Looks like your step-kids hate you. What gives? Well…
Your step-kids are getting it from all sides, but they’re going to be taking it all out in one place: on you.
They have to deal with their mother’s venom, their father shirking responsibility, and discomfort caused by accommodating you as you enter their lives. In their eyes, you are new, you are strange, you are temporary, and you are disposable.
That can change with time. With some patience, empathy, and clear, consistent boundaries, your step-kids will grow to trust, connect with, and maybe even like you.
But first, you need to size up the situation. Make sure none of the below are going unchecked.
6 Reasons Your Step-kids Hate You (& How to Make It Better)2>
Their Bio-Mom is Turning Them On You
Your husband’s ex feels threatened by a maternal figure entering her children’s life. She fears her children will love you more than her. Being kind, fun, and attractive also contribute to jealousy. She constantly reminds the children that she’s their only real mom. She instructs the children to disobey you, tells them you mean nothing to them, and that soon you’ll leave their father and abandon them too.
Solution: Talk It Out
Have your husband schedule a family meeting, which will include him, the children, and you.
Express to him in advance to proactively support you. He should be the one running the show.
During the meeting, tell your step-children that you’re glad that they have a bio mom and that you have no intent to replace her or abandon them. However, acknowledge your concerns about her negative statements and express your hope that she’ll stop.
Your Husband Makes You Play Bad Guy (by Making You Discipline Prematurely)
Children feel emotionally abandoned when their father disengages from their daily routine. They blame you for that disengagement, feeling like their dad was better until you came along. Fear that they’re losing their “old” dad makes them resist your attempts at discipline.
Solution: Establish Clear, Healthy Boundaries
Privately validate your husband’s parenting challenges, and offer your support. Establish a joint parenting plan that will be implemented mostly by him. Explain to him that his parenting is crucial to his children’s well being. Refuse to take the main parenting role, by gently reminding him that it’s in his children best interest.
Your Go Out with Dad, Leaving Them Home
Your stepchildren feel rejected when excluded from your plans. They don’t remember their bio-parents going on date nights. They think you are trying to take dad away from them, and that you don’t like them.
Solution: Schedule Alone Time for Dad & the Kids
Bio-parent having regular time alone with bio-children helps solidify their relationship. It eases children’s insecurities and fears regarding losing their bio-parent to a new spouse, and establishes boundaries between parents, children, and the new couple. It is much easier for the children to accept the couple relationship when they feel safe and secure in their bond with their bio-parent.
Your Allergies Cost Them Their Pets
Your stepchildren feel a profound loss when they have to give pets away. They resent you and are angry that they have to give up a pet who is a family member and a source of comfort at troubling times in their lives such as their parents’ divorce.
Solution: Create a Separate Space for the Pets
Pets are part of the family. Be sensitive to your step-children’s bond with their pets. Bio-parent needs to communicate your health concerns to the children, and the options need to be considered together when possible. Some families dedicate an area in the house for the pets, others move the pets to the other bio-parent’s home, and some find a different home for the pets. The emphasis here is on finding a solution that is humane and acceptable to the kids.
You violate their privacy
A child’s room is his/her ‘castle.’ If you go into their room and go through their stuff, to make sure they’re on the straight and narrow, they’ll be furious and violated.
Solution: STAY OUT! Your stepchildren’s rooms are off limits to you.
While ensuring your step-children are making safe, healthy decisions is an otherwise noble cause, enforcing the rules is best left to their biological parent. If you think that they’re up to no good, tell your husband in private, and leave further investigation to him.
You Dis Their Mama
Some moms suck.
You may have expressed disgust at her irresponsible attitude, selfishness, or mood swings. Maybe you recommended monitored visits, because she can’t be trusted. You may have even said she needs psychological help.
Solution: Apologize & Keep Your Hate on the Down-Low
Apologize. Even if it’s all totally true, don’t harp on about it in front of your step-kids. Keep it between you and their father.
Children see themselves as extensions of their parents. If something’s wrong with her, they’ll see it as something wrong with them. Children need to believe their parents love them; criticizing bio-mom casts doubt on that. They’re also protective of their parents, and may write you off as mean.
Conclusion: Your Step-kids Don’t Have to Hate You
Your step-kids have to deal with their biological mother’s resentment, your husband’s inappropriate delegation of responsibility, accommodating you, and potential cases of you having overstepped healthy boundaries.
Understanding that will help you defuse situations and (with time and a little luck) connect with your step-children. That understanding paired with solid communication skills and honesty will help you and your spouse succeed as a couple and a family.