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Old 03-25-2007, 07:07 PM   #1
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Exclamation Re: How to live with step-children


I am trying to deal with my fiance's 2 children the oldest is 14 and has some serious problems with her attitude towards her mother various names (profanity), The youngest is 10 and totally ( don't know if spoiled is the word) But gets babied over the smallest of things. The father is basically a deadbeat dad that has ZERO part in their lives and hasn't for numerous years.I have NO children @ 40 but we are expecting in oct-nov. I am not sure on how to deal with the constant yelling and the youngest's jealousy problem that she has? My fiance' & myself find ourselves argueing all the time now over her youngest saying I am yelling at her when she does do something wrong! All I do is tell her not do that. what can I do here ??? Any help would be GLADLY taken. I have tried everything I know & I have worked in the juvenile corrections field for 4 years but have NO clue on this subject!

 
Old 03-27-2007, 03:51 PM   #2
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Re: How to live with step-children

Hey Mush,
I have 3 Steps (22, 19, 18, 16) and 2 (20, 13) of my own. It's not easy raising anothers child. Exp when the "Parents" don't controll them. So you have to ask your self 1 question. Is it worth sticking it out? I've been asking myself that question for 5 years. I've kept up all the doctor appt, birth controll and advise. Not a Thank you has been throw this way. How much are you willing to put up with? I'm about ready to throw in the towel. Good luck.

 
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Old 03-29-2007, 01:29 PM   #3
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Re: How do I deal with raising step children?

I think step-parenting is one of the hardest thing in the world, whether you're the step-parent or biological parent with another spouse. My husband is the step-father to my oldest daughter (12) and the father of my 2-year-old daughter and the baby that I'm currently pregnant with. My oldest is spoiled, mouthy, disrespectful (mainly towards me) and we've had a number of issues with her attitude problem (a lot of it stems from her dad moving across the country and only seeing her for a couple weeks in the summers, and he encourages her to be as evil towards me as possible on the hopes that I'll let her move in with him permanently - he has a diagnosed personality disorder that has put her safety in jeopardy on a number of occasions and has made some terrible parenting decisions, so he's really even lucky to see her at all at this point; no matter how evil she is towards me, we're stuck with each other - and of course these are all adult issues between her dad and me that I can't talk to her about which makes it even harder to deal with).

Anyway, in our pursuit so far of trying to figure out this whole step-parenting thing, the best advice we've gotten (and learned through trial and error, mostly error) is that both partners have to be consistent with the "house" rules, punishments and be a united front to the kids. You and your fiance need to agree on what's acceptable behavior and what's not and what the consequences are for breaking the rules. That's the hardest part, but honestly, if you cannot come to any sort of agreement, it will never work between the two of you anyway and you'll only end up fighting all the time, banging your head against the wall and being miserable (I say this from experience). As far as enforcing the house rules, if the biological parent is around at the time, the punishment should come from them, but if not, it's your house too (I assume you live together, but if not, unfortunately you get no "parenting" authority until you're an official member of the household) and you have just as much right to enforce the rules of the house. If the child runs to the mother to tattle on you, she should support your decision and reiterate your united front, so there's no room to play one parent against the other, and they eventually learn that the rules are the same, no matter who's around. If you disagree, the punishment stands but you should discuss it outside of the child's presence, then whichever parent gave the punishment, that parent should tell the child that the punishment was reconsidered and go from there (meaning it was a JOINT decision to revise the punishment).

My husband and I started out with differing views on parenting, which caused a lot of stress between us. Our situation was the opposite, though, I'm the strict parent (and biological parent), and he would constantly decide for himself if he agreed with my decisions, and without discussing HIS decisions with me, he'd talk to my daughter behind my back and let her off the hook, therefore completely undermining my authority and ultimately making the whole situation with her attitude problem towards me even worse over the last few years. She figured out that she can treat me however she wants when he's not around and run to him and tell on me to "get me in trouble." Instead of an equal to my husband and a parent to my child (remember, she is MY biological child), I felt like both my daughter and I were his "children," equals trying to convince dad who's right and who's wrong, he would make his decision and often times side with her and she'd be even more smug with me. I can't tell you the number of fights we've had over this "method" of parenting which were tearing apart our marriage. I felt like throwing in the towel too (with both my husband and my daughter) but I'm the biological mother and don't get that option.

