of the divorce or separation of their parents. Experiencing loss and how they process grief can impact their behaviours significantly as well. Check out that blog for further details (http://www.aliwilks.com/parenting-preservation/grief-and-loss-in-his-kids/).


And another piece of the behaviour puzzle, loyalty binds. Loyalty binds are horrible situations where your skids are locked (either overtly or passively) in a battle between liking you and then betraying their mother in the process. This betrayal is a seed planted by their mom. So they are then put in a no win situation (for you AND the child) where mom makes them decide “her or me”. It may go so far as reporting back to their mom everything you do or say and in particular every mistake you make. You feel like your being spied on and cant feel safe in your own home. It’s best to set clear boundaries and expectations for your kid. Remember: your house your rules,


These are just a few clues as to the underlying unmet needs that are likely contributing to those behaviours you detest in your steokids. The truth is that kids are a product of their genes and their environment. Stepmoms have no influence on the first point and may have very little influence on the second. And until you have earned that position of authority over time and dad has given you the authority to parent his children, all a stepmom can do is take a step back to manage her health and wellbeing. If that is all you can do, do it well. Once you are well rested and your emotional tank is fuller, the behaviour is easier to tolerate and the fire of anger you were stoking can be put out. This way, it’s much easier to separate the deeds from the doer.

I hope this helps you soften the anger. Watch out for my coaching group to address these challenges today!

Join the discussion 75 Comments

  • Abigail Bitz says:

    Please help! I really need help right now. I loathe my skids and I can’t even be civil around them, like I don’t even try to hide how much I dislike them. I am almost no contact with them even at home because of how much toxic behaviour they being into my life.

    • Ali Wilks says:

      Hi Abigail
      I sent you an email to follow up
      Ali

      • Natalie says:

        Thank you so much for your insights! I have always considered myself to be a really good mom and a loving person overall, but the resentment I feel as a stepmom makes me feel like a monster. It’s been 5 years and I don’t think I’ll ever connect with my stepson. What’s worse is that my husband and I have a 15 month old daughter together and my stepson completely ignores her. I mean he doesn’t even look at her unless told to. I makes me so angry! But, I’m taking the advice of my family and friends and am trying to let it go and let him be himself. It’s helped, but I just can’t see living this way for the next 8 years. I will lose it.

        • Ali Wilks says:

          I wrote this article because I knew sooo many stepmoms who felt this way! I did not realize it would resonate with as many stepmoms as it has. Trust me- you are NOT a monster for feeling the way you do!!! The resentment is real..be gentle and be kind and forgiving of yourself. IT will help you move through the feelings. And know that you are NOT ALONE in these feelings. This post is the one that has gotten the most feedback on. Please let me know if I can help you through these feelings. That’s what I am here for ~ Ali

          • Joangela says:

            I would be interested in a Facebook group if there is one started. Or anyway to connect to others in the same position.

          • Ali Wilks says:

            I am working on a coaching group and the idea is to have peer connections with that 🙂 . Let me know if you are interested ny emailing me

        • Ashley K says:

          Natalie, I have a 15 month old, too. It’s really hard after a baby! It’s so hard to be nice when you just want to bond with your baby (and connection comes so easy here). I find I avoid my step kids by absorbing myself in my daughter and it seems like this makes my step sons behavior even worse, which makes me want to avoid him even more. I’d be happy to connect with you or anyone over this constant struggle. It’s so lonely to feel this towards a child. It can be devastating to my self worth bc I feel like a shut person so many days out of the week.. thank you for this post, it’s super helpful.

          • Ali Wilks says:

            I’ve been working with a few stepmoms who are in this position, they have 50/50 and feel realieved when the kids are gone. However, it takes them a day or two after they leave to de-compress and then they have anxiety in anticipating their next arrival. So really, only three of four days every two weeks where they feel happy or relaxed..not much isnt it? So how can you get more life , more happiness the rest of the time? One stepmom said she would actually like to be happy that her kids were coming. You ahve a great idea Nathalie….connecting with others who posted here! maybe that’s an idea for a private group over on Facebook??? Let me know

      • Nicole says:

        I feel the exact same way…after 4 years together, I find it impossible to be in the same room with my skid. It makes me feel guilty but it’s the only way I can remain sane when he is with us (50% of the time). It’s starting to take a toll on our relationship. His dad was the Disney Dad when we first got together but had tried to adopt some of my parenting methods (such as taking away video game or phone privileges as punishment). Skid couldn’t get through 3 hours without balling and wanting to go to his moms (so he could resume playing video games). His mother babies him so much and gives in to his every wish. My hubby is afraid that his young teen will not want to come over anymore if we continue to try and correct his disrespectful behavior. I’m fearful of that too for my hubby’s sake (not mine). At the same time I can not tolerate his presence any longer.

