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My stepsons were 4 and 11 when my husband and I got married. The youngest, Mack, used to say things like that, and worse, and it drove me crazy. At one point it got so bad that I even dreamed about killing him.

I know that sounds crazy, but that's how angry and frustrated I was, and that's how my unconscious mind was working.

Anyway, I eventually learned a few things. One was that he did not always understand the hurtfulness of what he was saying. He might realize that it got a reaction out of me, but he did not know how deeply he wounded me. When I started remembering that he was a little kid, I found it easier to dismiss his comments.

Another thing I eventually realized was that he sometimes felt conflicted, as if having fun with me was somehow disloyal to his mom. And that maybe if he was mean to me or made me mad, he was supporting her. To combat that one, I bent over backwards trying to speak nicely about her so that it didn't seem like we were enemies. (almost made me sick sometimes, but I did it!) And I made sure he knew that MOM was MOM and would always be MOM, and that I was never going to try to take her place.

He used to drive me nuts by whining and asking over and over and over again for things. Really being whiney and bratty. My husband would usuall give into this and I found out that Mom, at home, was an even easier touch. I stuck to my guns and he eventually learned that with me, no meant NO and he could pester me to kingdom come and he still wasn't going to get what he wanted. Or worse yet, he might get sent to his room. Years later, he jokingly complained to me that he couldn't wrap me around his little finger like he could his mom.

The last and maybe most important thing I did was treat him as though he were my own son. I felt that it was important for him (both of them) to feel as though I completely accepted him, that he was not an outsider intruding in my home or marriage. The rules might be different at my house, and I might expect a different quality of behavior from him, but I loved him no matter how rotten or bratty he was sometimes.

You used the phrase "my child" in describing your four-year old daughter and seem to give the indication that you consider the stepdaughter as "his". I may have perceived that incorrectly. But if you are looking at the situation that way, try to think of how she feels coming in from the outside, feeling like an intruder or even that she is unwanted.

Try to make a point of paying her a little solo attention. Compliment her and praise her. Involve her in things and let her "help" you, even if she's really just making a mess. Be sure to thank her when she does things right, even if it seems like something that should be taken for granted. Ask her for "advice" regarding the four-year old and let her feel like a big sister. Tell her how happy you are to see her each time she arrives and how much you'll miss her each times she leaves.

And be sure you're not projecting any anti-mom sentiment on to her. She's the kid, she's got nothing to do with Mom and Dad and their relationship.

I hope things get better and that you find the relationship a little easier to deal with. There is no such thing as never being frustrated or never being angry with a child. They do things that drive us crazy. But we have to remember that we are the grownup and that it's our job to act like one. That means we usually have to put forth more effort than they do, but the payoff is well worth it!

btw - my stepsons are now 20 and 27. There were many times over the years when I wanted to throttle one or both of them, and our relationships have not always been completely smooth, but all in all I think we turned out pretty well.

Good luck!
Gawd, the divorce guilt thing! 99% of the time that was why my husband caved in to things. I tried as much as I could to be understanding about it, but sometimes I couldn't help but get mad when I really felt he was being manipulated or taken advantage of.

Some people will laugh at this, but I don't care. I really do believe that kids, especially younger kids, appreciate rules and boundaries. It helps them know where the limits are. They don't have to guess or push or act out to see what will happen. They find comfort in something stable and reliable. And you know what? So do we.

Mack, when he was maybe 11 or so, was in counseling for a little while. His mom had just been divorced again and he was having trouble dealing with his emotions, as he had just adored his stepdad. He was acting out with his Mom and at school, etc.

When we went to pick him up one Friday night, Mom came out to the car first. I give her credit for telling us this, though she didn't convey it very nicely. Apparently she & Mack had been in a session that afternoon and Mack was saying that no one liked him. The counselor had been pushing him, saying, "No one? No one? No one likes you?", and Mack finally said, "Well, my stepmom likes me." When the counselor asked why he thought that, Mack replied, "Because she only yells at me when she has to."

In other words (according to the counselor, via Mom) I didn't let him push me until I flipped out and overreacted. He could count on my reactions.

Of course, I'm not gonna claim that I never flipped out, because of course everyone does once in a while. But it was really nice for me to hear that Mack supposedly felt I "respected" him. Let me tell you, I still and always will count that among the top ten compliments of my life. It meant a lot to me.

