Step Children and Grandchildren

Updated on July 11, 2019
M.Z. asks from Milo, IA
14 answers

My step son has 2 daughters. He doesn’t discipline them just constantly yells at them and the girls keep doing it. Since I am the step mom/grandma - I am not allowed to stop the children from hurting each other while in my presence, not allowed to tell them “please stop you are going to break that”, not give 2 words at all when it comes to them.... but I am so tired of my house being tore apart. They break family heirlooms, expensive collectibles, carve into my new tables with knives, if they hit me I can’t tell them to stop, there is no discipline for them and I don’t get a “I am sorry”, I don’t get the items replaced, I have to be on pins and needles the whole time they are around wondering what will be broken next or when the time comes that they fall down my stairs that are slippery because I can’t tell them no and it be my fault that they break a leg or arm. My husband becomes defensive when I try to talk to him about it and defends his kids and grandkids and doesn’t care that I have been hurt or lost items. Then says “my kids are always the problem” and he pouts just like they do. My children are respectful of others and don’t allow their kids or pets to run rampant. I just feel like their has to be rules when it comes to grandma and grandpas but then his kids just say “fine we won’t bring the kids around” and that hurts my husband. I am looking for real advise here - I have seen some nasty comments by some of you out there and please keep that negativity to yourself - people ask questions on here to get assistance or idea - they don’t come on here to hear insults and negativity.

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So What Happened?

So I called him and said, “when one of my kids take your truck, do you have rules?” He said of course he did, and went down a list of what he expects. So I simply responded, “then you need to be ok with me having rules about our home and our RV. There can’t be a double standard when it comes to any of the children. We are suppose to be a family, and if 1 kid has to follow a specific rule, then all 6 kids have to follow those same rules or we are showing the children that we are not a united front”. I also suggested some of the things you ladies suggested, and he said he can see that point of view and will try to be more understanding! I am the only source of income for our family and he takes for granted that I will just buy a new one, or that I will just overlook things - so today I stood up for myself and said NO MORE! Just like he has rules for my kids, those same rules have to apply to his kids and grandchildren. We have NEVER had to child proof our home for any of our 6 kids, we should NOT have to childproof it now because our kids aren’t disciplining their children. I also told him that if the grandkids are in our RV, if they are misbehaving or breaking things or hurting each other - and his son doesn’t want me to stop their behavior, then he needs to not allow the grandchildren in our home or RV and that this rule applies to all 6 kids. We have rules to follow if we are in their home, or borrow their property - as parents we should be able to demand the same respect of our stuff in return. He was a single father for a lot of years and I think he’s afraid that he will hurt their feelings if he stands up for himself or me. They do use the grandkids against him a lot and also put guilt trips on him a lot because they are use to their dad picking up the pieces behind them with no consequences. Thank you to those that gave positive advise or possible solutions.

Featured Answers



answers from San Francisco on

Sounds like a lot of drama. Why don't you just visit the grandkids at their home ? Seems like the easiest solution and you can leave when you've had enough.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

I read your question, and now I see you've added a SWH.

The part I'm not following is what any of this has to do with being a step grandparent etc.

This is your home and belongings.

We have kids here all that time who are not my children - there are some right here for example.

We simply have house rules. If kids won't follow them, they are not welcome back. These were in effect since they were little. I'm not sure how old these kids are, and if the problem is that the father is there and supposed to be watching them - but isn't?

When I had friend over with kids, and the didn't watch their kids, I simply would take the object and say "Uh oh, that one is special, I'll just move it out of reach" loud enough for the mom to hear. Or I'd say "Oh no sweetie, that's special. We don't touch those here. Let's play with the toys."

I always say "We" not "You". I still do, even with teens. We don't vape in this house. We don't eat on the couch. We don't play the piano without washing our hands first. We don't walk in the house without drying our feet off after using the pool ....

If you don't want the girls to touch your things, put away your treasured items when they visit (if very young) or tell them not to. You're entitled too - they are yours. It has nothing to do with being a step grandparent. If she was your neighbor's child, what would you do?

I'm not sure why you have to involve your hubby.

Maybe I'm reading this wrong.