        • Ali Wilks says:

          If you have read any of the comments you know you aren’t alone. The Disney Dad is SOOOO hard to witness and also, feel the spill over which effects you too. Resentment for our stepkids is so hard to wrap our heads and hearts around.

      • Carolina Recasens says:

        Hi Aly,
        I would love to talk to you so I can vent.
        I feel lonely even though my husband is with me, his kids are always interrupting our time. And I keep bringing this situation up to him and all I get is him trying to divert the situation acting like it’s a normal thing.
        And I’m exhausted of this.
        Sometimes I feel the girls drain so much his attention to the point it looks like they are the ones dating him, not me.

        • Ali Wilks says:

          Exhaustion is a tough place to be in because it can soemtimes feel like there is no hope or our efforts aren’t worth it. Let’s talk. I will send you an email. Keep an eye out for it from stepcouling.com

    • K. C. says:

      Timing is so weird that you commented just a few days ago on an article a few years old, and here I am. I’m in the same tough spot and have no clue where to begin. I adore my husband. He and I have an incredible life together. But his kids aggravate him too…they outright lie to their mother about what happens at our house, and she coddles them and believes every word. We’re having a baby in March and we’re so excited, but when his kids are over it’s no fun for any of us. To the point I just leave now. He’s stuck in the middle and I feel terrible for him, but his kids are ill-mannered, entitled, spoiled, and privileged. He and I agree almost completely on parenting styles… But it’s near impossible for him to enforce the rules at our house because the way they are permitted to behave and are treated elsewhere. I’m at a loss. Anywhere you could point me would be helpful.

    • Ana says:

      Thank you so much for writing this! It helps knowing I’m not alone. I have been dealing with this for 4 years now. I have 2 skids and the girl had to go through a lot seeing her parents married which was so dysfunctional. Her attitude is completely opposite from her younger brothers, I bond with her and genuinely love her but I can not stand the boy. He is incredibly manipulative, lazy and disrespectful. To make matters worse I have 2 beautiful baby girls with my husband who I am head over heels in love with. We tend to agree on a lot when it comes to our girls but with my skids it’s disney dad all the way. I don’t understand it because he can be tough on the girl who has been through more with him but the little boy didn’t really get to experience even half of the bad stuff the girl did and he will not hold him accountable, which causes so many fights with him. I do not trust my skid to be left alone with my bio daughter because there is always some “accident “ where she ends up hurt or in trouble with dad because he sets her up even though she is only 2 . The guilt trip he actively uses on my husband , the manipulative way he acts like a baby and all sweet around his dad then is a brat and talks back to me when his father is gone and the way he sets up my bio daughter and my sdaughter make me hate him. I’m to the point where I count down the days he has to go back to his mother, who doesn’t help the situation by laying on guilt trips on the Skids for calling me mom and babying the crap out of the boy and treating the girl really bad. I don’t understand it at all but I dread the day she gets fed up with him and wants us to take full custody.

    • Michelle says:

      I found out I have an 11 year old stepdaughter after 3 years of marriage And 7 years together (total). I am having a hard time bonding with her. I generally get along with and bond with most kids. I have twin teenage boys as well from my first marriage. I am resenting the fact that I didn’t sign up for this, yet here I am!, I don’t know how to handle it and he is angry with me for not treating her like I treat all my friends kids! He wants me to be the mom I am to my boys to her, but it just doesn’t work that way. And she doesn’t listen to me or respect me. It’s clear to me. But she adores him. They just met 8 months ago! She is 11. Is this insane to anyone else?

      • Ali Wilks says:

        Hi Michelle. This must be a shock and of course when you hear about this all of a sudden, it makes the connecting to your kids so much harder!! The fact that you hav great relationships with your kids creates a bigger barrier….short and simple…cut yourself some slack, his exppectations are unreasonable…allow yourself the space and grace to grieve this shock and what it means to you and your family and your relationship with your partner. It’s a lot to process ..not just your head but your heart too.

  • Hope says:

    Please help me. I hate my skid and can’t even stand his name. It’s irritating me when his name is mentioned or called. I don’t even want to hear my spouse talk about the skid. I know I am very bad when wising he never exists but I don’t know what to do; I hate him so much. The skid is the reason my spouse and I argue and feel stressed. My kids are understanding, caring, and lovable to the point that my spouse feels guilty about loving them and understanding them more than his own son. He feels like he is unable to connect with his kid. On the opposite side, the skid is selfish, mentally retarded and disrespectful; I can’t even find a single thing to like about him.
    I am consumed by the hatred and I have tried so hard to get rid of it. However, the more I try, the larger my hatred is and I feel guilty. I really need help.

