My 3 year old stepson hates me!

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My three year old stepson hates me and is nasty to me all the time when his father is not around. When I try to tell him I don’t like that or to discipline him my husband looks down on me and is always my fault because he has not seen what my stepson has done. He completely ignores me and never listens. I have even tried being a friend but he does not want me to cuddle him or play. I have a newborn baby as well and am very worried that this attitude is going to be rubbed off on to my daughter. Please help me !!!

A: I don’t know whether your husband thinks your parenting style is wrong or if he is being over-protective of his firstborn. Either way, by always taking the boy’s side, your husband is inadvertently giving him the message that he doesn’t have to take you seriously. Your stepson is only taking the cue from his dad that your opinion doesn’t count. You don’t need to be his mother. He has one. But you do need to be granted equal status with your husband in both enjoying and disciplining him.

Your problem is with your husband, not with the boy. The two of you need to agree on basic rules for behavior in your home so that you can be consistent with both children as they grow. Most important, you need to trust each other enough to back each other up. It is that trust and consistency, combined with lots of love, that provides children with the safety they need to develop healthy self-esteem and good social skills. If you and your husband aren’t sure how to go about this, please consider signing up for a parenting class or making an appointment with a family therapist for a few sessions of coaching. It’s that important. You are laying down the foundation for how y0ur family will be in the years to come.

Congratulations on your new baby. I wish you all joy as you make a new family of four.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Sep 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). My 3 year old stepson hates me!. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/09/18/my-3-year-old-stepson-hates-me/

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