There are always risks involved with forming a blended family due to the relationship you may end up having with the step-child.
This is why it’s important to learn when to leave because of step-child.
However, learning when to leave because of step-child really shouldn’t be the first thing on your mind!
The primary focus when forming a step-family should be to find a better way to communicate with your step-child or step-kids depending on the situation.
Communication is key and finding the right channel that fits both you and them can make or break a relationship, something that’s especially difficult if you’re marrying into a family with an older child (think teenager+).
This communication typically revolves around quality family time and talking to the biological parent of the child so they can talk to their child to make the transition process easier.
The step-child usually doesn’t mean it, but often they feel as though step-mom is trying to replace their mother even though that’s not really the case nor should it be.
Another method to assist the transition is family therapy, to help ease the child into this process and help everyone understand their position and their issues with the whole thing.
Sometimes, these things work out and they’re worth the effort, but, other times, they’re simply too much to handle and, no matter how much you may love your new partner, the child may end up being too much of a burden for you to bear.
But, how do you know when enough is enough and that your mental health is worth more than trying to rectify things? How do you know that it’s time to move on?
Well, to get answers to those questions, read on to find out more about what sorts of problems you might run into and what steps you can potentially take to try and fix the situation before choosing to bail.
When To Leave Because Of Step-child? 3 Possible Scenarios
So, what could possibly be the cause of your problems as a step-parent?
An upset 8 year old who misses his mom greatly and now has a step-mom trying to take her place?
A teen looking for his own independence?
Or maybe one trying to sort out the same problems as the 8 year old but in a different way? Very often, it’s infinitely harder to get acceptance from a teenager.
Maybe it’s a child who thinks he doesn’t have to answer to you because you’re not his real parent?
Or, maybe, it’s a child who wants to badmouth you by using lies and other sources of manipulation since the parent is likely to believe them over you?
Many of these may sound outlandish or downright mean, but believe me when I say that they do happen and are arguably some of the most common cases of woe for a step-mom.
These are things that can be really difficult to deal with and, if they don’t end up getting resolved the first or even the second time around (or however long your patience lasts), it might be time to throw in the towel.
Here they are in a bit more detail:
1. The step child is frequently lying to his biological parent about you
When a step child constantly lies about what you were doing and where, your husband is likely to side with the child first, especially if they feign innocence or appear all sad and teary-eyed.
Some children tend to be quite a bit more devious and crafty than others, which, if you’re dealing with something like this, might be very clear to you.
All of this ends up hurting the trust you’ve established with your new husband and, even though the lies might happen too often to really be true, the bio parent still has to side with his own kid first which ends up painting you as the bad guy.
The step son or daughter knows this and will use it to his or her advantage.
This often fosters mistrust among marriage partners and creates a small divide that only grows bigger as time passes.
If left untreated, it may end up growing so big that the only real solution is to break up and leave your new family for good.
This problem can be resolved by talking to the child with the biological father present so that you can get to the bottom of the issue.
Either that or seek some professional help with a therapist. This will hopefully help resolve the issue because you don’t deserve to be treated as someone who’s untrustworthy right off the bat.
2. The step-child refuses to recognize your authority as his step parent
Going into a new relationship and dealing with remarriage can be a difficult time for both you and your partner, especially if the previous marriage was a bumpy ride with a pretty toxic destination.
It’s likely that there’s a lot of uncertainty and both of you feel as though you’re walking on eggshells trying to make this second marriage work where the previous relationship failed and where the ex-wives and ex-husbands did too.
So, you can only imagine how much extra baggage a defiant stepchild can be.
Regardless of whether you’re facing a 6 yr old step son or a 14 yr old step daughter, it can be really difficult, especially when they’re intentionally rebellious.
While building a great relationship with your own children can be hard enough, doing so with step-kids can be a real nightmare particularly when they aren’t invested in the new family dynamic and actively try to undermine all your authority.
Adult stepchildren are especially difficult for a variety of reasons, making it a lot harder for you to earn their trust and respect.
This can all lead to feeling alienated in your own home, to being the odd one out in this family unit no matter what you do.
If nothing you or your new co-parent do ends up helping, then it might be time to back up a little bit.
If the children simply can’t accept you, then trying to force the matter may really not be beneficial at all.
You can try using a different parenting style and see if that helps, or, once again, seek the help of a therapist or just talk to the kids yourself. If none of those work, then it may just be time to clean up your side of the room and leave.
I know these decisions are hard, but, in the end, they’re for your own well-being as well as the well-being of the family in general.
3. Step teens that aren’t just causing problems for you, but the biological parent as well
Going into a somewhat dysfunctional family can be a massive challenge riddled with a number of parenting issues.
But, remember, a difficult teen doesn’t necessarily mean that the bio parent isn’t a good parent.
Unfortunately, it’s a tumultuous time of life, especially when there’s a remarriage that’s been thrown into the mix
As mentioned earlier, teenagers are a lot more rebellious and a lot more independent and defiant to rules, especially yours as you aren’t their ‘real mom’.
