What can you do when your children and their step-father don't get a long?

Having a new adult in their life is often quite difficult for children. What advice do you have for moms whose children are not getting along with their new husband or significant other?

19  Answers

79 10

I have been married almost 10 years to my second husband. Our eldest son (now 15; 4 when we married) is not my husband's biological child but my younger two are. There have been contentions all the way. My husband fully admits that early on he did not feel the same way about our eldest as he does about the younger two. That's tough to hear as a Mum, but it is the reality of it. My husband worked very hard to overcome this, but it was a real struggle.

My eldest has never had anything to do with his biological father (from a short relationship between marriages) so that has simplified the issue. Like the other two posts, communication between the family is the key, but it's a mistake to ever think this would be easy. Unlike one of the other posts, I no longer believe that the children come first (I did when I first married!). Good modelling to children requires that the husband and wife put each other first: if they see their parents doing that, they are more likely to do it themselves and thus perpetuate good modelling of relationships. Also, putting your partner's needs at the top of the list ensures happy partners which is much more likely to produce happy children. Of course, both partners must do this equally, it's not going to work if one puts their parner first and one doesn't. It is also much harder in a relationship where the biological father is around as children have another authority figure in the mix. I admire families like this who keep it together, because it's hard enough to do blended family without the extra parents!

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One of the things I loved about my step-dad is he made time for me by getting to know what intrested me. He even took me to places I like, just the two of us. He will say now is our time, to give your mom a break from us bone heads and wink at her. He left the disciplining to my mom, but would talk to me about why it was wrong in a calm and loving manner. He will then make us hug and tell each other "I love you". He use to help me with my homework and rewarded me when my grades were good. I miss him so much. May he rest in peace!

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5 11

I used to go with my 2 children father for almost 11 years, and we have been broken up for 5 years. I am now dating another man for 4 years, and my son is the only one who couldn't get along with my boyfriend. I don't take sides but do support my son fully regardless. I had to fight with my boyfriend over discipline with my son because he didn't like how I discipline or handle my son. I handle my son different because he have ADHD with depression. I have experienced my son tried self suicide few different times that I had to learn how to handle my son differently than always trying to discipline my son for every mistake he makes. I got tired of always being in a middle between my boyfriend and my son. I love my boyfriend because he's a good guy with a good heart, but don't like it when he believes in "Old School ways" that I have to sign up for a therapy for me and my boyfriend to get things worked out. My son has to see two different therapist along a psychatrist to improve in his behavior. I did warned my boyfriend that if things continue to be awful between all of us, that I will have to leave him because I cannot chose him over my children (which my mother did to us by chosing her "so called" boyfriend over us kids when we were young). I would suggest family counselor or therapist for you, your husband, and your children to try bring together the family instead of seeing it fall apart.

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The number one problem, when you said, "but do support my son fully regardless." This type of position will make the stepfather feel isolated in the home, why? Because when the stepfather tries to discipline the child or take corrective actions, you will then jump in save the child regardless of the situation and this will cause emotional pain for the stepfather...men will tend to pick-and-choose their battles. They will try to avoid things that cause problems between you and him. A man want's peace in the house. So the man will go through alternative means of addressing issues with the child, by going through you, the mother, to get you to address the child…you will then get mad at the stepfather and retaliate on the stepfather for bringing up a problem with your child. Now the stepfather knows that anything that has anything to with your son will ultimately cause him to have problems. Now another situation will emerge...thanks your philosophy of "Support my son fully regardless", the stepfather must now practice child avoidance. Have nothing to do with the child, why? Problem avoidance. To keep the peace, the stepfather must now avoid the things that cause problems for him. Now as the mother with the naive notion of; "Support my son fully regardless", will be sitting back with her shoulders hunched saying, "what’s wrong, does this man despise my son"...no he does not despise your son, he despise the problems he causes. i.e. 1. Stepfather corrects son. Son tells mother. Mother fights stepfather. 2. Stepfather goes through the mother to correct son. Mother does nothing. Mother fights stepfather. 3. Stepfather doesn't say anything to son. Mother gives father peace. ****Do you see where I'm going? Grownups are quick to say that children have problems adjusting...it is also the mothers who have problems, because she is used to handling issues all alone, without the intervention or help of a man. When a man accepts a woman like you, with someone’s else child and tries to be a father figure, you need to adjust and allow him to be the man of the house. Not saying to put the man first and be against your son, but to be open to having a united front with the man. You can support what the man is doing by playing “Good-cop/Bad-cop.” If the stepfather lays down something to the child, instead of fighting the stepfather over what he said to your son... come behind the stepfather with gentle words to your son on why he better do as he is told or the consequences could be worst. Now...instead of stripping the stepfather of his fatherly-positional-power, you have now reinforced it and thus giving his position teeth. Now the child will be forced to adjust to having a father figure in the house....in oppose to saying, "you’re not my father, I don't have to listen to you."

