Experience Project iOS Android Apps | Download EP for your Mobile Device

Stepfather Difficulties

Hello, I've been raising my stepson for 10 years now. I met my wife and we got married. At the time she had a 5 year old son. We have definitely strugged throughout the years. We now have two daughters under 9 that are biologically mine. I have been having these feelings kind of like my gas tank is on empty on being a stepfather. I feel awful at times that I feel this way but I sometimes just can't fight these feelings. I know at this piont that I am treating my stepson different than my two daughters. I was wondering if anybody else has had feelings like this. I can say that my marriage is really at a bad place.



sf10 sf10 31-35, M 21 Responses Sep 16, 2009

Your Response


Good to know I'm not alone. I have a 3 year old son from a previous relationship and a 1 year old son with my current girlfriend who also has 2 daughters from a previous relationship. The girls father refuses to work and contributes nothing to their upbringing, which leaves me to pick up the pieces, which is hard because as most of us don't like to admit, I really don't feel any real connection to these children, especially not the connection I do to my own.

I married a woman with two children. When we met they were 3 (boy) and 7 (girl). We have been married two years and they are now 5 and 9. We have since had a child, a baby boy, who is 6 months old. We miscarried twice before he was brought into our lives. Words can't express how special and loved he is. I can not deny how the connection, bond and instincts regarding my own offspring/flesh and blood are different. I don't encourage that or feed into it but deep within me at a primal level my biological son evokes so many different feelings as compared to the two step-kids. I provide them with everything they need and I've even adopted the boy as his father was not in the picture. I find myself aggravated sometimes when I see the older kids coming between my wife and my son when it comes to dividing her attention. I don't know why but when they try and hold him or pose in photos with him it also weirdly bothers me. I don't know why or understand why I'm feeling this way and I worry that deep down I'm just a bad person. I want to look at them equally but my heart, mind and body tell me that my biological son is different and more important to me. Somebody shed some light on this for me, please.

I have two step daughters 18 and 23
The 23 yr old has a job but when she's not working she's in her pjs and does nothing but watch tv and mope around,
I asked if my partner could do somthing about it as she ignores me and I get a strait no, her mother says I have no place telling her that she's lazy
And my relationship is on the rocks.
I been with her for 12 years and share a mortgage, I do chores cook decorate fix their cars but now stopped doing it especially chores as I feel I'm the only one cleaning up after her.
Please tell me if you think this is right

Exactly the same for me. I have 2 bio daughters and an 18 y old step son. I carry so much guilt because I have always tried to swallow my natural instincts, ignore them feeling like they made me a bad person. The reality is I have more patience and a stronger instinctive connection with my bio kids. I really can not help this or deny it. At times this has meant that I have been irritated by him and lost my temper with him more than I should have. I don't know how to get rid of the guilt that sits on my shoulders. I didn't know what I was getting into at the beginning 15 years ago. Would I have committed if I had known how guilt ridden my path as a father would be? I don't know if I would have. I am undergoing counciling for these feelings and hope it works. My sense of self has diminished a lot due to this journey as well. I feel i have done a bad job as parent to him and hope that our relationship will improve one day. I have tried as hard as I can but fear that I fell we'll short. I can say that I love him as much as the other 2 but that instinctive connection just isn't there.

Stepdad... The one person who had absolutely nothing to do with making a child yet is labeled the problem. It's crap. The child and mother should be stoked you came along. So, you treat him different... To be blunt, he's not yours and you are doing the best you can. Don't feel guilty. No one can expect you to treat a step the same as the bios... We are animals, after all and we have natural instincts. All you should be expected to do is the best you can, not act like he bio parent. In all reality, they should be happy she didn't have to work overtime at a Waffle House as a single mother for the last 10 years.

I started dating a girl with a 1 year old baby. I'm the jealous type, no point in lying. We have a baby on the way, and she gave the other to her mom. I know deep down I will always treat my kid better than the one she had, she has no contact with the father, why does this still bother me so bad l? She goes to see her 2x a week, I'm trying to accept it, but it's hard.

