Why Your Step-kids Hate You (and What to Do About It)

Why Your Stepkids Hate You (and What to Do About It)
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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)

Their Bio-Mom is Turning Them On You

Bio-mom Manipulating Her Child Against 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)

Stepmom Playing "Bad Cop," Having Been Made to 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

Girl left home after her parents go out for date night.

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

Step-mom allergic to the family cat.

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

Step-mom Eavesdropping On the Kids

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

Step-mom expressing disapproval of bio-mom in front of kids. Don't do it!

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.

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55 Responses to “Why Your Step-kids Hate You (and What to Do About It)”

  1. i have lived with their father for over a year and a half now. he and i share a wonderful life together. we only get them every other weekend, but that is too much as poorly and nasty as they treat me. i live a very clean life, they have not come from that and they seem to go out of their way to destroy my home, my family pieces and their dad`s and my relationship. it is impossible to maintain my normal calm nature when they are here, they lie, steal and destroy. i am sure it is at their moms comand, but how much more can i take? any help out there/

    • Laquita D. Hilton

      ..”How much more can I take?”..You should be asking how much more your poor step-children can take…

    • We all go through this. I have come to a point where i actually hate one of my step kids. took them on a super holiday to europe did all their dirty work. she was bum sucking me while we were there. the moment we got home and met after 2 days she completely ignored me at a event. did not even say hi. the slimy little thing. I understand your pain. trust me. I feel so bad for what you are going through. the thing is their father left their mum and them. but they do not hate him. they hate the step mum. thats crazy.

    • “How much your poor stepchildren can take”??? It doesn’t sound like the step children are being abused in any way, so why the vicious comment? It’s definitely the stepmom who is being abused – her house, her things are destroyed – that is unacceptable boundary crossing. Either the dad needs to take serious control of his children, or most rooms in the house need to be off limits to the step children until they show more civility and respect.

  2. Laquita, maybe HATE is the reason for this reaction.. Perhaps judging is not the answer but understanding, patience and love is. You should consider blended families exist and condemnation is not right. How would you feel if condemned by another, falsely? Pretty upset, I’m sure. Maybe before you judge another, stop and take a look at what you’ve done to upset others… Casting judgement is not your place or your power/control.

    • Understood

      I have three step kids and let me just say I understand what every step mother is going through. My advice to any woman out there that if you haven’t already gotten involved with a man with kids… don’t do it, especially if there are more than one kids,and they are of a certain age. Pick up your shoes and run because they do not appreciate what you try to do for them, they will feel like you do not belong there and in most cases the father will turn a blind eye to everything because he doesn’t like emotional drama and feels like what you are saying is crazy. The kids hate you for no reason as well. It’s just too much to mention and no one will really ever understand what a step parent goes through until they are able to walk a mile in their shoes.

      • I agreed….. run!!! My 2 stepkids live with us, everything was great and I love them so much…. but my teenager stepdaughter (17) hate me now, she is trying me very bad and that is hurting me very much because we used to be close and I feel she loved me. Now she is acting with me like I am a monster. I just hope that this situation do not destroy my marriages.

      • I feel all of you who’s step children hate them now (but it was not that way in the first place). If I knew then what I know now, I probably would have ran the other way instead of getting involved in my current husband’s life. I have one older step child that has always not liked her father, let alone me. It was ALWAYS tense to be around her. The younger child it was awkward at first, but got better and she liked being around her dad and me. However, both treated (before me) their father very disrespectfully, and they still do. In fact, it has gotten worse. One child refuses to see him and absolutely hates me, and the other has jumped on board the older’s bandwagon. The younger will see the father, but not with me around. The father has always complained to me about his ex-wife turning the girls against him and/or not allowing him to be a real dad. He said that the ex always controlled how close he could be to his kids and still does. I did not want to be involved in all the drama and I allowed him to suck me into it. I even begged him to go to counseling, which he did. I also got involved in that counseling. I truly support him to have a good relationship with his kids, I truly wish he did. I tried to support him but now I have turned out to be the bad guy. I HATE how this has turned around on me, and everyone else acts so nonchalant about all the drama. It has had a negative impact on our marriage. He is an “askhole” so I am tired of trying to give him advice, especially since I have turned out to be the one who has lost in all this drama. The ex, I have been told by others, “hates” men. She has absolutely no interest to get involved with anyone else. I can go on and on since there is so much to tell. But, that would take me a great deal of time. So so sad; very sad. I hate it all!

      • I should’ve run. I know EXACTLY what you mean. My husband siding with the step kids at all costs have made my 13year marriage miserable. They won.

  3. My stepkids listen to their mom say horrible things about me. Crazy thing is, they both have said things about their mom. They stopped talking to us because we couldn’t give them money all the time. Now they hate me and told their dad to choose me or them. Apparently i am the reason they arent a family anymore. :( i came from a divorced family and have never tried to come between them. Those girls used to stay up all night talking to me. We did stuff together. Now they say hateful things and dont want me anywhere where they are going to be which includes my husband’s family events. I have to watch my husband’s heart breaking every day. How can they be so cruel

    • SadStepMom

      brandi, Remember what part of the article said… “You are temporary” is part of their mindset. My stepkids LOVED me when I was fun and entertaining to them. But when I HAD to take on full time Mom responsibility; then all of that changed. Bio mom has even said that I will abandon them, and after 8 years of torture… I’m still here. The older ones are teens now and HATE me, even though I’ve raised them for all of these years while their bio mom is in and out of jail, mentally ill, dangerous and has limited supervised visits now. One piece of advice is: Don’t try anymore. Don’t question it. Just roll with it… they’ll come back around once they get over this brainwashed by bio mom phase. You and your husband should start family counseling and then eventually get them involved as well. It may have to start with you and your husband, your husband and his girls and then finally bring you and girls and then all of you together to work things out. Good luck!

