stepmomWhen it comes to step and blended families, this question gets asked a lot.  It is difficult living in the same house as someone you don’t really like. In order to answer this question though, we need to think about WHY you don’t like your stepparent.

In my experience, people who don’t like their stepparent fall into one of four categories:

#1: You don’t like your stepparent because they are a genuinely mean or unkind person. This is the category most kids who don’t like their stepparent would likely say they fall into, but in actuality it is the rarest of category and generally not the reason for the friction in the relationship. However, If this is genuinely the case (that your stepparent is mean or unkind), there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it. Unfortunately, you can’t change people overnight. Instead, be respectful and aim for peaceful coexistence (meaning that you may not like him/her but you will at least choose to seek after peace rather than arguing or fighting). Remember that, as your stepmother or stepfather, this person is important to your biological parent even if he/she is not all that important to you. Remember to be respectful in your dealings with your stepparent even when it is hard.  Choose to be respectful because it is the right thing for you to do even if the other person doesn’t necessarily deserve it. Try your best to be loving and kind to them. You never know – you’re actions may impact how they choose to live their life and that act of love or kindness may come back to you and lead to a more healthy relationship.

With that out of the way, we can talk about the other, more likely, reasons that kids don’t get along with their stepparents. Even if you think you into the first group, you need to try to step back and evaluate the situation unemotionally to figure out if it is actually something else driving your dislike for your stepparent. This can be hard, and it might help to ask some people you trust (friends, aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc.) to be honest with you about why they think the conflict exists.

Here are some other possibilities:

#2:  You don’t like your stepparent because you personalities don’t mesh. This happens lots of times – especially with someone you are being “forced” to live with. Not all personalities work well together and even the ones that do sometimes take time to get used to one another.  If this is the root of the problems, try to find things you do like about your stepparent and focus on those. If you both enjoy doing something similar, spend some time doing it together. Pick something he/she likes doing (even if it’s cleaning the house or working in the yard) and spend time doing it together even if you don’t care for it. Ask her to do something with you that you really enjoy. In that time, set aside any fighting, arguing or conflict and focus on the positive.  Try to have fun together. Most people have some quality about them that you can learn to enjoy and like. If you start with one of those it may improve the relationship and you can move forward from there. Some of the best relationships in life can start from rocky beginnings.

#3: You don’t like your stepparent because they are married to your parent. This is very common and can take all kinds of forms. You may hold it against your stepparent because now that she/he if married to one of your parents that means your dad and mom will never get back together. You might not like him/her because you imagined something or someone different for your parent. You might not like him/her because they take time away from the time you and your parent used to spend together.  You may have had increased responsibility in your single parent home and now that your parent is remarried you feel like your “being treated like a kid again.”   Any, or all, of those things may be true, but in and of themselves they are not a good reason to dislike your stepparent. Talk to your parent and your stepparent about your concerns and see if you can come up with a solution together. If you miss time spent with your parent, ask for a date night or a night for just the two of you to hang out, but also remember that your stepparent will also want, and deserve, some time alone with your parent. It’s not reasonable to expect that your parents will always stay single after their divorce. Remember that your stepparent has also been thrown into a bit of an awkward situation (living with a brand new family). They likely had more choice in it than you, but don’t hold it against them that it’s taking everyone time to adjust.

#4: The final category is also very common. You might not like your new stepparent because deep down you feel like that would be betraying your other parent. For example, you may feel like getting along with and having fun with your stepmother is disrespectful or mean to your mom. It isn’t! You should be free to spend time with and enjoy your stepmother. If your mom doesn’t like it and holds it against you, I would encourage you to read “The Fact That I Like My Stepmother Makes My Mom Mad. What Should I Do?” Your situation is not perfect. When your parents get divorced, it hurts and it isn’t easy to move on and to move forward. Sometimes your stepparent can be an “easy target” for the emotions you are feeling about the situation you find yourself in, and that isn’t fair for them or for you.