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Parenting Stepchildren/Husband/Son hate each other


My husband hates  my 9 year old son and in return my son hates him. I have a 7 year old daughter and 9 year old son from previous marriage. My husband and I have been married going on 4 years and have a 3 year old daughter together. My husband has a 5 year old from a previous marriage. I am expected to be stepmom of the year and am fully responsible for my stepsons every need when he is with us for visitation. Minus discipline because my husband lets his son get away with murder. The boys fight constantly and that sets off arguing between my husband and I because everything is always my sons fault. My husband degrades and talks negatively about my son constantly. He says if our marriage doesn't work out, it will all be my sons fault. I am constantly forced to choose my son or my husband and I am sick of it. My son clearly resents me and his behavior is getting more disrespectful by the day. My husband refuses therapy because he says he isn't the problem. My husband was recently diagnosed with PTSD/TBI due to military duties. At this point I am scared to leave my husband alone with my son because his behavior towards him is so outrageous. My question is do I stay and give more time for this issue to get better or am I better off leaving my husband for the well being of my son and 2 daughters? (I have full custody of my children from previous marriage. Their father is not in the picture and I have a restraining order against him.)

Dear Crys

You seem to at a crisis point where either direction you go has undesirable consequences.

Based on what you told me, and from what my wife and I have learn as step parents, here is what I think.

You, nor your son, are not responsible for what is happening to you husband. He is the only one that is responsible for how he feels and how he responds to and deals with any situation.  We all have choices. We can choose what we think, what we feel and how we act.  
You are responsible for the safety of your children... that is you need to protect them from physical, emotional and mental abuse.  From what you said above "I am scared to leave my husband alone with my son because his behavior towards him is so outrageous", are you concerned about physical abuse? You also said that "My husband degrades and talks negatively about my son constantly". If he does this in front of your son and/or to him then this could be considered emotional or mental abuse. A child can feel these emotions and it can be harmful to the healthy development of your children, not just your son. Your son meeds you right now.  Your husband is very wrong to place the blame for all that is happening on your son.  Your husband is the adult  and he needs to accept that he must be responsible for his behaviour but I suspect that his illness interferes with that.

I feel that keeping your children safe from all forms of abuse is the most important thing you need to do right now.  

What worries me is your husband has been diagnosed with PTSD/TBI.  Is he getting help for that?  If he is then can you go with him and talk there about some of the issues he is having with your son? If he isn't, can you go and talk with whoever helps people with military PTSD/TBI? As a Canadian I am not familiar with what help is available for former military families.  But there IS help!!!

This is the second really important thing you need to do.  Find help for you husband.  Have you looked at the symptoms of your husbands illness.   Here is a site I found for you to look at.

As a advocate of families staying together (marriages with children), I feel that you need to give your husband the encouragement and support he needs with his illness.  Often they will not OR can not see that it is their illness causing the much of the conflicts.

If he refuses help, then you need to talk with someone that can advise you on how to deal with your husband and his illness.  This situation can be and probably already is very destructive of a healthy marriage and is not the kind of environment that you want your children to grow up in. If he is not willing to accept help of any kind then you have your answer as to what you need to do.


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Rick Olson


As a stepparent of 4 children and a family coach, I can answer questions about the issues that arise in step-parenting including discipline,blended families, boundaries and guidelines.


I have 18 years as a stepfather, and over three years as a family coach focusing on unifying, strengthening and empowering families.

My wife and I have written 2 books on Family FUSE Your Family - Family: Unify Strengthen Empower! and Raising Families

BA(Recreation Administration) Grad Studies in Urban and Regional Planning and Design Certified as a LifeSuccess Consultant/Coach

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