It weird, when did kids started ruling the parents. Last night (02.14.13), accidently I spilled little food on my stepson's water and he called me a ****** retard. He is 10yr old and I have 11yrd old daughter (from my previous marraige) and 2-1/2 yr old daughter with his mother. If this was a man, I would have punched his face. What would anyone do in this situation. His dad is in the picture, but he usually takes him to his house and he goes to sleep and the 10yr old spends the entire day watching TV.

If he can do this at 10, imagine what I should be expecting? May be I should just move on!!!??

I'm also a step dad we have been married for two years now. This has been the worst two years of my life.I regret marrying a woman with kids. My life feels like a living hell. I can't take this no more. I'm going to get a divorce and find myself another woman with no kids. Thank God we have not had kids together.

Shu and here I was thinking that I,m going mad, I have 2 stepsons, one of 12 and one of 9, the elder one Tom gets on very well with me and the younger Matt seems to still be attached to his Mom's breast. I try really hard with both however it seems that matt is in total control of his mom, she is always defending him and taking his side. If I so as much repremand Matt, she jumps in to defend him. I need help.

When a child is allowed to create division between couples, especially when both couples aren't the biological parent the relationship is as doomed as the concept of the blended family. Bail out while you can!!! It only gets worse from here, not better. I am speaking from experience, not the legion of doom. It's been 6 years for me and they have only lived with us for about a combined two years.

I am the step father of an eleven year old boy. I met him and my wife when he was two years old. He has never known his real father, but looks distinctly different then me. Very early on, and to this day my wife sides with my son when i lecture him for doing wrong. He knows he has her in his corner. She openly confronts me, and says that his recent, almost compulsive lies, are because i lecture him. I always thought that when a child lies, it is grounds for a good lecture. But apparently i am the problem. Considering that i am in a me vs. Them situation, i don't think that it is unreasonable for me to feel some sort of resentment toward him for creating friction within the family. Also i am constantly ridiculed for not being closer to a son whom i can't trust to tell me the truth in even the simplest situation. am i being unreasonable? If so let me know. I am very open to suggestions.

Not at all unreasonably. The constant lies about even the smallest of things is what drives me crazy. I call it lying for no gain. These feeling will never go away in my opinion. The saddest thing about the woman who defend the child at all cost is that, eventually, the child turns on them, somewhere around the time of adulthood. If I were you, (and I am in your situation) I would start working on an exit strategy with YOUR interests in mind. Do what's best for you! In that house, who has YOUR interests at heart? The very likely answer to that question is nobody but YOU!

I am the step father of an eleven year old boy. I met him and my wife when he was two years old. He has never known his real father, but looks distinctly different then me. Very early on, and to this day my wife sides with my son when i lecture him for doing wrong. He knows he has her in his corner. She openly confronts me, and says that his recent, almost compulsive lies, are because i lecture him. I always thought that when a child lies, it is grounds for a good lecture. But apparently i am the problem. Considering that i am in a me vs. Them situation, i don't think that it is unreasonable for me to feel some sort of resentment toward him for creating friction within the family. Also i am constantly ridiculed for not being closer to a son whom i can't trust to tell me the truth in even the simplest situation. am i being unreasonable? If so let me know. I am very open to suggestions.

No, It is not you, Quite Often the wife projects the failures of her previous marriage/relationship onto you (us). The mother and son have a co-dependent relationship which neither wants to give up. Only when one other is willing to do so can this change. However if the son meets a girl and distances himself from his mom, guess who she will blame for "Driving her son away", regardless of reality. If she decides to distance herself from him, then he will demonize you to her and everyone he knows (especially his grandparents) and then they will demonize you to her until you are gone If that does not work then they will decide to di-associate themselves from her as a form of coercion.

Hello Everyone...Especially All You Step-Dads...

I'm not married to my girlfriend, but I have been living with her for 2 years. She has 4 children from her previous marriage. Two boys (18 and 10) and two girls (14 and 8). The father has very little input in their growing up. I do have a son who is 22 and lives with his mother.

This is not the first time I have met a woman with children. My son's mom had 3 children of her own when I met her. I quickly learned that I would not be able to interfere in the manner in which she wanted to discipline her kids. The first time I tried, she was quick to point out that it was not my job. I never forgot the look in her eyes and the tone in her voice when she told me that; I was never the same after that. My son was born and things changed dramatically and our relationship ended. I took my son and raised him as a single dad for 18 years. I was self employed and was able to care for him without the need of a babysitter.