6 6

For now mom should do the disciplining and step dad should take a back seat. This doesn't mean they should take abuse, but until the child learns to trust the new parental figure he shouldn't try and rule the roost. It is ok for step dad to be firm when need be, but consistency is the most important thing. Kids need consistency, and the more consistent the step dad is the quicker they will gain the child's trust and respect.

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12 0

Well fist you have to talk to your children and find out why they are not getting along with their step-father and then speak to him about it. It would be a good idea to all sit down at the kitchen table and have a heart to heart about the situation. It is hard when kids/adults have to adjust to new situations. Make sure the children know that their step-father loves and supports them and as a mother you have to support that relationship. Find things for them to do together. Suggest activities that you can all do as a family so no one is excluded.

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Hi um I'm 11 and me and my stepdad is always arguing and we only get along at times. And The First I Got In Punishment Bye Him Was When I was In 2011 I Was 9 And I Got Mad At Him For Yelling At Me To shutup So I Left Out The House And He Found Me By Our Car I Got In Trouble. And my mom was being on his side she was nice before she met him now she's not! What should I do...

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help them bond with each other

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I HAVE A HUSBAND HIS IS MY SECOND ONE. WE HAVE NO CHILDREN TO GATHER. I HAVE THREE. ONE HAS ALREADY MOVED OUT GOTTEN MARRIED. THE OTHER TWO STILL AT HOME AGE 16 AND 20 . THEY DO NOT GET ALONG WITH THEIR STEPFATHER AT ALL. I SEEM TO BE IN THE MIDDLE . SEEMS I ALWAYS HAVE TO CHOICE BETWEEN THE TWO. LIKE THIS MORNING MY HUSBAND LEAVES OUR HOUSE BY 8 TO GO TO WORK. MY SON GETS ON THE BUS AT 6:30. I WAS RIDING WITH MY HUSBAND TO WORK THIS MORNING. BEFORE WE LEFTED I TOLD HIM WE CAN DROP MY SON OFF AT SCHOOL. HE SAID NO THAT HE NEEDED TO START WALKING TO SCHOOL AND WOULD GET THERE BY TIME SCHOOL STARTS AT THIS TIME IT WAS ALMOST 7 AM. WE LIVE ABOUT 3 1/2 MILES FROM SCHOOL IN THE COUNTRY. HE SAID I COULD NOT TAKE HIM. I DONT UNDERSTAND WHY WE CANT JUST DROP HIM OFF ON THE WAY. IT IS ON THE WAY WE NEEDED TO GO. HE TOLD ME HE NEEDS TO RIDE BUS. WHATS HAPPENS WHEN YOU TRY TO BE NICE TO YOUR KIDS AND TAKE THEM TO SCHOOL EVERY KNOW AND THEN? MY HUSBAND WAS SO MAD AND REFUSED TO TAKE HIM. SO IM GOING OT TAKE ME HUSBAND TO CATCH A BUS FOR WORK IN A LARGE TOWN. AND MY SON STAYS OUT OF SCHOOL. IS THAT FAIR TO ANYBODY? SLO MY CHILD WILL STAY HOME CAUSE OF THIS PROBLEM THIS MORNING. WE LIVE A SMALL TOWN. THANKS FOR LISTENING.

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I think your husband is wrong and cruel to do that, I have problem my husband does mot like my son, if ir carrys on I shall take my boy and leave

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What if putting your husband first makes you loose your son and grand-daughter?

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8 0

I think it's important for your children to get along with step parents in general. But it's important for the step parent to prove that they want to honestly be apart of the childs life. There has to be quality time spent on it because the bottom line is your child isn't going anywhere. My husband grts aling great with my children but it wasn't always like this. Now my kids are adults and they wouldn't change there relationship for anything in the world

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87 4

The kids are just kids and just learning to adjust to situations like this. HE is an adult and has had situations of adjustment all his life to prepare. Tell the kids to make their best efforts,and make sure they follow through, w/ ready consequences; and tell him that he takes the high road and sets the tone for a solid relationship or he leaves.