  4. SickandTired

    Help!! I’ve been with my bf for 8 almost 9 years. In the beginning I remember his kids being sweet. He has 2 boys. But as time progressed the youngest one was constantly trying to disobey me. I have 3 kids from a previous marriage and my kids are always getting complemented on how great they are and so well mannered. I have always strived to make sure my kids were being raised right. These kids had never been taught any manners from speaking to elders to eating like humans and not cows. During our relationship I have been thrown in the role of mommy which at first I didn’t mind. I understood that my bf needed tons of help and was willing to do whatever I could since his kids would be a reflection of me as well when they r with us. The oldest one took on real quick does everything right the younger one just challenges me Everytime. This kid made his grandparents which would one day be my in laws hate me by making up stories about me. They r much older now ones in 8th grade and one is in 4th grade. Recently they came over for their summer visit and it started immediately with the youngest doing everything in his power to be bad I decided to have a talk with him seeing as Everytime he is bad and his father and I seem to fight. We never fight when they r not around. I talked to his son and basically was told he hates me and does everything on purpose to cause us to fight in hopes we will break up. My bf and I just had a baby and were planning on getting married but I’m at the point were I just want out of dealing with the drama. This kid will stop at nothing and I am not getting the support I should be getting from his father despite him constantly saying he will or is and we will make it through I feel utterly alone and really just wanting to end the relationship. I feel horrible my child has to lose the chance at having a family because of his son and his inability to help me. Any advice? And really don’t need any rude comments. Thanks in advance.

    • RUN!!!! Do not let your hateful step kids any where near your new baby!!!! They will hurt him/her when you are not looking & just so you know it never gets better, only worse!!!! I’m going thru it 9 years now and recently declared to them we will no longer be having anything to do with each other, no spending time together, no more vacations/trips, I’m never going to another game or recital ever again!!!! My husband is finally supporting this because I was prepared to divorce him over his awful, evil brainwashed kids & their disgusting mother!

      • Ps: I feel awesome now! Like I just got paroled lol💪🙌🙏💞🎉

  5. My 13 year old SS told his parents he hates me bc I wouldn’t let him take some clothes we keep at our house for him. (He had plenty of others at bio mom’s house) He cried like a baby to his mom and then later texted me that he hated me and not just because of the shoes. My Dh had a long talk with him today about not following rules in our home and he feels like they are all designed to thwart his existence (all 4 kids must abide). The bottom line is the mom reminds him that DH has his own, new life with me, and doesn’t have as much time for him anymore since I came along. A few years of this and he has been brain washed so I don’t have a chance. She had been counting on my Dh moving closer to her to help shuttle around the kids once her BF kicked her out of the house but instead he moved to be closer to me. I feel all the pain you ladies are going through. My ex is remarried and I am so grateful for what she does for my DD. I don’t adore her as a person but she is good to my DD and that’s what matters. I have been taking care of both SS for 3 summers (we got married last year) to save BM money with camp and this is the thanks I get. I am so overwhelmed.

    • I know how you all feel. My husband is the guilty dad who did all the fun things. I told him that with fun comes parenting. I accidentally started doing it. His kids are spoiled. Entitled. Messy little princesses. He cleans their room for them because I refuse to. The older one who’s 8 hates me. Like actually hates me and I don’t care anymore. She cries to get her way with dad and when she does with me I don’t give in. All she wants to do at dads is watch YouTube for 6-8 hours straight. I tried to limit it once and she pouted until the time went off for her to get her tv back. But she acts so sweet to me when grandma and other adults watch. We just had a new baby and she has a creepy look on her face when she’s around my daughter. Stares at me with this creepy smile. We only get them every other weekend. And his younger daughter has streaks of violence but somehow no one sees or believes it. She once said she would kill my baby if it was a boy. They used to love me until we told their mum we were having a baby. Then the moms turned on me because now there’s less child support for them. I’m tired of pretending to be a good step mom. I can’t stand them. I worry my daughter will turn out like them because of an over involved mother in law in place too. So let me be the evil step mom who sides with the step moms who dislike their step kids. I’ll read to my own kids. I’ll craft with them. I’ll make sure they turn into decent people. Because obviously my husband isn’t doing his job. They will miss out. His kids don’t even want to come here so why would I go out of my way to make sure they have a good time. I’m not the weekend step mom. I refuse to let them do what they want just so dad feels like they want to come over. Kids need boundaries. I don’t care if they hate their time here because they don’t get the princess treatment. People need to lay off the step moms. We have a shitty job most of the time. The way I see it is that if their moms took the time to parent. The fun stuff and the actual stuff it’s not my responsibility. I shouldn’t have o teach her kids to use manners. I shouldn’t have to listen to their crying when they don’t get what they want. I’ll do anything for my own daughter. But one thing I do is encourage my husband to see them. I’ll help when he wants. I used to be super step mom until their moms screwed me over. So when they go home and tell their moms how much they hate me they can know it’s their fault their daughter are miserable here. Hate on me all you like. You know there are so many people who feel the same. I married a man with kids. And when I was reduced to just a baby sitter, that’s when I gave up on them. Too many step moms are kissing kids asses to make them feel “loved like their own”. If my daughter was a little monster I’d make sure to turn her around. When you do it to step kids you get reprimanded for trying to parent them. So technically it’s not treating them like your own. This is why so many step kids are turning into lazy entitled spoiled brats. Because they have guilty parents on both sides trying to make their life’s as comfortable as possible. Here’s a lesson. Life is hard. You need to work hard for things. you can’t play the poor me card all your life.

