12 thoughts on “Bullying in Step-Families – Some Thoughts And Observations

  • November 30, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I met my husband when my daughters were 11 and 13 years of age. After a couple of months of dating we had family date nights most Fridays at the baseball park. My girls loved it. My husband (then boyfriend) confessed that his parents told him not to see me anymore. They had been reading news articles about young kids (around my girls ages at the time but both boys and girls) falsely going to the police or teacher to say they had been sexually abused by the moms/dads boyfriend/girlfriend. These allegations turned out to be false.

    I was horrified that this would be true. I told him my girls would NEVER do such a thing (and they never did). But the more I thought about it the more I wondered why? Why would kids do things like that? Were my kids any less likely to do such a thing?

    My girls are now off and married and we are expecting our 2nd grand-baby. A boy this time. But I am still wondering why. Is this a type of bullying too?

    • November 30, 2011 at 11:59 am


      I think you bring up a really interesting point. And yeah, I suppose it could be a form of bullying, kids using a measure of leverage over someone they don’t like. Kids aren’t likely to be not believed, even if the accused person denies denies denies. This is in the news right now, and I’m sure many people are trying to sort out what they feel about those very public accusations of abuse.

      If the kids have a goal of disrupting the marriage, getting back, or whatever, and they falsely use an abuse report to get it done, they could hold it over the adult’s head on some way, make comments in private, make threats to “go public” or whatever. When kids feel hurt or lacking, sometimes they do dramatic things in an attempt to make things better (without the ability to sense how much worse it would really be once they took this action).

      And yes, you hope your kids would never do something like that, but obviously it does happen out there. I think it truly depends on how you as a family unit handle the emotions and changes that goes with being a step-family. Really, it all boils down to that in my opinion. With a strong sense of stability and support, I think families can get through those bumpy times better and with less risk of something like that.

      Glad to hear that things seemed to work out smoothly for you, but I completely understand the questioning and wondering (even after the fact). Makes sense and makes you scratch your head at the same time. Thanks for you comment.


  • February 5, 2013 at 7:17 am

    I met my future husband in 2005. At that time he was going thru a divorce. At that time his children were 9 & 15 and due to their mother’s inappropriate cheating she tried hard to make their dad look like that ‘bad guy’. She had succeeded with the oldest, their daughter. When their son hit the age of 14 he saw things differently and asked to live with his dad. That was 2 years ago. We married 2 years prior to that.
    Jump to present day, and things that have happened over the past 6 months. I recognize some typical teen behavior, trying and testing his limits, but there’s something new and difficult happening. Each and every time he gets reminded of strict rules of the house, he walks away if it comes from me. If a belonging of his is missing, I’m to blame for taking it. If I ask him for money for his car insurance or expenses he won’t give it to me, he waits til his father asks. It’s obvious, and we’ve talked about this recently, that he lacks respect for me in a parent role. I’m frustrated about this because it’s getting worse.
    Presently his mother, along with my husband and I, have become very communicative over this teen’s upbringing since he moved in with us. We have invited her to sit down with us on many occassions to discuss all 3 parents being on the same page, but instead, ops for a phone conversation. She is trying, I’ll hand her that because it’s 150% better than in 2005.
    Unfortunately, on quite a few of these argumentative times with him, he reminds me that I am NOT his mother, then calls his mother to tell her what we’ve done to ‘doom’ his life. The last encounter involved my husband telling him he needs to respect me as a parent, like he respects his mother. His facial expression was obvious that was and will never be contemplated in his mind. It gets worse as time goes by and I’m at my wits end, feeling bullied by him because he’s found my Achilles tendon. Although his Teen Trials haven’t been as bad as some other parents sustain, this new approach towards me is affecting my marriage and household.
    Any suggestions would be VERY welcoming!