    • Ali Wilks says:

      Hi I will send you an email to follow up.
      Kind regards,
      Ali

    • Kristen says:

      I need help. I have all these feelings and I don’t know why, or how to fix them. I don’t want to lose my hubby 🙁

      • Ali Wilks says:

        Hi Kristen
        Let’s get in touch for a complimentary Successful Stepmom Strategy Session. Email me (aliwilks@stepcoupling.com) for details and we can talk about how to get what you need and from your hubby and keep your marriage together

        Peace to you,
        Ali

      • Lee Taylor says:

        Hi Kristen,

        I feel the same way. I don’t want to lose my partner… for him to grow tired of my emotional, negative frame of mind. I love my partner so much and he loves me so well. He knows that I struggle with being a stepmom and he tries everything he can to make it easier.

        I feel so disappointed in myself for always being so consumed with anger and resentment at how having step kids has changed my life. As soon as they arrive I feel angry. I feel like hiding in my room (and as the weekend progresses I often do hang out in my bedroom feeling down, lost, resentful, stuck….).

        I feel upset at how they are glued to their dad, at how they always need something, how they invade my space, and I feel guilty and resentful at how they look yearningly at me hoping for attention.

        The strange thing is that I actually love and care very much about my step daughters, as they do me.
        They even often say they wish I was their mom (their mom isn’t very nurturing or present).

        Feeling this way is so contradictory to my nature… I have always been am extremely involved, nurturing, and loving mom to my boys and I love interacting with kids (I have two teenage boys 15 and 18 and he has two daughters, 6 and 9).

        Not to mention all of our children are amazing kids- polite, caring, affectionate, and loving. Before I met my sweetheart I was a single mom after who had recently left a very unhappy 15 year long relationship with my boys’ alcoholic father. It was the first time in my life I was truly independent (And free!!!). Plus my kids were almost grown and I was at a point in my life where I could focus more on myself and gasp— even have a tidy, pretty home!

        Then I met the man I want to spend my life with, my now best friend. He was very sad when we first met as he only had his girls on weekends (he was destined to be a dad!). He’s seriously the best man (partner and dad) I’ve ever met.

        We moved in together a year into our relationship and during that time I’ve helped him with the very stressful legal battle to get his kids 50/50…. which we recently got.

        So now his daughters are here two weeks out of the month and we decided that I would homeschool the girls until Covid settles.

        And my newly calm, peaceful life where I could focus on myself is out the window. We have a dog (I am not a pet person), the house is much more cluttered; life is busy, we often have to deal with his selfish bossy ex; I have young children always needing, wanting, and taking over my space. And I feel like I lose my best friend… my man… every time they are here. Ugh.

        Leaving is not an option because he is who I want to spend my life with. So I desperately need to find a way to adapt, let go, and forgive him for bringing this chaos into my life! Lol. I don’t want to feel this miserable weight anymore. Especially since they are great girls and there is so much opportunity to live and be loved. And I feel so bad because my partner feels helpless (honestly I do too… this resentment seems to have a mind of its own!!!!). Does it ever get easier?! How does one happily accept something they wouldn’t have necessarily chosen for themselves (stepkids) but that they care immensely about??? I want to be happy.

  • Anonymous says:

    I feel all of these things too. I don’t know how to fix it.

    • Ali Wilks says:

      Hi Kelsie Would you like a follow up email to discuss some options?

      • Tiana says:

        Please send me an email also to
        Help!!! I am going through the same thing and boy do I need it right now!

        • Ali Wilks says:

          I will follow up with an email. Look for aliwilks@stepcoupling.com. Then let’s talk.

          • Erica says:

            This is so relatable, I felt as if I wrote it myself. I’m really struggling and even considering therapy to deal with these emotions. It’s nice to know I’m not alone and hopefully not a bad person for feeling this way.

          • Ali Wilks says:

            Getting help to support you in your struggles is such a great idea. And you are definitely not alone in feeling this way. I’m glad the article helped.

    • Rue Johnson says:

      Hi Ally. I would love a follow up email as well. I’ve started seeing a therapist about this issue I struggle with, but it wasn’t even possible to find a therapist who specializes in blended family issues and also takes my insurance. I can tell my therapist doesn’t really get what I’m talking about and I would love to process my feelings and get some insight from someone who “gets it”. It feels like I’m either losing my mind or that I’m completely evil. It’s really hard to understand why I’m feeling such intense and negative feelings toward his kids when I love him soooo much. I just wish I could wave a magic wand to get my feelings and attachment to his kids in the place where I wish they could be.

      • Ali Wilks says:

        Hi Rue I’m following up with an email. you’re feelings are normal, you aren’t alone, you aren’t losing your mind and you are not evil! 🙂 I look forward to talking soon

  • Aaron says:

    What a great article/blog. I am a step-dad to my wive’s three kids. They suffer from most if not all of the problems you’ve outlined and I’ve long suspected relational grief to be a big part of that. I’ve taken my time (5 years) to try and develop trust and nurture them, but it is SO DIFFICULT. The hardest thing is when one starts to act out (and this gets as bad as I’ve ever heard) and I jump in to assist, only to be undercut by my wife in the discipline. Then I withdraw and they run the house with their anger again. I know this problem is multifaceted because for STARTERS my wife and I should be on the same page. And we are for the most part, but those other times cause so much damage to me that I’ve developed a strong disdain just being around them. Blended families are challenges compounded upon challenges. I’m not giving up, but it was nice to read this and know my feelings aren’t ridiculous. Thank you! Any additional help/advice would be much appreciated. I’ll be scouring this page for more info.