      I was a step child. We got the same treatment as my little brother and sister. It was rough and at times it was easy to hate my step mom because she “wasn’t my real mom”. But in the end she saved me from being a crappy person. She also gave me lots of love.

      If I wanted to go to Disneyland with my family I wouldn’t invite kids who don’t like coming over. They need to learn that parents aren’t friends. So suck it up. Be a parent. Don’t be their friend or step back and let dad do it. You’re not doing any favors by coddling them

      An evil stepmother who refuses to give in to modern parenting

      • Yaffa Balsam

        You are taking good care of yourself by setting boundaries with your step children and your husband.

        It is very upsetting to hear about your step daughter making vague threats about your baby.

        It is possible that your stepchildren feel threatened by the new baby. I heard from other families that especially when bio-mom feels threatened by their ex having a baby, they project it to their children, who then start feeling that they may be emotionally abandoned by their father because of the baby.

        One-on-one attention from their father might help them feel more secure in their relationship with him.

  6. I too, have 2 stepsons who have been brainwashed to hate me (well, the younger one actually likes me because he is stubborn and defiant to his own mother). It helps to know I am an awesome parent and person, because I have a bio daughter who adores me (most of the time – she’s 13 haha), and I’ve been teaching for 11 years and nearly every kid has either liked me or been nonchalant, but never hated me the way my older stepson does. This gives me a healthy perspective of who is really the problem here – and it’s not me!
    I really think that many of our problems as stepmoms stem from 3 areas:
    1. obviously – hate talk from bio mom
    2. societal pressure to place the child-parent relationship before the spousal relationship
    3. stepmom trying too hard to “mother” the step kids

    Point one is obvious and is out of our control as stepmothers. If bio mom is evil, there is nothing we can do but ignore her and have as little interaction as possible with both her and any comments or similarities that arise from her children.
    Point two is something that we all (step and bio) parents must struggle against. It is NOT ok to put a parent-child relationship above a spousal relationship, regardless of what society and all the counselors say.One way to battle this damaging societal message is to explain to children that marriage comes first, and WHY (you choose your partner, not your kids; your partner is joined with you as ONE; kids will grow up and have families of their own, while a spouse is for life; etc). Taking your kids to church can help enforce this crucial message. Special one on one time with kids is nice, but not mandatory for healthy growth – and kids should NEVER get the idea that they come before their parent’s spouse.
    Point three is a big stepmom mistake. Stop trying so hard. You married a man, not his kids. His kids already have two parents. You can be an aid to your husband, and a meaningful adult figure in your stepkids lives, but they will NEVER accept you as a mother, so save yourself the resentment. Some tips would be to NEVER agree to be a “stay at home mother” to your step kids. Why on god’s green earth would you offer yourself up as free childcare unless you are masochistic? Suggest summer camps, nannies, or babysitter services to your husband. Helping him out by dropping them off at camp is one thing, but torturing yourself all day can ruin your marriage as resentment builds. Another thing: I get annoyed cleaning up after my own daughter, who openly loves and appreciates me. You can imagine the annoyance of cleaning up after two stepkids who wouldn’t shed a tear for me if I disappeared tomorrow. So, you either need to make your husband make them clean up after themselves, or make your husband clean up after them, or if even that turns into tedious nagging (which none of us like), then get your husband to hire a maid service. We have a maid service clean biweekly on the Monday after the stepkids have had their weekend visit. This completely removes resentment from the equation.
    The bottom line is that even if your step kids tell you for years that they love you, and you think you have a great relationship with them, they will drop you in a flash for their bio mom. This is the harsh reality. Save yourself the heartache and resentment. Be patient and kind, but firm with your boundaries. Don’t set yourself up as free nanny and maid service for anyone else’s kids (even your husband’s). If your husband truly loves you and married you for you, then he will be happy to pay for summer camp and a maid. If he only married you so that you could be the cuckoo bird to his brood, then that is not healthy, and you’ll know when you try to put your foot down. Good luck.

    • Excellent advice! I’ve done the same. Had my husband clean up after his kids and hire a maid service. Did it after my stepdaughter point blankly told me I had no place in the family but she had no problem with me cooking and cleaning… I refuse to be a servant in my own home.

    • Excellent summary of why it happens and how to cope. I agree the Stepmother is their to provide loving support and guidance to her husband. What has helped our situation also is to have a united front when dealing with children, both biodad and stepmom are on the same page.

    • I totally agree with everything you said especially the part about being an aid to your husband. I couldn’t agree with that more. I tell all my friends who are newly married to men with children who live primarily with the mother, be an assistant to Dad no more no less. After the roller coaster of emotions of having great visits with my step children and horrible visits with them I finally decided to establish some healthy benefits for myself when it comes to interacting with them to protect my feelings. I was so depleted from spending wonderful quality time with them only for them to shun me the second their mom came around. I scaled back my efforts to parent them and my need to feel liked by them and opted to be more of an aid to their Dad when needed. I let him do the bulk of the interaction and I take a backseat. I feel much better now and the kids probably do too because the don’t have to pretend as much either. Some relationships just aren’t meant to flourish like we want. It’s better to accept that and move forward in a way that’s more comfortable for everyone.

      • Yaffa Balsam

        Thank you, Denise, for your feedback and for sharing your personal story.

