Feeling anger, resentment, jealousy and even hatred towards your step kids is a real thing that people in blended families sometimes feel.
What I want to say first is that all feelings are valid and it’s important to build a support team that does not shame you about your emotions.
What to do if you feel hatred toward your stepchildren.
Feeling anger, hatred or resentment toward the children in a blended family is not uncommon.
It is something that can feel bad to admit.
If you are in online support groups you may find that they are not helpful with this emotion and they may say things that make you feel even worse than you do already.
Most people do not want to hate the children in their lives.
Holding onto anger and resentment feels terrible.
Many people liken it to drinking poison because the act of hating somebody else makes us feel bad.
Case Study: Jeanie [not her actual name] came to me because she felt like she had been shamed by other stepmoms for saying that she hated her stepson.
The emotion was pure and raw and real for Jeanie.
Hatred is interesting because it can just take us over entirely. When we are really angry we can feel it through our whole body. It can blind us to anything other than the anger.
You’ve probably felt this yourself. When we are angry this is all we feel. And it doesn’t feel good.
If you’ve ever been frustrated or resentful of your stepkids you may know this feeling.
Jeanie was taking her frustration to an online Facebook group and strangers on the internet had opinions that weren’t helpful. When Jeanie got to me she was not only angry at her stepson she was also angry at all the strangers on the internet.
So what can you do?
Well first, know that facebook groups aren’t always helpful.
When we need help to unload big emotions it’s super helpful to have trained helpers to work with you.
I think of this like a support group.
It’s very helpful to see stories from other people going through similar situations. It helps us feel much less alone.
It can sometimes feel really good to pour your heart out to strangers … but other times it might not feel good to do that.
Is it normal to hate your stepkids?
Normal is a perspective. Some people may experience this and others may not.
Living with children can be stressful.
I think that this is true whether you are in a nuclear family or a blended family. Blended families often have regular home/custody changes which make it harder to get into a comfortable family rhythm.
This is often tougher for the stepparent. This can be especially true if the stepparent does not have their own children. This is sometimes credited to biology which may be true I just think it’s that the humans are less familiar with each other.
It feels like having houseguests…young and perhaps not quite fully socialized houseguests. 🙂
It is hard.
Why is it hard?
It’s hard because it’s your house and you want to have it be the way you want it to be.
It’s hard because a house is a shared space.
So it’s also your partners house and it’s also the kids house.
It’s the kids house too and kids are naturally completely self absorbed and clueless about many things including how their actions impact others.
It’s also hard because your step kids might be bringing words, actions, traditions and everything from the other house.
All of this can have you feeling like your house feels like it’s been invaded when the stepkids come over.
I love my spouse but dislike my stepdaughter.
One of the least popular things to tell a stepparent is that they need to accept the whole package of partner and their kids.
That is however, often true.
I’m not going to sugar coat this.
Why? Because this is one of my top 10 tips to have a successful and happy blended family. Honor the past relationship(s).
They aren’t going away.
It’s not even just the kids it’s also important to fully accept whatever the relationship is with the children’s other parent. This is sometimes called the biomom or the biodad. And don’t forget the inlaws. Grandma and Grandpa will be connected.
This can be very tough because sometimes if we are childless when we become stepparents we might go into these relationships thinking that the former relationship is like any other ex. If we have an idea of that relationship being over, past and done with we can set ourself up for frustration.
If there are children the parents are connected to each other usually for the entire life of the child. This can be true even if the parent is absent or even dead.
I tell this story often. My parents were divorced so early in my life that I have no memories of them together. I was 5 when they divorced. When my father died I was in my 30s. Decades after they were divorced when we held my father’s memorial the most upset person in the room was my mom. This surprised both my brother and myself but my therapist at the time was not surprised at all when I told them. He pointed out that even though they were divorced they had a relationship … a distant and strained relationship but they were still connected that entire time.
Why do some adults hate stepchildren?
In my experience the most common reason that some adults struggle with stepchildren is behavior. This shows up with questions about discipline and blending parenting styles.
Stepparents will frequently come to me with reports that the stepkids are disrespectful.
Super common issues are not respecting property like taking care of their clothes or furniture or even getting into things that belong to the adults or not sharing toys for the other kids in the house. If any of these sound familiar – you are not alone.
Some children do have challenging behavior.