Since my 2-year-old came into the picture, my husband has realized that what he was ultimately doing is causing MORE stress and arguing in the house instead of solving the problem. Now he sees things a little more clearly and he's also at his wits end with how my daughter treats me, so he's done being Mr. Nice Guy with her and more willing to work with me to get this resolved so our other children don't repeat this pattern. We've also put together our list of house rules and together have decided on the consequences of breaking those rules, which has really helped with our united front and my daughter has backed off some. The rules are the rules and the consequences are the consequences, so now there's a lot less arguing between my husband and me over my daughter's behavior (thank God!). My daughter still can't seem to follow the rules and continues to do whatever she wants, but at least my husband and I are now on the same page with the rules and consequences and aren't arguing all the time about my daughter. She still tries to run to him to get out of her punishment for breaking the rules, but he listens and now tells her, "the rules are the rules and if you choose to break the rules, then you choose the consequences, end of story." It takes time, but we're on a better road now.

In addition, we've recently enlisted the help of a family counselor so my daughter can work through her issues that are a result of my divorce from her dad, him moving out of state and not seeing her much, his bad parenting choices that have affected her, etc. that are the "why" behind her unacceptable behavior (I know why she acts the way she does, I just feel powerless to change her bad behavior that is unacceptable). The counselor will also meet with me separately to discuss different strategies of how to parent my daughter in light of those issues. She wants to meet with her a few more times and then sit down with me, so I haven't gotten much advice form her yet. The bulk of the problems are with me and my daughter, so at this point, my husband doesn't need to go separately and I can relay any suggestions that she makes to him.

I wish I had more answers, but we're still working through the issues at our house as well. I know I've seen books on step-parenting at the bookstore. Perhaps some of those would be helpful for your and your fiance to both read. You BOTH have to figure out how the step-parenting thing is going to work in your house, it's not something you can do on your own. I hope you can work through this hurdle with your fiance. Your marriage will be a lot stronger when you're not fighting about the kids.

 
Old 04-03-2007, 04:08 AM   #4
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Re: How do I deal with raising step children?

I really dont think that there is a right answer, or even an answer at all....how much are you willing to take? I have been a step mother for 4 yrs, to a 7 yr old boy. He is week on week off with his mother and father. His mother hates me so much, and she plants stories in the childs head. My husband and I have a 2 yr old, and when the other child is not around, or life is great, but as soon as he sets foot in the door, everything changes. The child purposely does things to me, eg. being mean and vindictive, ignoring anything I say, telling his mother that I punish him if he does not call me mom..... and when confronted, he says things Like I am trying to be mean to her so she will go away, or my mom hates her. What makes this so heartbreaking for me is that I do everything for this kid...his dad works most of the day, so I am responsible for everything, then of course when his dad gets home, he wants to do all the fun stuff with him and my son, and will even go as far as to be sure to say that I am not welcome. My hubby does what he can, but given the shared custody, he has just as much time with his mother, and will return to his old ways for the next time he comes.

So, the kid has issues, is in a crappy sit....how does this relate to you, well.....Like I said, how much can you take. Like the poster above said, I am about ready to throw in the towel. Maybe some people are not cut out for it, but no one truly understands the feelings inside unless they are in the situation. If you are about to have a child with this person, then maybe you should stick it out a bit longer, but be forewarned, a child makes things very different, and not always in a good way.

 
Old 04-03-2007, 11:12 AM   #5
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Re: How do I deal with raising step children?

A step mom too. All above are right, never easy to have to be responsible for somebody else's children.

I got some great advice about my three crazy teens (2 of them step kids from this board) so let me see if I can help you.

