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Being a step-parent is hard!

Community Member

Hi there. I never wanted to be a step-parent... he was shared care with his mother when i moved in. Mother dumped him at 13. No contact with her since.

I love his Dad and love him too but I can't do right in his eyes. He treats me like he did his mother but he even admits that I have been more of a mother. I live with hope ... in humanity, my own kids, in my work in Child Protection, for my partner to not have his next asthma attack, for step-son to show consideration to his Dad after 19 years and to me after 10.

He speaks of being independent and an adult yet sits on technology 14+ hours a day waiting to have shelter and food met without any input to family/household unless nagged ... then begrudgingly. We have tried counselling, in home one-on-one therapy, star charts, boundaries and contracts. Nothing works because he doesn't understand consequences nor that his word to his parents should be accountable. It is different for his friends.... nothing is to much for them. He crosses the threshold and it is just me, me, me.

His Dad and I are tired. Step-son wants to move out but doesn't do anything to help himself as his device world is his reality plus he knows Dad will always bail him out.

My private and work lives combine as I come home to a horse I have lead to water but won't drink.

His Dad struggles with breathing in the shower or carrying one bag of groceries but step-son just sits in his room oblivious or just ignoring. I have lowered my expectations and compromised my values only for him to ignore his father's health issues. They are only baby steps I want ... take out garbage when needed, be polite in conversation, pooper scoop daily, help with yard/housework let alone cook dinner regularly.

Sorry for the ramble, just needed to get the thoughts out so I may get some sleep.

Take care to all.

2 Replies 2

Community Champion
Community Champion


I can sense your frustration with being a step parent.
It can be so hard to reach out to your step son only to be ignored
I am a step parent to adult children.

I just wanted to let you know you are not alone.

By answering your thread will be bumped up to the top so more people can see your post.

Thanks for your honest post.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Gidday Todda and thanks for your emotional and well thought out post!

I sounds like you are an extremely competent, compassionate and experienced step parent - working in child care, having tried counselling, contracts, boundaries etc. So I am not really in a position to offer much advice at all, apart from sharing my own story.

I am on my second marriage and my new wife inherited my two teenage daughters. It was very, very difficult for a long time despite her unfailing efforts to be kind and helpful to them. They made it very hard - a story we hear is not uncommon at all.

What eventually happened to change things was:

1. I genuinely loved her.

2. She was NOT a replacement for their mum.

3. The kindness and interest she had in their wellbeing was genuine, not fake.

4. She never, never got in the way of the relationship they had with their mum.

5. My daughters grew up.

Not it sounds like your stepson in 19 yrs old? Interestingly, my daughters were at their most difficult when 15-20 yrs of age, then changed quite quickly after that. So these days our family is very loving and functional. What a change!

So hang in there Todda - keep talking with your step son, show respect and treat him like a human, and hope that he too will grow out of his funky mindspace.

Just a thought - have you tried asking him how you can help him with his life at all, is there anything you can do, is there anything at all he wants to talk about with you?

I am very happy to chat further with you if that might help.

All the very best - be strong! The Bro.