  • May 26, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    I have a stepson who is nine and 3 boys of my own. My stepson obviously feels great jealousy towards their father living with my kids which is totally understandable however he makes the life of my eldest child really difficult, name calling, physical bullying, exclusion and more. Luckily my little boy is reasonably strong and although gets very upset by it is secure in his relationship with me and therefore can deal with it on most occasions. My main issues are that my stepson is not only teaching him bad behaviour but that his father and I, no matter how united we are upon the matter are obviously protective over our own children and when my son behaves in a similar manner to my stepson my partner clamps down on him, which upsets my son. When I discipline my stepson not only do I get abuse back, he makes life more difficult for my little boy. Through unfortunate events he has learnt to be a very manipulative child and I think it will end up splitting myself and my partner up. Any advice or experience of a similar situation would be appreciated, we have my stepson three times a week and it has got to the point where I’m making excuses to take my children out to avoid him as there is no other way of avoiding the bullying.

    • September 13, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      Hi Sophie
      I’m replying as I have a similar problem to you 🙁 and was looking online for answers
      I have a son whos 8 and my partner has 2 boys ages 7 and 11. We have been all living together for 6 months and his sons come to stay 3-4 times a week. Life was good in beginning but the novelty has certainly worn off. With my partners sons l feel ganging up against my son. It’s mainly the eldest one leading the younger one. I can see it but my partner defends him everytime saying ” boys will be boys” ” its natural to fight with siblings” is it? I am being to soft?it’s just heartbreaking , we instinctively defend our own and try and keep it fair but it’s so difficult. My son is not happy. And I too have started making excuses to go out and do activity’s away from the home just me and my son. We have discussed it but I feel like nothing has changed. This is started to divide the household . Any advice anyone can give would be greatly received x

    • June 17, 2019 at 8:10 pm

      I have the same problem and the boy is just our step nephew and his mother married another man. Our child is trying to manipulate the family. He doesn’t respect the family and he is very rude and his mother is letting him do whatever he wants. Going crazy. L M

  • May 26, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    I am involved in a similar situation as well. I am taking care of my daughter’s two children and her boyfriend’s two children after school. The boyfriend’s eldest is an 11 year old boy and his bullying is exclusively for my daughter’s five year old son. Physical and verbal. I understand that blending two families with young children is difficult to say the least. Thankfully my grandson does not appear to feel isolated in this and is only upset when incidents occur. With summer coming I expect I will be caring for them for longer periods of time. I’ve been reading as much as I can about how to help them cope, all of them. I had already put rules of our household in place their first day here. I don’t like having to be the heavy however, their futures depend on consistency and understanding there are consequences for their behavior. Stressing that it is the behavior, and not ‘bad’ children. Time outs, sitting while others play, and/or writing however many times necessary, “I will not hit, disrespect, talk back, etc.” has worked wonders for others I know with younger children. I wish you all blessings and patience. It takes time, consistency, patience, understanding (they’re people too!) and love.

  • May 29, 2016 at 2:56 am

    my grandson is bullied by his step-brother who is older than him.