This was where I started with my step children, when it was first decided that we would merge as a family, we sat down the kids,(ours are 13/14/16) we started by telling them, that we had made a choice as adults to be together, that we made each other happy and wanted to share our lives together.
I let the children come to me, I never forced myself on them, they did and they are now attached to me as their step mom. I don't parent the kids, they have two, I have house rules they must follow, I give respect to them to get it in return (sometimes, they are teens afterall) I keep them safe,I love them, and I care and that is all.
I make my husband take notice when I think there is an issue and we have an agreement in place that works for my son as well. If a rule applies to one it applies to all the kids.
I think the key to step kids is this, tell them upfront, you are not their parent, never will be, but you do care, you love them, you want them to be safe, and they are an important part of your life. Take a non threating approach, as a step kid myself growing up, your defences are up, and you want to automatically hate the step monsters...lol, and as a kid you play the games, and do the torcher to drive them nuts, but I have found that when you take away the threat from the beginning, tell them how it's going to be, that they don't have a say in the adult relationship, and give them space to come to you, they will and do.
Discipline what is yours by blood, and let let their parents do the same.

 
Old 04-03-2007, 02:41 PM   #6
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Re: How do I deal with raising step children?

I too am a step-parent and agree with a lot of what is posted here. I am a step-child as well so I thought I knew what I was getting into when my husband and I got together. His daughter is with us every other weekend and 1 night a week. Sometime I think if I had to do it all over again I would never get into this situation - I would RUN!! But, here we are and this is what worked for us. If my step-Daughter wants ANYTHING I refer her to her Dad. Dad and I have already discussed ahead of time what we are to discuss with each other beofre ANY decision is made. That way we both support the decision and there's no playing the manipulation game. We have house rules and a chores list. He presented them to her with me sitting there in support and interjecting when I felt it appropriate. I have always told her and my Husband that I'm not the parental figure in this relationship and never will be, however, this is my house too and rules apply to everyone including respect of property and people. I also encourage my Husband to spend one-on-one time with his Daughter to avoid the jealousy that creeps in when you have another child, our son, enter the picture. Let the Ex say whatever she wants, we don't play or care. My Step-Daughter has never heard us discuss her Mother or make ANY disparaging remarks about her no matter what we hear about. Hold you breath, hope it works out in the long run and know one thing from this step-child: I adhore my step-father, he was a pain in the *** when I was young but as an adult I know how much he loved me and still does and respect him and love him deeply for his support and encouragement throughout my teens. Hang in there and good luck!

 
Old 04-10-2007, 10:43 AM   #7
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Cool Re: How do I deal with raising step children?

I am a step parent who is good friends with the mother. Unusual, but still difficult. My step son knows he can't get away with the stuff he does at his moms house. He will not do homework, mouth off and all these things that he would never do with his Dad and I. I really think his mom is great, but she has two, is prego with another, and guess what ???? We, taxpayers of Washington state are paying for that baby too. She got off the pill to purposely get prego. I feel badly for Nathan, and we try and do all of the things for him. We pay for everything involved with him, and have since he was five. I find it frustrating though, because he loves to go over to her house... he lives with us as well, because he knows that he won't be held to as high of standards at his moms house. I know that she was raised to not really expect much from herself or out of life, and I was raised completely differently. I find it a struggle to help my stepson with not quitting and doing neat work and getting it done, because then he can go to college and be anything he wants to be. He will tell me that I am crazy because I think I can do anything. I respond by saying, hey buddy, if you put your mind to it, you can do it! No matter what anyone says. He struggles with self esteem and being a quitter when he feels he can't do it.

As much as I like his mother, we are polar opposites when it comes to parenting. I am also the only one out of the four of us that went to college and demands the best. My husband says that maybe we are too hard on him, but the difference between him at our home and then at his mothers, is that he is very respectful, helpful, happy and outgoing, but at moms he is crabby, cranky, troublesome and uncooperative.

I just remind myself that we can only do what we can at our home, and can't control what happens at his mothers house. We can only support him and come across on a strong front by standing together, me, his dad, his mom and her long term boyfriend... (we just aren't even going to go there) I never say anything bad about her because I truly believe she can't do any thing different. We struggle through school, even though my step son can read at a very high level.... because he has low self esteem and his Dad and I do all we can.