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I'm not going to get married to a guy if they don't get along with my kids, but you need to protect the child if tha't necessary. I'm not referring to disagreements, but malice or abuse. The step father needs to accept that this kid is more difficult than others, but he needs to be the adult about it

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2 9

When my husband and I first got together, we moved very quickly. 2 weeks after we started dating, we decided that we wanted the same things in life and that we were meant to be. We got married almost 3 months later. We have been married, now, for almost 3 years. I have 2 daughters and they were 5 & 10 years old at that time. My oldest's father hadn't been in the picture in a very long time...he had a tough time dealing with the severity of her disabilities. She is developmentally delayed in all areas and is completely reliant of her caregiver. My youngest daughter had just met her bio dad the month prior to my husband and I dating. Talk about timing. I never married either. The way we approached my 5 year old was that she was the luckiest girl in the world because she gets 2 dads. She loved that idea and so we went with it. Her bio dad has only come around maybe 3 or 4 times since then. She refers to him as her first dad. She calls my husband Daddy and he considers them his children. The girls adapted very well to my husband moving in and becoming a part of our family. My husband and I present a united front and the youngest is expected to be respectful of that. She knows that my husband and I talk about everything and so there are no secrets. We also include her in family discussions. My husband and I decided that we would like to have a child together and before we moved forward with that, we talked about it with her. We are all on board. Everything is not great all the time, though. My oldest absolutely adores my husband and he is an amazing dad to her. I am blessed to have found a man so open and accepting to take care of such a needy child. My youngest, on the other hand, is definitely a Mommy's Girl. She gives him a hard time a lot. I don't necessarily think that it's the fact that he is her step-dad, though. She's 8 years old and testing boundaries at this time. I'm more passive and he is more firm. So she can't get much by him most of the time. On the weekend's, though, they go out and do Daddy and Daughter time which both enjoy very much. I personally think that family dynamics vary from family to family and that there is no one solution to make it all work. You just have to figure out what's best for your family and give your children and husband a fighting chance. Even though my youngest does not get along with my husband at times, I think that that is just kids being kids. Her and I don't get along all the time either. I don't love her or my husband any less and she doesn't love us any less.

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16 33

I have been married to my second husband for, it will be five yrs. in Nov. I have three children from the previous husband all teens and a little girl that will be five in July with the new hubby. We have a huge blended family with many step adopted children on his side but the children mentioned are the ones that we live with.
The kids did not like the "step father" idea or the fact that I was having a child with him. I sat down with all of my kids alone at first and spoke to them. Explaining as well as asking questions. I explained that just because I am named "Mami" did not mean that I'm perfect and make no mistakes, we do. I asked them if they wanted to see me happy and told them that everyone deserves to be happy.
I also told them that I knew and understood that this new change would not be easy or fun at first but according to the choices we all make we can make the best of this situation.
I shared that this new man in my life loves me and will love them and support them the same but will never want to take the place of their father, which is very much part of the kids lives.
With all that said, I made sure that they understood that my husband and I are the adults in charge and they will respect that at all times. I asked again if they thought I should be happy and be respected? The answer was "YES". I answered them with O.K. then you all should want to respect and make the most of accecpting him because you love me and understand that your mami deserve to be happy, loved and respected. Bottom line, RESPECT!
Will it be easy all the time, NO it won't but there will be RESPECT PERIOD!
I let all this soak for about a week and then had them come together with my husband as well and talked, ask questions and begin to communicate properly with a "free floor" (no consequences) still with total respect.

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34 14

I have been married to my husband for almost 4 years, although we've had more downs than ups. Things have not worked out well between me and him because we fight a great deal. I have 2 daughters, ages 11 and 10, from a previous relationship. I was never married to their father. We were going to get married, but split up before we did. That was 11 years ago, and we fought over the children (mainly custody) for a long time. My daughters love my husband, their stepfather, but now that their real father and I have gotten closer, and even before then, they often told me they wanted me to get back together with their real father. My youngest does not like that I changed my name to match my husband's when we got married, and wants me to change it back to my maiden name since both of my daughters have my maiden name as their last, not their father's.
They told their father they want me and him back together as well. He is EXTREMELY jealous of my husband and does not try to hide it. He looks at pictures I post of my children on my facebook, but if he sees a picture of my husband, he will close out the page. My daughters have told me their father wants me back. I do love their father which makes things a bit complicated. He is married to a woman he no longer loves and whom my daughters absolutely hate. He has 4 children with his wife, and the 2 older ones take to me more than their own mother. The 2 babies don't know me that well yet, but hopefully in time they will. Whenever my husband and I fight, which I admit is often, and my daughters see it, they will tell him "I hate you!"