Just be prepared to have that drilled into your head as the main excuse.
If you move in when the child is still relatively young, it might be a bit easier to handle as he’ll still have to rely on you somewhat which may end up fostering a bond of trust and removing a considerable amount of tension further down the line.
However, if your step children have reached puberty and started high school, things can get dicey.
Teens face a fair amount of stress, panic, and uncertainty (much like parents do in the first few years of parenthood).
Dealing with all the emotions that come with this, and then adding the complications of losing a parent and gaining a whole new one, can cause a volatile reaction.
In addition to this, teens just resent family life in general and would rather just run away and do their own thing.
Having a step-parent often adds fuel to the fire and makes kids act out even more in order to garner the response that they desire.
All of this, on top of trying to make a new relationship work, can truly feel exhausting and become a second full time job rather than a more enjoyable experience for both sides.
If compounded with a lack of respect for your authority, some extreme cases can even end up becoming a bit more physical, which is the worst case scenario.
Talking in this case can also be really difficult, especially as there’s no respect.
The bio parent may be able to get through to them, but, more often than not, it ends up being a complete bust.
If this proves to be too much for you, then this ought to be a good sign of when to leave because of stepchild.
What Makes The Situation Worse?
Now that the reasons for when to leave because of stepchild are a bit clearer, it’s time to delve into two of the most common problems that lead to this situation in the first place.
Although you may not be guilty of these things, it’s worth being aware of the possible causes of the conflict as it may help you remedy the situation.
1. Coming into a blended family and thinking that it’s just the same as a regular one
Many step parents, when forming a blended family, make the mistake of thinking there’s no difference.
While it may seem the same to the public eye, what happens in private is frequently not the same.
Everyone wants to save face after all and act as though everything is hunky dory, just like you see on social media.
The reality is, however, that very often there’s a lot of tension bubbling below the surface.
No matter what your intentions may be (I’m certain they’re nothing but the best), they may come off as something completely different to the step-child, it’s just how it is.
You aren’t his biological parent, someone he may have a close bond with, and, because of that, he’ll see you as an intruder for a good while.
And that’s the root cause of almost every issue that could rear its ugly head – he either feels as though you’re replacing his mother or that you feel the need to replace his mother.
It’s super important to work with your partner to talk to the child. Try to help him realize that you know you’re not his biological mother and that you’re not going to try to take her place.
It’s also worth letting him know that although he’s not your biological child, you’ll love him as if he was and you’ll do your best to be a better mom than you have been.
Show him that you’re there to help raise him as best you can while supporting not just him, but his father too as well as any other family members.
The last bit depends on the circumstances, whether it was a divorce or a sudden death in the family and how touchy the subject can be. Be sensitive to the child’s experiences.
I advise that you talk to your partner about this carefully before speaking to the child so that you know the full scope of things.
The reality is that this talk will be like treading through a minefield and you don’t want to make any mistakes as they might make things way worse.
What’s important to relay is that you’ll try to earn the child’s respect and hope that he can, in time, accept you for who you are, a step parent who’s there for him whenever he needs you.
I know that it may be difficult to downplay yourself, but if you ever want to earn the joy and privilege of being called “mother” by your step-child, it’ll take time and patience.
2. Not trying to figure out what exactly is causing the child to be so upset
Many step-moms rack their brains to try figure out what they’re doing wrong when often the solution is staring them in the face.
They spend their time thinking of different approaches when all that’s really needed is an open and honest conversation. Sit down with the child and ask him respectfully and graciously what’s bothering him.
There are certain do’s and don’ts for stepparents that most step-moms aren’t even aware of. However, instead of spending hours thinking about what you did wrong, you may ask directly for an answer.
But, be prepared to ask the question knowing that you may not get an answer immediately.
The child might not even be willing to give you the answer.
You could ask your husband to try doing it when he’s alone with his child instead, though trying it yourself for the first time might be a better option as it could build trust – it all depends on what your step child expects from you.
Whichever one ends up working, know that this sort of discussion will help open the relationship between you and your step-child a bit more, regardless of the outcome. As long as you make sure to be willing to listen to any criticism and make it clear that you’re open to listening, no matter what the response may be.
Mind you, you shouldn’t fold completely either. Everything is built on compromise, as long as you give him a bit of ground, the situation may end up improving.
I know that it’s hard to admit that a child may be right, but sometimes it’s better to suck it up and live with it instead of ruining what could potentially be a healthy marriage after a bit of work.
What Can I Do To Try And Fix This Before Deciding When To Leave Because Of Stepchild
I’m sure that we can all agree, if a stepchild downright refuses to accept you, it can be really harsh and difficult to deal with.
But, it’s always worth putting up a fight to try and remedy the situation before you take the last parachute and bail on the relationship and the potential new family life that could’ve been.