        It sounds like you bent over backwards to establish a healthy relationship with your stepchildren.

        Your husband has a crucial role in the process of you and his biological children building a relationship.

        I agree with you that children need consistent boundaries. That actually gives them a sense of safety in their home life and trust in their parents. Your husband needs to support you, when talking to his children, and role model to them how much he appreciates and cherishes you.

        I find your approach healthy and practical. You modified your stepchildren’s expectations while keeping your wellness, your husband’s wellness, and stepchildren’s wellness in mind. It sounds like backing off from parenting your stepchildren is working for all of you.

        • I have been with my husband since my step son was 18 months old he is now 15 we are having issues with him. He is very angry with us avoids coming to visit us. We have had 50/50 custody since he was a baby never any issues with him. Mom has bashed me for years. About a year and half ago his mom told him the reason his mom and dad are no longer together is because of me. That his dad left her for me. Not true they were separated. We feel that this is where is anger towards us is coming from. We have always been a loving family I have two children from previous and we have a daughter together. My son and he are a year apart and have shared a room and have been buddies throughout the past 14 years but that has also changed. How do we handle this?

          • Yaffa Balsam

            It sounds like a case of divided loyalties. It is interesting that it started only a year and a half ago. It seems to me that the bio-mom demanded your step son’s loyalty all along. Perhaps something else happened other then her telling him that you broke them up. It is probably hard for him to decide who is telling the truth. Somehow he feels that he has to choose sides. It could be part of the developmental stage he is in, where he’s trying to be his own person, and his mother’s constant pulling him into her resentment of you is preventing him from focusing on growing up.

            I would suggest considering therapy with a therapist who understands adolescents. He may need a trusted therapist to process his anger and develop communication skills as well as stress management skills that will help him get through this phase. You may need some family therapy as well.

            Your stepson needs reassurance from both your husband and you that you understand his confusion, and that it must be hard to decide who is telling the truth. Tell him that while you know that what you are telling him is the truth, it is not a topic for him to worry about because he needs to focus on growing up and enjoying the remaining years of his childhood.

  7. Sick of trying

    Seriously! My step daughter is 29 years old, a therapist, no less, and an absolute manipulative, lying, hateful person.
    She has lied to her father about me for the last 10 years. She doesn’t respect the simplest requests like locking the doors when she leaves.
    I DREAD her visits. I never know what she’s going to do next.
    In the meantime, she sucks as much money from her father as she possibly can. Her mother sends me insane texts and emails about how I victimize her daughter.
    I have spent 10 years in therapy over this crazy family. I have listened to all their insults and lies for the last time. I want NOTHING to do with her.
    My husband lives in a fantasy that she and I will come together someday.
    I wouldn’t trust her for a second. She’s blindsided me too many times.
    It feels like I live in the Twilight Zone whenever he’s around or her name is even mentioned.
    I am very uncomfortable with disliking anyone. But it’s the only way I know how to protect myself from her.

  8. Carlton O'Neal

    Some of you “stepmothers” believe marriage is for life,but why is there divorce if marriage is for life? The original children from the original marriage or original relationship~ ~~know that the original parents are hypocrites,especially religious marriage which ended in divorce.some of you divorced step mothers are happy that the ex husbands are remarried with other stepmother which treats your original bio children great,but you step mothers falsely believe that the original bio children from your second marriage should except the father’s second wife (you) ,with open arms (or eventually!),especially your step family attempt force original bio children from first marriage into new RELIGION or new acceptance of step family ,but you step mothers still choose to falsely believe that ignoring the original bio children’ s hatred for the hypocritical bio parents’ divorce,(especially,religious marriage) ,will never disappear,(for most bio children of divorce!),and producing “half” siblings around the original bio children,with forcing the original bio children to stop referring to the step mother’s bio children as step siblings,then as siblings~~~will never work in most cases of justified original bio children from your current husbands first marriage.the only people i feel sorry for is the biological children from first marriages (and first relationships),even children who are victimized by second,third,fourth,etc.~~divorces or born out of wedlock.hypocritical marriages cause enormous pain and suffering! ,

