Advice on Step Children Fighting

Updated on November 13, 2012
T.B. asks from Fairfax, VA
11 answers

My boyfriend and I moved in together and blended our families a year ago. He has a 6 yr old son who lives with us and I have a 13 year old daughter. They were close at first and enjoyed hanging out with each other. Recently however, all they do is argue. They cannot even say good morning to each other without one of them being nasty to the other. It is causing a lot of stress between my boyfriend and I to the point that we have had discussions about splitting up because of the kids being miserable with each other. We do want to make a lifetime committment to each other but if the kids cant get along it is not worth fighting for. Both kids have been talked to and it helps for a day or two and then it slowly starts again. I have talked to my daughter who is old enough to know better but her argument is when he stops she will stop. How do we sit down and explain what the outcome is going to be for our blended family and make them understand. Neither one of the kids have their other parent actively in their lives so having us together and strong is important to us. Any advice from anyone else on this matter would be very much appreciated.

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answers from San Francisco on

Siblings fight - it's what they do. DO NOT sit them down and tell them that you guys will split up if they can't get along. DO NOT put that on their plate.

If they were blood siblings would you consider a divorce with each parent taking one child? I doubt it.

It is a big age gap and I can definitely see the 13 yo not wanting to hang out with a 6 year old any more.

Just do what parents of blood siblings do - try to ignore it; use ear plugs. You two are just used to having an only child and you thought that you would have a house with two "only children." Nope, you got siblings!

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answers from Houston on

So are you saying that when you sit down with the kids you will say "if you don't stop we are going to break up"? Kids will fight. Regardless of blended family or not. What are they arguing about? 13 is hard and having a little brother can be a major pain in the butt. Also, while you may be living together you aren't married. Seems to me you are putting alot of responsibility of the success of your relationship on these kids.

I would suggest family counseling.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Get your kids involved in more activities. what is that phrase.... idle hands are the devil's handiwork? or whatever......

Basically I agree with what was said below..... the success or failure of the relationship should NOT hinge upon these kids. And counseling will help you blend your family. But you and the boyfriend have to figure out what you are to each other. you're the adults.

2nd. They aren't step-children. They are just living together for whatever reason you and their dad decided to move in with each other. They are along for the ride. YET they are being asked to deal with losing time with their parent for 2 other people.... but what have they each GAINED from those 2 other people coming into the house? What benefit have your and your daughter brought to this 6 year old boy? What benefit did YOUR boyfriend and HIS son.... offer your 13 year old daughter? You have to look at it from THEIR perspective.

3rd when you say "I have talked to my daughter who is old enough to know better" you indicate that you think you can use reason and logic with a teenager to get her to do something you want her to do.
You'll have better luck reasoning with the 6 year old, in my opinion.... Teens are not known for their ability to get along under the BEST of circumstances..... let alone some new family dynamic they don't particularly want. her brain and emotions are in total choas and you've upped the ante by throwing in 2 outsiders to the mix.

So..... what would I do? First.... get them involved in their own activities. They each have a couple extra-curriculars, plus homework. This limits their amount of time together. The 13 year old is bound to have some sort of social life... so there is 1 or 2 nights a week she's doing things with friends. The boy should have some play-dates of his own, as well.

Then..... chores around the house. SEPARATE chores. Keep them apart.

Finally - they have to HELP you and dad cook dinner together. EVERY NIGHT (unless one of them is GONE) As a family. Since they are apart so much of the rest of the week, and now, together, they are focused on a common goal (dinner) they will HAVE to work together..... or they don't eat.

