How To Deal With A Difficult Step Child

When your stepchild is from a bitter separation or divorce where their other parent is being vindictive, difficult or undermining, what do you do?

Ever feel like you are living in or balancing a house of cards? When your stepchild is from a bitter separation or divorce where their other parent is being vindictive, difficult or undermining - and they are a difficult child as a result - what do you do? Some would run for the hills, and some I know have, and who can blame them? No one. 
Frankly, as I always say, life is too short to add stress – despite what you may lose or gain in the long run do what is best for you at the time. If you decide to stay and make the emotional investment not only to your partner but also to the child involved, know it will be a hard road ahead, as a leopard never changes its spots. 
You might frequently feel the need to throw in the towel, to bad mouth the parent causing the problems or simply switch off from the child. But no matter how hard it is to do close that door. Yes, close that door - and firmly. Allowing their bitterness into your life will not only affect your relationship with the child but also with your partner. 
Their constant need to lash out, undermine or cause issues where there truly are none will not abate. So let them lash out and rant. Ignore it. As hard as that sounds know you can do it. They clearly need to for a number of their own issues, which you don’t control. Instead put your energy into moving along happily in your own life, ensuring your own life is not penetrated or stressfully impacted by their behaviour. If it helps, make up your own mantra that will get you through these difficult times. It sounds bonkers but I know people who swear by the mantra they made up for themselves and I am assured it works! 
Also, never badmouth that parent within earshot of the child. Despite their behaviour being unacceptable if the child hears you they might feel torn or be too emotionally immature to understand the rights and the wrongs of the situation. If teenagers, they are hardwired to only think of themselves and want an easy lazy life. It probably goes right over their heads!
Instead ensure your home is a happy love filled one, where the children only feel love, safe and included. Leave all the ranting or talking about the other parent to a time when it is just you and your partner. Simply put, live your life for you and your family. Giving the other parent your headspace is simply a waste. They don’t deserve it. 
This simple approach will not only help you in not bad mouthing the other parent but it will enable you to focus happily on the child and show love and support, which will only stand to benefit you and your partner as the child gets older.
Written by Kathryn Maile. Originally from Ireland, Kathryn moved to London over 20 years ago and worked in the Finance Industry in the City. She became a Stepmum in 2006 to three lovely children and became a mum to a wonderful son in 2012. The children adore each other which is just wonderful to see and experience. Read more on

Kathryn Maile

Kathryn Maile is stepmum to three children and mum to one of her own. She will happily share more 'food for thought' on step-parenting and the challenges faced throughout in her blog.

Read more by Kathryn
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