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Alicia_MSW
Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Specializing in mental health counseling
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I think my second husband hates my kids who are 18 and 23 living

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I think my second husband hates my kids who are 18 and 23 living at home. He practically ignores them except to bad mouth them to me or issues commands to them of jobs to do. what should I do its making life so hard
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Alicia_MSW replied 4 years ago.
Hello, I'm Alicia. Thanks for your question. I'm happy to help you today.

It's a very frustrating and troubling situation but it's, unfortunately, not uncommon in blended families such as yours, so I do empathize with the pain and difficulty you're experiencing. The problem of dealing with step-children is actually one of the most frequent problems that comes up in family therapy with blended families, and especially when you have older children like yours, who already have their own ideas and attachments and loyalties (for example, to their biological father, who may or may not be in the picture).

I understand how this situation can create a lot of problems for you, but the solution has to be a joint effort between you, your children and your husband. Everyone has to start on the same page, or at least have a desire to improve the situation, or the likelihood that things will change is slim at best. Your husband can help you with this, first by understanding how his behavior is affecting you (you can sit down and discuss this with him and let him know how badly you are feeling about his treatment of your children), and then by consciously trying to change his behavior and making more of an effort to develop a healthier relationship with your children. Your children also play a role here - I don't know what their interactions with him are like, but once he (your husband) makes a commitment to trying to change his behavior, then they can try to develop a more understanding or cooperative attitude. That's not to say they need to agree with everything he says, but they need to be willing to join together for the "greater good" of the family and realize that it's a difficult situation for everyone. There cannot be any ultimatums, such as your kids saying it's him or them or vice versa. In order for this to work, you need to let them know that it's important for you that they are all a part of your life. Your husband also has to be willing to invest the time and effort into developing a better relationship with your kids - and they have to at least try to do the same with him. He cannot order them around like servants, for example - although it's reasonable that they have certain chores, if they are living with you, he has to change the way he interacts with them about these chores. And he has to realize that it might take some time for them to fully accept him (even though it's been some time already, there needs to be some more time once this process starts again). The four of you should sit down and have a rational, adult conversation about this, how it's affecting you and how you'd like to see things change. Sometimes, it's not possible for things to change on their own, however, and you might need professional intervention to get the ball rolling. So seeing a family counselor might be an option if you don't feel like they are open to listening to your ideas and suggestions about how to improve the situation. If you're interested, you can try to find a family counselor in your area on this website (see the bottom right corner of the site for the search option):
http://www.theaca.net.au/

You might also find this article useful, although a lot of the information is geared more toward blended families with younger children:
http://www.helpguide.org/mental/blended_families_stepfamilies.htm

I hope that helps. Best wishes.
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