IN THE BEGINNING… I wondered why my stepkids were so mean to me. They avoided me at all costs. They wouldn’t do what I asked without a fight. They always ran to their father for protection and excuses for noncompliance. And he usually came through.

I was powerless. I didn’t know what my role was, but I knew that what I was doing wasn’t working. Why did they hate me so much? I always felt like the bad guy.

LATER ON… Surprisingly, I had an opportunity to chat with my stepson and listen to what he had to say. I guess we were driving in the car… or something like that. It was just the two of us. We started talking about our family. He admitted that when his dad and I got together, the kids wanted nothing to do with me. They liked being with their Dad alone, the way it used to be. Their dad was free to play, take them places, go fishing and camping – just hang out. It was easy then and fun.

It’s an old familiar story! I came along and stole their dad. Everything changed. Dad was divided and spread very thinly between his kids and me. Stepson told me “We didn’t want you here. We did everything we could to make it bad enough for you to leave. We tried to break you up.”… But he laughed and said, “It didn’t work.”

Poor kid! (He was 12 when we married.) I heard him and began to understand what it was like for kids to have an outsider move in on them. I began to understand how important it was for kids to spend quality time with their Moms and Dads, although I admit, sometimes I didn’t want to share. I also began to appreciate my stepson’s willingness to talk with me. We began to build a relationship after that… with long conversations.

Can you find time and the space in your heart to talk to and listen to your stepchildren, even if what you hear may not be pleasant?

Susan Wisdom
Licensed Professional Counselor
March 2010

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Susan Wisdom says:

    By the way, the pain and loss that bio kids feel when their mom remarries is equally strong. They complain that their stepdad stole mom away from them. They complain that they have to share mom with him…and his kids. They too miss “they way it used to be” when it was just mom and her kids hanging out.

  • Susan,

    Love this reminder. I often have to stop and remind myself to look at our family life through the kid’s eyes. Just because I love all of my kids (bio and step) doesn’t mean that they all love the family situation they are in. Often times, when thekids are the most stubborn or hurtful to me is when they are hurting the most themselves. I have shared parenting w/ my ex-husband but am a custodial stepmom. Many times when my kids are with their dad, I find something to do on my own so my stepdaughters can have their dad to themselves. I think it helps that I offer that to them. Then when the girls go to bed, I have my husband all to myself and we can connect and spend time just focusing on each other. Thanks again for the great reminder to talk to and listen to both our stepkids and our biological kids in our stepfamily!

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