    • Ali Wilks says:

      Hi Aaron,
      I so appreciate a stepdad sharing his perspective. Thank you! Often our stepparenting experiences ARE similar regardless of whether we are stepmom or stepdad. And you are RIGHT! Stepparenting is hard. I am both a bio parent and a stepparent. Navigating my role as a stepparent was far more challenging! There are many more layers of worry. I never doubted my position or place as a bio parent but I sure did as a stepparent. Let’s talk further!

  • Sasha says:

    Thank you so much for this article. It was nice to read my thoughts and feelings articulated so well.

    I’m literally at my wits end. I told my dh I heard my sd straight up lying on me (saying I’ve hit her and am always telling her what to do when I’ve literally never touched this girl or asked her to even so much as to wash a dish – EVER). He talked to her and since that very day, FOUR MONTHS AGO, she has said not one word to me, walks out of the room when I walk in, and is becoming increasingly passive aggressive and antagonizes me with comments and door slams and throw up sounds walking past me (only when her dad isn’t around). After about 3 months of this I snapped and yelled at her after she was in the kitchen next to me on FaceTime with her friend saying she would kill me if she could have more money, I cussed her out, loudly, and she f#*%@$ deserved it. I’m at my wits end. It’s the ONLY cause of arguments between my dh and I. He is a disney dad for sure and overcompensates for her mother who hasn’t seen her in over a year – only calls occasionally and lives 15 minutes away – so I’m sure sd is struggling emotionally and I do sympathize – but I can’t continue being on the other end of her emotional rage. She can’t keep friends, she’s been kicked out of multiple schools and was about to get kicked out of her current school for bullying, she makes almost straight F’s, her own family can’t stand her – her own dad told me he knows she’s a b%#*h, literally NO ONE likes her. she has ADHD to top it off and she is only 12. Anyway, sorry for the essay. I just….Don’t know what to do. I’m suffering and often hide in my car or in my room to avoid her. I wonder if my relationship is worth it most days. And I love him SO MUCH – she is just evil and I really resent. I’m also saging often.

    HELP!

  • Angie says:

    This post was very helpful. It put into words perfectly exactly how I think and feel about my skid. I would love some extra help with my situation if you’re able to offer it to me. Thank you so much!

  • Beth says:

    I thought when I married my husband, his 20, 16, 14 yr old kids would not be as difficult as 2/3 were. My husband was very close to his oldest daughter , a feature I admired. She, however, is a shit stirrer. I did like her and helped her in some communication issues w her bio mom. They (her mother and she)fought all the time according to my husband. Second daughter, younger, 14 at split and very naive and idealistic, believed her parents who never communicated & argued only behind closed doors if at all…were hunky Dory but just the opposite. Nothing in common . He knew he made a mistake 3 months in but was trying and soon they were pregnant. He begrudgingly stayed.
    My situation- knew I made a mistake early on. Stuck it out 18 years, reached a point of no return. My kids were not surprised. They were opened to 2nd marriage ages, 17, 14, 8 at our marriage (2 tears separated) . Timing and luck played a part. We were once engaged and unknowingly were going thru same thing. Hardest always on his middle daughter. His x wanted to move them out of state but psychological court testing did not allow. It was indeed better as their maternal grandmother lived in this state close to them. Oldest daughter was ok with things for awhile then became ugly to my husband and they were very close and I totally supported that. Toughest on middle daughter- I understood and didn’t expect anything bc any kindness to me I could see was non loyalty to her mother. The son , now 29, was always cool with us. He was in 6 th grade at separation. I tried and did respect their mother , I encouraged my hubby to spend one on one time with each of them and the 3 of them and blending time. But in the end, really nothing mattered. I just thought, if I’m nice, kind, caring genuinely- it will be ok. But it didn’t work that way. My husband never late on child support, never made them come to our house if they had their own event. They continued to be rude no matter how nice I was and how hard I tried. He agreed with me after 12 years- do not hold back if they are disrespectful. So, I stood up for myself and he supported me. This led to 2 of them not talking to us. It was instigated by oldest feisty daughter. So it’s been idk about 5 years with not seeing nor speaking to them. It’s sad but we tried. It would be nice to heal but he and they are pretty stubborn. I made him try initially but the fiesty one MF’d him etc and he was not going to put up with that. His 2nd daughter got married and only wanted him to come and he refused. He said, he would not allow her to treat me like that. I encouraged him to go. But he said, nope, you have done nothing wrong. They have made their choice. Yes blending more than rocky!

