Stepmoms, step out of arguments between your stepchild and partner

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Stepmom Did you know that most kids will get resentful if their stepparent steps in when they’re having an argument with their parent?

Arguing with their parent is something they’ve been doing for years and it’s something they’re comfortable with. It’s something kids feel they have a right to do, and let’s face it, most kids are just trying to manipulate their parents in order to get what they want. You can imagine how upset they’d be at the person who threatens that, right? So if a stepparent intervenes, the child often thinks “Who the hell are you to get in my way? This is between me and my parent. We’ve been doing this long before you came along. Mind your own business.”

It can be hard as a stepmom to bite your tongue, especially if you’re triggered by their arguing style (loud outbursts, name-calling, raised voices), but unless you’ve known your stepchild for a long time, are well bonded with him and have a successful history of being the conflict whisperer, it’s best to stay out of it.

Stepping in will only cause your stepchild to resist your presence in his life, making your life even more difficult than it might already be – and your partner may also resent your intrusion. After all, he’s a big boy and doesn’t need you saving him. I get that you want to protect him, but he doesn’t need it. Let him handle arguments with his child his way.

I’m sure some of you are thinking “But I have a RIGHT to speak up in my home!” I agree, you absolutely have a right, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best course of action. Having a right to something doesn’t mean it’s what’s going to serve you best in the long run.

Think about what your end goal is: Is it more important for you to exert your rights and try to control someone else’s behavior, or is it more important to preserve future relationships with your family?

INSTEAD
Instead, exert the power and control you have over yourself and protect yourself from unwanted behavior. Leave the house if you need to, or put on headphones to drown out the noise.

At a later time, feel free to have a family discussion or even a one-on-one with your stepchild, in a kind manner, about how his behavior affects you. But make sure you’re doing it after the fact, when everyone is calm and not triggered. And make sure your intent is to learn about your stepchild and simply share your experience without attachment to whether he changes or not.

Learning to step out of situations that don’t involve you will save your sanity and in the process you’ll be preserving your relationship with your stepchild. Ya know, for those days when he’s older, more mature and actually a pleasure to be around. 😉

© 2015 Jenna Korf    All Rights Reserved

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4 thoughts on “Stepmoms, step out of arguments between your stepchild and partner

  1. Interesting concept. This is probably the hardest thing about being a stepmom for me. I go full on defense-mode when my SS or the Ex bad-mouth or attack MY husband. I will old-fashioned-slap somebody with a white glove and challenge them to a dual out in the street. I have a really hard time loving and being patient with my SS when he is disrespectful to my husband. If he were my son, I would not stand by and let him be disrespectful to his father, but we would also have a mother/son relationship to stand on. You make a good point. Certainly my husband is able to handle it on his own. He knows I have his back.

    • Hi Heather, I love that you’re fiercely protective of your husband, but I’m glad you’re open to the possibility that it might not always be best to act on it! 😉

  2. I am a step dad not mom…my partner has 2 kids and my 2 are grown. I have taken to the defense of my partner in parenting situations with both her kids and mine as far as respect. All children grown or not have taken to it well. They realize that I have a partner and they are loved and respected equally. Working well so far…
    Peter

    • That’s great that that has worked out for you, Peter! 🙂 Research has actually shown that stepmoms have a harder time with kids than stepdads do, for a variety of reasons. So perhaps that has something to do with it, or maybe just your specific stepkids accept your authority. 🙂 Either way, very glad to hear you found something that works for your family!

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