Finding true love is a monumental task. It is hard enough to find your perfect person, but having to fall in love with an entire family is many times unrealistic. There is already the immense amount of pressure of having to take on the role as the “step-mother” or “step-father”. However, if you have made a valiant effort to try and build a relationship with your stepkids to no avail, then what do you do if you can’t accept your partner’s child?
#1 – Know That Building A Relationship Takes Time
Patience is a virtue, or so we are told. When trying to build a relationship with your partner’s child, expect it to take years, not weeks or months. You are their parent’s replacement. It is a hard title to bear, but the resentment is understandable.
In fact, according to the US National Stepfamily Resource Center, “it can take a minimum of four years for stepkids and step-parents to feel comfortable with one another”. Thus, if your feelings of acceptance are taking a turn after a shorter period of attempted bonding, take a step back.
Then prioritize finding ways to connect. What do they like? What do they dislike? Which of their favorite activities coincides with your interests?
You never want to force a relationship. Instead, if commonalities are lacking, keep your distance until you can find a common ground. Remember that this is likely hard on them as well. Put yourself in their shoes, consider their age, the situation between their parents, and any other factors that may be causing problems with the two of you moving forward.
#2 – Be Authentic
No one likes a fake. Your job is to be cordial and understanding. It is not to put on a show. Do not feel that you need to play mommy or daddy if your partner’s child is being difficult.
Instead, let your partner parent and just focus on being yourself. Acceptance is a two way street. Putting on a facade is only going to elongate the time it takes for a real connection to happen.
Most importantly though, do not be a martyr. Even if you feel that you can’t be your true self around your partner’s child, be present and positive. Don’t become disengaged or retreat when negative actions occur. Rather, let them know how their behavior makes you feel. Being vulnerable and honest can help them to see you as a person and not as the enemy.
#3 – You Do Not Need Their Approval
As much as it may feel like the family unit is a united front, the only person’s approval you need is your significant others. If your partner’s child dislikes you, that is unfortunate. However, the role of any parent is to be a supporter and a caretaker, not a friend.
Therefore, remain in their corner and continue to parent them as best you can, but leave the disciple to your spouse. As long as you are making an effort to be a part of their support system, you are doing your job.
#4 – Do Not Tolerate Bad Behavior
One of the many reasons that blended families have so many issues melding together is a lack of respect. Yes, you are the replacement parent. Yes, this is not necessarily what your partner’s child wanted. However, disrespect for loving their parent is unacceptable.
Address negative commentary and altercations head-on. You do not deserve to be treated with contempt or spoken to in a rude manner. When these instances occur, you are only reinforcing their behavior by ignoring it or getting upset privately. Do not give them the satisfaction they crave.
Conversely, deal with it directly. Remember that active listening is the key to ensuring that you have a constructive conversation in these types of situations. Remove distractions like cell phones, computers, televisions, and any other device that may draw them away. Moreover, do not forget about non-verbal cues. Make direct eye contact, lean forward and gesture, when necessary.
Finally, if you are not passionate about your feelings towards these actions, then why should they care? That doesn’t mean yell and scream at them, but you must be confident and engaged throughout the exchange. Once you have addressed these issues with your partner’s child, then have a discussion about the problem with your significant other.
#5 – This Is A Shared Burden
If you can’t accept your partner’s child, then it is imperative that you speak with your partner. Keeping this bottled up will only lead to resentment, which can have a detrimental impact on your relationship.
First and foremost, it is crucial to remember that this is their baby. They are never going to leave them. Therefore, your reasoning needs to be sound. Why can you not accept them? What have they done to lead you to feel this way? What efforts have you made to bridge the gap with them?
Next, find a time to sit down and disciss the issue. If you have a legitimate reason for feeling this way, then this person, who agreed to love you for better or worse, should provide some understanding and support.
However, the right presentation is imperative. Blurting out that you hate their child is not going to get you anywhere. Thus, plan a structured and logical reasoning for why you have these feelings.
It is also important to share this in a private environment. This allows your partner to comfortably respond to the information. Lastly, if part of the problem is the way that your partner parents, then find constructive alternatives to handling situations and never place blame.
#6 – Remember That This Is Normal
This horrific feeling of resentment towards your significant other’s flesh and blood is completely normal. The expectations that are being placed on your shoulders are exorbitant. No one can be expected to automatically like someone, let alone love them. However, because of your love for your partner, this need to accept them is expected, if not demanded.
Thus, take time to breathe. Then try to remember the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. You do not need to love them. You just need to decide if you love your partner enough to tolerate them. Once you make this decision, then you can move forward. Work towards building a cordial relationship. One that you would find acceptable if you were in their shoes. It is likely that over time, this sincerity will grow into a friendly accord.
Final Thoughts – I Can’t Accept My Partner’s Child
While you may want to shout from the rooftops about your hatred for this child, try to remember the importance of compassion and kindness. This is a human being. Not only that, it is your partner’s child.
Be mindful of your words and actions. Attempt to be patient and understanding when your partner’s child acts poorly towards you. Be the bigger person. However, do not let them walk all over you if their actions are malicious.
Furthermore, don’t be afraid, to be honest. Showing your partner that you are trying is extremely important. However, when problematic instances arise, ensure that they are a part of the solution, not the problem.
Finally, give yourself some grace. Being a stepparent is a tremendous undertaking, one that comes with hurdles that a biological parent never has to face. You are allowed to take a step back when your partner’s child is being too much for you to bear. Paying attention to your feelings and taking moments for yourself to cope is extremely important for your relationship and your mental health.