    Beth

    • Ali Wilks says:

      Your story sounds very close to mine! I had to also step out and I think that shifted things. There were other factors that played a part. Thankfully- so thankful- that we got help (yes I am not beyond asking for help when I need it even though I help others). Things have changed. It is a good thing that your hubby supports you! That is SUPER critical…especially in situations like this where stepmoms are rejected. It is painful, so I hope that as more time passes, that you and your family come to a place of healing, peace and resolution. ~ Ali

  • Renee Blake says:

    Please help. Any advice is desperately needed. I know my stepdaughter isn’t the worst child in the world but there are so many aspects of her personality that annoy me. I just had my own son who is now 8 months and I’ve had so much anger toward my stepdaughter since mid-pregnancy. Since having my own child, I’ve wanted less responsibility for my stepchild. I recently got explosively angry. I don’t want to give her time and attention and she wants it. I can tell that she sometimes does things to appease me but I can’t stop the consistent feeling of irritation. I have no idea how to control the anger. I’m the adult, I should have it under control. Please send recommendations.

    • Ali Wilks says:

      Hi Renee So sorry for the delay in getting back to you. You have a lot of pressure placed on your shoulders! You have young child and then covid has only added to the difficult dynamics of stepfamily life. When we have our own children it seems to shine a brighter light on the really hard places that seem to rub wrong. I have a few questions so I can be of bet of better support you. How old is your stepdaughter? What are the access and custody arrangements- how often does she come over? HAve you done any stepping back regarding taking on so myc? We can talk further so we can discuss your situation. And as I said your feelings are normal- but to say you are the adult and should have it under control is not being fair to you. Let;s talk via a free Successul Stepmom Strategy Session so we can flesh more of this out!

      Thanks ..Ali

  • Lisa C. says:

    I’m a Stepmom to a 4 and 5 year old . Been married for a year and Dh just got full custody. We have a 1 year old together and things are so hard for me. The skids are bad. They talk back, temper tantrums, soo many “I don’t wanna’s” and loves destroying things in our home. My Dh seems like he’s happy to just have them around. I find myself to be the one that’s ALWAYS involved with the kids. I gets no support from Dh side of the family. Skids only talk to them on the phone. I am a controller and I’m working on it, but I tell them over and over all day to stop doing something. It’s driving me crazy!! this marriage is new and I just want to call it quits! In a few years I’ll be 30. I’m young and it’s taking a toll. He has know one to watch them but me ! I did not sign up for this! I don’t know what to do!

    • Ali Wilks says:

      Hi Lisa
      I’m really sorry I missed your comment. Life is crazy in our covid world. In general, these ages are HARD. But if you feel like your dh doesn’t have your back- you feel like you’ve been abandoned and that makes it worse! Let’s talk some strategies together and come up with a plan so you feel back in control and less crazy while getting your marriage back on track!

    • Flo says:

      My fiancee has two teenagers. When I met him he told he wanted a third kid. He recently proposed and a week later he told me he doesnt want another kid. His kids disrespect him…are selfish…materialistic and talk about their mom all the time. Ive been feeling guilty for feeling the way i feel about them and now that my fiancee wont give me a family i resent them even more because he said that the reason he doesn’t want another kid is because their mom cheated on him and because he did not have a good experience with them (they are a handful) I dont know what to do. I dont want to be around them but i dont want to loose him. Thank you!

  • Angela McCann says:

    It was nice to read this article and responses to know I’m not alone in my feelings. I think I have a deeper hatred than most and I think it has caused resentment towards my husband as well. I don’t think he’s a good parent. I think he’s an absent-minded parent who is quite selfish. He has three kids (12, 13, 14) and not one of these kids has a bit of common sense. I think their hygiene is disgusting, like they never take showers at their mother’s house. The oldest girl’s hair ways looks greasy and like it’s never seen a brush. She wears the same damn clothes every weekend. I sure hope they are washed. The middle boy I swear is bipolar, but everyone else is oblivious and I’m just being mean by even bringing it up. His hair is always greasy, he smells like body odor all the time and wears the same clothes all weekend. The youngest boy’s hygiene isn’t as bad, but has other annoyances. He’s constantly around, constantly needs reassurance, has low self esteem, sighs all the time and says he’s bored. My husband sleeps until 10-11 am all weekend. Then he gets up and plays video games or watches TV the rest of the day. Quarantine is NOT helping the situation. The oldest girl tiptoes out of the bedroom in the morning to use the bathroom – just go to the bathroom for petes sake. I just don’t get it. Sorry this post is all over the place. I just can’t stand their faces, and every time he mentions their names, I just don’t give a damn. I am also 6.5 months pregnant with our first child together and I have 13 year old boy/girl twins. I always get defensive if my husband says something about my kids, because I don’t think he has any basis for it due to his poor parenting. Like, don’t judge me when you don’t have a handle on your shit. Stuff doesn’t bother him like it bothers me with his kids because like I said above, he’s so in his own world. They can call his name 5 times before he even acknowledges them and even then I have to tell his name to say “hey, your kid is trying to talk to you.” I’m so over it and feel like my life would be better if it was just me and my kids again. We have our first couples therapy appt this Wednesday. I’m not sure if it will help.

