It’s not that I don’t enjoy my stepkids, it’s that I’m an introvert!


ID-100173641I’ve recently realized that the reason I often need a break from loud teenage boys isn’t because I’m a horrible stepmom or don’t like my stepkids, but because I’m an introvert!  Until recently, introverts were misunderstood. It was thought that being an introvert meant being shy. Now we know that what really determines whether you’re an introvert or extravert is how you recharge your energy.

Extraverts feel re-energized by interacting with groups of people. Introverts reenergize by being alone and introspective. So it would make perfect sense that I can only comfortably tolerate the noise of teenagers and shoot-em-up video games in small doses. Now, sit me down one-on-one with them for a conversation about life and I’m happy as a clam. But, how many teenage boys do you know that would enjoy that?? Actually, I know one. I’m a pretty lucky stepmom that way.

Does this apply to you? Can you relate? 

© 2013 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved


26 thoughts on “It’s not that I don’t enjoy my stepkids, it’s that I’m an introvert!

  1. This is completely, 100% me with my stepdaughter! Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone. I’ve been feeling like I must be a horrible person for the way I react to these loud situations. I’m going to print this off and refer to it when I feel like I’m losing my mind. Thank you so much!

  2. This realization dawned on me a few months ago, approximately two years into the step relationship. It was a load off! I don’t feel bad for taking time out for myself when his children are here because I know it is necessary to maintaining my sanity and personal balance. However, we’re expecting our first child together at the end of May and I’m a bit panicked about losing my recharge time altogether.

    • I’m a step-mom as well as a bio-mom and at first it was hard to juggle time for myself to “re-charge” and it still is. I’m stay at home mom so I’m literally the one who takes care of the kids all day. My SO was raised in a family with the islder believes that the man works and the woman takes care of the home and kids (it as taking me a long time to start getting use to this and I’m still not because I’m used to working). The only time I get to myself is late at night after the kids to to bed and the struggle is to either to to bed with them or stay up for “me time”. I have to get up early ever day (I have a 3 month old who is up by 7 like clock work) so I won’t say it’s not hard but you just have to find that time and balance it. I tend to stay up too late so I’m really tired during the day and I get really cranky toward the evenings but if I go to bed when the kids do and don’t get my time to “re-charge” then I’m cranky all day….the struggle is real 🙁

  3. This is such a great reminder! I too am an introvert. And, at times, so are my children (step and biological). It is important for us to recognize that we all need certain things at certain times. If I retreat to a good book, it may not mean that I don’t want to spend time with my kids. Equally, if one of them wants to be alone in their room, they may not be shunning me and refusing to acknowledge my existence! Thanks.

    All the best,
    A.S. Noraford

  4. I can relate to this. I need time to recharge. My stepkids are a lot a like. One likes socializing a bit more than the other, but then needs time alone to journal or recharge. I’m glad they have similar personality traits because they “get me” when I don’t want to accompany them to every event they have or spend time reading in my room.

  5. I totally relate to this situation. I have two stepsons (9 and 13) and the noise and chaos they seem to create I can find unbearable at times. We’re just coming up to our 3 year anniversary and I’ve finally begun to realise that it’s okay if I step back a bit and tell my husband that I’d actually prefer to have some quiet time. We are a weekends only step family so it can feel like a holiday camp a lot of the time, and I’m working on us not feeling like we have to be together 100% of that time as it’s killing me working full time and not getting my quiet time at the weekends ever! But I’m a better person to have around the house when I do make time for a quiet read! (Interestingly my husband does need this quiet time too, so maybe we kick ourselves too much because we’re naturally very proactive!)

