Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fearing Your Stepchild

My followers often comment that what I wrote is exactly what they were thinking or experiencing. I had that experience when reading an article from The author described how her stepdaughter, who was still a child, was raised to think her stepmom was an idiot. Given that her stepmom is an idiot, she was trying to raise her half-sister- stepmom's new baby. How could an idiot stepmother properly care for her little sister, of course. This led to the stepdaughter not heading any directions, and one extremely scary situation that could have ended or impaired the baby's life.

This is actually something I've known about one of my own stepdaughters. I know that if I were to have a baby or adopt, she would consider herself more knowledgeable than I am. I've already seen minor cases of this for years in various arenas, such as her directives when caring for the pets I care for daily that she hardly sees.

When my stepdaughters were younger children, they informed me that I would be fine as a stepmom because they would teach me how to mother.


Thanks anyways.

So there's two types of actual fear of stepchildren that I've identified from years of reading other stepmoms' stories:

  1. Fear that the stepchild will harm, and even kill, our own child
  2. Fear that the stepchild will harm us
Sometime around last Christmas, I read a post in a Facebook group about a stepmom who's teenage stepchild put actual poison in her drink. Sounds like Snow White in reverse to me.

This is real, folks. It's also why stepmoms feels so misunderstood and alone, as usually nobody will believe how horrible our stepchildren can be to us or make us feel. Even their own fathers, witnessing the events, can be in complete denial. 

I don't think my stepkids will kill me, but I have sincerely feared one of my stepdaughter's violent tendencies. The first night I met her, I watched her strongly hit a family member repeatedly while playing a game. I learned quickly that her idea of play wasn't so much wrestling and rough-housing as it was "let's see how I can hurt stepmom". Play would turn into "chase stepmom" and laugh hideously about it, as I begged for her to stop. I avoided pools, or made sure to get into a pool when she wasn't nearby. As soon as she would start to come towards me, I would get out. This is because one time she was choking me underwater and just didn't understand why that was upsetting to me. "Stop" is not understood. I also know to stay away from her when she gets the same look in her eyes as those chasing sessions while wielding a bat. Yes, a bat. When she was younger, it was plastic bats. Now they're real bats. 

I'm not the only one, though. Her sister has been physically hurt by her for years, so I feel a bit of a bond to my younger stepdaughter in this way. It's just that my younger stepdaughter doesn't seem to know when to get out and walk away before it escalates, a typical little sibling problem. We brought up the physical bullying in court years ago and asked that we care for them more so that my younger stepdaughter was safer, and no one was interested.

My situation is slightly more odd than the usual stepmom hate that other stepmoms experience. My older stepdaughter is emotionally abused and was quite set-back by how badly the divorce of her parents was handled. I don't think she actually does want to "hurt" me (probably deep down, yes), but she does get a thrill out of scaring someone or upsetting them. She rough houses with her mom, who also was like this apparently, and it seems to be an odd form of bonding for them. So, it's possible she thinks that this would be appropriate with others like me, but I have no interested in that kind of "play" where I feel chased and scared. 

As I still hold some physical fear of one of my stepchildren, I'm not the expert to go to on how to fix this. Therapy is probably your best option, for everybody in the family as you need to cope, Dad needs to learn how to parent and learn what abuse is, and the children have some definite issues to workout.

I really just wanted to comment on these fears, and how they are based in reality.


  1. I'm not surprised the court was not interested in the younger girl's safety. The children's safety and well being is too often shoved aside.

    I have never felt afraid of my stepchildren, thank goodness. Does your husband deny your oldest stepdaughter's violent tendencies, or does he try to help you out with it?

  2. Does your older stepchild have violent tendencies toward her father or just you and her sister?

  3. smirkingcat, That's a good question. He doesn't deny her tendencies towards me or my feelings. He knows she's violent to her sister. I don't know that he sees it as an issue over all. He does understand my concern and knows that her mom has taught her to play aggressively, and that often it was the only way their mom could relate to someone. Seems to be a social handicap.

    Talia, I wouldn't say that she only has these tendencies towards only us. I have seen her be excessively aggressive, in a "play" context, to others.

    1. One of my stepkids is starting to be violent. Her attitude has been pretty bad right from the start, but she kicks and punches her siblings when she doesn't get her way. She's thirteen, so I feel it's a really important time to address this behavior before she becomes even scarier. But I have no idea what to do!