    • You obviously know nothing about religion, and nobody ever mentioned “changing” religions for the kids. If you are referring to my post (which is the only one here with advice to take them to church to reinforce values), then let me explain how marriage works biblically. 1. Preferable to remain celibate and single, but if not then 2. Get married. This is where you seem to stop. The Bible however goes on: 3. If one marriage partner is “hard of heart” then divorce is allowed. Hard of heart means many things ranging from cheating to physical or emotional abandonment, to pretty much any violation of whatever marriage terms the two of you agreed upon. Everyone makes mistakes but when one partner cheats or abuses that is an acceptable end. Another acceptable end is more vague and involves the emotional abandonment aspect… one partner for whatever reason completely shuts down or goes out of their way to consistently hurt their partner, counseling has failed and there is no reconciliation, that is emotional abandonment, or hardness of heart, and the other partner may file for divorce.
      God knows that we were not meant to be alone, and remarriage does occur several times in the Bible. The original marriage is null and void, and ceases to exist in the past, present, and future, and the new marriage becomes the one true marriage and is expected to be for a lifetime. You see, God knew some people would purposefully destroy their own marriages usually out of some selfishness. We were not put on this Earth to suffer at the hands of another human and we certainly cannot reach our fullest potential or use the gifts we were given when we are hurting.
      Did God originally want us to divorce and remarry? No. But because some people insist on being assholes, and hurting others, God reluctantly allows remarriage as a relief to better allow his children to complete their calling.
      Yes, the children of divorce suffer. However, I can almost guarantee that in MOST cases it is never the fault of the stepmother. That is why we have forums like his to vent and share ideas. It shows that we are trying to lovingly help raise children that are not ours, and sometimes that means stepping back from a parent role when there is resistance. From my perspective, the only stepchildren that suffer for long are those who have at least one bio parent who can’t let go of anger. In my husband’s case, he tried everything to make his last marriage work, but not only did his ex wife refuse to get a job and spent them into debt, she also caroused around town for 8 hours or more some nights doing God knows what with whom. Her MO was to stay out all night, sleep until noon, then sit on the couch day in and day out playing FarmVille, never cleaning or cooking, and the pot tots sometimes had to urinate in their bedroom while they were locked in there as she slept. Only someone with an evil heart would force my husband to stay married to his ex, and only someone with an evil heart would call him a hypocrite when he gets out of such a situation and finds peace and happiness (which is a better environment for children btw).
      Do we still deal with the repercussions of biomom’s successful alienation efforts? Yep. But we do it for the kids. If that means we have to hire a maid or not take them on expensive vacations until they’ve proven they can follow simple rules like “don’t run out into traffic”, then we are still doing what is best to maintain harmony in our lives which translates to a happier and more peaceful home for all.
      Just because divorce and remarriage have become so common, doesn’t mean it is hypocritical. I don’t condone divorce, but sometimes when a person is married to a monster, it is necessary for sanity. However, I would advise that we all take a good long look at ourselves and really try to make it work.
      Telling new stepmothers that their marriage is hypocritical and taking kids to church is wrong is not helpful at all, and seems to be an angry barb from the mind of a resentful bio parent.
      Keep in mind that being a stepmother is not easy. Your kid could have gotten a worse woman as a stepmother. More biomoms should be thankful for anything a stepmother is willing to help with because we don’t have to…!
      …and yes, my daughter also has a stepmother and I appreciate her and anything she chooses to do for my daughter.
      I stand by the truth that marriage is forever, and that children need to understand this. This one simple lesson will in turn hopefully help them in their own future marriage. If a child sees it as “hypocritical” then they simply don’t have a deep understanding of God’s word, and should either: A. Ask clarifying questions instead of making assumptions, or B. Stop basing their entire world perspective on the random and callous remarks of their relentlessly angry bio mother. Sadly, option B may only come through maturity and sometimes never at all… so yes, in this case I would feel nothing but sorrow for the damage bio mother has caused to her innocent children.

  9. Perhaps we need to set up laws where people with children cannot marry nonbiological parents without a two-year cooling off and adjusting period. You want to know why these kids treat you badly? It’s pretty simple. It is because you feel like cancer that has invaded their lives. Slow, very slow should be the only way you enter children’s lives. I know you want it all, you want yours, and you want it now. But you are not the only person involved. These are kids who have already had their lives destroyed by divorce or death. If you come riding in expecting to be loved and adored and respected day one and forever after, you are living in a fantasy world.

  10. I feel that when my husband has his kids come for a visit, it puts so much stress on our marriage. He has typical Guilty Father Syndrome and me and our son together are left on the sidelines. I feel like a single mother when his kids come. My husband gets such an attitude with me during this time. I have made it clear to him that our son together, my husband and I, are the first and current family, and that the stepchildren aren’t entitled to special treatment. He feels that they should be spoiled, get whatever they want, and not have to pick-up after themselves when they visit. My house is left a terrible mess by the time they leave and all my husband can say is it’s ok because they are guest. Well, he isn’t the one that has to clean.
    My take on it is, though I feel sorry their family didn’t work out, their father has a new family, and they need to acclimate to this family. My husband doesn’t support my view, which causes us to fight, before during and after a visit from my step-kids. How do I get my husband to stop neglecting his current family, while with his kids from his previous marriage?

    • Angry Mother

      I feel the exact same way. I despise my “17” year old step-child, who continues to snowblow her father every chance she gets, in 5 months that horrible cunning human will be gone THANK GOD!

  11. samara williams

    I have the step daughter from hell. She is horrible a bitch and spoiled rotten. She is 22 years old drives a brand new car and lives rent free. She lives off her father and doesn’t care he works so hard. As long as she is taken care of nothing else matters. I wish she were dead so I would have to deal with her.

  12. First Reviewer

    When dealing with stepchildren in their teens it’s more like dealing with a step-adult. Best to proceed with caution, and instead of dealing with them “Step aside” is the best medician.

  13. my stepdaughter is 12 and a huge liar and con artist and think she the queen, well i kicked her butt off that throne, no one comes in my house acting like a fool yelling at me and lying on my husband and friend and telling me talk to the hand smh. she lives with my brother now and oh man that is a mess. he spoils her which makes it harder to get her to listen to us. but she does each n everything they tell her but when my husband asked her why she cant do that at home she tells him bc she dont want too. her mom abandoned her as a baby and she so disrepectful then my husband thinks he can tell my two daughters from first marriage what to do . no way . u cant even fix ur kid so y start stuff with mine when i can handle it. she made false police against us and welfare hotlines when she dont get her way, and they learned fast how big of a liar she is.