When I met my current girlfriend, my son was 20. He had a hard time accepting the fact that she had 4 kids. He thought I was making a big mistake. Love happens that way no matter how experienced you are.

After reading the stories here, I do not consider anyone here a whining, negative, or a bad step dad. I can never understand would came up with the term step dad? Though I got to tell you, as most will already know, the title is appropriate at times; it does feel like we are stepped on!

I knew I was not alone in my step dad role. My story is the same as most here. My advantage, if any, is that I'm not married; I can leave whenever I please. I'm almost at that point and sadly it's not because of a lack of love, it's her 4 children. I'm burnt out. No matter what I do, it's never enough. My money is green enough to get what they demand, but I better not mention discipline for bad behavior or choirs because I'm a monster! I do not believe in rewarding bad behavior and when I say "no", it means no. But their mom is the total opposite. She threatens to take away a privilege of says "no" to something, but after they bug her enough, crying non stop, she gives in; they always get their way. How does a child learn? And worst, my "no" just got vetoed.

I know I'm not crazy and I know I should not allow it to get to me, but it does. If I do not stop their tantrums, they would walk all over her. I am just learning to let go gradually. A lot of you dads out there have endured for a long time. I feel your anguish and pain. No one knows how it hurts being in the step dad role, especially when you want to be (are) a caring step dad when you do not have to be one! No of us are alone! Talking about it is a great way to release stress. Thank you all for sharing. God give you all strength, courage, and show you the way.


I have been a stepfather for 15 years. A step parent does not enter into a blended marriage to be a parent...he/she enters into a blended marriage to be a step parent. To think that a step parent must assume the roll of mother/father is an idealized fairy tale meant to ease any guilt the bio parent has for leaving the previous marriage and to repair the break up one of the parent/child relationships. I absolutely despise hearing people tell me I should feel the same way about my step child as I do my bio children. I don't feel the connection with my step child that I do with my bio children...and he was my first child. Neither does he feel the connection with me that he does with his bio father. I am here to guide, correct and teach my step child, but he doesn't have the same rights my other children do. This is a sore subject with the bio parents in many blended families. They think all the children should be equal and they are hurt when they see the step parent not follow that way of thinking. This causes division in the family. The whole family needs to understand that step parents are not bio parents. Don't treat them as such and don't expect them to behave as bio parents. And don't expect the stepchild to magically think of the step parent as mom or dad.

OMFG you guys make me SICK.. <br />
<br />
You wouldn't want to spoil your life with your wife and kids???!?! Your stepkids ARE your kids and have been since the day you agreed to be in the family!!! You agreed on a packagedeal buddy.<br />
<br />
I have been a stepchild since I was 7 when my dad died, and my stepdad treated me horrible.<br />
<br />
Everyday I felt so alone because I knew in my heart that my stepdad wished I wasn't around.. I tried so hard to make him like me but somehow I always ended up annoying him - And it HURT deep in my heart everytime he treated his "real" children better than me. I believe this is why I got very low self-esteem as a child.<br />
<br />
You stepparents at least have a partner, places to go, and can leave if you wish - a stepchild doesn't have anywhere to go, and for my sake I felt like I was not wanted anywhere.<br />
<br />
Today my mom have a new man, but I still see my old stepdad because he is the father of my brother - and NOW he acts like I am his daughter and it sickens me - he even had the nerve to ask my mom why I didn't contact him after she left !?<br />
<br />
As luck have it I am now a mom of two myself with a man who have a 14 yo. daughter and 10 yo. son for whom I am stepmom.<br />
<br />
And even though I know they will probably never like me as much as their bio parents I do my best to be there for them and make them feel welcome and special and I KNOW that is the reason we have such a good relationship and I love them.<br />
<br />
You are the adults, stop whining and try harder!!

I think we as men could do better making stepchildren feel welcome but the personality type of the child plays a role in this. In the case of the parent who leaves the other, that person obviously had some sort of issue that made being with that person unpleasant. That same personality could have been passed down. Yes we have to do a better job of realizing that these are just kids but we are only human. If a kid has unpleasant habits than in my experience, being close to him or her is going to be hard. My stepboys steal everything that isn't bolted to the floor and every last one of them are drama filled. A successful family has personalities that are somewhat similar. In the blended family this is often not the case.
I think the blended family is easier for women anyway. Yea we agreed to it but don't be surprised when we come the realization it wasn't worth it in the long run.

