Saturday, April 2, 2011

Angry At Your Stepkids ???

Statistics report that one of the 2 major areas of conflict in step- and blended families are your partner's children. If it isn’t their behaviour, it could be that their biological mum or dad (your darling partner) just seems to drool over them OR that this very same partner just cannot see (what surely is blatantly obvious!) these children’s multitude of faults! OR that this very same darling partner simply refuses to take your side when you are clearly right about something or the “rotten egg” isn’t at all sympathetic to your plight. If that’s how it is for you, read on…..

What can you do?

You CAN take charge of the situation!

How?

Follow these steps.

Step 1- ASK YOURSELF: Who am I really angry with?

* My step children?
* My partner?
* My partner’s ex?
* Myself?

Step 2 - THINK ABOUT IT

Figure out WHY it is that you are angry with one, more or all of the abovementioned people.

Be prepared:

* that your REAL anger may have little to do with your stepchildren. It might instead be to do with your partner’s way of dealing with them;
* with his ex’s partner’s poisoning tactics;
* with your inability to deal with the situation…..
* or you could be feeling it for any number of other reasons.
* Then again, it might really be the stepchildren you want to strangle.

Whatever the case may be, the next helpful step is to…..

Step 3 - WRITE IT DOWN

Writing can be enormously useful. It helps to clarify ones thoughts and feelings….and is good pre-verbalization practice.

Step 4 - TALK ABOUT IT

Now that you are clear on the issue, tell your partner.
In order to do this without putting him on the defensive, it helps to:

* Wait for the right time – don’t do it the moment your partner walks through the front door after a long day at work.

* Create the right atmosphere – e.g. take your partner out for coffee, make a special meal for the two of you, take a walk through the park.

* Begin by telling your partner how much you love/admire/appreciate him for…….whatever you truly love/admire and appreciate about him.

* Tell your partner that the reason you are raising this issue is because it is a real problem to you and you want him to help you resolve it for the sake of more harmonious family living (and your sanity!).

* Remain calm and (preferably) unemotional.

* When you tackle this issue ensure that you own your thoughts and feelings. This is best done by using “I” language (e.g. “I feel really angry when your son arrives and ignores me”, or “I feel hurt and unappreciated if you don’t back me up in my expectations of your children’s behaviour in this home”, or “I feel taken advantage of when your kids don’t help with the cleaning up”. Get the idea?

* If your partner reacts defensively, tell him that this is not about accusations, winning a battle, scoring points or anything else of that nature. It’s about YOU needing HIS help to resolve a problem.

5. TOGETHER FIND A SOLUTION

Because the problem involves a number of people and relationships, a solution may not be easy to find. Sometimes the only possible solution is to compromise. If compromise is the answer, don’t let this distress you. Remember a compromise is better than no change at all! Rome wasn’t built in one day either.

MOST IMPORTANTLY you’ve just spent quality time with your partner; have practiced a new way of communicating; have ensured that he is aware of what’s really going on for you; have been open and vulnerable thus giving him permission to do the same – in other word YOU’VE JUST MADE A VALUABLE INVESTMENT TOWARD A HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL FUTURE.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

How about in a situation where the same thing keep coming up and your partner simply choose to defensive of your step children. In my case my partner lost his first partner and we met but I had never married before. We stay in the same house which I feel is part of the problem because the children treat me as though I am an intruder. Even in incidences where the children have directly confronted me my partners keeps quiet. I can remain emotionally hurt but my partner would not say anything.

Sonja said...

Dear Anonymous, This happens in more stepfamilies than one can imagine. For a variety of reasons the children's father will not put his foot down on their bad behaviour. To him, the reasons he may have for his lack of support, probably seem totally reasonable whilst for you, this is very hurtful. The only way I know to deal with this type of scenario is to let him know how this leaves you feeling and to request his backup and support. You may have to do this quite a few times before he makes any changes because he won't want to 'rock the boat'. It is helpful and he'll be far more motivated if you acknowledge that you know this is a hard thing for him to do. At the same time, though, you need to ensure that he truly understands that remaining quiet when the children confront you in inappropriate ways is no longer an option. If this is allowed to go on for too long, change becomes more and more unlikely and you will simply become more and more resentful - a state of being which never serves anyone well.

I hope this helps.
Best wishes,
Sonja :)

kirstin kendall said...

