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How To Deal With Stepchildren You Don't Like (9 Wise Steps)

There is no more complicated relationship than a child with a step-parent. These relationships are always difficult as they come together in quite an unnatural way and it is awkward for both parties involved. The new step-parent feels like they should automatically feel something for their partner’s children, while the stepchildren undoubtedly feel uneasy about this new person in their biological parent’s life - not to mention devoted to their other biological parent. 

Here, in this article, we look at how to cope with your stepchildren if you don’t like them. Remember, this is actually a perfectly common reaction and also understandable given how fraught interactions between a new step-parent and step child can be. Often, those step children will be dealing with emotions far more complicated than their age will allow which can manifest itself in difficult behavior that can cause a rift between you and them. 

What Do I Do If I Don't Like My Stepchild?

Here are nine suggestions that you can try out if you are finding that you don’t like your stepkids. By identifying that you need to do something, you are already a very positive step towards making a change so that you and your partner’s kids can feel much happier in each other’s company.

1. Talk to your partner

Perhaps one of the best, but the hardest things you can do if you do not like your partner’s kids is to talk to him or her. Let them know your feelings and make it known that you want to love his or her children but you are finding it very hard. It may take a far more honest approach than you would have liked, but your feelings also count within the family unit too. 

Try to be as diplomatic and tactful as possible without losing any meaning in what you are saying. Your partner may be much more aware of your feelings already than you thought he or she would be. But even if they are not, remember to point out that being a stepparent is difficult, and outline why. You have not got the genetic or biological bond with the children as your partner does - this automatically puts you on the back foot. And more often than not you won’t have a lot of history with them at first. A close relationship takes time, so you will need your partner’s help to make things better. 

2. Try to find common ground

Try to find common ground

On top of talking to your partner about things that may make a difference with his children, is to try to find a common ground with the kids too. If there is something that you can talk about or do together when times are tough, this is great as it means that you can start building a rapport with his children - however small or meaningless that common ground may seem. 

It could be as silly as the fact that you both being outside a lot, or that you both support the same Football team. Or it could be a bigger thing that you both love or like. However, it’s important that you as the adult are the ones to find that common ground and use it as a way to engender a much more familial bond between the two of you. 

3. Try positive reinforcement

It could be that you and your partner’s kids don’t get on as there is something in their behavior towards you that you don’t like. It’s also always difficult as the stepparent to discipline your stepkids to try to rectify that behavior. However, it is hard to do as you may not know practically speaking how to discipline a child, but also your partner’s kids may not respond to your discipline. Seeing you as an outsider, they may not feel that they need to listen to your rules and will, therefore, disobey everything you say. Sometimes they may even do it simply for the kick of disobeying you and show you that you are not an important person to them. 

This is particularly difficult, but one way that you can work around this is to try positive reinforcement. This means rewarding good behavior that you do like which can really help improve a relationship between you and your partner’s kids. The reason being is that it promotes good behavior so that that is the only behavior you ever see, but also the children will start to feel more confident around you. They’ll also enjoy your company more if they are encouraged in a positive way by you too. Life should hopefully start to become more normal, however slowly. 

4. Look for their good points

When faced with bad behavior and immature feelings that manifest themselves in anger towards you, it can be hard to see a person’s good points. When it comes to your partner’s family and children, however, it can be very helpful to look for their good points. It can be so hard to do, especially if you find that his or her kids are constantly pushing boundaries with you as well as pushing your buttons. 

However, even the most complicated characters have their good points. As the adult in the relationship, it is up to you to try to find those good points - and then focus on them. In doing so, you will find it much easier to find that much needed common ground and try to foster a more positive bond between the two of you. This can take time, but it can be so beneficial when trying to make a new home for everyone.

5. Remember you’re not the evil stepmother or father

It can be so easy to fall into stereotypes when it comes to starting a family with a person who already has children. It is not rare for stepparents to be made to feel like the evil stepparent so much that they start to act like that or as if they are a worse person than they are. However, people are not naturally evil, and if they have managed to fall in love in their life, they should be capable of loving their partner’s children - however much time that takes. 

Bearing that in mind, remember that you are not evil - that you are a person with lots of great qualities. Try to show those qualities to your partner’s children and they will start to see why their mom or dad is in love with you. It can be so difficult to remember this and it can take a lot of time, but it will be worthwhile in the end. 

6. Remember they’re part of your partner’s life

Before you met your partner and his or her children, when you got frustrated with people and their behavior, you could ignore them and hopefully never see them again. However, people are not your partner’s kids, and you have to remember where your partner will be coming from in all of this. If he or she can see that their partner does not get on with his or her children, this must be incredibly painful for him or her. Ultimately, there is no getting away from the fact that your partner has children and they will be part of your partner’s life forevermore. You need to face up to this and tackle the problem head-on. 

7. Be patient with them and yourself

Be patient with them and yourself

Try not to rush things with stepchildren if you are both finding the relationship difficult. Remember this is a huge learning curve for you all, plus the children are most likely coming to terms with either the break down of their parents’ relationship or at least a new person in a parent’s life that means less time for them. All people will react differently in such situations, so remember to be kind to them and yourself to give yourselves all the time to find a positive status quo. 

8. You’re not alone

It can be hard when you realize that you don’t love or even like your partner’s offspring. However, this is not an unusual reaction either. There are many blended families that started where relationships between the stepparent and stepchildren were difficult. Reach out to people who have been in a similar situation and find out how they made their home a happy one. And if they are still trying to work towards such a balance. You’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised by what you find out. 

9. Talk about yourself

A lot of the time, a stepchild’s immediate reaction is not to like a stepmom or stepdad out of loyalty to their other parent. However, a good way to start a relationship off on a good footing is simply to talk about yourself and your life, so that you no longer are just seen as the stepparent. Instead, you are seen as a person in your own right with likes and interests that can help build a rapport with your stepchildren. Additionally, children sometimes find it hard just to talk about their day or themselves. If you talk about yourself, that in itself is a good conversation starter that can help break the ice between the two of you. It won’t immediately mean love between you, but it will help. 


Is it normal to not like your stepchild?

Blended families are very complicated situations. It can mean that stepchildren do not get on with their stepparents and the relationship between them can be a very fractious one. However, you feel towards your stepchildren is normal as becoming a family is a very hard thing to do. 

How do you deal with stepchildren issues?

Communication is always going to be one of the best ways to help cope with any issues you and your stepchildren have. As an adult, it is best for you to lead the way and talk calmly to them about any problems you encounter. 

What a step-parent should never do?

A step-parent should never try to fill the void of an absent parent, but also should not let their stepchildren get away with unacceptable behavior. A step-parent should never resort to abuse when it comes to disciplining their children either. 

Why do blended families fail?

Blended families sometimes come into problems when they try to be something that they are not. Becoming a family that loves each other takes time and trying to rush or force being a happy family can result in causing even more problems. 

Who comes first partner or child?

A child’s safety should always come first. Children do not have the emotional maturity to cope with being made to feel like second fiddle. There is an obvious balance that can be difficult to strike here which is why communication and patience become key when starting out life as a new blended family. 

Coping With Difficult Step Kids - The Bottom Line

Perhaps the most key thing to remember when it comes to coping with your stepchildren if you don’t like them is to have patience. This is always a very tricky relationship and one that takes a lot of time to turn into love. Remember that both you and your stepkids will find it hard - even those with the best intentions. 

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