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Getting along with grown up step kids.

Published on June 17, 2009 by womanwise

How can I earn respect from my step kids? They introduced me to their father and we fell in love and my relationship with them has see-sawed back and forth ever since. The stepson lives with us and he is 22, for the most part he respects us. My husband and I have put a lot of money into our home and his kids just don't respect the fact that this is ours and we expect them to live by our rules. We understand it will take some time to adjust, but we will have been married one year on July 1st. Our home was part of his divorce settlement. She had an affair and filed for divorce while he was serving our county in Iraq. His ex was a horrid housekeeper, where I am not. I expect everyone to pick up after himself or herself, put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher, etc. We had new carpet put in and have asked everyone to take off his or her shoes upon entering the house, the boy will but the daughter won't. One day she tracked in blood from outside. Her brother had hit a deer and she was looking at it and stepped in it then came in, it got all over our new carpet and all she could say was shit. I am starting to resent them and don't want to, she and I used to be very close friends and she has pulled away from both her father and me. Any suggestions???

ANSWERS

Well, I think from their perspective, the home is theirs because it's their dads and they're his family and they grew up there. If the rules used to be more lax about cleanliness, then they see it as you changing things, not their dad (after all he lived for many years with the old rules). And if you say anything bad about their mom, they're going to be mad at you, even if they would say the same thing themselves.

I suspect they want their dad to be happy with you, but they don't want you to change their family. I don't have a great solution, but if you remember their perspective, it might help. Try talking to them about how you feel if you have to do more housework and avoid saying things like this is our house, these are our rules.

I think you might want to make some compromises, too. In fact, maybe you, your husband, and your stepson should sit down and figure out what rules you all three want and divide up chores, etc. Try to let go of your stepdaughter's mistake about the shoes - most American don't take their shoes off when they enter a house and she probably just forgot.

You have to stop looking at it as a you vs. them. The things they do are not calculated attacks against you. They are just kids who do stupid stuff. First, you and the kids are on the same team. You both want a happy home, you both want and end to strife. But what you need to do as the adult is to put aside your desire for a clean home and let your desire for a good relationship with them take over.

The kids are adults, you can't boss them around and tell them to take off their shoes or clean up. And BookMama is right, it is THEIR house too. It's not just yours and your husbands house. Try and find some activities that you both enjoy and connect over those. Let the house go for a while. There are more important things to worry about at the moment. I think once you start valuing the things that are important to them, they will start valuing the things that are important to you. But you have to put the sanctity of your carpet on the back burner.

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