  • Kristin says:

    Ms. Wilks

    I could use help too. I am a stepmom to a hormonal 12 year old preteen stepdaughter and a 15 year old, know it all, stepson. I love my husband with all my heart and I actually have love for these kids…… But I am not “liking” them. They are selfish and only think about themselves. They don’t even show any “real” love for their father. Which breaks my heart because he loves them so much and does whatever he has to to be apart of their lives. They seem to love their Stepdad more, and I can see that because he make better money and the kids get everything they want from that side of their lives. I am my husbands 3rd wife. Their mother is his first. Its my understanding they didn’t care for his 2nd wife either and ultimately it was a big reason their marriage didn’t work out (Not the only reason though). I knew this going in and even told their mother before getting married to their dad that I do not intend on being their “mother”, that i only expect respect from them as an adult. Well they don’t really respect anyone. Maybe they act differently at their mothers house, We have no idea. We don’t pry into the affairs of their mothers household. My husband and their mother communicate on a need to know basis on the kids well-being and when child support is being slow that month…. She definitely makes sure to speak up then. I am a stepchild myself and a woman that knew from an early age that i wouldn’t be able to have children of my own, so going into this marriage I had a good understanding on how this dynamic would work but I guess I was not really prepared for the extreme. I was raised from not having much so I appreciated so much of the things that I did get and watched my mother struggle, and from a young age understood it. I helped her raised my siblings. These skids have no sense of lose or ever felt the NEED for anything, and it rips me up inside to see their ungratefulness and unappreciative attitudes. And i get it! I get that they are just not in their “stage of life” to actually understand . Most kids and teenagers just are not capable of understanding these notions; at this time in their lives they are hormonal and self evolved. I am sure I was this way at some point! But I am just “stepmom”, I am not really in a position to express any of my stresses and opinions on this matter. Is there a decent support group for stepmoms? A forum or Facebook page were we can go and vent and discuss and converse about our positions? And not feel guilty and be judged? Its so hard to just feel like I am not alone in this.

    • Ali Wilks says:

      Hi Kristin
      I sent you an email to follow up. Feeling unsupported and dismissed by your spouse- who is supposed to have your back- can lead to feelings of isolation which can lead to resentment. You are NOT alone. So many women have shared the same feelings here. The work I do addresses these feelings, in fact they were feelings I had too. That is why I knew I had to wok with couples so they could get the clarity they needed to feel connected and can co- create an unstoppable team.

  • Joana says:

    It is good to see (finally) that there are stepmoms or stepdads feeling as I do. While I understand that children aren’t just bad but rather a product of many learnings, they can make serious damage to people and relationships. The bio-mom is a narcissist and selfish being that manipulates the children (twin girls) and is turning them into a reflection of herself. Their behavior is only getting worse and very hard to tolerate. I have a one month baby and have not allowed the step-children in the house yet due to covid, following doctors advice. I am dreading the day they come here. I know I will not tolerate their bad behavior impacting my son negatively, so that may lead to a breaking point. My husband is incredible, understanding and supportive, but despite their terrible behaviors, including towards himself, they are his children and he will never give up on them.

    Dealing with the twins and a jobless, narcissist ex that lives on IG and feeds on making others miserable, may end my marriage. I think at this point, I’ve heard all the advice available, but I welcome any thoughts. If nothing else, knowing I’m not alone on this is already helpful.

    • Ali Wilks says:

      As you noticed with the commets you are not alone. I will follow up with an email and we can talk further and come up with a plan that will help you feel in control and supported whenthe kids do come back.

  • simona healova says:

    Good evening. It is nice to read that I am not only one who feels like this. My partners son move with us 4 years ago and over the period he is leaving with us it turn me into a women who completely dislike leaving with him. I love his but my behaviour towards his son is ruing our family, I feel like a weak women who can not deal with the situation. I try to learn to leave with it and learn to cope with it but it is turning me into someone that I don’t like.

    • Ali Wilks says:

      you are not weak for having the feelings you do. And you shouldn’t have to feel that way, things can be better. It sounds like you want things to change and that is the first place to start.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am also struggling with my step kids, who are both mentally disabled. My husband’s ex-wife is an alcoholic and his children suffer the effects of alcoholism during pregnancy. At 10 and 13, these boys are mentally 3-4 years old. My main struggles are because they destroy my home. I feel like my safe space is attacked and destroyed. From holes in walls, to busting light switches, to licking windows, to destroying my son’s toys, to food everywhere like toddlers, to bedwetting, to soiling themselves, to smearing feces all over the bathroom, to urinating all over the bathroom, to feces in the shower…I could go on. It’s disgusting and consistent. I feel like I have to watch over them constantly so that they don’t destroy my home and it still happens. It’s stressful. Over time I have grown a form of PTSD and am stressed out even before their arrival, during their stay, and the time afterwards that I have to spend bringing my house back to a normal state of cleanliness. I now hate them coming over ever. I’m at my wits end with it all. Help!