  14. So good to read this! I raised my step children because the bio mother wanted to “find herself” and left them . I put career and much more on hold to become a full time mom to my step-kids…but, it was for nothing. As for Bio mom? She is now a priest! After I wed their father and raised them, doing all the hard work and having the teen years she is now back in the boys life…the saintly mother who never did anything for them but…is now the so called loving mother. They both hate me. I was the one who stood by them, took care of them while sick, fed them, loved them and cared for them as my own. Now…I am nothing. It hurts me beyond measure. The bio mom has all the love as does her lawyer husband she married and had a child with. My husband and I have not seen the boys for years…..why? Because we made them do right, were parents and not the best friend. My advice for anyone thinking of walking down the path with a man who has children is this…unless the bio mom is completely out of the picture do not do it!!!! Its easy to be a childs good time mama they will love that…but love and care for them as your own when the bio mother is a perm student in college and free as a bird but comes back when when all the hard work is done just isn’t worth the heartbreak…don’t do it…please don’t do it!!!

  15. So good to read this! I raised my step children because the bio mother wanted to “find herself” and left them . I put career and much more on hold to become a full time mom to my step-kids…but, it was for nothing. As for Bio mom? She is now a priest! After I wed their father and raised them, doing all the hard work and having the teen years she is now back in the boys life…the saintly mother who never did anything for them but…is now the so called loving mother. They both hate me. I was the one who stood by them, took care of them while sick, fed them, loved them and cared for them as my own. Now…I am nothing. It hurts me beyond measure. The bio mom has all the love as does her lawyer husband she married and had a child with. My husband and I have not seen the boys for years…..why? Because we made them do right, were parents and not the best friend. My advice for anyone thinking of walking down the path with a man who has children is this…unless the bio mom is completely out of the picture do not do it!!!! Its easy to be a childs good time mama they will love that…but love and care for them as your own when the bio mother is a perm student in college and free as a bird but comes back when when all the hard work is done just isn’t worth the heartbreak…don’t do it…please don’t do it!!!

  16. An article online can’t solve complicated life problems, but I must advice one thing as a stepchild.

    It’s hard to think any little kid is really evil, destroying homes, being criminals, ruining lives, etc like some of these posts. Now if the stepchild is much older, than perhaps they are evil and who knows perhaps he/she is a member of killer gang or something. But besides that case, seems hard to think of an adult just naming a child evil as reasoning for them “hating” you.

    Also, if you’ve done lots of work for this child and feel unappreciated, I’m pretty sure plenty of biomoms have also felt unappreciated. Raising a child is not solely about receiving appreciation, or at least I’d like to believe it’s not even close to the top of the list of why. Perhaps the problem lies not with how the child turned out, but more with the fact you weren’t meant to be a stepmom and how you could not completely love wholeheartedly a child that wasn’t yours.

    If the mom returns to the kids life after a long absence and they love their bio mom and their bio mom has changed for the better for them and regrets whatever actions she did in the past, I wouldn’t see it as competition and would see it more as extra people who love and care for my kids.

    • I love hearing a stepchild’s perspective, so thank you for sharing! Interesting notion that Holstein cannot do evil, but from the age of seven forward, a child definitely can do evil! I’m glad you seem to be good hearted though. From seven forward, children have the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. For the most part, they are well aware of what is wrong. What can make this situation hairy in a blended family is any efforts of alienation by a parent. At that point, the children are still looking to parents for moral guidance. Since most commenters here are stepmothers, let’s assume for this particular thread that if a child is doing evil, it is most likely a direct result of their wrongdoing being met with approval by biomother. Are the children evil? No. Are they acting evil? Yes. If this continues will they internalize this behavior and truly become evil? Yes.
      When I was a teen, my uncle divorced and remarried. This was unheard of in my large family. I did not treat his new wife well at first. Then I saw her sadness, and realized how selfish and cruel I was being. She makes my uncle a happier man and that is all that matters. It is truly selfish to think that poor behavior or mistreatment of another human being is ok simply because you think your life should be one way, and it turned out another. I apologized to my new Aunt and have gone out of my way to make her feel like a natural sort of my extended family since then.
      Yes, children can be evil. A stepmother is an easy target for many, and probably the least deserving of actually being the target.

  17. What if they are. Grown women in they’re late 30s, mid 40’s? None of the above apply except for the birth mother dissing? We have been married 21 years already!

  18. Same here. My oldest step child never liked me ,The second son had to come and live with us because his bio mother was always drunk. Now my stepdaughter hates me. we have 2 kids together(they qre adults, We are in our 70s and 80s, )going through health problems. Now they really hate us and will not help with there dad. My husband and I have been marries for 49 years. All hell is breaking out in our house. she gets on the phone with her dad, says awful things about me. He feels caught in the middle and can’t understand my anger. We end up in a fight.Now we don’t speak except through their dad. It is awful. I feel shoved to the side and my husband spend too much time arguing about them. I told my husband that I don’t want to talk to them or even hear about them My stepdaughter is59 years old and is still furious with me. I go to counseling all the time, but my stepdaughter will not get any help at all. I told my husband That I will not see her until she gets some counseling too. He still fantises about us being
    ‘the Brady bunch”We are having too many health problems to be in this mess with the grown kids.