Uggghhh... Great... Another, stepdad was the problem story. Not one reference to your mother being the problem. After all, she made you and put you in that situation. Considering, in your story, she sounds like she's working on her "third baby daddy", maybe you shouldn't place your bad step experience blame solely on him. I feel for you but he didn't make you. Your moms irresponsibility put all of you in that situation.

Thank you for this... I have 3 kids (whose father is not in the picture) and am engaged to a man with no kids. I was reading this to find hope. But instead found a bunch of whinny men . Until I read your post, wich makes sense.... Yes I'm sure it's a very difficult situation being a step parent... But they knew what they were getting into...

I don't think any of these posts will make sense because you will never be a stepdad. You have 3 kids and when you continue to put them above your husband who probably will be supporting your family you will see first hand the hard ship and misery and overall harm caused to him. He is very brave indeed taking on your mess you should treat him like gold.

1 More Response

My situation is exactly the same. I married my wife and her 4 year old son nine years ago. We purposely waited for her son to accept a member of the family and we were the proud parents of a baby girl four years ago. My stepson truly loves his sister, as do her mom and I. Over the last couple of years, her son has pushed things to the limit with me and has tested my patience over and over, but he has has been a model student at school which I am extremely proud and please of and I remind him of this often. I grew up not liking my father at all, in fact I almost hated my father for not being there for me. One thing I never did though was disrespect my father verbally or openly and I that in for many years. My stepson and I have been closer recently in the last two years than ever, although last week he did something I felt that took my trust away while his mom was away for the evening during a girls night out. Not only did this hurt, but it made me angry and resentful towards him. When I confronted him and reminded him of the rules his mom (not me) made for him, he began to answer me in a disresctful manner. I called his mother to speak with him and she ended up coming home right away. Immediatly I was accused of not being patient nor loving towards my son. Since that incident 6 nights ago, I've felt betrayed by my wife and son. I tired to be open about this and may said I was still mad (instead of saying I was hurt). Tonight she made it openly clear to her son that he can speak to me any way he wants to. I am tired of this, one minute she tells me I am not involved with her son and the next minute she tells me to stay away from him. I've tried my best to be a good dad to both of my kids and I am begining to feel resentful towards my son for driving a wedge between the family. Most of the time his mother and I are on the same team, but when things come down to it, when it really counts in the difficult situations, I can see how much she really trusts me to raise her son. Tonight I had to put my foot down and make it clear to everyone in the house, whether if I am a great dad or if I am a awful dad, I will not let my kids be disrespectul to me, she threatened to take the kids out of the house, told my 3 year that she should hate daddy and my poor baby was crying so much. For the peace of the home, I held my little one and told her it's OK...daddy will be back soon and I left in tears. I dont have anyone to talk to, but I'm glad to write this out. I hope tommorow is a better day.

I hate that I'm almost a year and a half late on this one. I would like an update. The statement she made about him speaking anyway he wanted is unacceptable and would have been a deal breaker for me. My response would have been rather nasty. When parents drag the children into the conflict for support, that is the only sign you need that the relationship will never work. I have never heard of a woman telling a three year old they should hate anyone, let alone their father..... To me that's more than speaking out of anger...


hello. im new to this site ,and joined for exactly this reason. My wife and i have been married only 2 years but we have been involved with eachother for close to5. She has two daughters 14,and 11, and we have a 16 month old daughter together. Before my daughter was born i felt i was very close with the other girls and loved them as my own but having my daughter now i realize how different my bond is with them. Now my 14 year old step daughter is developing the teenager defiant attitude and just dont have the patience to deal with it how i think i should. I just feel overwhelmed. sorry if i hi jacked your thread, but im new and felt this as good a place as any to start sharing.

