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What If You Don’t L _ _ _ Your Stepchild?

As a newlywed, you’re completely in love with your spouse. Yet as a stepparent, you may be troubled and even feeling guilty you don’t have the same loving feelings towards your spouse’s children.

In fact, you might be more concerned you don’t even like your stepchildren. Let’s take a look at the delicate subject of liking and loving your stepchildren.

What If You Don’t Love Your Stepchild?

  • The love you have for your spouse doesn’t automatically translate to love for their children.
  • The same way it took time for the love to develop and grow for your spouse it will take time for the love towards your stepchildren to grow.
  • The fact you don’t initially love your stepchildren is understandable. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
  • The feelings of love may never come but you can make a decision to love your stepchildren.
    • Love is a decision not a feeling.
    • Love is a decision you make consistently and regularly.
    • You make love happen it’s not something that happens to you.
    • Love grows from your decisions and actions.
  • How do you feel affection(love)?
    • How do you show affection to your favorite car?
      • You decide to admire it, pay attention to it, respect it, honor it, praise it and find the good in it.
    • Disrespect it, mistreat it, lie to it and ignore it
      • You will not feel love for it and you won’t say you love it.

What If You Don’t Like Your Stepchild?

  • While you may not love your stepchildren you should at least like them and your stepchildren should like you.
  • You don’t want to join your blended family under circumstances where there is mutual dislike. It’s not fair to you and it’s especially not fair to your fiancés children.
  • Your stepchild(ren) will easily pick up on any insincere behavior from you. Feelings of dislike from you or your stepchildren will make it difficult for the development of mutual respect.
  • If you’ve got biological kids of your own showing favoritism to your biological children can alienate your stepchildren and make them resentful of you AND their stepbrothers and stepsisters.

Having “special” outings with your bio kids, for example, going to the movies, getting ice cream, hanging out at the park, etc…, while your stepchildren are left to fend for themselves will only make the situation more volatile.

  • Whether you like your stepchildren or not you are the father of your kids AND her kids.
  • You must do the same things for your wife’s kids as you do for your own kids.

Why Don’t I Like My Stepchild?

As you go through life you meet people who you immediately dislike or eventually grow to dislike. Even biological parents have times where they dislike their child.

In the case of the stepchild you don’t like the first thing is to ask yourself, “Why?”

Take a step back and reflect about it for a moment. Maybe you don’t like your stepchild because

  • He/she is so different from you. He’s/she’s not a good student, not outgoing enough or they’re irresponsible. Maybe he/she likes to complain and is really negative.
  • He/she acts out, is defiant, disrespectful and creates trouble for you and your household.
  • His/her behavior is stressing you out, wearing you down and causing friction between you and the Mrs.

These are all acceptable reasons to feel dislike towards your stepchild. Why would you like someone who treats you poorly, is disrespectful or behaves in obnoxious ways?

It’s About You Not Them

Disliking your stepchild is more about you than him/her because these are your feelings and reactions to him/her. In fact, your reactions could be contributing to your stepchild’s unlikeable behaviors.

Since the only person you can change is you, here are some things you can to build the relationship and like with your stepchild.

  • Keep It Real
    • Acknowledge and accept your feelings. Don’t deny them because you think it’s bad or wrong to dislike your stepchild. You don’t have to like your feelings just own up to them.
      • You’ll experience less guilt and a better relationship with your child when you can acknowledge your feelings.
    • Dating Your Stepchild
      • While you’re still dating and are in agreement your relationship is headed toward marriage, start dating your stepchildren.
        • The purpose is for you to better get to know your future stepchildren as well as for them to get to know you their future stepdad.
        • Get to know who your future stepchild is and what their needs are. Listen to him/her – really listen.
        • Be yourself with him/her. Let them know your values, beliefs and preferences.
        • Accept your stepchild for who he/she is and pay attention to their strengths, rather than what you think are his/her weaknesses.
      • Find The Cause
        • Find out what’s causing you to dislike your stepchild. If it’s because he’s different from you or because he’s not how you want him to be, then manage your own expectations.
        • Remember, you don’t like your stepchild’s behavior not the person.
      • Keep It Positive
        • Focus on what’s right with your stepchild and begin building on what’s good. Having a positive mindset will lead to more positives.
        • Build your relationship by letting your stepchild know what you appreciate about him/her daily. Complement your stepchild when he/she does something well. Point out your stepchild’s strengths. Ask him to help you in things he’s strong in, so you build on his strengths.
      • Look At Your Reactions
        • Focus more on yourself than on your stepchild in order to build and improve your relationship with him/her. Decide how you want to behave with him/her, no matter how he/she behaves with you.
        • Stop reacting and start responding more positively. Stop the tug-of-war with your stepchild. Don’t always try to get the last word or prove you’re right. Admit to your mistakes and struggles.
      • Be Easy Going
        • Bring more fun and playfulness to your interactions with your stepchild.
        • Recognize your interaction with your stepchild has been the problem.
          • Your stepchild may be a problem, but he/she is not the problem; your interactions have been the problem.
          • You’re a part of that, too, so stay focused on changing your role in the drama.
        • Are There Contributing Factors?
          • If you’re feeling dislike because of your stepchild’s defiant behavior, is there any way you or others in your family are contributing to his/her behavior. Is he/she acting out other unresolved issues?
        • Serve Them
          • Serve your stepchild by giving of your time and energy. This will go long ways in communicating your care and regard for them.
            • Make their lunch; put a note of encouragement inside.
            • Take them on an outing to their favorite movie or hangout.

Your Stepchild’s Behavior

  • For addressing your stepchild’s behavioral issues be sure to partner with your stepchild’s biological parent. Do NOT act alone.
  • Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page before taking any action. Your stepchild’s biological parent should address the concerns with her child.
  • Mutual respect should be the minimum standard for all interactions within the blended family.

While there’s nothing wrong with not loving your stepchild, it’s important for you to at least like them. In reality, what seems like disrespect to you might be a cry for help.

Trying to find the underlying complexities of a stepchild’s spirit can lead you to a clearer and potentially stronger relationship. It’s important not to feel guilty about it because we all have expectations of what our children will be like, and it can be very painful when they’re not what we expected.

You feel let down, and then you feel guilty for feeling that way.

But remember, as James Lehman says, you have to learn to “Parent the child you have, not the child you wish you had.”

Facing the truth is always an important first step.

About The Author

Gerardo Campbell is a Nebraska native who now calls Silicon Valley, California home. In 1995, Gerardo married his wife Roberta aka the Pretty Lady and became the stepdad to her two children. In 2011, he started the website Support for Stepfathers in an effort to reverse the nearly 70% divorce rate for blended families in the United States. His website is to help and inspire stepfathers, aspiring stepfathers and the women who love them worldwide. You can follow Support for Stepdads on Twitter @support4stepdad and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/resourcesforstepfathers.

Want to be a great stepdad?  Get the Guide to Be a Great Stepfather by clicking I Want to Be a Great Stepdad




As a newlywed, you’re completely in love with your spouse. Yet as a stepparent, you may be troubled and even feeling guilty you don’t have the same loving feelings towards your spouse’s children. In fact, you might be more concerned you don’t even like your stepchildren. Let’s take a look at the delicate subject of …

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  1. Very informative…wish I could write like this.

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