9 Common Problems with Stepfamilies

These 9 problems are very inclusive. They can apply to any combination of non-traditional families. Everywhere from single parent households, to aunts and uncles who took on the role as caregivers, and yes, to stepparents and parents who are trying to navigate their new dynamic.

It’s important to be prepared for the times when things aren’t perfect.

If you’re aware beforehand that you might feel the following feelings, then you’ll be able to handle them better in the moment, which is better for you and for the children.

1: Sitting Bored on Mother’s Day

We aren’t parents.

We’re reminded of that from every time we’re called by our first name, to every time we aren’t the one the child is most excited to hug first. We’re especially reminded we aren’t parents on Mother’s Day.

Now I know that there’s a “Stepfamily Day” and i appreciate that. However to me that is not as special as Mother’s Day or Father’s day. Those days are lavished upon and celebrated through social media, retail, etc.

So what I decided to do was pick a date for me that was special to me, and have that be my “Stepmom’s Day.” and my partner was incredibly supportive of this. It lessened the resentment I felt that there was no day to celebrate the bond i’ve worked so hard at with my stepchild.

I decided on my mom’s birthday. Instead of focussing on her loss, I’m focussing on the maternal qualities she passed down to me. But you can pick whichever day you like, the important thing is is that it’s your choice.

It’s your day, and obviously you need the child’s agreement, but I’m sure if you and your partner discussed it with the child, then it would be embraced.

2. I’m Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

As a woman you’re coming into a situation expecting that you will blow it away, you’ll be the greatest stepmom there ever was, and you will impress your partner and your stepchildren will fall in love with you.

This is a completely unfair expectation to put on yourself.

How can you be an expert on something that you have no experience in?

Would you ever expect anyone to be amazing at something right away with no experience in the role? Especially when the role involves your emotions!

It’s going to take time. It’s going to take patience.

And it isn’t even really up to you, the child is not going to accept you right away, and will definitely not accept you all the time, and rejection hurts. Constant rejection takes a while to heal from and get used to. But trust me, you can do this if you decide it’s what you want.

Be patient and kind to yourself.

And also, while you should be patient with yourself, if you really want to delve into the root of the problems, you should click here to learn how I can help you with that.

3. A Rose By Any Other Name

Don’t expect to be called mom right away.

Or ever.

I get it occasionally, and it feels amazing when it does. I know she isn’t saying it because I’ve somehow replaced her mother, but because we’ve connected in a deeper way than usual.

But I’ve been living with my Step Daughter for 2 and a half years.

At first she called me mom all the time, and then it was Celeste, and now it goes back and forth. And that’s okay.

Stepchildren will go back and forth, because they’re feeling so many things.

They don’t understand why they feel guilty when they call the stepmom mom. It doesn’t mean they don’t care about you.

As soon as they realize that you are not going anywhere, and let go of their expectation that their parents will get back together, they will realize that it’s safe to create the relationship they want to with you.

Whether they decide to call you mom or not, does not mean they love you any less or any more.

4. There’s No Place Like… Home?

In some stepfamilies, when your stepchildren are in the house, you’re miserable.

You try to find some corner to hide in. You’re trying to navigate your way. You dread them coming over. But why? What don’t you like about them? Really think about it.

Is it their personality, or is it how you’re treated in certain situations?

Talk to your spouse about your feelings, but be prepared before going into the conversation. Figure out what it is that’s bothering you when your stepchild is in the home, is it really that you don’t like them? If so, what don’t you like about them.

The more prepared you are for the conversation, the better it will go. Probably best not to start out with the sentence “I don’t like your child.” but rather “When this happens, I feel upset. Can you be on board with me to try to change this?”

Offering a problem without a solution doesn’t do anyone in the family good.

If you honestly don’t like his children, and don’t ever see yourself liking having them around, then I don’t see how it’s fair to you, your partner, or the stepchildren to move forward in that relationship.

5. Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day

Wouldn’t it be kind of weird if you loved your stepchildren instantly?

Wouldn’t it seem a bit fake?

Love isn’t instant. It takes time. Especially if you aren’t blood related, or the child is grown.

The expectation of loving someone as quickly as possible doesn’t happen. Love takes time. Sometimes love takes years, and that’s okay.

Realize that you don’t have to love your stepchildren to be a good parent to them. Realize that you don’t have to shame yourself because it is taking you longer to love them than you expected. Adjust your expectations.

Allow both of you room to grow together at your own pace.

9-common-problems-with-stepfamilies-shoes6. Becoming Cinderella’s Evil Stepmother

Remember that even though it feels like it when they’re with you sometimes, the children are not yours. Even though you have to deal with the exact same things that your partner does, and maybe more complex emotions, your partner is the parent.

When you point out a negative quality in your stepchild, it can lead to buried resentment. Parents can tell their children bad behaviours and kids will want to fix them to gain their approval, it does not work that way with stepparents. If you have an issue, try discussing with your Partner how to handle it.

It is okay to point out something negative sometimes, just make sure you’ve recently praised a few positive behaviours recently as well.

7. Everybody puts Stepmom In A Corner.

If the stepchildren constantly go to their parent every time you ask them to do something, and your partner says something different than you, then there’s a problem.

Remember that even though these rules are obvious to you, the stepchildren are adjusting to your new expectations, while managing their own feelings. This is an issue between you and your partner before it is an issue with you and your stepchildren.

Communicate with your partner first and foremost.

If you don’t start acting like a team, and getting on the same page with discipline and respect, the idea of household rules just don’t work, and you can’t expect your stepchildren to adapt to something that their father hasn’t.

8. Getting Yelled At Like The Losing Team

Stepchildren will lash out at you, and sometimes be hurtful with saying things like “you’re not my mom” “things were better before you lived here” or even “I hate you.”

Remember that no matter how convincing it is, your stepchild doesn’t mean what they are saying, they just do not like what is happening, and they are currently finding it easiest to blame you.

In all reality you know that you have done nothing but try to take care of them in the best way you know how, and deep down they know that too.

Talk to your partner and have all three of you sit down, and discuss what is happening in the stepchild’s world. They clearly feel like they aren’t being heard, so hear them.

Also make sure that if the parent witnesses this blow up, the parent takes the front seat, says for everyone to take a breather, and sends the child in their room. Then in half an hour or so they all talk calmly as a family.

9. Frankly Stepmom, I Don’t Give A Damn

If the stepchildren constantly try to change your household rules, then there is a problem.

If they are always looking to adjust the rules, and you allow it to happen, they will never respect you, listen to you, or take you seriously.

Respect requires consistency.

You do have to learn how to be firm, it is part of learning how to parent.

It is incredibly helpful if your partner has this down already, so that you are not the only parent being firm about the rules. Remember that even though you aren’t their biological parent, you aren’t there to just be a friend to them either.

You are an authority figure as much as their parent is.

But please remember that the stepchildren will never care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

If you’re going to discipline them, make sure you also praise them and do nice things with them. Would you like to be told what to do by someone who never spends any time with you, or shares a laugh with you, or shows they care?
I hope you take these 9 tips to heart, and let me know if they’ve helped you, or feel free to share your own!

Have a happy day. 🙂

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6 years ago

I have two step children a daughter from a previous marriage and a 3 year old with my husband…we are indeed a blended family. I appreciate your 9 tips as I can related to every one. My step son is very close to and is my shadow whenever he is over my step daughter is a different story I feel like she has to compete for her father’s attention when she is over often times she ignores me or won’t acknowledge me and maybe she is my best friend but she loves my 18 as she looks to her as… Read more »