  • September 17, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    Bullying in the home is becoming more of a problem. I teach classes for parents whom have children with mental or behavior health concerns. You would think I have all the answers? When it comes to family there are more feeling involved and it can turn everything into a hot mess. We expect more from our spouse or partner, then what they can give. Most often the parent who has their child visiting is in denial, of any kind of abuse. Their fear is the child won’t want to return for the next visit or any further visits. I have a 13 year old stepson. I also have 7 children of my own,ages 5-12 living at home. 2 adult children whom are on their own. My step son visits every other weekend and all school vacations. He is mentally mean and physically abusive to my children. My spouse is in denial of his son behavior for the last 2 years. This makes it hard for good communication between him and I. My husband always feels everyone is just picking on his son including me. Even when he has caught his son bullying the younger children. He still won’t punish his son, in fear of him not wanting to come back. My children and I have given up on telling my spouse his son is out of control. Dad knows he is but can’t bring himself to take any action against his son behavior. The mom is out of the question to get support from. I honestly feel, the parent who has the child visiting needs to seek counseling. They need to hear it from someone outside of the home; their kid is out of control. All we can do as parents is keep telling our children to tell Mommy or daddy everything that happens from the visiting child. Keep a record of it. To see the patterns of when the child is most likely to strike. It helps us to make a plan, so we know where the non-safe places are in the home for our children. Also what time of day or night the abuser will hurt your children. As the step parent dont be afraid of taking over control of the abusing child; when the other parent won’t. Your children will feel safer knowing someone is protecting them. Yes it will cause arguments between you and the child parent (in my case my husband) At least the visiting child knows your not excepting their behavior. Someone is in control and not the abuser. Mom’s and dad’s our children need protection. We are adults and need to stop letting kids run our homes. If the soup is to hot for the parent with the abusive child. Then they need to get out of the kitchen and let the chef cook. Remember your house your rules!!!! This has been a hard turn for our family but it’s working. My husband is starting to get on his son more because he feels it’s his spot not mine to correct him. My children are feeling happier and safer, knowing I will take over if needed. It’s still a working progress. It’s hard work every other weekend. Yes my stepson tells lies on how mean I am. His mother has been no help by telling her son, he doesn’t need to listen to me. I let that roll off my back. Yes he tells his dad I’m mean to him also. I tell my husband if you don’t like my punishments? Then you need to step up and parent him, he is not your friend; he is your son. My punishments are for him to say he is sorry and he is not allowed to play with my kids unsupervised for the rest of the weekend. Trust me no 13 year old wants to be stuck following their step mom around. If he refused to follow the rules, then he eats all of his meals by himself and internet is off and I unplug all TV’s and take the cords with me. I leave 1 tv on where I can see my children so they can enjoy tv with out their step brother. Outside time with my kids,my stepson had to earn it by treating his step siblings with love and respect for 4 weekends in a row. Then he could join in supervised only. Never trust the bully for a second even when things seem better. I do love my stepson and want what is good for him, but not at the cost of my children’s safety. Yes I am tuff but fair. I hope this could help others, by telling what we are doing in our home for the last 8 months. Stay tuff don’t back down, you only have your children for a short time before they move out. Don’t let their childhood be ruined by a bully. Blessings to all blended families, We need it!!!

  • December 22, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Hi. I’m here desperately searching for help. I have a good husband who has 7 children, they lost their mom and I love them dearly. Theyou are all older than my only son. He’s 7 and I’m struggling terribly with bullying from my 2 youngest step kids, aged 9 and 10. They leave him out constantly, refuse to share their toys, even though my son has always shared with them. They call him names and play tricks on him. My son already has insecurities due to his real father and I noticed this is dropping his self esteem. I try talking to him about it often, as well as my step children but once my husband and i are not watching, they go back to being mean to him. I’m so worried and I don’t know what is the best way to deal with the situation.

  • January 20, 2018 at 11:42 pm

    I have been searching for answers on this topic everywhere on the internet – it’s the first time that I feel relieved just to know that it’s not just in my head that this is happening in my house and that other people out there are going through the same motion.

    I have a son who is 12 and a step son the same age, both from 2 different ethnic groups and different cultures. My step son who is very athletic and quite popular with the other kids has taken it upon himself to slag of his step brother with the other kids making it very difficult for him to hang out with other kids. The name calling and threats to ‘put him in hospital’ are relentless. My son is very brave and just walks away everytime to avoid confrontations and I often wonder if I am doing the right thing letting him fight his corner. I want him to be able to stand up for himself but on the other hand it’s my job to protect him. My husband’s reaction – boys will be boys – this just irritates me and it’s a constant cause of arguments in my house.

    Could someone suggest what I can do please – I am loosing my mind and I have started thinking a divorce might be on the cards if this does not change. It’s killing me

  • February 8, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    I wish there was more out there. I have a 10 year old step daughter and an 11 year old daughter. She is mentally abusive and tries to out shine her constantly, she is jealous and insecure and lashes out on my daughter whenever she is feeling emotional. My husband disciplines her but she just cries and goes back to the same story of how “bad” she has it in life. My daughter has lost her father, her school, her friends, and her home just so that we could move to be with my husband and all she gets at school from her step sister and at home when we aren’t looking is competitiveness, constant talk about how beautiful and great she is and often puts down my daughter to make herself feel better. This has caused a huge resentment with me and I don’t know how to heal this. She continues to have this behavior even after several several talks.

    Any advice would be helpful!


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