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132 14

Being a child who had two different step dad's here is the advice I would give. I was not okay talking to my mom about my issues with my step dad's as she would take issue with what I said and not be objective. It is hard to be objective for sure. I would ask the kids to sit down with a grandparent or trusted friend or Aunte etc and that way they will be able to have a conversation where they don't feel judged or like their mothers is going to get mad at them. Later on the mom can talk to the other adult about the issues and hear their thoughts. Let the kids know this is going to happen so their is no secrets or feel like they have been suckered into anything. The parent then needs to find a way to address their concerns. Kids often have a better understand of the situation then the adult in the relationship as they are not blinded by rose coloured glasses. Both my step dad's were not great guys and if my mom had listened to me she would be better off.

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24 7

As a kid I was in a situation where I had a step father and I hated him. That's strong coming from me as I never hate anyone. My best advice: If the biological father is still in the picture, there will be resentment if the step father tries to act like a father. My biggest problem with my step father was when he tried to act like my father (either in a positive way or trying to boss me around). I already had a dad and I didn't appreciate him trying to act that role.This isn't to say the child shouldn't respect the step parent--my mum always let me know if I overstepped the line in terms of respect and I always felt shameful about it. If there is something the child is doing the step father is not happy about, he is better off informing the mother and letting her deal with it instead of trying to assert his authority; it will lead to much less resentment.

Mostly I just wanted him to let me be; I was happy not to get in his way if he didn't get in mine. I know this doesn't sound like a great solution and it's hardly 'happy families', but for me I don't think we could ever have got to that point no matter what he did (and believe me he tried everything to get in our good books at the start). The problem, especially later, was that he acted very different towards us when our mum wasn't around. I know there are probably much nicer step dads out there and there are kids who get along really well with their step dads, but there was no way to bridge that gap for me.

I think another part of the problem was that mum got together with him so soon after her divorce with my dad. My advice to mums in that instance would be to take things slow and give it time. Allow your kids to first get used to the idea you're not with their father anymore and you won't be getting back together before introducing a new man into their lives.

Talk to your kids and keep communication open so they know they are still valued and you can be aware of any issues they have and you can address them.

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i am in the situation where my children had to adjust to a step dad in their life. they are still very much involved with their real dad as well so at least they dont have to feel like their dad is being replaced, but i have always felt very strongly about the fact that my kids will always be mine, and they will always come first and my 2nd husband was always aware that i have to put their happiness first. at the same time, i feel that if my childrens feelings were unreasonable toward my husband, i would try to straighten out the feelings. sit down with my kids and my husband and explain how things are working and how everyone is together to make things better. if though, my kids felt that my husband didn't treat them well, or unfairly, i would talk to my husband and if these issues couldn't be worked out i would put my kids first, whatever that might take.

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Well...it's a bit late now. In general I'd say that if the children aren't comfortable with and accepting of the new man, then don't marry him. You have the children; be there for them. Know that eventually it's your turn again. If the man's the right man, he'll respect their childhoods and your commitment to them and wait on the side. If not, you know whose happiness he puts first. I have seen the damage that forcing stepparents on a child can do. Every situation I've seen that's worked out well has begun with the children gravitating towards and embracing the potential stepparent right from go. If it doesn't happen...then I'm sorry. Say goodbye, or till later. They get one childhood, but there are many men in the world. In your case, OP...your boy is old enough that his stepfather can simply back away. Don't force them to have anything to do with each other. If your son can live with his father, I'd recommend that. You write: "Good modelling to children requires that the husband and wife put each other first: if they see their parents doing that, they are more likely to do it themselves and thus perpetuate good modelling of relationships." I believe this is true when the marriage the children came from is intact. When it isn't, it's perverse to give this "good modeling" line, because the children are well aware of having been pushed to the side, and having seen their parents' attention taken from them. I'm a single mom. I expect to stay that way until my daughter is grown. While I do have relationships with men, they're very much on the side, and I wouldn't change that unless it was clear that not only was the man a good fit for living with me, but my daughter embraced and more or less campaigned for the marriage. My job is to bring her up as secure and whole as she can be; afterwards I can go back to pleasing myself.

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