Most of my temper problems in life have been when I let myself start obsessing about someone or something. Which is what I did early on when Mack was acting like such a little turd. I get to the point where I think about that person or thing all the time and get so frustrated that I just want to explode. What a therapist finally said to me one time was, "Then you're letting them win. Don't you suppose [whoever] would love to know that you're putting so much effort into thinking about them all the time?" Well, heck, that put me right into perspective, and ever since then when I start getting really carried away with being angry about something, I try to remember that.

I have six nieces and nephews under 10 and they all know how far they can push me. Obnoxious behavior gets them ignored; bad behavior gets them sent to a room or timeout. No fun there. I try to remember to praise them for things like sharing, playing quietly, helping with chores, etc. I don't always remember, and I can't say I never lose my temper with them, but I do try and both of my sisters ask me why their kids behave better when I'm over.

I don't mean any of this to sound like I'm perfect, because I'm certainly far from THAT point. But I'm a big fan of deep breaths and counting to ten, and I try to remember that they are KIDS and that I'm not. I'm sure I provided more than my share of bratty moments when I was a child, probably most of them without even realizing it. Geez, I think back to some things I did and said and I just wonder how my parents were able to tolerate me!

Hang in there. It is NOT always easy, and you will unfortunately always have that slightly removed "step" status, but you can still have a great relationship.

As for the weekends, just remember to keep at least a little "alone" time - a walk, a bath, 10 minutes in your bedroom with the door closed - for decompression. It helps!
I think all your feelings are normal. Just don't let them overwhelm you.

When Mack was around 8 and his mom was remarried (since divorced and remarried again), he once told me that he wished his dad and me and his mom and his stepfather could all live in the same house together so he could be with all of us all the time. That is how kids think. They are not capable of thinking in terms of adult love and relationships. Their desires are self-centered.

Also, I think someone else mentioned the impact of her mom at home and how she may be influencing your stepdaughter. If mom is unhappy at home, your stepdaughter may wish, in her little girl way, that dad was back home just because she thinks it would make mom happy again. It might not even have anything to do with you.

Don't dismiss her feelings - she's probably confused and insecure and afraid - but do shrug off her words. The only power she has over you is the power you give her.

Just the fact that you're trying to find a way to deal with her is great. It shows that you care both about her and about your husband. Many people would just dig in their heels and give up, thereby guaranteeing themselves an unhappy step-relationship. It will get better!
Ronnie,

I was 8 when my parents got divorced and I actually met my "new" step dad a week before we moved in with him. I was so mad at my mom for leaving my dad for some dude(as I called him) I vowed to never give him a moments peace.(which in all honesty I didn't and still don't lol :rolleyes: ) I told him the very first day you're not my Daddy and I am not going to listen to you. He also had a daughter who is 6 days older then me who was going from and only (I had one sister also from my mom and Dad) to having two sisters. We fought like crazy too.

Through the years we there were a lot of fights. I am sure my "step" Dad heard more then once how much I hated him and how he was NOT my Dad. I always felt torn because whenever my mom had a problem with my dad she would tell me. (even today that still happens.) I always felt I had to defend him. Maybe that is what is happening at your step daughters house. Maybe her mom is telling her things her daddy "did wrong" and she is blaming you. Try asking her why she feels so mad at you all the time.


I am gonna be 22 and I can tell you that I love my step dad more then life itself.He actually ended up being more of a Dad then my real father. We went through some harsh times but during all of that I can not ONCE remember him calling me his step child. Try explaing to your step daughter that you and her dady love her just as much as the 4 year old. Maybe hearing you say this is my daughter(4 year old) and my STEP daughter hurts her feelings. She might feel that you don't love her as much as your "real" daughter. I don't call any of my step brothers and sisters step either.(I actually have 9 brothers and sisters seeing as my dad is on his 3rd marriage. My Mom and "step" Dad are going to have their 14th anniversary this year.) As a matter of fact me and the sister who is 6 days older then me are always telling people we are twins.

