Dealing With Unruly Stepchildren

One challenge that lots of step parents face but not very many will confess is that they do not like one or more of their step children. They are crazy about their partner, they adore their children, and they see that they do not like their stepchildren very much because of their behavior.

When a step mom declares to me that she is in this situation, the very first thing I do is “get” her about how frustrating the problem is for her. We examine all her feelings around the situation and get a sense for what’s really getting under her skin in relationship to the child that is not “hers”.

After doing some emotional “excavating”, we then shift the main topic so we can see how the child blesses her. We see what this child can teach her and show her about herself.

The most effortless strategy to get the present that is in front of you is to recall what life was like for you at that kid’s particular age. How were you feeling? What things did you want from a parental figure at that time? What were the messages you got about how to be a wonderful child at that time?

So often we believe that someone else has to change for the problem to go away. The reality is that we have no control over how they act, and the only thing we can control is how we decide to respond to the choices of others.

If we tell ourselves that the child is annoying, then we will see evidence of that and respond to it. However, if we tell ourselves that the child is sad, we will generally be more empathetic and understanding, and possibly loving, as we aid them in getting through those things which aren’t right in their life.

Action Step: Is there someone in your life that makes you feel a lot of frusteration? Take the time to sit down and fully explore how that human is a secret jewel in your life. What can you learn from them? What are they showing you about yourself?

Write a thorough depiction of that individual. Afterwards ask yourself in what ways are you treating that person (and/or others) in a similar fashion – perhaps in your thinking, perhaps in your conversations behind their back. How do you treat that person when you think that way about them? How does it serve you to think that way about them? And, finally, in what ways would you be different if you did not feel that way towards them?

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