Sonja, 'not wanting to rock the boat' describes my partner perfectly. He seems to think his teenage daughters should get special allowances for their spoiled, manipulative behaviour because they come from a broken home and there mother hurt their feelings by running off with some boy she met in a pub 10 years her junior 10 years ago. Lying and stealing have quite often gone without hardly a mention before too, (obviously apart from the massive arguments it causes between the two of us because I don't want our children growing up thinking it is normal behaviour that is). if something is ever addressed it always ends with me apparently being the source of all their woes as if it's me that split their family up and I should just put up with it or leave! And my partner never has the courage to back me up for fear of upsetting them...

Sonja said...

Hi Kirstin,

It sounds like your partner is overcompensating and not recognising that by doing so he is not only damaging his relationship with you but is actually not doing his daughters any favours. Children whose bad behaviour is simply ignored usually grow into unhappy, unbalanced and ill-boundaried adults ... and guess who is going to be impacted by that - the two of you!!!!

It would be really important, in my opinion, that these children receive outside help. The two of you would also benefit from some third party input. Reading your posts it does feel to me as though without this extra help your marriage might be in rather serious trouble.

I hope that there is someone local to you whom you could consult.

Good luck - Sonja

Anonymous said...

Hi Sonja,

My fiance' and I did it all wrong...out of our excitement to be together, we rushed the kids way too fast. His 7 yr old hadn't even wrapped his brain around his parents being apart yet and then here I come with my 4 yr old....the 7 yr old was and still is going back and forth between households too.....there was no way in the world the kid was dealing with this properly and all my fiance' ever really talked to him about was "mom and i will never be together and she and her son are here now, etc" not that he didn't try to handle it with his son but he also avoided a lot out of feeling bad (my belief)
it didn't take long for the 7 yr old to start manipulating, being mean to and just all around negatively affecting the 4 yr old......
the main issue with this is my fiance insists that i've made mor eout of it than it is/was, i need to get over it, he's done what he could when he saw it (not always true and he also tried to treat 4 and 7 as the same in regards to what they understtod about what they were doing and developmentally that is not correct) now anytime we talk about it (it has only been mostly normal between 4&7 for a little over a month now) he tells me i'm keeping up a wall, i need to let it go....i tell him i am not angry at the child, i am angry at him (my fiance') for not hearing me out when i was basically begging him to see how the 4 yr old was being treated and it hinders my trust with him.....he doesn't like that one bit.....when i do tell him that he always plays the defensive role and says, its your delivery...you talk at me about him not to me, he has every excuse in the book to excuse himself....we are at a fork in the road....i fear it will be the end of us....he wants me to be 100% in love with this child who has wreaked total havoc in our house and hurt a 4 yr old...he wants me to be estactic about him over night.....i am NEVER unfair or unkind to him, i am not that type of person.....but it might take me awhile to grow close to him and as far as my fiance' is concerned i must just be this horrible one sided person for that.....
i'd like to add, there are 2 other children in the house, his 2 sons 14 and 17...he has shown me in the past, even when the 7 yr old was acting badly, he would yell at the 14 yr old for it.....its like the 7 yr old can do no wrong...when he does admit to his behavior (he does correct him, not enough but he does)it's only ok for him to see it...not me....he says "i wish you would say more, correct him" but any time i have, we have fought afterward or he's found some way to say "if that had been the 4 yr old......" when that is simply not the case......im so lost on how to communicate with someone who is always defensive and makes him and the 7 yr old "the victims"
he has shown me great love, like no one else, took mine in and his own and we were so strong for some time, i hate to throw in the towel but i'm just lost......

Lost mom said...