If you are struggling with your spouses children, just remember that this too shall pass and if you love your spouse appreciate that they love their children and only want to do the best for them. I try and think about what it must be like to be the child. Okay, so, yes I only have one step son, and no children of my own, at least not yet, I still worry about what one child will do if ones gets something and the other doesn't but they are going to be so far apart in ages, I hope that nathan will feel happy and want to really get his hands in on raising our child. I try and allow him to be a part of what his dad and I do, wheather it is gardening, painting, rearranging furniture, or just looking at new homes. He is given an option to give his thoughts and they are seriously considered. I think that it validates him and allows him to feel like he is important and has the opportunity to help out. Perhaps giving the step children validation and allowing them to be a part of the new family would help? I certainly am just suggesting blindly and don't want to step on any toes. So, thats my two cents!!!!

 
Old 04-17-2007, 05:57 PM   #8
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Re: How do I deal with raising step children?


I am engaged to a man who has to children. The youngest who is 10, has come to live with us,and has for the past 10 months. He had been "acting out" while with his mother, and basically she just couldn't deal with him anymore,and sent him to live with us. After he came to us, he had trouble with school and focusing for any real length of time, and has since been diagnosed with ADHD, and is now (has been for at least 6 months) on medication. The medicine seems to be working fine,and his school work has greatly improved.
So,here is the problem. The child is extremely disrespectful (mostly to me), and I'm at a point where I think I may lose my mind. The best way to describe it is like Jeckel and Hyde. He is one way with his father,and the rest of the family (even when I am around), but as soon as we are alone,all heck breaks lose. He feels he has to question everything I do and say and feels the need to explain himself. If I tell him not to do something, he lokks at me, and then goes right back to doing exactly what I asked him to stop doing. Yelling and screaming I don't care what he does,and he is going to do what he wants regardless of what I say. His new thing is he tells me he is going to tell his mother on me (who by the way, 100% backs my way of doing things,and is greatful that I am here to take care of him),and he likes to tattle on me to his father,grandfather and grandmother as well.
I'm looking for advice to deal with this situation.HELP!!!

 
Old 04-18-2007, 08:57 AM   #9
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Re: How do I deal with raising step children?

You need Dad to step in and have a discussion with his son. He needs to explain that you're not going anywhere and that he's being disrespectful. When my step-daughter acted like this I and my husband decided that he would be the diciplinarian. This worked better for all of us. Step kids resent any type of correction coming from someone other than their parent. He should respect you and your house but leave it up to Dad to dicipline him for now. He'll eventually come around. Hang in there!

 
Old 04-18-2007, 09:41 AM   #10
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Re: How do I deal with raising step children?

This is what we had to do. Part of my son's behavioural isssues are linked to his sleep apnea and resulting sleep deprivation side effects.. but over all my family has adopted this approach with our kids. The childs job is to be a child.. behave well, be respectful and do well in school. For such we give them all we can in luxuries and love... this doesn't mean spoil them.

In my large family we have set up the rules and consequence structure up front for all to see and learn. Thus it is clearly defined that these are the rules, if you break them this is what happens. It is important to be respected by your children be they biological or step. You are a parental guardian and have the power of such.

Make sure that you and your spouse put up a united front. If there is disrespect going on it needs to be curtailed ASAP. What works? It is trial and error and depends on each child.

What we had to do and has nipped many problems in the bud is take everything away...

For instance, If our son was going to misbehave be disrespectful to us, his teachers, or siblings, friends... he would suffer the loss of everything we provided for him that was a luxury. No toys, TV, games, trips to the park, outtings of any kind.. nothing. He had books to read, paper and pencils to draw and write, and a lot of alone time in his room.

There is no cruelty here, he had food, shelter, our love and attention, school, and the occasional special outing (birthday or family event).. just none of the perks a responsible child/young adult can earn... It was amazing how quickly all the children involved turned around. They quickly readjusted their attitudes to earn priviledges back.

In many cases it was apparent the disrespect was stemming from an over inflatted sense of entitlement. What are our children entitled to? Love, food, shelter, and education... All the rest are luxuries. Luxuries are dependent on our willingness to provide them. My cousins and nieces, nephews and son thrive in this system.. oftimes they act out to get your attention, or the attention of those that they are feeling deprivation from. In the case of a step family you have to be careful to include all the parents in your united front and this is where things get tricky.

All children will go through phases and test their parental units. They want to find the boundry and see how far they can push beyond it. The presentation of a united front is the most important thing.. and consistancy in discipline. It is not going to work if you are unwittingly undermining each other or giving in to the kids whims.

