Parenting is difficult under the best of circumstances. Harder still, is parenting another’s children, even if those children belong to the person whom you love and trust most in the world.
But some challenges are more difficult than others. For a stepparent, dealing with rude stepchildren can cause resentment and tension not just in the stepparent/stepchild relationship but in the marriage.
While it is not expected that a child will fall immediately in love with their stepparent, they must know that they are not allowed to be disrespectful. You must not allow insulting or rude behaviors to become entrenched. Instant love is most often a myth. However, respect is a way of life.
It’s important to acknowledge the reason (or reasons) for the disrespectful behaviors. Children may still be grieving the loss of the biological family. Perhaps the time variable was not enough for them to work through their own feelings regarding the dissolution of their parents’ marriage.
Children may also feel jealous of the new stepparent. When couples marry, there is an added permanence not implied in dating or living together. Once the temporal nature of the relationship is left behind and the stepparent is a fixture in their lives, children are faced with the realization that they will continue to share their mom or dad.
Also, loyalty to the absent biological parent can cause hard feelings. A child may want to draw near to a stepparent but feels that desire may compromise their mother-child or father-child relationship.
Or, it could be normal adolescence rearing its ugly head.
Whatever the reason, the issues need to be resolved before they cause permanent damage to the stepfamily unit or ultimately, the marriage. To take on the trials facing your family, you must forge ahead with a united front, with the biological parent taking the lead and learn how to deal with rude stepchildren.
FAQs About Rude Stepchildren:
Is parenting hard for stepparents?
Parenting is hard for stepparents because it involves taking care of someone else’s children, who may be still processing their emotions and anger over divorce of their parents. When stepchildren refuse to accept stepparents it doesn’t only strain their relationship with you but in your marriage too.
How do I stop my stepchildren from being disrespectful?
You will not be able to have a functional relationship with your stepchildren instantly—let alone making them fall in love with you or making them show respect to you. Children need a lot of time to adjust to the new reality brought upon them by their parents. Where you would have to show a lot of patience, you should also make sure disrespectful behavior doesn’t become commonplace in your house.
Why are kids disrespectful toward stepparents?
Unless you find out why children show disrespect to their stepparents, you wouldn’t be able to rid the stres prevailing in your house. Major reasons for their disrespectful behavior relates to the fact that they require time to grieve the loss of their parents’ marriage. Perhaps they need more time to understand that their parents had their reasons for abandoning their marriage, and it has nothing to do with them. Children feel they owe it to their absent parent, a reason for them to reject their stepparents.
How to make stepchildren respect you?
You have to respect your stepchildren and understand the fact that they are going through a rough period in their lives. “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” – Robert Fulghum. Being stern and repeatedly telling them that they need to show respect to their stepparents will not work. You would have to show them what respect looks like by respecting them and understanding their pain.
Should I make rules for my stepchildren?
You should make rules for your stepchildren and treat all children alike if you want to maintain a good relationship with them. Rules communicate to children that they are all equal and no one gets preferential treatment. This promotes harmony and help resolve issues and ensure everyone’s needs are met. Be consistent with rules and the consequences that flow from their violation.
Are stepchildren disrespectful because they cannot express themselves?
Children act in a disrespectful way when they feel confused because of difficult situations and find no other way to express their feelings. When you help them process their feelings and teach them to communicate whatever troubles them, they feel cared for and loved. You should teach them to channel their anger, frustration and fear in an appropriate manner. Listening to their concerns and making them understand conflict in a loving manner goes a long way in fostering a healthy relationship.
How do I make my spouse and children get along?
Allow your children and spouse to develop their relationship at their own pace. If you lose patience and try forcing a relationship on them, it would only trigger pent up anger and frustration.
I read a lot of articles that say the step parent should not be the disciplinarian but I think there is a problem with this statement. When I was a child and I broke the rules my mother never said “wait til your father gets home” … and so I learned that it was important to respect the rules at all times. If only the biological parent can provide discipline, then the kids learn that they can do whatever they want when the biological parent is not around. It can also set up a situation where kids try to get biological parents to agree as a way to cause conflict and skirt the rules at the newly married parent’s home. I firmly believe that the rules of the home need to be set by the biological parent and stepparent. That way the rule doesn’t change when the biological parent is not looking or in not at home. I also believe that fair does not necessarily mean equal. The best example I can give of this is that if my step daughter needs a new bra, my stepson does not necessarily have to get a new bra, jock strap or other compensating item to make things equal.
April Olinger says
Exactly!!!!! I completely agree. This situation in my home feels like the hardest thing Ive ever faced. That may sound ridiculous to some but this 11 yr old girl will not mind me. I am on the brink of walking out all the time. I am so tired of fighting with her. It is heartbreaking as i watch the wedge between my husband and i grow deeper everyday. The resentment and ongoing conflict are impossible. We have a plan. We discuss it all daily. The moment i request any task of her, she becomes defiant and loud and shrill. After her extensive fit, I have no choice but to take a privilege or send her to her room. It turns in to hours of screaming and fit throwing tantrums daily all over a request to get her shower or whatever. It is completely out of control and i fear the worst for my marriage. He supports me BUT there is always a “trial” of fact presentation on my part. My husband and i are deeply in love. We’ve been married for five years. I am growing to hate my step-daughter and I am so ashamed of myself for this. Why cant she just mind? Oh my…. I’m sorry. Apparently i needed to vent about this situation. Thanks for listening.