With a little work and maybe some "girl time" she will come around. Don't push herm give her time. Also try talking to your husband. I might have misread the post but it doesn't sound like he is trying to stop the behavior either. Going to get her money because she said she wanted something sounds like he is just giving in. Maybe he can spend a day with her and sit her down and tell her. I love you Mommy loves you and(fill in your name) loves you too. She might be a brat for a few more years...but with a little work I am sure you can come to some understanding. I just hope it works out like it did with me and my "step" Dad. We are so close that I am getting married and while my "real" Dad will be there I want my "step" Dad to walk me down the aisle. GOOD LUCK!:)
Hi there. Glad to see that you're still working toward making things better for everyone. It may seem like a horrible inconvenience now, but it will be worth all the effort in the long run.

Keep up the hugs, keep up the special one-on-one attention (so important!), and keep up the tough hide. Your stepdaughter WILL try to provoke you, but as she learns that you like her even when she's being awful, and that you care about her no matter what she says, and that you do not want to replace her mother or take her father away, she will learn to trust you.

When she learns to trust you, she will be able to relax and enjoy herself more without demanding so much attention or seeking to cause turmoil in what she see's as a potentially threatening situation. I know this is almost impossible at times, but try to put yourself in her shoes and imagine what you'd want. Hard, of course, as an adult, to imagine what is going on in a child's head at any given time, but try it anyway.

As angry as you may be at times, try to preface things with, "Angelina, I love you but......." Stay calm. Look her in the eye. Refuse to become engaged. Act like the bad behavior bores you. Then, the next time you find yourself having fun with her, or realize that she hasn't done anything in a while to aggravate you, be sure to thank her for.... playing quietly or helping or making things enjoyable or whatever. Tell her how much you like being with her. She will resist, but her defenses will eventually start to fall and you will begin to win the battle.

As for your husband, who sounds as though he has a big case of the "guilties", you'll have to work on him, too. He is afraid to ever say "No" to taking his daughter, even if it means a great inconvenience, because he's afraid of being seen as a bad guy. And as much as the daughter may fear losing Daddy or losing his love, he is feeling the same way about her. When the ex calls and says she needs him to babysit, he may be thinking, "Geez, I've had a long day and I'm exhausted and I have plans tonight and it's just not a good time for me to do this unexpectedly, BUT.....if I don't take her it will mean I'm a selfish and bad father."

What he needs to learn how to do is get past that "BUT" part. And I think that's a whole other topic! But when you can, try to reassure him that his daughter will love him even if he doesn't turn his world upside down every time she needs a babysitter. And that saying "No" once in a while does not reflect on how much he loves her. We all make decisions based on emotions once in a while, and we're all especiallly vulnerable to the ones we love, but it is OK to 'be the bad guy' once in a while in order to take care of ourselves first.

It is good that you are trying to stick to a schedule and that you are trying to get some exercise in, too. Both of those things will help you with your anxiety.

Try to sit down at a quiet time with your husband and explain that those things are important to the well being of the entire family. Explain calmly and don't get into an "if you loved me" or "you love her more" type of argument. Print articles from the internet. Or, better yet, take him with you to see your treating doctor and let the doctor try to explain. Try to come up with a compromise of some sort - that, barring emergencies, you'll agree to take the daughter out-of-schedule every other time the ex calls. Or that he'll ask you first. Or that he'll take her out for a few hours so you can get in some alone time. Try to find a solution.

I'll point out again that it's really easy for me to sit here and give all this advice to someone else. I fully realize, though, that is it NOT easy to implement all these things in real life. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone into a situation, swearing good intentions and predicting wonderful outcomes, only to have things disintegrate because I lose my temper at the first barb. It happens. We just have to try to learn from the mistakes and swear to try to do better next time.

Heck, my dad is like a child these days and there are times when I'm ready to throttle him within the first five minutes, good intentions or not. The grown stepsons can still drive me crazy sometimes. You just try to make the best of it that you can. Sometimes I have to stop, take a breath, and remind myself of what's going on, have to ask, "Is the amount of energy I'm expending on being angry really worth it? Can I just let this one roll off me? Will I feel better if I just let it go?"

Hang in there. You are trying. Don't make excuses ("but she made me so mad!"), but don't beat yourself up too bad when things go wrong. And like your stepdaughter, remember to give yourself a pat on the back when things go right!

In fact - seriously - every day you see her, at the end of the day or whenever you're starting to feel stressed, write down ALL the things that have gone well with her that day. Every little, teeny, tiny thing you can think of that was good. And focus on those.

Good luck to you and all your family.





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