  • Robyn says:

    Oh I needed this article. Right now I’m hiding in my bedroom while my skids are fighting and yelling over video games. My 1 year old is sleeping and praying they don’t wake her up. I feel so uncomfortable saying anything to them. Their mother told me they feel Unwelcomed in my home and feel as though I don’t like them. I get it. I retreat every time they are here.

    • Ali Wilks says:

      I’m sorry Robyn I must have missed replying to your comment here. I did email you recently. I hope we can connect and talk further!

  • Victoria says:

    This is the boat I’m in! I hate the visceral feeling of anger, disgust, and hate i have for my skids! They have zero structure in their lives, so rationally i know that is part of it, but why can’t i find any compassion? I’m not like this in other aspects of my life! I desperately need help with this!

    • Ali Wilks says:

      Hi Victoria! I sent you an email recently. Let’s talk so you can get the help you need. We can definitley change things around – compassion is key- I agree.

  • Tammy says:

    This was so helpful to see. I have been married for a year. My husband has three daughters 23,21 and 14. I feel no connection and really have no desire to be around them. But he wants to have family dinners and outings. I’m just not interested. Sometimes I feel guilty for the lack of feelings I have for them. I’m struggling.

    • Ali Wilks says:

      Hi Tammy. It’s totally ok to not have any feelings for your stepkids. And they don’t have to like you either- BUT they do have to show you respect. Bottom line. If you want to talk further email me at aliwilks@stepcoupling.com. I’d love to chat 🙂

  • JustMe says:

    I can’t stand my stepson at all. I don’t feel guilty about. He’s a 17 year old lazy, selfish, do nothing, crybaby douche bag. I feel so grateful he’s quarantined at his father’s house because if I was stuck with him I know I’d do something I would regret.

  • monica vargas says:

    Hello Ali,
    The step daughter to be in my life is coming back to my home without my approval. She called all the shots and made demands right in front of me. Her dad went along. I am taking as high a dose of antidepressants possible. I get this horrible feeling in my stomach when I imagine the day she comes back. Just yesterday I had to move my personal belongings from the room she’ll use. I co own this house! I’m not a guest. I’ve been through so much pain with this “family”. The ST used to video me at dinner or church. When I’d move she’d follow me. Her dId never believed me and when it came up in conversation, he’d say he never knew this. Idk what to do exactly. I have an idea but I so so need to talk to someone who can help me. I have an appt with a counselor in a few weeks but he just asks info rather than actions.

    • Ali Wilks says:

      if would like, we can discuss some strategies. I walk my stepmom clients through a process to help them gain insights to their situations to feel more successful. Ill follow up with you

  • Angie says:

    I’ve been w hubby for 7 years and he is def the Disney dad. He even told me I’m the beginning that he had pretty much let them do whatever they wanted bc mom had bailed and that was hard on them. Mom is in the picture now, and she still doesn’t really parent them. Doesn’t discipline them, allows their behavior at her house. I’m over it. I’m over hearing him coddle his kids while OUR kids get yelled at for nothing. We got into it last night and I’m so mad at hubby for his part in this. He doesn’t even see it. His 14 yo son kept walking around the house eating watermelon and dropping it and dripping on everything. I finally tell him he needs to clean up his drops bc we’ll get bugs and then our 4 yo reaches for a piece of watermelon and dad screams at her for it. I snapped. That was it for me. He’s been so grumpy lately bc if his diet, which I get but don’t hold our kids to higher standards than your perfectly capable 14 yo. That’s ridiculous! I don’t hate my skids, but I definitely dislike them. He tries to tell me last night that I treat them like I hate them and I’m like… YOU YOURSELF have a hard time w their behavior, how on earth can you expect someone else not to?
    And he does… his kids can be jerks. There’s 3. 18yo, 14yo and 11 yo. The 18 yo called the cops on me once for taking her cell phone away, the 14 yo is the only boy and gets whatever he wants regardless of behavior, and the 11 yo is wild af. She ripped our brand new pool liner ONE week after it was installed! She is always doing dumb stuff and barely gets in trouble for it. I’m over it all… my hubs and I are usually very happy but we fight over his kids bc of their behavior and it’s a lot. Idk how to handle this. Idk how to stop being so mad. Idk how to address any of it anymore.

