Step parenting difficult child's


New Member
While my own difficult child has been the dominate problem lately, the chronic upheaval in our lives are my 2 step-difficult child's which creates a whole new set of problems. Any advice? Unfortunately my husband and his ex are the main cause of the boys behavior. Ex: this weekend 17 yr old wears a sexually explicit slogan on his shirt. husband ignored it, when I asked why he was allowing him to wear that (we're supposed to have a house rule against it) his response was "I didn't catch it when he first put it on and now it's too late because I missed the moment." I couldn't get him to explain how it was too late to tell him to take it off. The judge doesn't want me upsetting the boys because it upsets mom so much. 12 yr old asks me to do something and when he doesn't get the answer he wants he goes to dad who says yes. (He always says if he can yes to his boys he will) Now husband asks me what can we do to get son to stop son from going to him after I say no. When I suggested he needs to decide if he's going to stick to rules or let the kids continue running the house he walked away. I've told him I'm too overloaded right now and until he gets control over his kids I don't plan on being in the house when they're around. These boys are out of control and have contributed to my difficult child's issues. My daughter has had limits and consequences and the boys have treated everyone in our household terribly without consequence.


No real answers to life..
I think you have one of the hardest jobs in the world--trying to blend two families....

I haven't had experience with this, but in the case of your step kids asking about things--permission etc. until your husband wants to agree on rules I would direct his kids to him--go ask your father. That way you are taken out of the equation. If they can't wait for his decision too bad, the answer is NO....

You won't be the bad "guy" and dad won't be the good buddy and dad will have to learn the answer doesn't always have to be yes...

Until you are working together as parents this is going to be a rough road for you....wishing you luck on getting together for your kids sake....


New Member
Wow. Talk about a difficult task. 3 difficult child's in one house and 2 of them living under completely different rules than the other? Wow. Doesn't feel quite fair and balanced, does it?

I don't have any advice on how to get husband on the same page as you, but I did want to send out some hugs for you. I can only imagine how stressful this is for you and your difficult child (and HIS difficult child's!). :::hugs:::


New Member
I usually try to defer everything to my husband. It creates an unfairness between the kids, but reduces battles between the step-difficult child's. My husband and I are usually on the same page with setting rules, just miles apart on enforcing them.

Often I'm put in a position of trying defend my daughter and myself from being stepped on by my step-sons. For instance once while my daughter and I were getting dinner on the table (the boys never have to help) we came in with the drinks to find the boys plates piled high with every ounce of food on the table. When I told them they had to put some back for the rest of us I received big grins as they told me their dad would let them have it. To that he responded "if my boys want it, they can have it." I tried reasoning to no avail. Later he said he was sorry and made a "mis-step" in parenting. The next weekend the same thing happened again. From then on I fill their plates at the stove and hand them to them.

I knew how badly behaved the boys were when I married their father, but I thought I could just stay out of their way as I did when we were dating. This atmosphere hasn't been good for my daughter but, my husband is wonderful to her when his boys aren't around and she is (or was before she ran away) very bonded to him. With her father being so problematic her former counselor thought the love she received from husband out weighed the neg affect his permissive parenting had on her.

I just want to have some calm.


what a tough position to be in! Your husband should be the primary disciplinarian and rule enforcer with his own children. The step-parent has to stay in the background, at least for awhile. I wish I knew how you could handle this, sounds so hard and unfair.


No real answers to life..
Can't believe your husband would be backing the "food play". I would have been livid! I also would not be cooking for these "jerks". Sorry if there are other circumstances at play here, but man it really burns me up when boys do this, it clearly reeks of sexism and I'm hoping your daughter isn't watching too closely. All I can say is I hope your husband is a good provider cause that would be the ONLY reason I would be putting up with his kid's behavior. Is your 18 yr old daughter the one that still lives with you? Hoping she's making plans to get out on her own....

Also reading between the lines on "you are together on setting the rules" are you the one suggesting them and then he says "yeah, sure...."? Sounds to me like it's time for a mother/daughter vacation and leave the boys at home to fend for themselves. Could be an eye opener for husband.

Sorry if I don't have a true picture of what's going on, but if this were me I would not be putting up with this behavior from his kids or husband....just my 2 cents and it is YOUR life...


New Member
My husband defintely has his own issues. He's a completely different person with his kids. It is absolutely embarrassing. We've been asked to leave public places because his kids are so bad and he doesn't see it. I usually just make myself scarce when he has them.

What's odd is it's my husband that insists on setting family rules, he just refuses to enforce them for his difficult child's. His rules are fair and reasonable, if they were actually real.

My daughter, bless her, is currently a runaway. She suffers occasional episodes due to extreme abuse by her bio father. On her 18th birthday she hugged me, went to class and left with the clothes on her back. She came close last week to returning to her life, but got sucked back into this life she's living. My husband's behavior hasn't helped. My dilema has always been my daughter is so close to my husband when his boys aren't around. He planned on adopting her on her 18th birthday (at her request) When he's with his boys though it's as if the rest of the world doesn't matter to him. We had a mother daughter trip to Disney World planned for this summer, no boys allowed! Now I just need the daughter part back. I've made the decision if I get her back that we're going to be in seperate households for a while. I'm tired and I won't put my daughter through any more of this.


