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Dilemma: a difficult step child

Katharine Whitehorn / 08 January 2016

Agony aunt Katharine Whitehorn hears from a stepmother concerned about her step child's bad behaviour.

Stepmother with child
A stepmother wonders what she should do about her partner's son's bad behaviour

Dilemma: troublesome stepchild

I met my partner when we were both on holiday – he had recently been divorced and we were in love before the question of his family came up. 

He has a young teenage son who stays with us while his working mother travels.

My partner's son is rude, untidy, often very clingy towards his father and ignores me in my own home. 

I would like us to be much less easygoing with the child, but his father won’t do anything about his behaviour.

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

It must be rotten to have your new happiness constantly spoilt by this lad. But I don’t think getting tougher with him would work. 

He is likely to have been disturbed by the splitting of his family, and might subconsciously blame you, even though you had nothing to do with it.

And even if he doesn’t, you’re a contender for his father’s time and affections. I think your only hope is to try to win him round and make him like you. 

You’ll have to button your lip when you want to rage at him, be bright and sunny when you’d rather hit him. Stepmothers often form good relationships with stepchildren but it’s not easy.

Read our tips for new step parents.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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