  6. I can totally relate. I am very introverted. I use to try to convince myself that I was not an introvert my whole life. Only to exhaust myself trying. Now I realize that there is nothing wrong with being an introvert. I have 2 pretty awesome step kids also. My step son is an introvert and he can understand when I feel quiet. Him and I both will talk each other’s ears off when it’s just us. I always am skeptical about becoming close to my step kids because of their mothers hate for me. She can make life really miserable if she thinks I am developing a bond with either children. So I really have to keep a healthy distance. Which is sad, because my step kids are great kids. My step daughter is an out going extrovert, who has never met a stranger. She is the most positive, responsible and happy 15 year old I have ever seen. My step son is 12 and is shy, but him and I have a lot in common. Like music, playing music (we both can play guitar) and I want to teach him how to play piano.
    My child is 10 and she use to love her step brother and sister. But my husbands ex just hates him and me so much that she has made sure that her children and my child never connect or bond. My daughter is very very smart. Intellectually and emotionally. She knows that her step siblings mother has created an invisible emotional barrier. So after so long, both my child and I realize we will never be able to cross that “barrier” that my husbands ex wife has created.
    It’s sad because it disrupts our entire family. So much that currently, when my step kids are here, it feels uncomfortable and strange. Their mother has told them so much ugly things about me and their dad, we can tell that they are thinking about it. I do believe that they see our actions do match up with what their mo says about us…

  7. This applies to biological children too. Sometimes I just need a break from children and their noise, demands, and mess. This makes perfect sense to me. I just need the children and my significant other to realize I need my away time to recharge not because I don’t like them or don’t like spending time with them but because my introvert brain can only handle so much.

  8. I’m an introvert, I love my step kids but unfortunately their mother hates her ex husband and me more than she loves her children. She has poisoned their minds against me, so it’s very awkward when they are with us. Especially now that they are older. Basically they come here, I isolate in my room, and they don’t really cold out of their room. One is driving now, so she just leaves and keeps herself busy with school activities. My daughter who is 11 is an introvert I would say. But it’s hard when you have step kids who you have done everything you possibly can for them, but they have been brain washed for 7 years to believe that the woman their dad married is a horrible person, who doesn’t like them, doesn’t want them around, and is trying to get them out of her family picture… Even tho my actions said the opposite. They believe their mom. I do think the 13 year old is seeing through her craziness now. And knows what his mom says may not be true. Considering that her sociopath personality is really starting to show in the past 2 years… It’s very sad for everyone in my family. But my husbands ex doesn’t care. She would rather her children be miserable at our home than happy. She is an insecure woman/mother. And the second she saw the kids liked me, she destroyed it. So sad

    • It is a shame…but keep doing what you are doing and they will see eventually. Sounds like the 13 year old is already seeing. It is a so sad that children have to experience these things. God bless!

  9. Completely relate to this. It’s hard trying to act part of a happy family when you’re full of resentment that the TV is on again when it’s beautiful outside and it’s loud and it’s tinny and they’re slobbing all over the living room I tidied and cleaned an hour before. It’s the lack of quiet that I mourn. Perhaps I’m an introvert too, though I love seeing my own friends. People I choose and who understand. Thanks for this great blog – I especially like the “research says it takes 4-7 years to fully feel like a family.” We’ve done one so far and things are much better than they once were. We’ve had almighty bust ups this last year but it is getting easier and I no longer dread the arrival of my step-children as much as I once did.

    I would so love to look forward to them coming. Maybe one day.


    • Wow, just hearing you say, that you used to dread for them to come over is epic for me to hear! I have felt sooooo bad for months because of that! My fiance has a four year old son and his ex-wife had two daughters before he married her that he still “claims” because he’s been in their lives since they were young. They are 10 & 11. We have the 4 year old usually 3-4 days out of the week and the girls every other weekend. (Nothing set in stone, we just play it by ear with the girls) but I’m just getting over dreading their arrival. All 3 of them! They are wonderful kids. Very respectful and sweet. I’m just used to my own quiet and peaceful space! But I love this man and he’s making this journey worthwhile! I consider myself blessed. I AM SO GLAD I FOUND THIS WEBSITE!!!!!!!!!!