Some children do have struggles adjusting after divorce.
Those things truly might require the help of a child therapist.
The most common reason that I see adults struggle is that they are not familiar or aware of developmental stages for children.
For example, it is normal for children of a certain age to lie. It’s also very normal for young children to be terrible at regulating their emotions.
This is very good news because it means that it is something we can learn. It also means that while frustrating nobody is intentionally doing anything wrong.
Help! My partner wants me to love his kids like my own and I don’t even like them.
I can remember feeling affection for my stepkids when I was new to the blended family relationship. I also remember feeling occasional or potentially frequent … anger and frustration.
I remember that one time in a tantrum my husband’s daughter literally broke the toilet.
She cracked it right into pieces which was unbelievable to me at the time because she was a very small child.
I do not remember what started the tantrum.
I remember that she was screaming.
I remember my husband giving her a consequence and she went into the bathroom and slammed the door … or it’s actually possible that he actually put her in the bathroom to isolate her and let her calm down. At the time he was living in a small apartment. A small carpeted apartnment on an upper floor.
I distinctly remember a loud crash and a broken toilet.
This was total chaos.
What I remember is that I was literally hiding in the master bedroom. I was shaking in frustration that this small child was completely wrecking my weekend. As a result of the tantrum my step daughter was grounded which meant that my boyfriend was also going to be home and any plans that we may have had were cancelled.
I do remember feeling completely powerless in this moment.
I can still feel that sense of not knowing what my role was. I remember having no idea … not even a single clue what in the world I was supposed to do next.
How could I be the adult and be hiding from a child and what did that mean for my relationship going forward?
Could I even do this?
Did I need to call it quits and get out of the relationship?
If you know my story then you already know that I didn’t run away. I stuck it out and I’ve been a stepmom for over 20 years. I have built a blended family life that I love and I’m very happy with.
It wasn’t always easy and I didn’t do it all by myself which is definitely a reason why I decided to coach adults in blended families.
How to cope if I hate my stepkids?
To cope there are two things I suggest.
The first thing to try to do is to try to escape out from under the weight of the anger.
This can be tough.
Often when we are angry what we do is respond by sharing our anger with others by being angry with them.
For example when I was angry with my stepdaughter what my response was to yell at my boyfriend about how angry I was.
When I look back with 20/20 vision I can see how unhelpful that was. But in the moment the anger was all I had.
Another thing I remember about those early days was how exhausting it was. My stepdaughter was angry, I was angry, my boyfriend was angry and then after it was over I would just be exhausted.
Learning how to escape being angry – learning how to stop being angry was critical for me. This is something we can learn to do. When we learn it then we are no longer out of control. When we learn how to control our response in anger then we are in control. This is super powerful. This is something that I teach in my coaching. I teach a variety of techniques to help with this.
The second thing I offer is to give yourself grace that all emotions are okay. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to not be sure how you feel about living with your stepkids. You probably don’t need to also pile on more judgment and shame on top of the anger.
How to I deal if I just can’t stand my stepkids?
My specialty is helping people figure out how to be happy and enjoy their life in their blended family.
Of course, part of that question is deciding whether you want to be in or stay in your blended family. This is another place where I see participation in social media groups a little problematic.
I am in a lot of stepmom groups. Somedays it seems like anytime a person posts any problem the first dozen responses are, “you need to leave that relationship right now.”
That may be your choice. Or not. It’s totally up to you. But if you are already committed to the relationship and you want to try to be happy it’s not at all helpful to have 10-12 people telling you that your best or only option is to leave.
Here’s a tool that you really can use for yourself. A question you can ask yourself is can you separate the individual behavior from your relationship overall.
In my case with my stepdaughter’s tantrum the question is can I live in a house where there are these tantrums happening?
The answer to that was … not really. In my case I didn’t have to force the issue. When the toilet was broken that was a limit for my boyfriend. He actually took action to get his daughter support to help reduce the tantrums.
There were over the years many other issues that came up because that’s how family works. Not just blended families all families. As soon as you figure out the toddler years along comes the next phase.
Is it possible to work through this?
For me I was able to work through this.
I didn’t do it by myself.
If any of this resonates with you and you’d like to know more about how I worked through my struggles and how I can help you with your own individual blended family struggles I encourage you to check out how you can work with me here.