Parenting Stepchildren/Step children


Hi, I am the 3 year step parent of 2 14 year olds.  Their mother died when they were 4 months old.   My husband and I got married 3 years ago and until approx. 4 months ago the children and I got along wonderfully.  Now they have ran away and they hate their dad for marrying me and they hate me for changing the house and my husband removing a picture of their real mom off the wall.  This man had gotten married once before only for a brief time.  we met with the children today and they were very angry and insisted I move out.  we are starting to attend family counceling but I cant take them screaming at me and blaming me for all things wrong in their past

Hi Theresa - I can understand your discomfort. Tentatively, i'd guess the kids' behavior results from several things at once:

1] early-childhood trauma;

2] incomplete grief over several major losses;

3] adolescence & puberty changes and stresses

4] some mix of an array of stepfamily stressors.

I also suspect you and your husband may lack some education on stepfamily dynamics and norms, which may be contributing to the kids' #and your# frustration;

See these for starters:

I invite you two to read and discuss these together, and then - for all your sakes - study this online "lesson" on managing a stepfamily:

If you do this and have questions, please ask! - Pete

Parenting Stepchildren

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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about remarriage preparation, stepparenting, stepchild discipline, child visitation, grieving, stepfamily norms and myths, mission statements, stepparent job (role)descriptions, communication skills, loyalty and values conflicts, stepfamily identity problems, common pitfalls, ex mate and relative problems, stepfamily merger and adjustment tasks, name confusions, choosing an effective counselor, resolving money disputes, co-parenting support groups, and the family effects of court (legal) battles. I can`t answer questions about medicine, family law, legal stepchild adoption, or financial planning.


I have studied and worked with stepfamilies clinically since 1979, and I have been a "step everything" personally. I was invited to be on the board of the Stepfamily Association of America (SAA) by it's founders, Drs. John and Emily Visher; and later was re-invited by president Margory Engle, PhD. For more detail, see this.

Former Board member, Stepfamily Association of America (SAA)
National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC)Experts Council

Hundreds of Web articles on ; I've uploaded over 150 self-improvement videos on YouTube; and have self-published 6 books. My ad-free Web site offers a unique, practical 7-lesson self-improvement course.

Stanford University BSME (1958) George Williams College MSW (1981) Hundreds of post-graduate seminars on a wide variety of "mental health" subjects

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of appreciative emails and comments on my Web site and videos from people all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
I have worked clinically with over 1,000 midwestern divorced and remarried family members, and have had over 800 stepfamily students in various seminars and courses since 1981

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