Kids respond well to redirection or rules. Even if their dad has none or is terrible at parenting (from sounds of it) or just drops them at your house and isn't interested in paying them attention there (maybe he's hoping you will?? who knows..) you are well within your rights of course to tell anyone to not hurt your home.

Good luck :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Offer to visit the grandchildren at THEIR house. That way you don't need to worry about your house getting thrashed.
And if they are hurting you, then leave. Tell your husband to enjoy his visit and you'll be back to pick him up later.
Seems like a pretty simple solution to me.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I’m sorry but your tactic isn’t going to work. Your stepson has no respect for you or your home and he is intentionally letting his daughters terrorize you.

Here is what you do. Borrowed a big drooling unruly dog. Go to his home and let the dog go on a rampage breaking things. Let the dog slobber all over, pee, poop on his floors. Bark at the kids.

Then take absolutely no responsibility for the damage or dogs behavior.

Let your jerk of a stepson see how it is and that he is letting his own daughters act like out of control dogs in your home.

If your stepson is letting his children damage items, hit you, use knives, your little phone call to him is not going to work.

You however are part of the problem because you are enabling his behavior and his kids.
If something happens to his children in your home you will be held legally responsible as an adult and homeowner. Playing with knives for example. Speak up use and your yelling voice.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

The first thing I would do is "babyproof" your house as much as possible when you know they are coming. Move breakables somewhere else, and just do what you can to minimize potential damage.

The second thing is to consider what kids of things his kids usually do to occupy their time when they are at your house. Are the adults usually just visiting and the kids left to entertain themselves? If that's the case, this is a recipe for disaster, and it's time to thing of things that they can do that will help them stay entertained. Even if you have given them ideas/activities in the past, it's time to be very proactive and find thing that they CAN do when they are at your house. Buy art supplies, sports equipment, riding toys, etc. What are some places in your house that could be designated as more kid friendly.

Be sure to stay positive, but really give them lots of possibilities. What CAN they do at your house that will be fun and not cause problems.

I see in your SWH that you don't think you should have to "babyproof" your house. Maybe you shouldn't have to, but do you want to be right or do you want to be happy (and your valuables to not be broken)? Only you can decide which is more important.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I am not sure when respect was lost for you and your home.. but honestly I would not tolerate it. I would speak in front of all kids and hubby that my house is not a playground where kids can run around and destroy and break things. You need to take control back and put your foot down. Since there is not much you can do I say telling ( not asking) is needed!

You should be able to control grandkids, by saying no, you should get “sorry” and control them for their own safety.

I also would not bring up how well behaved your kids are and ow bad hubbys are .. it guarantees an argument. But I would comment that disrespect from adults or children would not be tolerated.

I hope things will be better for you! Lots of luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I don't agree with or stepkids, it is YOUR home, and you have a right to protect your belongings from destruction. If the kids won't stop, and your stepson is disrespectful to you and your belongings, maybe you should visit the stepchildren at THEIR home, or a neutral place, like a park. You don't have to be forced to put up with this just because your stepson is out of control and lets the kids run amok, because he is afraid to parent and just wants to be their buddy!

PS: To those claiming she should just put her heirlooms away, how is that going to protect her tables from being carved? Is she supposed to hide all dinner knives too so that the kids cannot even have knives at the table, used to cut their meals at the table? I'm sure they'd end up breaking mirrors, knocking down chairs, etc., if given the chance, is she supposed to send all her stuff to storage because their dad is a pushover, and live in an empty home? C'mon, now! The kids need to learn to respect her and other people's homes!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

The only "insult" here is that apparently you did not listen to the great advice you received when you asked a very similar question here three weeks ago!

Long-time posters on this site spend time and energy reading lengthy posts like yours and crafting thoughtful replies. Before you continue to post long stories (with insults to the responders), take some time to process the advice you are receiving.