    • Ali Wilks says:

      I can reach out via email to discus this further. There is a lot of heavy intense feeligns for you that we can sort through. Let’s talk

  • Estela says:

    I totally relate with your article and all the replies. I hate when they are home. They are the reason why my spouse and I argue, especially the 11yo girl. The boy is tolerable and not a bad kid, just a lazy, unmotivated, no initiative 16yo. But benign other wise. The girl. Is rude, spoiled, disrespectful, and to make matters worse the exact twin to the mother physically. I feel like there are no consequences to their laziness and behaviour. I feel like I’m their maid and there is no appreciation. My husband pretends that I can make rules only to undermine me when the rules need to be enforced. I hate spending my time and my money on his kids. I don’t know what to do. I would hate to leave him over it, but she still has 6 more years before she is an adult. I don’t know, that I have it in me to deal with it for that long.

  • ED says:

    I found your post because I really can’t stand one of my stepchildren. He reports everything back to his mother (I mean everything – what we ate, how we spend nearly every moment of our day) and he has lied about me and our household to other family members. He has told them that when he is with us, my husband and I sit around and talk about how much we hate his mother (we don’t…we barely talk about her at all). He also whines and complains incessantly that my husband doesn’t pay for anything (my husband pays more child support than he is required to pay by law), doesn’t do enough for him, doesn’t do what his mother wants, and on and on and on. If my husband doesn’t cater to his every whim when he is with us, he pouts and then tells his mother that he doesn’t want to come to our home. Every holiday, he complains that we haven’t gotten enough for him (last year, we spent hundreds on ski gear and ski passes for him and it was not enough). I try to tell myself it’s not his fault. His mother has “borderline tendencies”, is enmeshed with him, and is not above using him as a tool to make herself look like the martyr and my husband (and me) look like the villain. However, he’s now a teen, so it’s more difficult to excuse his behavior. He is tight-lipped about everything that goes on in his mother’s home, so he definitely knows how to keep his mouth shut. He’s also been to counseling with my husband and the counselor told him he was lucky to have a dad who so clearly loves him and that it’s okay for things to be different between his two homes. His mother cut off counseling less than a month after he started (she was the one who originally demanded it because she thought the counselor would say that my husband’s time should be reduced), so he’s now back to being firmly enmeshed. He’s also a bit of jerk, generally. This is probably due to his age, but it’s difficult to deal with because I can’t tell him to knock it off or he runs off crying. It’s miserable being around him. I’m at the point where I now do not spend time with my husband or his children on their visitation weekends. I know this is not sustainable, but I’ve reached a point where I need to protect my own mental health. My husband’s ex wife is the very definition of “high conflict”. She has also told people that I’m jealous of her and that I “might” be a child abuser (she has not evidence to back that up, but that hasn’t stopped her from saying that). I love my husband and our relationship is great when his kids are not around, but I’m seriously struggling with being a stepmother and ready to be done with it.

  • Beth says:

    I’ve really been struggling with this. I feel I have met the love of my life and this is the first time I’ve been with someone so loving and affectionate. When his son is around he purposely hangs on him if he sees us touching and is literally attached to him and constantly demanding things from him until he goes back to his moms. I really admire him as a father and they have a great relationship – but for some reason it drives me up a wall and I get so annoyed when I find out he’s coming for the week/weekend. I don’t know how to tackle these feelings and build a better relationship with his son it is so challenging to combat these feelings of annoyance and resentment towards a child. It makes me feel terrible and while of course I would never ever tell him my feelings, I feel like it will become more and more apparent if I don’t figure out how to deal with it.

  • Mariah says:

    I’ve been with hubby for 4 years and my skid is 5. She is seriously a pain to me. I don’t know why. I can’t seem to designate why I feel this way about her, is it her behavior, the mother, etc..WHAT IS IT. Every time her name comes up my husband and I get in a huge argument and I’m not sure what to do now. I just feel defeated. Being a stepparent is not my cup of tea.

    • Erika says:

      I completely understand how you feel, same happens to me! I can be having the best day ever and if I hear my skid name, my whole day gets ruined. I hate feeling this way.

  • Lost stepmother says:

    My skid has been stealing and lying…increasingly getting worse, it is now too a felony offense (nothing being done about it) I am at my wits end! HELP

  • Erika says:

    Ali please help me, I literally don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve tried bonding with my husbands son and keep telling myself “he’s just a kid, he did nothing to you to dislike him” but I’m not sure why I feel like I don’t belong while he’s around. He’s is only a couple years old which is what hurts me the most because he is literally just a child, but every time is his weekend to be with him I completely loose it. I’ll say he is his TERRIBLE 2s for sure and has no discipline what so ever. He cries and yells to get what he wants and I’ve given my husband advice and it works but I just can’t be in the same room with both of them when they are here. I need HELP! We also had our first baby together and I get so jealous that he pays so much attention to his first born than to our newborn. I feel horrible! Sometimes I even think about leaving him but I love him so much it’s impossible to even think about it ;( please email me back.

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