I am an ex stepmother and you are experiencing the same thing as all stepmothers feel. All stepfathers should hook up with stepmothers and run off into the sunset. It is my opinion that the feelings you have are natural and that you are programmed to protect your own offspring.If someone has a kid with someone then they should realise that that is their problem and leave the un attatched out of it. Its not the kids fault and it is not your fault this is selfish people wanting their cake and eating it. How dare anyone lumber someone with someone elses kids and then not have the respect to realise that they need to protect that person from their child! The kid is only doing what is natural to them! They are just as jealous of you as you are of them. Who is pulling all the strings? Your woman has set you both up to fail! She wants all the love at evertones expense. Believe me she is fueling this problem and she is selfish! Time for people to realise that people with kids are no go zones.

Couldn't have said it any better!

For each of you this would be a challenge anyway, these are teenagers, not innocent children. When the wife and stepchild form an alliance against you, there is no winning. You have to either accept that you are the outsider and be OK with it, or you need to leave. I'm fortunate that my wife and I are a team, and I spend more time being parent than she does (she has a chronic pain condition and doesn't want her daughter seeing her suffering, so I'm mom and dad combined most of the time). I have two sons from my first marriage, and my wife has disagreed with my discipline sometimes. Not in front of the kids though, always a comment away from them and not at that immediate moment. Sometimes I've revised my discipline based on her suggestion, sometimes I've stuck to my guns. But no matter what, we back each other up in front of the kids. If you and your wives can't have each other's backs with the kids, biological or step, you have been undermined and cannot maintain discipline. Get help, marital counseling, steer her to these stories, whatever it takes to get her to agree to back you up. Then promise to do the same for her, even if you think she's wrong. Talk about it later, away from the kids (unless it's life or death), and she can revise her discipline if you both agree to it. If you're not a team, you're not going to make it.<br />
<br />
Good luck to you all.

This is amazing, I am also in the same boat! I have been raising my stepson for 10 years as well, my wife and I also got married when my stepson was 5. My wife and have two sons together. <br />
<br />
When I first married my wife it was okay. His biological father took off and never turned back. I then adopted my stepson and things were fine until our firs son was born. My mother in law treated my son horrible for the first two years of his life an would spoil my stepson. I would have to put my foot down, which cause problems between my mother in law and me. My wife would not say anything to her mom. As the year went on, my thing kept on getting worse between my and my stepson. My mother in law finally began loving my 1st son and treating the the same. Saddly she passed away a year ago. <br />
<br />
After the death of my mother in law, my wife took over the role of her mother and began spoiling my stepson. I have same problems that Jeeters had, I end up fighting with my wife and my stepson over things that I am right about. Lately I feel like sf10. I don't want to be a stepfather anymore. I am tired of fighting with my wife and her son. I also treat my stepson differently and these are feeling that I can't help either. I don't like being around anymore and I don't like the way he acts. He actually reminds me of his biological father. Maybe that's why he bothers me. I don't know what to do. I don't want to destroy my marriage and the lives of my two other children because of my feelings towards my stepson.

Wow, this is like reading my own story. <br />
Stay strong with your beliefs and disciplinary styles. Maybe even ramp them up. If you are like me, then mom goes hard and soft on discipline because she feels bad. You need to remind her of the house rules and that you nad her are the coaches and that the kids are the pla<x>yers. I say this like I have complete control, but I am constantly battling "him" or "him and my wife" over things that I am right-on with, and also stuff that my wife will enforce. Hell, I get scolded for yelling at my boy (14) for something that he has done that he has been told over-and-over-and-over-and-over-and-over not to do, but my wife will turn right around and scream at our daughter (3) for doing something that our daughter had no idea was wrong (because it should have been obvious).<br />
<br />
Anyway, like I said, "Stay strong." I don't know if my methods are the best choice. I just know that I am doing the best that I can. I simply hope that one day it all clicks and all of my lecturing and tyrades work and he makes the right choices in life.<br />
<br />
Paco, please do not let your stepson keep you from having your "own" children. I have two kids with my wife and I wouldn't give them back for the world. I am raising them as I do my stepson by helping them make the correct decision, etc. I just know that I am the one in control of their beginning and I hope that it makes for a good middle and end game. My son was raised by my wife and her 2 semi-crazy parents. They go from ultra-strict to ultra-liberal in the bl<x>ink of an eye. Anyway, hopefully my rambling has helped someone --- it kinda helped me! =D

Wow I find myself in the same boat.