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, 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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