If it doesn’t work, feel free to exit stage right and never look back.
It’s not your job to be someone’s servant just to appease their every whim, even your own kids who you have full custody over shouldn’t get away with treating you that way.
1. Present the case to your spouse in an adult manner
One of the most difficult things to deal with is having your new spouse be against you.
It is for this reason that it’s important to get him onto your side early on in the argument so he can see that you aren’t the actual problem (hopefully).
This is especially true in the case of your step child lying to his biological parent about you and painting you as some sort of bad person or even a villain while all you’re doing is trying to be a good parent to him.
Young kids may have a harder time telling believable lies, but they have the power of cuteness on their side, whereas teen step-kids may be slightly more subtle and manipulative which can be a lot worse.
Teens won’t just lie about you or go after you in general, they could do the same to their bio dad too – they can become a rather uncontrollable teen typhoon.
Whatever the case may be, have some alone time with your partner and make sure to present your side of the story in a calm and collected manner because you need to show that you’re the adult here.
Once again, this is especially important because the bio parent will most likely take their child’s side first as their children should be their number one priority.
Just like talking with the kids, it can sometimes feel like you’re trying to cross a warzone and have to be extremely careful.
However, a good, open, and honest conversation (as difficult as it may be) can help clear any built up distrust that the child may have caused, or it can at least give you an ace up your sleeve when you go to talk to the problem child in question.
That being said, it can also end up somewhat negatively if the father sides with the child’s actions and justifies them.
This can be quite heartbreaking and, at this point, it might be a good time to consider when to leave because of stepchild.
As long as you keep calm and collected, you should be alright, just don’t give an ultimatum or anything in that line as that can come off as you trying to manipulate him, only making things worse.
2. Do some self-reflection or get your own personal therapist
Sometimes what we feel may not be exactly what we’re presenting, nor is it necessarily the reality of the situation.
When you stop and listen to what the stepchild is saying, ifd he tells you that you may be a bit too assertive or controlling or something similar, then it may be time to do some introspection.
These are often things that we don’t see, that we don’t quite register, because it’s such an integral part of our lives, things such as holding to some sort of routine or keeping everything to a strict schedule.
These are things that you might be subconsciously introducing into the household that the child simply doesn’t like and you’re infringing on the lifestyle that he’s gotten used to.
Once you find out what the problems are or you simply start getting fed up with potential issues, it might be time to take a bit of a breather and go into some deep thought.
Analyze the way you’ve been acting and try to make some sense from it. Consider whether or not what you’re doing is truly wrong and ask yourself if it needs a little bit of adjusting.
Personally, I’d advise getting a second opinion on this from a certified professional. If you have the funds available, hire a therapist.
Alternatively, if you don’t, then talking to your partner works too.
If the problem is just you, then that’s easy enough to fix, but don’t take everything they say about you as a problem. Compromise can only go so far.
If you do recognize that something’s wrong on your end, make the effort to recognize your step child’s criticism and thank him for it.
It might sound weird, but it’s honestly better to be the bigger person and admit that you may have been wrong rather than being stubborn.
Not only will it foster a better relationship between the two of you, but it’ll also help build the child’s self confidence knowing that his input didn’t go unheard by an adult.
3. Make sure the kids spend enough time with their bio parent
While the desire to constantly try and be in your new child’s life can be strong, the bottom line is that he also needs to spend a lot of time with his real parents.
Maybe he lost his mom just last year and his father has already remarried, which can make him feel as though his dad is trying to erase any trace of his real mom and replace her with you.
If that’s the case, trying to spend too much time with your stepchild may end up causing more damage than good and he might build a form of resentment toward you that’ll only keep growing if nothing is done.
Instead, allow him more time with his biological parent so that your new role in his life doesn’t feel forced upon him.
He’s also less likely to feel as though this new person vying for his dad’s attention is preventing him from hanging out with dear-old dad.
Give it time and give them space.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your relationship with your new husband’s kids, they may come around to accepting the new mom and dad dynamic.
Whether you’re a stepmom or a stepdad, the challenges of being a step-parent can be great, especially if the step-kids aren’t respecting you in any way or recognizing you as their new parent.
Sometimes, the challenge is so great that it may be time to start considering when to leave because of step-child problems becoming too much to deal with.
Sure, there are ways to try and remedy the situation and they should be attempted first, but things don’t always work out and you may not end up being the right fit for this new step-family of yours.
Regardless, if you’re going to try give fixing it a go, know that communication is key.
Family counseling or just talking to the child so his opinion can be heard will give you the best chances of improving the situation.
However, if none of the above end up working, it may be time to call it quits and start thinking about a divorce.
As gruesome as the idea sounds, sometimes people just don’t fit well with one another or their families and it’s better to part ways and seek more compatible matches.
I do hope that doesn’t happen to you and that you ultimately end up actually fixing any issues you may have with your step son or step daughter. I believe in you.
Until next time, mamma.
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