It might make people more willing to help if you at least add an addendum to this post about how you have tried to incorporate advice received from your last post three weeks ago.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Put anything you don't want broken away. Keep the knives out of children's reach. Basically baby proof your home so your valuables and heirlooms are safe. This will help you worry less about your material things. Next you have to turn a blind eye to all the shenanigans. If you truly cannot tell these kids what to do to stay safe then close your eyes and let natural consequences take over. You can tell them to be careful so no one gets hurt, and leave it at that.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I’m not sure I understand your reluctance to childproof, especially when it comes to fragile items and family heirlooms, especially if these are young children we are talking about.

That said, I agree that children need structure and limits and that it is unfortunate that no one is providing these children with any direction. Sounds like your family is not going to step up, so you have to figure out how to make these visits more pleasant for yourself and for the children. Do you have age appropriate toys and/or activities for them when they visit? Try to keep them busy and they will be less likely to get into mischief. Try to enjoy them, and put your fragile things away when they visit.

My guess is they will behave better if they are kept busy, but in general, it is not necessary to yell at children when they hit or are not careful with things. You just need to intervene with a “please don’t do THAT, do THIS instead.” If they are playing with something that is not to be played with, you offer them a better idea of something you’d like them to play with. If they are fighting each other, let their parents worry about it, just be "grandma." You could offer ideas, like "maybe you two could ask for help from mom or dad instead of fighting", or nicely remind their parents that the stairs are slippery "I don't want the children to get hurt".

I understand your frustration, but try to set it aside, accept that this family might have different ideas than you do, and try to be helpful instead of angry. If this seems impossible, then, as others have said, just visit them at their house.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It sounds like you handled it well! Good luck, it's hard changing a husband.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

This sounds awful. I don't understand who says you are "not allowed" to speak to anyone hitting your or destroying your property. Is that your stepson? Or your husband? If it's your stepson, it's your house/RV and your rules. If they can't come over, I don't understand what that hurts your husband - does he want your things destroyed and you hit? If he's the one saying you're "not allowed" then you have a marriage problem, not a grandchild problem.

In the short run, I would put all valuables in storage, and replace your good furniture with yard sale junk until your husband sees the light. I do think reasonable childproofing is in order - just because you didn't do it for your little kids doesn't mean it's not a viable option.

And, in the short run, I would leave when they come over so you are not hit - or at least leave when it happens. But I'd be in marriage counseling in a heartbeat because somehow you married into a family with no parenting rules, and you had no idea until your stepson started visiting. I'm guessing that your husband had no idea how to parent when his kids were younger, so he just enabled them and maybe turned into "Good Time Dad" instead of demanding any respect. I'm sorry he thinks so little of himself and allows his adult kids to lay the guilt on him. But he's taking that on - no one can make you feel guilty without your permission, you know? Perhaps your husband was parented the same way by his parents, and he doesn't know any better. But he has created some entitled children who are now raising more entitled children, who think they own the world and can use violence/hitting when they don't get their way. They are not going to do well in life, and it sounds like you are well aware of this.

You can't tell him how to discipline his kids, but you can keep them out of your house. Your husband can visit at their home. But again, your husband needs help growing up because he is pouting rather than standing up for himself and you - so I worry that his lack of respect for either of you is going to be a problem in other areas of your marriage as well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

You should find the way to build normal relationship with them.
Maybe there is some to make them love you.
Don't be mad at them and understand that they are your family too.
Maybe you can make them some presents.
I have two stepdaughters and had some problems with them.
But i started to understand them and then found some nice dolls there and make them some presents.
Now we have perfect relationships,so think about it...



answers from Portland on

Good for you to take control. Remember that changing the children's behaviour and their dad's attitude will take time.

I'm more focused on a child hitting you. How old is he/her? I suggest that being safe is top priority. Was this a one time event? If the child hits often, it's time to teach him other ways to express anger. Also he needs to have an immediate consequence. What that is depends on his age. Never hit a child for hitting you. When we hit back, we're showing them that it's OK to hit.

I also suggest playing with and keeping children occupied will help them to see you as a person to love. Being "on their side" when appropriate will help them learn about respect. Model respect by talking in a firm calm voice. Stop their activity before tempers flare. Use I statements such as "I want you to stop" and follow through instead of yelling at them. I suggest taking a class or reading about ways to manage children based on age.

I have 2 grandchildren who hit. I empathize with you.

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