You can't really expect a 6 year old boy and a 13 year old girl to be friends. The best that you can hope for is peace until they figure out what it is they like about the other. And that may take YEARS.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

Is there a reason other than financial difficulty that you moved in with your boyfriend. The relationship is not yet marital binding, so I think it was premature to combinea family that could potentially again cause heartbreak. Secure your relationship with your kid and his first, make sure the relationship with your boyfriend is committed long term before forcing the kids to comply with the arrangement. They are angry at the possibility they could become a family and th reality may have just kicked in when you moved in together. If your boyfriend is exploring the idea of breaking up because the kids don't get along, that's a big red flag. Blended families are going to take more work because you are all not biological. Dont expect total strangers to like each other because you love your boyfriend. Make sure both kids get the attention they deserve and work out the emotional kinks the kids might be experiencing, both from being a kid and from having to adjust

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

first thier officially brother and sister now=)
would you split up if you were married and they were both yours and they fought all of the time?

it sounds like you're both involving yourselves int heir fights and taking sides and thats why the pottential split

secondly DONT tell them if they continue it will make you guys break up.. thats HORRIBLE! its not their fault if you guys split up

why not go to a family counselor all together? and with J. you and your boyfriend too so you can figure out how to not get overly involved in taking sides

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You know maybe they are starting to act more like a family. Brothers and sisters fight all the time. It is quite normal . Yet you want them to get along? There should be family time like dinner or breakfast. Bu if they are fighting that is more of an indication they are starting to work it out actually.


answers from Dallas on

sound like siblings! 13 is a teenager..... they usually aren't tolerant. they are egotistical and obnoxious. The age difference can be a problem too, but this is typical in ALL families. Kids fight and are mean to each other. Just keep calling them on it. Don't make them play together or be best friends, but keep demanding they be nice to each other. In 5 years will your daughter be going to college? That's probably when things will improve. LOL!


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, T.:

They are feeling a sense of grief. Their lives are no longer like it you to be.

How to stop the fighting.

Sit down with your mate and children.

Ask Both Children these questions, girl first:

1. What happened?
2. What were you thinking of at the time?
3. What have you thought about since?
4. Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way?
5. What do you think you need to do to make things right?

Ask your BF and yourself these questions, start with your BF:

1. What did you think when you realized what had happened?
2. What impact has this incident had on you and others?
3. What has been the hardest thing for you?
4. What do you think needs to happen to make things right?

Every time they fight, circle up and let them decide how to stop
this behavior.

There is also a formal way to apologize:

Each child apologizes:

Sister first:
Brother, may I apologize for____________,
do you accept my apology?_____________

Brother, do you need anything?

He tells her what he needs.

Next the brother:

Sister, May I apologize for______________,
do you accept my apology?

Sister, do you need anything?

Everything there is inappropriate behavior, this
is the method to resolve it. Be consistent.
Good luck.



answers from Dallas on

That sounds like my 13 and 10 year old. They are fighting like normal siblings. You punish them for fighting not just talk to them about it. This will probably happen with any relationship you have that other kids are involved and live in the same house. If you think its getting too bad go to family counseling.



answers from Honolulu on

I don't always agree with posts stating that the success or failure of a relationship is based on if the couple gets married or lives together not everyone believes in marriage. There are couples that are in a living together arrangement with the idea that they can opt out and there are those with the mindset that they are working toward a future together. With the right mindset and 2 people in accord it can work out. The question is-is if you are happy with how things are not what everyone else thinks about it. Stay strong and stand strong for what you believe is the right thing to do for you and your family unit.

My daughter who is 13 loves her half brother and sister and seeks to get along with them but she does not live with them on a lengthy basis so maybe this would change things. I agree with WindyCityMom and think you should find more activities and things for the kids to get involved with. My daughter has things she likes to do and my ex has his children all involved with activities that they enjoy. I would also try planning a family outing and or each parent take one child out for some alone time. Don't make the 13 year old responsible for the 6 year old either bc that can cause resentment.

Wishing you and your family the best of luck.



answers from Richmond on

They started out behaving well b/c they viewed the other as a "guest" and that's what you do with guests. Now they are family and they are fighting just like real siblings! Part of this is perfectly normal. That said, clearly their fighting is making everyone miserable so something has to be done. How are you punishing them? They need to know there are real consequences to their actions. Also, I think you are giving them way too much control. Considering splitting up b/c your kids fight? Telling them that? They should not control your lives as a couple and they need to know that. Consider family counseling if all else fails. You may need some professional guidance to wage through these waters. You have my sympathy. We have a blended family and there are moments when it is so very difficult!

The best advice I got when I got married, "Remember that, as much as you love them, your children are only with you for a short while. Your partner is with you for life. Treat each accordingly."

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