  19. We got custody of my husband’s twin boys, 5 years ago. The smaller of the two, hates his mother, for abandonment. I have done everything textbook correctly. I have tolerated more abuse than a stray puppy, in the wrong neighborhood. When he says horrible things about his mother, I remind him, that she is still his mother. If I discipline him for calling me an f’n b, he breaks my 19th Century doll, that belonged to my aunt. My husband says: “Maybe I accidentally stepped on it.” That upset me very much. When I bought it up again, that his son must have done it, my husband smashed her arms off. He told me that I am not allowed to smack the boy on his arms, when he talks to me so horribly. I am not allowed to discipline him, nor point out that my husband is his child’s puppet. I cannot speak the truth, for fear of violent rages. My other stepson has been told by his father, that his brother is his favorite & suck it up. That poor boy is going to run off to the military, I fear, just to escape the dysfunction. The spoiled one, I fear will not survive his first few years, in adulthood. He is a very calculating, conniving, manipulator & he can make his daddy turn on his brother & me, at a snap of his fingers, or rather making the marionette dance. It’s truly the most bizarre thing I’ve ever been through. Thank God for this forum. It’s anonymous. I could never share with friends & family, the dysfunction in this household. It would be very embarrassing & they’d tell me to just leave. I’ve lost so much respect for my husband, that it may not be a choice. But at least I can vent, here, while I try to figure out what I’m going to do. Thanks

  20. I have 3 step children they range in age from 29 to 23. Two girls and one boy. Each of the girls have children of their own that they don’t take responsibility for. They are constantly draining their father for money and he gives and gives and gives. These are not children they are grown people and yet they act 12. Wanting their parents back together. We have been married for nine years. I am at my wits end. They constantly tell people how much they hate me. How I get mad if their Dad does for them. Its not that I am mad it saddens me how much they use him period.

    • Yaffa Balsam

      Rejection from stepkids is hurtful.

      It is possible that part of the reason that your 17 year old s/daughter is rejecting you is her developmental stage. It’s an age where teenagers individuate, and want to be their own people, and they reject both bio and stepparents.

      I hope your husband is supportive of you in this difficult time. The couple relationship is the most important part of making the process successful.

  21. This site is so helpful. It’s tiring listening to friends tell me that this is what I signed up for – but the kids behaved completely different before the engagement and wedding. Their father also did not reveal how many problems the kids have, apparently he was fully aware of them but did not give me a heads up. It’s hard to have respect for my husband when he allows his children to be disrespectful and misbehave. Being a child of divorce, I understand that the children are victims of divorce and certainly did not choose to have any of this happen. It’s easy for them to blame a step parent rather than see the faults in their own parents. It’s hard to grow into caring, mature adults when you have been given everything, have no responsibilities and care only for yourself. Since I am not allowed to discipline and are seen as attacking when I talk to my husband about how their behavior is worrying, ultimately the bioparents are to blame.

    • Yaffa Balsam

      I hear your frustration. It sounds like you feel that you were mislead by your husband and that you believe that your husband was dishonest with you about his children’s challenges, and about his parenting style. Transparency is crucial for relationships’ success.

      It is true that the bio-parents need to drive the parenting in a stepfamily. Discussing what values one teaches the kids, as well as rewards and consequences needs to happen before the remarriage. It’s not a guarantee that you will be on the same page. However, it can really shed light on one’s parenting philosophy and style.

      I find that when parents feel guilty for the break up of the biological family they ‘make it up’ to the kids with leniency in discipline and inconsistent boundaries which confuses the children. The children end up feeling that they have a lot of power in the family, but left feeling emotionally unsafe because they don’t have adults they can rely on and trust.

      Therapy with a therapist specializing in working with stepfamilies may help you clarify the issues, and develop realistic expectations for your family.

  22. Lena Treiber

    I fell bad for step moms out there but I have a close friend in my grade who is going through some really tough times right now. I know its none of my business but she wants to leave her dad and live with her mom because of her step mom. She treats her like her personal servant. Her schedule is to come home from school, do homework, clean until dinner. My friend also was ignored and didn’t get a happy birthday on her birthday, was called fat by her step mom. When she got full after eating, her step mom asked her “why are you starving yourself?” he dad din’t listen and sided with her step mom. I don’t believe that step mothers should treat their step kids like this and that is why they never want to call their step mom “Mom”.

    • Yaffa Balsam

      Thank you for your comment. Your compassion for your friend is admirable. She is lucky to have you as a friend.

      Stepmoms are individuals first with all sorts of issues. When people don’t heal from past traumas, they bring them along into their relationships, and end up struggling and sometimes they hurt the people they love because old hurts and vulnerabilities get triggered.

      Your friend is going through a rough time, and needs help. You can encourage her to ask her bio-parents to get help through therapy where she can get stronger. The therapist might recommend family therapy where she can have a safe environment to express her frustrations, and get support, and the parents can get some guidance in parenting. it is possible that the therapist will encourage the family to explore a change of custody time between the households

  23. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread. I’ve endured more abuse from my step kids than anyone else I know, largely in part due to their bio mom.
    Bio mom was brainwashing the kids (all 3 of them, but mostly the youngest), to the point where she even told them if they ate off my silverware & plates they would die because I’m trying to poison them. Or that if they came to see their dad, SHE would die because “their divorce caused her to get cancer”.
    VERY hard to just “let all this go” and move on when you’ve been kicked, hit, spit on, etc. while your husband makes excuses for them. I applaud all you stepparents out there. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