      • OMG! I feel that same way. I am truly a introvert and my husband has a 14 year old and a set of twins who are 12. They have a little sister who is not my husbands, age 7, who we watch also when they are here. I sometimes dread their arrival, which I then feel guilty for, but my peace and quite and normal lifestyle is interrupted. It feels good being able to talk to other women in the same situation! Super glad about searching and finding this website too!! God Bless you all, I believe that we have been given quite a task (I’m kind of in the self pity stage right now) and there is little recognition for our role. So stay strong 🙂

        • I can totally relate with how you feel!! I dread my stepkids coming as well. NOT because I dislike them, but because of how the dynamics change when they are here. It’s like we are a family with 2 separate personalities. My husband, me and my 11 year old daughter are one way when my husbands kids are not with us. And the total opposite when they come. I do not blame the children for this. It’s just the sick situation my husbands ex wife has created for all of us. She interrogates the kids as soon as they go back to her house. Trying to find anything she can use against us. We are good people. But not perfect. When the ex can’t find any mistakes we have made, she will just make some up. Before things got really awkward, the ex couldn’t find anything that we were doing wrong, so she just decided to make up some things. She somehow brainwashed my step daughter into believing that I was trying to keep her from her dad. Because I am the one who picked her up from school, helped her with projects. Keep in mind I did these things because MY HUSBAND WORKS. And taking and picking up kids from school, seemed to make sense.. Since I was taking my child to school everyday anyways. And it helped my husband out, who works his butt off to support his family, and to pay his ex wife $3100 in child support. Not to mention not a dime goes to the children. Since we pay for their school, clothes, activities, insurance, EVERYTHING. Point is; I do right by my step children, because I love my husband. The ex has nothing better to do but sit around and stir up drama. She is angry if I am doing right by her children and treating them with kindness. And angry if I disengage because of all the drama and nonsense she LIES about. Dam*ed if I do. D*mned if I don’t…
          So yeah we all dread his kids coming. It’s not a normal family setting. They seem to expect to be entertained the whole time. Which my husband is responsible for that. He has never told them no, and always given the, the impression that every time we visit dad it’s like Disney land! This is very annoying for me and my daughter. Since we are both down to earth and practical. With time tho, we have adjusted. I am not going to wear myself out entertaining kids who are teenagers (12&15)
          My daughter likes to relax on weekends especially when she has been in school all week. So when it is our wknd, I kinda shut down. I guess I am avoiding things, but as this point and after over 4 years of dealing with drama and stress (mainly caused by the ex wife) I became physically and emotionally exhausted… If I continued the way I was going, I was going to have a breakdown.
          So I took a couple of steps back, and distanced myself, from what is a very draining, chaotic situation.
          INTROVERTS – this is what we have to do in order to not go insane or have a nervous breakdown. We must step away sometimes.

          • I’m so glad I found this blog! I too am an introvert. I work full time and have my own two daughters who I raised from the beginning to be responsible and independent and respectful. So when my fiancé’s three boys come over I dread it and often stay in my bedroom whenever I’m home. I try to make as many plans as possible to be out of the house when they are here since my girls are at their dad’s house on our weekends with the boys. This all leads me to feel terrible about myself. I’m not used to boys at all. Their energy level is frustrating and their mother has never taught them to be responsible for themselves or clean up after themselves. And my fiancé is a big softy who just wants the boys to be happy when they are here. So we butt heads a lot. Our life is perfect when they aren’t here. I’m actually considering calling off our wedding because I’m not sure even after almost two years of them living in my house that I can put up with it for ten more years. The ex wife made things miserable until my fiancé finally broke down and let her switch their school district when she moved to what she calls her “forever home” after moving every six months for four years. So now we only have the boys every other weekend but I’m still finding it hard to cope. Plus financially it is a strain since he now has to pay her child support and I ended up paying most of the bills which makes me even more resentful. Help!

          • KayCee – you have just written all about my life!!! I have the EXACT same thing with my partner’s ex. She is a sociopath who has tried to poison his children (8 and 11) against wanting to come. The older one is wise to this now but I wonder what damage has been done to her already. She is very difficult and exceptionally high maintenance and when they visit they expect to be entertained as well – ALL THE TIME! The 8-year-old is struggling. I think he really likes me but feels so mixed up. He’s very sweet and very fragile. He is too scared to sleep upstairs in his own room. I can’t help it’s linked to things whispered to him by his mum. She knows he’s still young enough to influence.