No real answers to life..
sounds like time apart might do some good. Might be good for you to be in a seperate household before daughter returns. She might view it then as her return will be helping you. I'm no psychologist, but I can't imagine her seeing the "steps" getting away with such antics as a positive influence. With issues of abuse from a bio father she needs more positive male images around her, not the "boys club". Hope you find some peace and daughter returns to figure out how she can lead a good life...also hoping your husband realizes what he will be giving up by his poor parenting (pushing you away and not letting sons have consequences)...


New Member
Welcome to the step-parent boat! I'm pretty lucky in that if I tell my step-difficult child to do something, or tell him "no" on something, he knows that my husband will always back me up. Even if husband doesn't agree with the decision-then we discuss it later. We decided before we were married that the two of us were more important than the kids and all their issues. However, it's still very hard when "J" mouths off at me, or husband runs to rescue the poor boy when he's hungry cuz he doesn't have any money. The only thing husband and I fight about is "J" and his interference in our lives. Sorry that you are having problems!! But many of us understand!!


New Member
I noticeed in your post you mentioned your daughter ran away, I am sorry - that is tough!! I can say that I absolutely know what your going through. My daughter ran away from placement 13 times. Once for 7 days. The worst week of my life. It is completely gut-wrenching to not know where your child is.

Hope your able to come to some understanding with husband. The sad part is he is actually doing harm to his own children.

Wish you the best


New Member
I want to thank everyone for their kindness and support. I felt so guilty venting about my husband. He is truly a good man that wears big blinders with his children. He loves my daughter but can't see the damage that he has done to her as well.

Previously my daughter had never been missing for more than 3 days. This time she's been gone for 7 weeks. She surfaced briefly but then sunk back into her street life. When the sun sets at night is the hardest for me.

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Step parenting a easy child can be difficult. Step parenting a difficult child can be next to impossible. It can be done. BUT you and husband have to be on the same page as far as rules and dicipline goes.

I've been on both sides of the fence. Stepkid 3 times over, and also a step parent to husband's daughter by his ex.

Fortunately I had my own experiences as a stepkid to draw from on what NOT to do vs what seemed to work for my step parents.

I told husband before we got married that stepgfg would follow our house rules or wouldn't be allowed to visit. Once our kids came along step difficult child was set to follow the same standards and rules as her sibs. This meant coming for a visit wasn't a mini vacation. She was rejoining this part of her family for that period of time. It was important to us (me especially) that stepgfg feel like an active member of our family, not just a guest who visited periodically. This meant when she visited she had chores, rules, and such as she'd have at her mothers.

This worked. Except at first with dicipline. husband was prone to guilt and going soft on stepgfg. He'd do the Yes after I said No thing, he'd toss out a punishment that had just been given. It wasn't long before stepgfg, 4-6 at the time, caught on and began using it to her advantage. I mean afterall she is a difficult child. lol Then it began affecting our kids behavior.

That's when I put my foot down. husband knew I love stepgfg as my own but I told him either he got his act together and parented all of our kids, or stepgfg would have to stop visiting til he could. (by this time stepgfg had turned into a demon child) Unfortunately I had to make good on my threat before he got the idea.

Once we got on the same page, husband looking at our family as a whole instead of it's parts, things ran more smoothly. And even stepgfg was happier as were our kids. Of course it didn't put a stop to the gfgness, but it sure did take down the stress level and make it easier to manage.

I don't know at what ages the kids were when your family blended, mine was difficult enough with stepgfg being preschool age when we married. But with husband being wishy washy with rules and dicipline and not backing you up he's only making the situation worse.

Would he be willing to sit down with you and discuss this? My husband didn't even realize how bad he was at this sort of thing til I pointed it out to him. Do you think he'd be willing to work with you to come up with a plan you both could manage so you can have a united front with the kids and more control of your home environment?

It's tough I know. :frown:



New Member
The good news is husband is willing to sit down and discuss the issue. The bad news is as soon as his difficult child's arrive he'll develop amnesia. :grrr:

We've been together since his kids were almost 3 and 8. Been married since they were almost 7 and 12. They're now 12 & 17 (turns 18 in 6 months) :smile:

husband always claims to forget, or make a "little slip" He is making progress of sorts. He does occasionally tell the boys no now. But when they throw a tantrum he starts trying to bribe or conjole them into liking him again. <SIGH> I've tried for years to get him to take a parenting class. He won't refuse, he's just been thinking about it for 10 years.

The boys are supposed to be with us in June. I've told husband if the oldest is here I won't be. Older step-difficult child is a dangerous young man. There was a restraining order for 2 years keeping him out of our house when my daughter was present. She's 18 now and order has been lifted. I assured daughter before she ran off that I would not allow him around her even though order had expired.

I think everything was just too much for her. If I can get her to come back my plan is to rent a place for just she and I for the summer. I want to get her back to the positive parts of her life, and try to give her some appropriate relief from the craziness other than living on the streets.