How do I stop hating my step children

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker


My main question is “How do I stop hating my step children?” I can’t control my anger every time they are even around. I have tried and tried to figure out why I am holding such anger against them because they don’t even have to do anything wrong and I am angry at them.

I think the main reason is because I blame them for ruining what I wanted to be “my happy life from here on out” Everyone says “You knew your husband had these kids before you married him, so accept them. It was a package deal when you married him.” I know that and I prefer not to hear it every time I try to figure this out.

There are so many small things that my husband does that makes me feel like the kids are so much more important to him than I am, so I know alot of the problem is jealousy too. Like last night, my husband does most of the cooking and he made a cheap cut of a steak and 2 hamburgers for supper, but he made sure he put the piece of steak on my plate and he ate one burger and I know he saved the other burger specially for his son when he came home later. I would have liked to have had the burger instead, but didn’t say anything. I didn’t eat the steak anyway because it was so tough I could not chew it. I am just trying to explain that it is little things such as this that all add up and then the more my husband does things like this, the more I dislike his kids.

I know that is not right because it is not their fault that he does this, but that is what happens. We have only been married 2 years and his son is 19 now and has lived with us ever since we were married. I feel that we have absolutely no privacy because he is in and out all day long. When his son moved in with us, he got the master bedroom because my husband said that his son needed closets and dressers, so my husband and I got stuck throwing a bed in the utility room. I have alot of clothes and I have no dressers and not 1 closet either. There is hardly room to walk around the bed and it is colder than I would like in that room too. This still irritates me every time I think about it.

We argue sometimes about money too. My stepson promised to pay my husband for his cell phone and his car ins. and he had the nerve one day to tell me that he is paying his dad more than I am. Last month he paid the $150 for his phone and ins. and I gave my husband $530.The son could be paying more towards the heat and water and stuff too because my husband always throws it in my face that I am never cold and always have food to eat. Well, the same goes for his son.

My husband had told his daughter once that if he had to choose between her or myself, that he would choose her and she throws that in my face and makes me feel like a piece of trash or something.

On top of all of this, I found out a year after we were married that I have Inflammatory Breast Cancer, which I know is not the cause of this particular problem, but now it adds to it because I don’t know how much time I may have left to live and I wonder if it will ever be “just my husband and I” to have a few happy years together and I get madder than he is over our living situation now.

I never really wanted to have kids around all the time this late in my life, but my husband had assured me that when his son was 18, that he would be “out of here.” So, I thought if I could just hang in there for a year or two, that things would get better. When I had first found out that my husbands son was going to live with us, I got sick to my stomach and severely depressed. I managed to survive the past 2 years, but things are just getting worse. The son has “illegal crap” up in his bedroom, which I asked him to remove, but he does not have enough respect for me to do that. He says that this is his house too, but I think he should follow my rules, as long as he is living here.

Of course, my husband will not tell the kids no to anything, so I may as well just give up. I could go on and on here, but I guess I just have to shut up and try to hang on until the day when the son finally moves out and just be depressed and angry for now. Then I think to myself “Will he ever move out if he is getting everything he wants given to him here and does whatever he wants?” All I know is this anger and hatred is eating me up inside and I can’t afford to add any more stress to my life. I love my husband and would never think of leaving him, so please don”t suggest that for a solution.

A: My guess is that your husband is afraid he will lose his children’s love and loyalty if he insists they act like the adults they are. In a strange way, he is complimenting you. He feels more secure in his relationship with you so is more willing to offend you. I know, I know — with compliments like that, who needs putdowns?

Whatever understanding you and your husband had before you married about his responsibility to his kids, when the time came for them to grow up and out he didn’t have the strength or the heart to follow through. Now you’re both stuck. He can’t figure out how to be a father without caving to every demand. You can’t figure out how to assert your needs without feeling like it calls the whole relationship into question.

If you could have talked frankly and effectively to your husband before now, you would have done so. If he could have figured out how to launch his kids while retaining their affection, he would have done that as well. You guys need help getting on the same team solving this problem instead of on different teams fighting with each other. Swallowing your anger isn’t going to help at all. It’s only going to make you feel increasingly resentful and unfriendly to both the children and the man you married.

Becoming a stepfamily is one of the most challenging things people can do, especially when the parents are older and less flexible themselves. I strongly suggest that you ask your doctor or someone else you trust for a referral to a couples counselor. You and your husband could both use some practical advice and support while you shift the relationship to the adult children to a more comfortable and positive place. An experienced counselor can help you two learn how to work together so everyone’s needs are met, or at least met enough of the time for life to feel much better.

If your husband won’t go at first, go yourself. Often when one member of a couple starts therapy and starts feeling better, the other person will join in later. You asked good questions in your letter so I have every reason to believe that you can make good use of therapy.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Nov 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). How do I stop hating my step children. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/11/11/how-do-i-stop-hating-my-step-children/