I to deal with this same thing…..I have a step son who is 10 and boy does he know how to manipulate his parents into thinking I am a the worst. Recently my husband has told me that I either leave his child alone or our marriage is over! He doesn’t have to go by the rules in our home but my kids do!!!!! Double standard or what?
johnnie brown says
Well Fedup, you have it better than to have to deal with my step-son. He has done everything from steal, lie and much, much worse. He’s a Judge and nobody will do anything. He has thrown me in jail to get me out of way for him to steal all of the trust. All of this after 20-beautiful, beautiful years with my husband. The only thing I can say is that he will have to answer to the Lord. Torture doesn’t even describe what he has done to me.
I have been married for 16 years. I love my wife, but I feel like I have to force myself to love my step-daughter. She recently moved out (a few days ago at almost 23 years old) after another incident where I became angry after she disrespected me. Her mother has never recognized me as having authority over her, and has always stood in the middle if I ever tried to discipline her, reprimand her, or give her firm instructions/correction that she does not like. I can count on one hand where I have tried, so early on I gave up. This final altercation I had enough, so I gave her a response in writing of some strict expectations to either comply to (of which she had two different options) or I would be moving out. Her mother stepped in again and moved her out to her sister’s. Again, demonstrating that I have no authority over her daughter in any way. I believe her daughter is very rebellious toward any authority. As an example, she has had about 15 different t jobs in the past 4 years. Always, it is her complaining about how managment is stupid and doesn’t care for her.
There is a precedent I believe. Reverence authority because of their position. If this is not taught at an early age, a child will feel very insecure and unstable. So, that child will have a spirit of rebellion.
Her mother accuses me of not loving her daughter, but I did love her daughter because I went to work for 20 years as a truck driver to feed her, clothe her, and shelter her. All I asked was that I would be allowed to instruct and correct her, and this was always denied (directly or indirectly). I am not an abusive guy. I do not yell, mostly. (Probably lost it a few times, and raised my voice a couple dozen.) But I never spanked her or even tried to. I only lost it twice with my daughter (meaning yelled at her) in the past 16 years.
Sadly, I am sitting here. My wife has not spoke to me except in passing in the past 8 days. Not sure what to do. I did make an appointment with a counselor for me for this next Saturday.
The problem is your husband, he is over protective that is why the boy manipulates him
Generally women have fear of the unknown towards their daughters if they are to raised by other man, If your wife really loves you was going to be on your side and try to help to bring the best out of her daughter. In most cases bitter step daughter their behavior is caused by the fact that their real fathers are not there for them. they want to take out anger on every man close to them. in future it will also their romantic relationships. Her mother should be considerate and work along with the stepfather. Not all Stepfathers are cruel.
I have been with my husband for 3 years, he has one daughter and I have 3 children (2 girls one boy). At the time of us meeting 3 of the kids were in high school with my oldest daughter in college. I was hoping that with the kids being older we wouldn’t have as many issues. I was always the disciplinarian in our family and had rules. My new husband had a more laced approach, mainly because he only got her every other weekend. In the beginning I let some things go but when my kids started to get upset about how his daughter got away with everything then he and I had to have a talk. We talked and he said that he didn’t have anyone to really teach him how to be a parent ( his mom is not the best role model) and he understood why I had certain rules and we came up with “house rules”. When the rules were then enforced his daughter started to not want to come over and this is where I saw here manipulate the situation with her mom, dad and my mother in law. She eventuality stopped coming around all together and said some very mean things about her dad and I. Fast forward to now ( a year since she had been over) where she wants to fix her relationship with her dad but will later work on a relationship with me. This is has caused issues because I live in the house and am always with my husband. When we see each other we say hi but that is about it. I feel that she needs to apologize for her words and actions but she has said she is not sorry for her words or actions. My husband and I don’t see eye to eye on this because he thinks that eventually she will feel bad for what she said and will apologize then. Am I wrong to say that by her not apologizing for her words is like excusing the disrespect?
DivorcedMoms Staff says
I don’t think that you are excusing bad behavior. Here is my opinion, her relationship with her father is the one that is most important to her. She has said once they have worked out their issues she will work on her relationship with you. I think, for now, you’ll need to be satisfied with that. Here is the kicker, though, and something that needs to be paid attention to. Is she genuinely interested on rebuilding her relationship with her Dad or is she interested in manipulating him as she did before. I would express to him that you want to be part…someone who has knowledge of what is going on in their relationship so that you can help him guard against her manipulations.
sorry to hear this, but I am currently dealing with something a bit similar, got married to my wife who already had a daughter, I shelter, feed, and pay for her school fees now she is 20 in year 3;
the funny thing is she does have a biological father who doesn’t car or participates in her wellbeing he has never taken care of her in any way, but I am the one she is rude to or often disrespects.
my wife keeps stepping in sometimes and also scolds/talks to her since she is not the strict mommy type, but one thing is I am also fed up of all this and the last clash just happened a few hours today when the slammed the door behind her and refused to answer me when I was talking to her in front of her mother and I busted out because I have had enough of all this, her next school fees would be paid by her biological father and not me from next year I will concentrate on my two biological girls.
I think disrespectful step kids have to learn that step parents owe them nothing and when we go out of our comfort zone to house, feed, support with healthcare and schooling is because of the love we have for their parents and the love for them to see them become a better person, hence they owe their step parents all the respect as long as we support them in any way.
final advise, cut down your support and let the kid continue and ignore them by concentrating on yourself, your kids and your spouse they will come back to their sense one day.