Marrying into a stepfamily can be a difficult ordeal. Those kids are a priority in your partner’s life, and will definitely end up a huge part of yours if you choose to stick around. It’s normal for some insecurities to develop from that arrangement, but letting resentment fester is never a good choice.
Some occasional resentment towards your stepchildren is understandable – especially at the start of your new family dynamic. It’s easy to see them as just competition for your partner’s attention, but getting to know and bond with them will dispel the worst of these issues in time. If you find yourself upset by your stepchildren’s actions, think about what exactly they did that bothered you, then communicate it to both them and your partner.
Anxieties, tensions, and misgivings are a normal part of any family. What matters most is how you choose to handle them, and we’ve come up with a few ideas to ensure those worries get smoothed over quickly. Just be willing to compromise and you’ll all ease into a comfortable family dynamic in no time at all.
Some Random Resentment Is Understandable…
Stepchildren can indeed feel like an inconvenience – though not any more than normal kids would be. They have needs that match or even supersede your own in your partner’s eyes, and it can be draining to care for people who cut into the limited time you can spend with your partner.
While it’s not their fault for disrupting plans and intimate moments, the experience is naturally aggravating for people. There’s plenty of valid reason for the occasional bout of annoyance from the inevitable disruption they’ll regularly provide in your relationship.
The worst part is unless you had experience with kids prior, most stepparents will go in completely blind to what their new responsibilities entail. You’re effectively starting from scratch trying to figure out the dos and don’ts of the dynamic. Your stepchildren won’t be very appreciative of your efforts to improve for a long while, and the transition can be a huge, frustrating hurdle for even patient people to surmount.
With all this in mind, occasional resentment is valid at the start of your relationship. Letting it linger is not – it’s in your best interest to dispel those types of thoughts in the long run.
… But Consider If The Source Might Be Something Specific
It’s important to discover the underlying reason as to why you resent your stepchildren. A more targeted issue needs to be handled decisively. Failing to do so runs the risk of your relationship with them and your partner deteriorating.
We’ve come up with a few common reasons you may harbor some resentment towards them.
1. Intimate Time Loss
Stepchildren can take a lot of time out of your relationship. Having your beloved be more parent than partner can be challenging, and might leave you wondering where exactly you belong in this family. If you feel this is a pressing concern, we’d recommend discussing it with your partner.
Be ready to compromise on this, since your stepchildren will remain a permanent part of the arrangement. You could do so some chores to free up their schedule a bit – it’d be a welcome relief for your partner. They’re probably running themselves ragged taking care of your stepchildren.
2. Reminders of Your Partner’s Past
Even in the best-case scenario, stepchildren still serve as a reflection of your partner’s history – one that began without you. It’s perfectly valid for that to bother you from time to time, but it’s not something in their control – please don’t hold it against them.
Be open to your partner about this, and hopefully, they can assuage some of your insecurities in due time. That said, most of the progress against these fears will come from your own efforts.
3. Entitled Children
Your stepchildren could also be a bit entitled, acting problematic, disrespectful, or dismissive towards you or your partner. They could be used to getting what they want with their way, and that habit needs to be curbed before the relationship suffers.
Before you decide on this, consider if your stepchildren are genuinely entitled. You’re in a position where you’re competing with them for your partner’s time, so you naturally won’t be predisposed to exercise much patience with them.
If you still believe they are, discuss this with both your partner and your stepchildren. Bear in mind that what you see as entitlement is subjective, so work with them rather than push your own solutions. Dealing with entitled stepchildren can take time – be patient with them throughout the process.
If What They Do Bothers You, Be Honest About It…
After you recognize the source of these tensions, we strongly urge you to share how they make you feel with your partner. They’ll want to help bridge the gap you have with your stepchildren to the best of their ability. If it’s something they can control, your partner can help fix it. If it’s not, your partner can still provide crucial reassurance and security to help you power through.
Disciplining your stepchildren is a shared responsibility, but not one you should begin without a healthy parent-child relationship established. Forcing that will foster more resentment with your stepchildren, making things difficult for everyone in the long run. If you see problematic or challenging behavior from them, inform your partner so they can take point handling it.
Don’t let these types of problems linger, since it will erode your dynamic with your stepchildren. You want to create a stable connection with your stepchildren – one that prioritizes clear communication and mutual respect. Set boundaries, but mind the ones they establish in kind. Ensure that any discussions you two have are set on fair, even terms.
Never play the stepparent card. It won’t end well, and will just propagate more resentment on both sides. Put the work in reasoning with your stepchildren, and you’ll both end up with a healthy respect for one another soon enough.
… But Remember That They’re Kids Struggling Too
Stepchildren usually don’t come from the best environments. Their former parent has likely left or passed on, leaving big shoes to fill alongside a boatload of expectations you won’t even be aware of. It’s also possible that they’re in a healthy shared custody situation, but that could be another point of insecurity – seeing your partner’s ex still a significant presence in their lives. Your stepchildren might compare you to their “real” parent, and that’ll hurt.
Your stepchildren have been through a lot, and will at best start off aloof towards you. They’ll have their own misgivings, or even be a bit resentful as well. Don’t hold it against them if they’re slow to warm up to the new family dynamic you’re all easing into. You can’t expect your kids to maintain their objectivity here, so be as patient as you can be and put your best foot forward.
Don’t forget that your stepchildren mean the world to your partner. Treat them with all the dignity and care that entails. It’s okay to ask your partner for compromises, but don’t ever pit your needs against your stepchildren’s. Even if you get what you want, it comes at the cost of your relationship with your stepchildren being strained.
Find An “In” With Your Stepchildren
This article has been pretty deliberate about referring to them as your stepchildren, rather than your partner’s children. You need to rewire your brain to see them like your own kids. Humanize them into more than just these nuisances getting in the way of you and your partner. Eventually, you’ll come to love them just as deeply.
Try to find an “in” with them – some form of common ground, shared interest, or bonding experience can do wonders. You can ask your partner for a quick headstart on your stepchildren’s hobbies, but the investment and drive needed has to come from you.
A foothold is all you need, and the rest will follow shortly. Those errant thoughts of resentment towards your stepchildren will dwindle after this, and you’ll end up not only a wonderful partner but an awesome blended family to boot!
While it’s understandable to harbor some resentment for your stepchildren, it’s never a thought process you should let slide. The journey to making a happy stepfamily is long and challenging, but what’s waiting for you there is always worth the effort. You’ll start seeing those rascals as your own one day, so strive to be the best stepparent you can be.