Best of luck finding a solution that works best for you.
MG
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Last edited by mkgbrook; 04-18-2007 at 09:42 AM.

 
Old 01-19-2008, 05:30 AM   #11
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Re: How do I deal with raising step children?

I'm a single father of two wonderful children, 8 and 6, boy and girl respectively. I have custody of them so my guys are with me all the time except for 4 days a month. My girlfriend of two years has a son, 8, and therein lies the problem. I love her dearly but I'm having a real problem with her son. He is diagnosed adhd and is on meds for this. In my opinion the meds are not working or maybe he needs more, i don't know.....she spoils him rotten and instills no discipline whatsoever. He swears like a drunken sailor and acts out uncontrolablly. I've tried to talk to her about it as tactfully as I can, but no use. My children have values, faith, morals and compassion. They are structured and very well behaved. Excel in school and active in sports. The complete opposite of her son. I even tried to get her to sign him up for sports...thinking the structured environment of team sports will do him good. Maybe make him realize that there are more than just him in this world. But she would rather put him in front of video games for 8 to 10 hours and not be bothered. All the while he swears at the TV and beats the video game equipment up. If it breaks she will run out and buy him new. I might sound mean but I've tried to connect with him and its very very hard.

 
Old 03-31-2008, 12:15 PM   #12
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Re: How do I deal with raising step children?

I have 2 full-time step kids...it's a very difficult situation...luckily for me I live away from the bio-parent, but I would probably say to save yourself the trouble of getting married unless you are fully committed to ALL of the issues, problems, etc that you will have to go through....getting married will only make it harder on you. BUT, if you REALLY want to go through with committing yourself to them as a family, just prepare yourself and know that you are in for the long haul. Read lots of books, take time for yourself to re-group, and communicate with your partner. It is imperative that you are on the same page regarding discipline, etc and discuss this privately - not in front of the kids...have a united front. When issues arise, try to remove yourself from the problem until you and your fiancee have a chance to talk it through and then come back to the situation knowing how to handle it together. ROUTINE ROUTINE ROUTINE.....I know it seems like common sense, but so many people don't have a schedule or family activities planned...so maybe watch a Supernanny or two and get some tips on how to organize your days....if they kids know what is expected of them and there are standard house rules, then the kids have a better chance of knowing how to compose themselves....and as for the other parent, it's important to stand strong in your position as the step-parent. You cannot back down - that is what they want you to do - the step-kids will test you and test you again....but if you stand strong for the first few months, it will make your life so much easier...when I was dating my husband, the kids used to throw temper tantrums - his mother had spoiled them and they weren't used to treating adults with respect....they always got what they wanted and didn't get told no - so when I wanted them to eat my dinners and not kids' meals all the time, we used to have crying fits at dinner every single night....I was inexperienced in parenting, but I knew I couldn't back down and let them be the boss....no matter how old the kids are, they will have respect for someone that doesn't give in to the temper tantrums or guilt-trips....and eventually they will recognize that their tactics aren't working....you just have to get through the beginning stages....now the kids listen to me and have a lot more respect and NO temper tantrums...it's amazing...and the bio-mom is being a lot nicer and realizes that we're not the enemy...so if you decide to commit - I wish you luck...just remember that it is a service to be a step-parent...not always a luxury.

 
Old 04-01-2008, 12:26 PM   #13
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Re: How do I deal with raising step children?

Being the step parent to a child or children who has behavioral issues is not an easy job. The most important thing is that the bio parent has to step up to the plate and be the one to discipline the child. If the parent is not willing to make the effort to put their foot down, it will be a long hard road ahead for the step-parent.

A step-parent who tries to discipline their spouse's child, without the full agreement and presence of the spouse, will never work. The child needs to see a united front, or the step-parent will be ignored and resented. Not just by the child, unfortunately. Countless second marriages end for this very reason.

If the bio parent is on the same page, I would go ahead with the marriage, but would still accept that it isn't going to be easy. No matter how you slice it, it's a package deal. You just have to decide if you can handle it. And it's OK if you can't. No one should ever have to put up with disrespect from their spouses child, and if there is true love and respect for you from your fiance, he will step up and make this a better situation for all of you.

I wish you the very best of luck.

 
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