  24. I tried all of these methods to no avail. My step children are now 12 and 13 (boy and a girl) and I’ve been married to their father for 6 years. From the beginning it was a miserable disappointment. In my previous marriage, I had 2 step daughter’s that I raised and had a very different experience with them so I am not new to step parenting. I also have my own daughter from my previous marriage who is disgusted and heart broken when she sees how my current step children treat me. My husband laughs their behavior off. For example, the older one (girl) decided to insult me in front of my husband’s family, when I called her out, she threw a tantrum like a 2 year old. He laughed it off when I addressed it privately, told me I needed to “loosen up”. My parenting is much different than my husband’s and so are my expectations. I expect to have my things respected, my boundaries respected and although I do not accept their acceptance of me, I expect them to respect their dad’s decision in marrying me. The back talk, the deliberate disrespect, the talking about me to their mom and her family and accusations of things i have never done has reached an all time limit for me. I finally decided that since my husband was not going to do anything after all these years, I would. I began recording arguments that my step daughter would start- record her throwing fits- and then I promptly send them to her mother with a note like ‘I’m sure you didn’t raise her this way, but I will not tolerate her to act this way in my home- please see to it that you address this behavior or she will not be allowed to return.” I have done the same with the younger one. It has caused difficulties with my husband and their mom- to which my response has been – I don’t care. The older one has no boundaries, she has never been taught- she interjects herself into adult conversations, she demands things, she is now upset that we won’t sell our house so we can be closer to the school she wants to attend (all her friends are there). She is a constant state of madness for me. However; with all of this said, she knows how my children are and were raised. My two older stepdaughters from my previous marriage are successful- one is a doctor and the other is a pharmacist- my bio daughter is successful, landed a job right after college graduation and is on her way to being a very successful manager with the company she works for. I have no problem reminding my step children that “thank God, I am not your mother, because if I were, you’d be a different child with a different set of morales and manners.” Yes, I have compared. It isn’t right, but in some cases it is the only way I can shut them up and make them treat me somewhat decent. Sadly, after 6 years, I have decided that they win- my husband obivously has no intention of becoming a parent, and I can no longer take the abuse. Sometimes you reach a point in life where it isn’t worth it- and this is not worth it to me. I would rather be closer to my three daughters and struggle financially than put up with the b.s. I have to at home.

    • Yaffa Balsam

      This is an example of a biological father refusing to take responsibility for parenting his children. Additionally, he is condescending and marginalizing you as a woman, and as his wife.

      It sounds like you are at the end of your rope with this marriage. Have you considered marital therapy with a stepfamily therapist? If you and your husband are open to therapy, you might give that a try before ending the marriage. You may still wind up divorcing even if you do go to therapy, but going to therapy will give you the peace of mind and closure of knowing that you left no stone unturned.

  25. This is scary! I’m engaged to a wonderful man with three daughters (21 lives on her own, 17 lives w/ my fiance, and 13 lives 50/50 between bio mom and my fiance). I’m a mother of one adult daughter and grandmother of a toddler. I’ve been a stepmother of a wonderful boy and a very difficult girl. I swore I’d never date a man with daughters, but my guy is amazing and I can’t let my past experience ruien that. Still, I’m feeling scared! We’ve been carefull about how I was brought into the picture. It was 9 months of dating before I met his oldest and youngest. Then it was a few more months before we go together again…Etc. The middle I just met in December, after he and I had been dating for over two years. She was barely talking to him for over a year before she moved in w/ him in October after a fight with mom. She’s 17 and will be going to college out of state after a year of working here and raising money. We haven’t picked a date yet, mostly because I don’t know what is best. I don’t know if we should wait for her to go to college, or not. He leans towards not waiting. She’s difficult, but actually not my biggest worry. We’ve been bringing the youngest over to my house a lot. I’ve set up one of the spare rooms so she has a place to do homework, etc. She stayed with me a few days over summer break. Her dad slept in the third bedroom and I was working nights. It went pretty well for the most part. She is mostly home schooled, goes to a classroom three times a week and does the rest with her mom and her dad based on the subject. She had been in trouble with her dad for abuse of the computer chatting, Facebook etc. when not supposed to. My fiance left to take middle daughter to work and told youngest not to be on the computer. She finished home work and asked if she could listen to music while she hung her clothes in the closet. She listens to mostly Gospel music online. I said yes and she took the computer with her. My mistake for not saying yes, but you need to leave the door open…Oye! (BTW) we haven’t officially announced out engagement (it just happened reacenntly), but she is aware that we will get married at some point. I heard no music when I went back there but chose not to knock and say anything to her. I knew her dad would be back very soon. I met him in the drive and explained. He agreed to handle it w/out bringing me into it and making me look like a tatteler, bad guy, or whatever. He did very well. He went back and talked to her then told her she came out and all was well. That was a week ago. Here’s the problem that came up today. She’s grounded from computer for another offense. Her dad leaves to go taxi the middle one. Before he left I asked if she could walk the dog w/me, but he said she has too much homework; it’s fine for me to walk the dog while she stays and works. When get back I decide to post my homework before I pick up my grandson. I go into my room to get my laptop out of my school bag and when I open it up ther three log on options (mine, my fiance’s , hers) pop up. That’s normal, but what is not normal is the background. It’s her’s instead of mine, meaning she was the last one logged on. So, she must have gone into my room (ugh!) got into my bag and used the computer in the 30 minutes I was gone!?! I’ve not said a word to her, or my fiance. I think I should as boundaries need to be set and clear, but I am nervous.

    I honestly feel that my previous marriage was ruined because of stuff with the kids…My fault, his fault, my stepdaughter was guilty of some really mean things, but she was a teenager and not an adult. We were the adults, neither of us handled it right and the marriage was lost a month before she turned 18 ( I was holding on for that day, but we didn’t make it). Idk if it’s worth the risk of ruining what is the most wonderful relationship I’ve ever had, with the best person I’ve ever met, or if it’s better – smarter- for me to wait the five years until she’s an adult. He doesn’t want to, I don’t want to, but I’m lost.
    And yes, Yaffa, before you ask I will answer; we will be starting premarital counseling and both his daughters have been to counseling over the past four years since he and his ex divorced. I’ve only met the ex once a month ago and she’s the kind of person that talks crap to her kids about their father and tells stories that aren’t truthful. That’s another reason I’m very hesitant. Praying for clearity and hoping for sound advice.
    Thanks – Kathlene


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