Thursday, April 17, 2014



If your stepkids are rude to you, you do not have to tolerate it. Despite others telling you that kids are "just like that now," you know the truth.

If your stepkids are regularly rude to you, you absolutely, really shouldn't take it.

They're often being encouraged to mistreat you, specifically. But maybe they aren't, and they're just rude. They weren't taught social graces, such as "Thank you" or pretending to listen to an adult. They're messy, leave trash and socks everywhere, don't put away dishes. They look like they can't even stand to listen to you speak, no matter how hard you try or how nice you're trying to be. Or they walk right into the house after days away and ignore you completely. (Which is somehow your fault.) Honestly, if their primary parent lacks social graces, niceties, common sense... It's unlikely her or his kids will either. Reality check.

Whatever it is, you have two options. You can handle it right there, which usually doesn't go over well. But, that may not matter to you, especially if they were over-the-top rude. Sometimes, especially when you're the only adult there to witness the behavior or interaction, you just have to step in, say something, or ask for proper treatment.

Sometimes that's effective. Mostly it seems to just make everyone hate us, despite however much it was completely warranted. I don't feel like explaining that right now, because it's a stupid cycle of nonsense.

Your second option, if your husband is there, is to leave. Let's expand on what I mean by that, first.

Leaving does not really mean "ditching" or the dramatic "leaving." It can be:
  1. Get a bottle of wine or martini, some ice cream, your favorite movies, and go to your bedroom. You've now put yourself on a very nice time-out, aka "stepmom vacation." You don't even need to tell anybody you're doing this, because you're not leaving the house anyways. Just do it. And close the door. Maybe they'll notice, maybe they won't. Either way, it's you time. 
  2. Call a friend, if you have any local, and go out. Have some girl time. You need it, anyways. 
  3. Go do something you want to do. Go to the gym, a class, the nice restaurant you've been wanting to go to, a movie... Something that makes up for the mistreatment you were not deserving of. 
Benefit? You come back happier. You escaped the increasingly dangerous situation. You removed yourself. You stopped your frustration from lack of control from hitting the roof and turning into pure anger, which will result in all the blame probably on you. (Again, stupid cycle of nonsense.)

Sometimes you can't leave, though. I know. But be creative. Maybe you can in some way. Maybe you can take a walk, or be like the kids themselves and get some headphones out with an iPod or Netflix and immerse yourself in your own music or movies. (Good idea for sports games where the parents are crazy, as well.) 

Now, what about stopping the behavior? As walking away, means it will probably just continue, right?

It definitely should be addressed, but when you get upset, virtually no one listens.
So, here are some better options to losing it (which is only natural- no judgement from me!! But if you can put off the losing it another day, that's generally best.):

First, talk to your husband about it. But you probably already have. It's always best to try to talk to him at a good time and express your feelings, your concerns about how the kids are learning that treating you bad is OK, which translates to how they will treat others and not just you...yadda yadda. I know, you've tried that. 

If talking to your husband about it is going nowhere (common), then it will probably escalate to rudeness to others over time, and he hopefully will notice. When your stepkids are being that horrible to their grandparents (yep), your husband might realize that his kids need some guidance on "thank yous" and general acceptable behavior towards others. In other words, he may need to be embarrassed first in front of family for it to hit him and take action. And then you get to be supportive with this new method of parenting! 

Or, another tact: He'll start to notice you're disappearing a whole lot, not cooking as much, etc. When he notices, let him know why, thoughtfully. Or, if you're at my stage, I let him know why at the right time- whether it is at the moment of offense, or sometime later, or before the next time we see the kids. 

If he wants you to be there, then he will want to help his kids be inclusive and respectful of all and not just "stepmom." Good learned behavior is just that and has nothing to do with "just stepmom." If kids are mistreating any one and getting away with it, they're learning that it is acceptable to mistreat anyone

(FYI: This advice is somewhat adapted from "Have a New Kid by Friday" tactics.)

I do not want to advise you to simply walk away all the time, but it is just one tactic. Different situations call for different things. It just isn't that simple, and I totally get that. Sometimes the blow up is necessary, but then you should take yourself somewhere nice afterwards anyways. Removal of a toy, treat, or activity (or phone or iPad or car keys...) are also some of those common on-the-spot actions.

If your husband pulls the tough guy act and pretends he doesn't care that you're not with the family as much, he'll get over his macho-ness eventually (unless he doesn't want a marriage in the first place, as compromise and listening are a part of the deal...). Also, the kids, if on the younger side, might ask you to come out or with them. At that time, state that you will go or play with them, but express your concern that you might be mistreated again. Ask for the proper treatment as a condition, and they will probably be much better kids after that (for a bit). (Straight from Have a New Kid By Friday, by the way. Useful to a certain degree in stepparenting, though somewhat difficult to apply completely in a joint custody family with split time share.)

I know it's hard. Sometimes a lot more than others. You are helping them learn, and you are helping them to be better people if they learn that rudeness is just rudeness, no matter the target and the reasons behind it. Being socially competent will help them earn and keep employment, have better friendships and relationships, and a generally more thoughtful human understanding. Who knows what life successes could come from it!

What do you like to do when you "leave"?


  1. Our 11 year old is getting more and more rude and disrespectful every day. Usually I have to deal with it on the spot, but when my husband is home, I'll take him out of earshot and tell him what just happened and let him deal with it. She takes correction much better from her daddy than from me--stepmom! Thanks for posting these helpful tips. I'll have to give myself a time-out soon!!

  2. A newer dynamic happening in our home and others: One kid acts horrible to you, or maybe everybody, except Dad. So, your husband has no clue how their kid is actually acting to everyone else, because they're basking in the sweetness directed at him. Then, when you inform him of how it's going in the rest of the world, he's in denial or doesn't handle it- because he doesn't want to rock the boat he's in.

    It puts us in a bad position because we 1) burst the bubble, 2) look negative. If he's completely unaware, then he becomes defensive of his sweet-to-him kid. I've learned I need to try to get my husband aside as soon as possible to let him know what's happening to the rest of the family, so that when we're all upset, he isn't completely surprised and might be able to stop it before it gets worse and turns into a blow up.