by Shadra Bruce

There are certain parts of step parenting that do not come into the light as often as they probably should.  While most blended families have struggles or issues – and some blended families have more than their share of additional stresses – it’s not often that people talk about what happens when step mom or step dad is being mistreated or manipulated.  You may find it very difficult to tell the man or woman you love that his or her child is causing you pain or has a part of their personality that is sometimes only visible to you.  While I always, through my articles and in my life, advocate giving the step child the benefit of the doubt, what I may not be stating clearly enough (and therefore will do so now) is that no matter what the child has experienced at the hands of divorce, you, as the step parent, deserve to be treated with respect.

I have been lucky, for the most part, in my step parenting experience;my step kids have been respectful and have allowed me a large role in their lives.  I have seen, however, both within my own family and within other blended families, the divisiveness that occurs when a step child manipulates a situation.

Parents believe the best about their children – how else would we learn to tolerate the terrible twos, the even-worse threes, and the challenges of raising teenagers?  We see the best in our kids, and we give them the benefit of the doubt.  We sometimes even go so far as to make excuses for them or their behavior.  We do it out of love.

There are times, though, when a step child discovers a way to make life miserable for the step parent.  This is an excerpt from Shadra’ s book, Stories From a StepMom, available on Amazon Kindle. Read more or request a review copy.

5 thoughts on “Disrespectful Stepchildren

  1. please someone out there help me. I have a husband of 7 years who my children(16,20,22) love and respect. My husband has a daughter 20, who hates me and threatens me physically. my husband takes her side. Today was father’s day and my children did nice stuff for their “dad”. Another altercation over e-mail and telephone from her, .My husband took her side and I begged him to please tell her she can not disrespect me, i am his wife and he wouldn’t. I told him to leave. If he doesn’t stick up for me i can’t stay married to him. This happened like 6-7 hours ago and i’m still in tears.

    1. Kimberly,

      I am sorry you are having such a difficult time. The fact that the stepchild is an adult that I assume does not live with you affects the kinds of suggestions I make here. First, I do believe that the biological parent is responsible for setting the stage for a successful relationship between his new spouse and his children. Without being a professional counselor or having more insight into the nature of the issues you have with your stepdaughter, all I can suggest is that you do two things immediately: 1, stop engaging with this adult child for now and 2, get counseling. Ideally, your husband will accompany you and the two of you will work on this issue together, but even if he will not go to family counseling with you, you should go.

      What is the issue between you and your stepdaughter? Has she been able to articulate why she is angry with you? Have the two of you fought about something in particular? Would she be willing to go to counseling with you?

      If you feel you are not safe or that she will follow through on her threats of physical violence, please contact the authorities.

      Given the ages of all the children involved, you and your husband do have the freedom to focus on your relationship to some degree.

      Take care and thanks for reaching out.

      More resources are available here:

  2. Help. I’m engaged to a wonderful caring respectful man. When we became engaged he shared with me his hope that he, my children (15, 13, & 9) would be a family. They were great at first. Until he moved in and began to remind them to do as I asked. (like “didn’t your mom say?”). He has lived with is for 6 months and their disrespect and bad attitudes have hurt him deeply. It’s not getting better only worse. He could do better but I can honestly say, althought I’m ashamed to admit, it’s them. I feel like I’ve raised them wrong. I don’t know what to do. They’ve had a rough life with Thier father & the divorce but he doesn’t deserve to be punished for the father’s abusive behavior of me and them. Are insurance doesn’t cover counseling or therapy & the sessions are too expensive to consider even one a month.
    Help someone any advice will be appreciated!!

    1. Hi there. I’m sorry for your difficulty. Even without counseling, I believe your family will be able to come through this. One thing to realize is that because your kids are older, they will offer more resistance to the changes that are happening. They likely feel as though they’re losing you and that their world is upside down, and having your fiance already usurping the role of disciplinarian and father figure can cause a lot of extra tension.

      My advice would be for you to spend one-on-one time with your kids, reassuring them that you are still there for them, and making sure they know that this man makes you happy. Be kind, but firm, about the expectation you have that they will treat him with respect – but expect no less from him toward the kids. They deserve to be treated with respect as well, and you should demand that, too.

      Give the kids the power to voice their concerns and have a say in how things happen; they probably feel completely out of control and the only power they have is in disrupting the peace of your family life.

      Hopefully others can chime in with advice as well…but be patient!! Six months is not long enough for everyone to have adjusted, and it is normal for things to be bumpy at this point.

      Good luck!

  3. I have an adult stepdaughter 31 years old and an adult stepson 29 years old. the daughter has done nothing but cause stress in my marriage to her dad. She makes him feel guilty and has him pay her and her moms rent and supply mom with a car for two years, my husband pays the expenses, now she is expecting rent money for her and her mom. She comes often to stay with us she lives out of town and when she is around my husband and I aruge(this is the only time we argue She spies on me listening to my phone calls goes thru my belongings and tells all family and friends I am mean and deny her food, she does not have a boyfriend hasn’t had one in 8 years. Stepson has been in and out of jail and mental institutions he has stold from me tried drugging my dog, he no longer lives with us. Its so sad my husband and I have a great marriage they hate to see their dad happy and they drain him emotionally and financially. We are currently in marriage counseling but my husband denies any misbehavior of his adult kids. I never meet such disrespectful ungrateful adults in my life. I am numb and distant now with my husband. Will he ever open his eyes to their evil behavior. I have a 25 year old daughter who is married and she causes us zero trouble.

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