Is It Normal to Resent My Stepchildren?

Parenting a blended family is not easy. Parenting your own children is already difficult, parenting someone else’s children is even more difficult. Also, many don’t talk about how dangerous resentment is. Resentment grows slowly and ruins relationships between partners, family and yes, stepchildren.

Yes, it is normal to have some resentment towards your stepchildren. After all, they are competing for the attention of your partner. The important detail to remember is that they are likely your partner’s number 1 priority. It would be unfair to ask your partner to prioritize you over their own children.

Overall, stepfamilies are a difficult situation. The children have just witnessed as least one broken relationship and are guarded. Resentment s like mold, it needs to be address right away or it will fester and grow.

Here is a step-by-step guide to helping you deal with resenting your stepchildren.

1. Find out Why You Resent Your Stepchildren

The first step is to find out why you feel resentment towards your stepchildren. This won’t be easy. Finding the root of resentment is never easy. You know that feeling when everything someone does bothers you. That’s a clear sign of resentment. Finding the root cause will take some analysis of your own behavior.

When spending time with your stepchildren, identify when the feeling of resentment kicks in. Is it when they are doing something they shouldn’t? Or is it when your partner is spending time with them rather than with you.

Watching your behavior is the best way to identify why you have these feelings.

If you’re lucky, you already know the root cause of your resentment. Unfortunately, for many that’s not the case. Here are some of the most common causes of resenting your stepchildren.

  1. Take up your partner’s time
  2. Stepchildren are entitled
  3. They remind you of your partner’s past
  4. They are a financial/physical burden

It’ll take some careful self-observation but finding the root cause of the resentment is critical to getting rid of these feelings.

Is It Normal to Resent My Stepchildren

2. Communicating With Your Partner

This will be a difficult discussion to have with your partner but the need to be aware of how you feel. Resentment typically grows slowly and quietly. There is actually a good chance your husband has no idea that you feel this way.

Keep your partner in the loop. Point out when his children do something that is bothering you. This will be much easier to deal with if you take it on as a team.

Be sure to approach the conversation delicately. At the end of the day, these are his children, his flesh and blood. If you come out with a list of reasons his children are awful, you are just going to push him away.

Have the conversation with the tone of, let’s figure this out together, rather than your children are awful. Here are two different ways to deliver the same idea.

“I’ve been feeling irritation around the children lately and I’d like your help addressing it.”

“Your kids can get really annoying sometimes, they must get that from your ex.”

Start the conversation off on a positive note. Don’t mistake this as an opportunity to list off everything their children do wrong. Focus on the fact that you want this feeling to go away.

Partner’s Perspective

Take a minute and think about your partner’s perspective in all of this. Chances are he/she loves their children more than anything in the world. Pointing out their faults might be a difficult thing for them to hear.

Focus on how you feel rather than what they are doing. At the end of the day their children are likely their number one priority.

DO NOT make the mistake of giving an ultimatum. You probably won’t like the answer. The goal is to find a way to live with your stepchildren without feeling resentment.

Create a time to check in with your partner regularly and discuss these feelings.

3. Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them

Dr. Jordan B Peterson in his book “12 Rules for Life” has a well known chapter about resentment. The title of chapter is “Do No Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them”

The parenting lesson from this chapter is that, resentment builds when others do something we do not like and we decide not to say anything about it. The same applies to children.

If your child (or stepchild) is doing something to annoy you and you let that behavior continue, it will over time, give you a feeling of resentment towards them. The minute the child is doing something that makes you like them less, address it right away.

This becomes more difficult when it’s a stepchild. Disciplining a stepchild is difficult and in some cases, impossible. The best course of action may be to let them be disciplined by their own parents. This can be an issue of course if their parent, your partner, is allowing them to do things that make you dislike them.

Nothing is better than a child that adults love to be around. Raising a child like this is simply a constant battle of discouraging bad social behavior and encourage good social behavior.

Dr. Jordan B Peterson explains it much better than I do.

4. Working on Resentment

I wish it were as easy as deciding not to resent someone. The reality is, it will take time and conscious effort to make these feelings go away. A great way to work on your resentment is listing a handful of things that you are grateful about in that person.

For example you find yourself feeling resentment towards your stepdaughter so you pull out a pad and pencil and write what you’re grateful about. For example:

  • She makes my partner happy.
  • She makes us laugh
  • Never a dull moment when she is around

Rather than focusing on the negative part of her behavior, spend more time focusing on the positive. When your stepchild does behavior you approve of, be sure to show your gratitude, when they engage in behavior that makes you like them less, also be sure to address it.

Final Thoughts – Resenting Stepchildren

Battling resentment is an ongoing war. Once you find something you don’t like in someone it can be easy to start being annoyed by everything they do. If you’re wondering, “is it normal to resent my stepchildren” you’ll be happy to know it’s much more common than parents think. I see it all the time in my practice.

Making a plan to address your stepchild’s poor behavior along with a conscious effort from you to appreciate them more is your best chance of making these feelings go away.

Resentment is not a feeling you can ignore and hope it goes away over time. Resenting your stepchildren needs to be address if you want any chance of your co-habiting.