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Difficult time adjusting to blended family

Community Member


Adjusting to my new life with my new partner has been a lot more difficult than I ever imagined. I have been divorced for 3 years - and have been in a new relationship for two. I have come to the realisation that somehow my new life is a bit more challenging than my old one.  Our blended family has 5 kids: 3 teenagers boys and 2 young girls.  My main issue (among all the other kids stuff) is to adjust to my partner's attitude towards my son. There is a lot of unfairness and double standards directed towards him, it's a bit mean really.  Also my new partner gets very annoyed if I spend any time at all with my son (even things like gardening or attending to his sports practice). To make things harder, he is very nice to my daughter. 

My partner and I really love each other's.  I just wish he could accept my son in the family.  This situation has been stopping me enjoying our relationship and stopping me wanting to invest fully in our couple.  I feel guarded, defensive, a bit paranoid and angry... I am getting very very very angry and hurt.


 Any suggestions?  I feel like I am losing my mind.

5 Replies 5

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Ellie, welcome here.

I think my last relationship, a defacto one, is an example of what is relevant.

I had 2 girls 8 and 5yo, divorced from their mother, visitations every fortnight and longer during school holidays. They were well behaved, the apple in my eye. S had two children boy 14yo and girl 17yo, the latter was 3 week from giving birth to her boyfriend.

I found it easy to bond with her children and later her grandchild. It was in my nature to "connect" with any child really. As her boy got older his father wasnt in good health so I took over, we restored a car together and I helped train him with cycle racing. All my own volunteering. And I taught him to drive.

But from the beginning S didn't bond with my children in any way. She wouldn't go out of her way in any way to do that. Initially I accepted it. Then a couple of years later we planned a flying holiday to Cairns. I asked her if my kids could go- "no way, not until they behaved themselves". The topic was closed and difficult for me to bring up....that was her persona about the matter. We went alone to Cairns.

A years later Uluru was the flying holiday destination. Again I asked her and got the same answer so I pressed on with the topic. She told me my girls argued too much with each other. This was true but not outside the scope of normal sibling issues I believed. We went alone to Uluru. By this time her son had begun work as a bus driver in the Uluru area. While there we took him on helicopter flights, out for dinners and the like. I loved him but was saddened that my girls didn't get that opportunity. To top that off my girls had next to zero social life at their mothers home as she had no car, country town etc.

At 12yo my eldest daughter came to live with us. When I told S she was coming to live with us S hit the roof and rejected the concept outright. I was furious. Eventually I got my way.

She was the step mother from hell.

Eventually 10 years after meeting her we parted. One reason was her coldness to my girls, the other her control over everything I did.

I believe I should have realised the relationship would whittle away. This is because I now believe step parent MUST be nurturers of others children by nature. I also believe S was jealous of my kids as she also displayed jealousy towards me and my good relationship with her daughter.

Step parents should remember they are ultimately 2nd in line. Our kids come first and that is that.

Tony WK

Community Member

Hi Ellie

i don't know if I can help you with suggestions but if someone relating helps I can definitely do that. I have a daughter 18 and a son 16 I've been divorced nearly 4 years and living with my new partner for 2.5. He is a nice man and when it is just me he is so kind and considerate but around my son he is just constantly irritated and looking for things to complain about. I will be the first to admit my son is lazy and self centred and I don't always have the energy to be strong and parent as I should but he is overall a polite nice kid. My partner only ever speaks to him to criticise and when I said this today his response was that there is nothing my son does that doesn't irritate him. I am really struggling with day to day life right now and I do not know how to deal with this. I don't have the strength to leave and he is so wonderful sometimes and I am really happy but when he insults my son I feel hurt, angry, sad, protective and I just don't understand how he can not see that his moods around my son are killing me?! His words today just left me feeling completely defeated I am at a loss about what to do? 


Hi Anne, Thank you for taking the time to write to me.  How are you? I feel that you are living avery similar situation to mine.  It's been a while since I wrote this post, I was curious to know if you found any solutions to this problem. I haven't ... but I am trying  to deal with it in a different way. I just do what is right for my son and I am not afraid anymore to speak up when I think my partner is being irrational about me spending time with my son. In other words, my partner's behaviour has not changed but mine did.  It is still difficult, I would be lying to say it's not. I am realising that perhaps being unfair and humiliating my son makes my partner feel better about his insecurities and the fact that his two sons are totally out of control. I am not sure... still working on it.

Hi Ellie,

Thank you for your response it has been awhile since I have been online. Sadly I have not really found any solutions except that I am pretty much doing what you are doing and putting my son first. It is very hard as so often you feel like you are being pulled apart and walking on egg shells but gradually I am learning to not be as affected by my partners disapproval. I truthfully don't know if that is a good or a bad thing but I have to parent the way I parent, love my son and learn that if my partner doesn't like it I can not let his feelings affect me. Easier to say than do though.

It is getting better I just still wish my partner realised the effect his criticism has on us. My son won't be with us forever but he wants to be with me forever; surely I should be the priority?!

I hope things are going better for you it is not right for your partner to feel better when your son is humiliated, no one should get pleasure from another's humiliation in my opinion. I do think it is a bit of a biological male thing, its a bit like two male gorillas fighting to see who is king! 

 Take care of yourself and hang in there!


Hi ladies

Two lions fighting, yes, but two lionesses fighting happens to, likely just as often.

As previously stated my eldest daughter came to live with me and her step mother at 12yo. My daughter left for uni at 19yo and a few months later I left my defacto.

So all finished right? Not so. Now my daughter has severe anxiety and depression and she says it is 80% from that step parent. The other 20% from her natural mother she no longer sees.

So I’m just reminding you of the high cost of such toxic relationships. Not all step parents are wrong either but, and a big BUT it is!!! If they took the attitude of being a friend of the child and left everything else to the natural parent then they would be in a much better situation.

And just because a child reaches 18yo and might get a car etc to gain some freedom he/she desires but contact will still occur with the step parent…it doesn’t end.

Unfortunately due to my experience,  I’m left with a pessimistic view on step parent relationships whereby the step parent/child friendship does not exist. The “package” that was when parent and SP began should include the compatibility of the child and the SP also. (I didn’t hence paid the price). For this reason a long courtship is essential to see what the chemistry is going to be.

Where do you draw the line? My daughter was also a good kid. One day when she was 15yo my girlfriend said “if you continue to forget to place your washing in the laundry you’ll have to return to your mother to live”. I calmly told her “that wouldn’t happen, it hasn’t been discussed and she can live with me as long as she likes.”

This is the tug of war we are dealing with in this thread. The bottom line is our children come first and the step parent should understand that. Immaturity, jealousy, control desires and lack of wanting to understand are all factors the parent has to take into account when selecting a partner.

The child can end up with serious health issues otherwise.

Tony WK