            I have a 12-year-old daughter and baby twins with my partner who are now 18 months. When it’s just the five of us, we live in harmony but when my stepchildren arrive the entire dynamic of the house changes.

            They wake up when the twins wake and from that moment on, expect to be served and entertained every second of every day they are with us. Yes, I too often feel as if we are running Disneyland as well as looking after toddler twins. And the money they expect daddy to spend on them is another aspect I’m hugely uncomfortable with. They have no concept of the value of money and the way he and his mad ex wife lavish funds on these children is not the way I bring up my daughters.

            My partner obviously finds it really difficult, being pulled in these different directions. But he always caves in to their demands eventually.

            On weekend mornings when they come, I’ll be feeding the babies on my own (not easy) while he runs round serving them breakfast and they sit at the table waiting.

            He is really trying to change this default position, brought on by his guilt at leaving I imagine. I am stepping back because I recognise his efforts. But I do find the high maintenance nature of his kids so hard to live with.

            Earlier I wrote that I’ve stopped dreading them coming. That’s only when I’m not premenstrual! I still don’t relish the knowledge they are coming because my partner gets stressed, then I do, and my daughter just wants to chill out in her room and I end up making excuses for why she doesn’t want to play with them all the time, etc, etc. His children are wholly incapable of entertaining themselves.

            It’s exhausting navigating stepfamilies, especially having lived separately from my beloved for four happy years – just my daughter and me!

            The babies are amazing and I am very lucky. As I said, when it’s just us, all is lovely. I just tell myself I’m the grown up here and should act my age.

            Rant over.

  10. Sorry I just re-read my post and should have said my 12-year-old daughter is from a different relationship. The baby twins are our babies together and why we had to merge our family. Before that, we were content living separately and I always loved having my bolt hole away from the chaos! Also, Megan, I too arrange to see friends or stay in my room when it’s the school holidays. It’s the only way I stay sane.

  11. I am an introvert. Have 2 step sons (12 and 14). There are days that they just drive me nuts. This isn’t an understatement. When I get a day off of work during the week, and they have a scheduled day off of school, its really hard for me to enjoy my time off. Those are supposed to be the days where I can walk around in my underwear and clean and just be at east with myself.

    Luckily, my husband is supportive of me escaping once in a while and I’ve taken to spending time at my local coffee shop.

  12. So glad found this article !I have sort of figured it out after 7 long years guys ! Couldn’t understand why I feel the way I do , one time all happy and chattable and then getting so exhausted mentally mostly. I’m a highly sensitive person too so it adds to the situation . All that emotional side is just draining me out .Makes sense now . Distancing myself from my stepdaughter helped me and her to have a better relationship . We sort of both recognised a boundaries that cannot be overstepped. Keep it simple and respectful that’s the main thing . It’s so hard though . Gotta be optimistic .

    • How do you do that – keeping it simple? My way of bringing up my daughter is so different to his with his kids – which is always reactive. Today is the start of the summer holidays and they are with us for five weeks starting tomorrow. They do not have daily baths/showers or washes and I know this is small stuff and I’m trying not to sweat it, but the way I bring up my oldest daughter and the twins (now 2, but still waking up every night) is to keep them clean. Why should there be one rule for my kids and one for his? I’ve trained my own daughter to wash every day so she doesn’t smell. She can skip a day now and again but not four days, like my step-kids regularly do. This small stuff is just not on my partner’s radar. He doesn’t seem to notice the black, stinky feet. I’ve tried to introduce new methods for how they live when they are here, but nothing seems to work and I’m just left looking and sounding like a neurotic woman (which I probably am given I’m so frigging sleep-deprived!). I’ve GOT to find a strategy for getting me through the summer holidays and keeping my mouth zipped. Ideas anyone?

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