I must say reading these testimonials makes me feel less alone on this journey of being a stepmom.
My husband has 2 daughter's 14 & 24. Which he has a very unhealthy relationship with. They live by a transaction based relationship. They have both lied to and about me on several occasions. Never being confronted or held accountable. His youngest daughter has a serious problem with stealing and lieing, and shows zero signs of remorse. I have 3 daughter's of my own 17, 13 & 8. His youngest daughter steals on a regular basis from my oldest daughter with little to no recorse. This has made it so unbearable that my oldest daughter refuses to be in our home when she is present.
I have tried moving forward and she lies again and again. Causing so much resentment that it almost makes psychally sick to even hear her name. her mistreatment of my children has caused so much hurt and anger that I'm afraid I will always hate her.
She brags about being a bully at school and how awful she was to my husband's ex girlfriend. And that I should be thanking her because she's the reason she's no longer there
His 24 year old is a giant pot smoker and constantly takes advantage with both guilt and manipulative behavior. Not only do I feel like I'm constantly defending myself to them, but my mother in law lies about me as well and has a very controlling relationship with my husband.
He now resorts to lieing to me about spending time with his mother and children. I'm ready to throw in the towel, because the thought of living the rest of my life this way is enough to make me want to jump off a cliff!!
He is taking the children to family counseling, but only his children and my biggest fear is that they will vilify me and make this issue all the more worse. The comment has been made that I'm the cause of all the problems. I'm so sick of feeling and thinking worst-case scenario and waiting for the other shoe to drop every day of my life. Is there any coping skills to help with this. Or is it at this point and their age is a lost cause?

Anonymous said...

ello to all the stump-mothers...oh I mean step-mothers out there! That explains it though doesn't it? Step: The act or movement of putting one leg in front of the other, or to lift and set down one's foot after the other in order to walk somewhere or move to a new position. Stump: The bottom part of a tree left projecting from the ground after most of the trunk has fallen or been cut down, a remaining part. Now, ladies...which definition sounds accurate? Stump, Stuck, struggle, stress, are all bad "S" words that we would be patronized for saying...anyone remember Cinderella? Maybe we should have began with the "Evil step-mother" behavior from the first "step" since clearly optimistically beginning with the "Good" behavior and actually wanting to love and appreciate and be the best we could be only was an inevitable recipe for disaster to break us down to our "stump" with a roar inside of us that we feel we can't let out, until one day it just happens and then here we are feeling like Cinderella's "evil step-mother" Although I may make fun here, I am a very loving, caring Christian woman, (which I don't even like the word Evil- I'm just using it as an illustration of what I know inside we all feel but can't speak of) May I also add that I'm using the advice in this site to write it all down to blow off steam, I just had a very firm conversation towards, yes towards my husband with me "Telling him what he needs to do" with every bit of passion and animation as possible, if only I could be recorded in those moments, I could probably win a part in a casting for an upcoming drama movie. Im honest, Im not great with timing, sometimes there isn't the right time, and sometimes the worst time is the only time. Im a firm believer in not letting things go without being addressed, if I am working my butt off and am both contributing and supporting the house in which my step-children can relax and enjoy and I have willingly welcomed them into my life with love and respect and sacrifice and all of the things that I do with my own children, then why shouldn't I have any say on the behavior in which they display in my household, and towards others. I feel that their biological mother (who is absolutely my least favorite person) although I can't say she is a terrible mother, Im sure she loves her children, but I feel she has many more selfish motives that she can't put her children above, and as she may care for their safety or sports activities and such things, I don't feel she has exactly been there emotionally and socially/developmentally...I feel she has spoiled them to win them, (make dad less important- because she has financial means from dad to do such things and he is left with nothing and will never be able to spoil)- so she wins.. in a very terrible way...

Anonymous said...

also I don't understand what she is teaching them, they are not my own blood, but I care about their development and feel if things are not being addressed by their own mother, that dad needs to step in to teach them, even if they are not here most of the time, he needs to teach them..(because -your not my mom so why should you give me advice) so they can mature and grow into wonderful gentlemen one day, because even though it makes me angry and upset for various reasons, if there is no correcting it, and you don't put in the exhausting work it takes to at least explain and try to hold them to the expectations...it doesn't do them any favors for becoming young adults in the real world, they may feel like they have the short end of the stick now, but when they become adults and look back, and realize how hard it is, and why didn't my dad tell me this or I wish I would have known this...or what is worse, they will never look back and continue with the crappy behavior that existed as a child. Ok so that is my actual selfless passionate anger perspective....now here is where the real stuff comes in.....ok I have a 10 year old daughter and a 7 year old daughter....my step-sons are 13 and 10...my x-husband is your perfect "narcissist" and spends very little time with my daughters, only time which benefits him or where he can show them off like little prizes. I'm actually pleased that they don't have to deal with him that often and at age 10 and 7, without help from me, they have already have him figured out. Thankfully I have moved on from my past abusive relationship and had met the most wonderful, loving, caring and respectful man that has stepped in to treat my daughters with such love as his own. Ok, so my husbands x-wife is maybe a bit narcissist as well, but definitely selfish, and unaffectionate, she didn't appreciate my husband for the wonderful father/husband he was. My husband will drive hours back and forth to and from their home here and with their mother, sports and school activities, doctors appointments, birthday parties, you name it he's there, and yet she took him to court and between her and her expensive blood thirsty lawyer, took him for everything he had, which if you can understand, because the divorce dragged on for so long, we were together during this, basically taking everything I had...my x pays minimal support, because I only wanted what was fair, Gods honest truth! I was entitled to so much more, but just wanted fair support and of course I was still considered the heartless you know what...anyhow, this woman and lawyer just lied about my wonderful husband and our wonderful court system allowed it, it was so devastating, the false claims against him, being the wonderful father he is.

