Living With Grown Stepchildren

Living with grown stepchildren can be a very stressful situation to handle. Sometimes stepchildren can become indifferent or simply embrace the fact that their parents are moving on with their new partner.

Many times it can go the other way and stepchildren become harsh critics of everything you do as a step-parent does.

Others ignore or disregard that they have a stepparent and may distance themselves from interaction, showing no interest in forming a closer relationship. These situations can all be hurtful to stepparents, especially if they are making the best effort to become closer to the child. 

Living with grown stepchildren will require a type of love and communication suitable for everyone. There are many things you can do to make the experience of living with your stepchildren a great one. All it takes is some effort from both of you.

How To Manage Living With Grown Stepchildren

You don’t want to deal with constant conflict and tension in your home. Your adult stepchildren may be critical of the way you keep your home, cook, spend money, etc.


They may feel entitled or try to control finances and attempt to influence spending or financial decisions that pertain to their parents. This can cause tension and will make you want to clash with your stepchildren but handling it a different way can be better. You don’t want excess tension to cause strain between you and your stepchild so taking a different approach is key.

A way you can manage this issue is b talking to your significant other. Both of you are joined in a bond above all others and discussing it with them can help the situation become better.

They should be behind you in making it clear to your stepchildren that you run your household together and make decisions yourselves. 

Dealing With Disrespect

Don’t tolerate disrespect from your stepchildren. As much as you want to talk back to them in defense, you don’t want to make waves. At the same time, you should not be treated poorly.

Adult stepchildren may be resentful of their parents’ failed marriage and take out their confusion and anger on you.

Don’t be surprised when there are rude comments and criticisms being said to you. Your stepchildren may be dealing with feelings you don’t understand because of the pain they are feeling knowing that their family is officially broken.

Try to pick your battles and don’t react to every little thing they say about you because some things simply aren’t worth your energy to pursue. 

Be Yourself

Be yourself and allow your adult stepchildren to see you as you are. Don’t pretend to be perfect just to appease them. They should see your true personality and form a realistic view of your relationship with their natural parent. You should be walking on eggshells and living a life that is not truly yours just to put on an act for them.

There may be feelings of jealousy if they observe how well the two of you interact, wondering why their parents didn’t have that. On the other hand, your stepchildren may realize that your relationship is a good thing. 

They may lighten up as they observe a healthy natural interaction between the two of you even when things are tough. They will see that this situation is much different than the broken relationship they witnessed as their natural parents split up.

Do your best to ease tensions and cool anger when disagreements occur. Stay positive and keep communication effective because no matter what your stepchildren think of you, they will remember your words and reactions.

Kindness always wins and if you don’t react negatively, it can’t be held against you later. 

What To Focus On

Support Your Stepchildren

Respect and support your grown stepchildren as much as possible.

If it’s been a while, initiate positive communication with them and let them know how much you and their parents care about them. Make an effort to grow and develop your relationships with your adult stepchildren, making these relationships work for you as best you can. 

This is important because you want to keep the peace and avoid being disrespected or ignored by your stepchildren. You shouldn’t feel guilty for trying to live comfortably in your own home.

Handling Tense Situations

You and your spouse will also have to find ways to handle tense situations with them without resorting to fighting and anger. You want to keep things moving in a positive direction and be fair by treating your stepchildren as you would your own.

A key thing to keep in mind is that you need to reach an agreement about house rules as a family. Compromise, be fair, and come up with a set of rules that works for everyone. Set some ground rules and expectations so that everyone can know what needs to be followed in your household. 

Have Open Communication

Communication With Partner

Focus on your marriage and communication with your partner. If you are having issues with your adult stepchildren, it’s best to be on a united front. If they disregard you, you will need your spouse backing you to get the point across.

You can’t get a message across to someone who is constantly ignoring your authority and disrespecting you. If you are having problems with your grown stepchildren, talk to your spouse about it. They may be able to offer some insight or information about their past that can help you get to the root of the problem and find solutions. 

No matter what happens, you aren’t going to be able to fix the way your adult stepchild behaves. You may be able to establish a positive connection with them over time, but you can’t undo the way they were raised.

Communication With Stepchildren

Open up communication with your stepchildren and let them know what issues have been bothering you lately and why.

Tell them how you feel about them being around you and how you would like to see your relationship grow and develop positively. You want things to be civil at the very least.

Encourage your stepchildren to come to you when they are upset with you as well. Open communication is extremely important if you hope to improve the interaction between them and your household.

You don’t want to be blamed for a weak relationship between your spouse and their kids. Be welcoming and respectful, but don’t backpedal when it comes to basic expectations. 

Show interest in your stepchildren’s hobbies and tell them when you are proud of them. Start conversations that aren’t always about conflicts you’re having. You don’t want to seem like a nag by asking them if they took out the trash every time you have a chance.

Living with grown stepchildren is no different than living with another adult as a roommate.

Related: Who comes first in a blended family


Aside from the fact that you and their parent are in a loving relationship, there really is no difference. Grown stepchildren should be responsible for themselves.

They should work to support their lifestyle and clean up after themselves. If they are facing hard times, they should be actively trying to improve their situation.

Always be supportive and don’t let your stepchildren take advantage of the cushion you and your spouse provide. Don’t clean up after your grown stepchildren or tolerate disrespectful behavior.

If you were living with one of your peers, you would expect them to act like an adult, treat you with respect, and take care of their responsibilities in the shared spaces of the household. While living with an adult stepchild, you both should respect each other’s space, boundaries, and property. 

Boundaries and Expectations

Set boundaries and expectations for your grown stepchildren. They shouldn’t be treated like needy children and catered to. Pull back on jumping in and taking care of things for them when they’re struggling or refusing to perform.

Blended families can have a hard time if there are constant power struggles so form a go-to strategy to handle disagreements and stick with it. Just because the kids turn 18 doesn’t mean parenting or step-parenting is over. These relationships could last your entire lifetime and you want to make the best of things.

You should also remember to loosen up as much as possible and avoid dramatic confrontations. Give your stepchildren a chance to take care of things without constant reminders. 

Living with grown stepchildren can be a great thing.

Final Thoughts

Living with grown stepchildren may be difficult to manage.

Attitudes can flare up at any moment when sharing close quarters and many adult kids come back to the family home or never move out completely at all.

Whether your grown stepchildren are irritating you with their lack of motivation, criticizing you and being rude, or even if they’re contributing and helping out around the house, there’s bound to be some tension or disagreements.

Find ways to manage and get along until your stepchildren mature and launch into adulthood successfully. Be supportive and patient as they learn to take care of themselves independently.

Communicate effectively and do what it takes to change the situation in a constructive way.