Anonymous said...

Well we have to pour out a miserable $2500 a month to this woman ....half of mortgage, and obscene child support, this is another entire topic I could go on and on about, which I know this is a long comment to begin with! Anyhow, my stepsons particularly my younger 10 year old stepson has jealousy and anger problems...He is in constant competition with my 10 year old daughter and is mean to her and he has a bad temper. I get angry and frustrated because we treat everyone of the children equally and I have even put my step sons above my own daughters to prove to my stepsons I care about them and am not trying to put my daughters on a pedestal over them...they are just jealous that my daughters get to live and spend more time with their dad than they do, but what they don't know is that they have all their brand name clothing and all the newest and best technology and are involved in sports and activities, that we can't even afford to do for my daughters, because literally all our money goes to them, because it is court ordered child support with a woman that continues to send emails asking for more and more money beyond that!!!!!!! can you imagine? mind you she makes a pretty good living with her own career, but she doesn't care, she wants her sons father to suffer if that means his cupboards are bare during their visitation with him...my step sons have high expectations with the things they have and get due to my husband and I supporting them, yes I am helping support them, my husband couldn't do it on his own. So when they come for visits and act jealous or act like slobs or are mean to my daughters or act like we owe them something I have a very very very hard time with this...

Anonymous said...

when two good hard working people as my husband and I, are doing everything we can to survive because of what this hateful selfish woman has caused us... I can't even do extra for my own daughters who have a biological father that doesn't really care to be involved - with that emptiness, to not being able to be involved in extra curricular activities because they are so expensive when you have that kind of money going out, it really really hits home, and it is a huge struggle to find a way to not be angry towards them!! Lord God Help me, because I just don't know how not to be upset when I feel like the "Stump" that is just stuck in the ground and can't actually have much of a say or influence other that yelling at my husband to make a stand! So moms, sorry this was so long, but I get your struggles, I give you all credit for posting, because this is actually my very first time posting to anything like this...everyone has their own particular story, I Pray for our step children that one day they think about us tortured "stump-moms" and see that we loved them even when it was extremely hard, it is not their fault, they can only act on what they have been taught, which makes me more passionate and makes me wish I had more influence even more, so thats why I freak out on my poor husband that has his hard gigantic pill to swallow, it is tough and when and if I find that magical answer I will share.

Anonymous said...

but yes I have learned to adapt and overcome what I can and to try to choose my battles, I even find that I have to sometimes just distance myself when they are around, so that I don't project the negative feelings towards them...It really upsets me because they don't realize how good they do have it, they could have had a dead beat dad, but their dad does more than any father I've ever met, they could have an actual "evil step-mom" but I have loved and cared for them in ways that I'm not sure I even have the heart to anymore, because of the ungratefulness....for the poor children that have to go through divorced parents, I feel like ours have truly been blessed and fortunate that things could have been worse, these are the types of things that I share with my husband explaining that he needs to point some of this out so they understand, how else will they learn, sometimes we need that visual and wake up call, and its not a childs priority to go searching for it, you need to provide it like driving with speed limit signs or any type of sign in the road, oh wait, allowing a child to see the sign and realize that they may need to either slow down, stop or yeild a little so they actually wait for pedestrians and use there signals appropriately. If our past marriages ended in unfortunate circumstances, such as divorce, we can't allow that to dictate the meaning of step families, we need to stand strong and continue to plant the seeds and encourage one another. Thank you to those that actually read this entire post, God Bless and stay Strong!