Step Son Negatively Influencing My Child

Updated on July 15, 2018
D.M. asks from Las Vegas, NV
14 answers

My husband and I have a 10 month old daughter and my husband has a 6 year old son from a previous relationship. His son is very hyper which I understand is normal for boys his age but it is nonstop. He doesn’t walk from place to place he cartwheels, hops, rolls, and jumps from room to room (our downstairs neighbors hate us).He is constantly jumping on the furniture even though I tell him to please not jump. He can never just talk he has to yell which as you can imagine is an issue when you have a baby that needs to be put down for a nap. He is also a picky eater and will only eat chicken nuggets, fries, and candy/chips (he is constantly eating sugar which doesn’t help). My husband doesn’t tell him anything and his excuse is that he only has him 3 days a week so he doesn’t like to be the bad guy. When he is here my 10 month old won’t take a nap, she is trying to jump around and be loud like her brother. If the baby is sleeping he will wake her up on purpose. If the baby is getting attention he will run to wherever she is and try to take the attention. If she is getting into his toys he complains so i will take her to another room then he comes and tries to get her to follow him again so he can complain. I love his son and have been around since he was a baby but I don’t feel comfortable having to be the one to tell his son how to behave even though my husband tells me i should (why should i be the bad guy who has to ruin the fun). I can see it already starting to effect how my daughter acts and i just don’t know what to do. I’m to the point where i don’t even want to be around when he’s here because it makes for a very stressful household. I want to talk to my husband about it but he is very sensitive about his son which is totally understandable I don’t want to hurt his feelings but it’s just too much. Anyone who comes over while he’s here even tells me he’s too much. I try to give him solo attention and play with him but it’s still not enough. I’m not trying to be an evil stepmom i just don’t think our upstairs apartment should be treated as his jungle gym. How should i discuss this with my husband?

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for your advice. I would like to add that my husband is very handson with both kids but he feels guilty because He has one kid part time and so to make up for that guilt he lets his son do kind of whatever he wants. He does tell him things after he can tell I’m bothered but it’s just not enough because the behavior doesn’t stop. I know i needed to talk to him about it but i was asking HOW to go about it. We are a young couple- i am 25 and he is 26- so I wanted some more mature insight and to just kind of hear that i am not overreacting to his behavior. I am going to sit and talk to him and let him know how i really feel about everything and how it is effecting me and our child. Thank you all again.

**update** i talked with my husband and he agreed that he is a pushover and that his sons behavior is out of hand. We agreed on each of us spending separate solo time with him and setting some ground rules for the house. As for the junk food, my husband and his baby mama are both convinced the kid will starve to death unless they let him eat what he wants. I am constantly trying to get him to try what we are having for dinner I won’t give up on the healthy eating lol. Thank you to everyone who gave me advice again.

More Answers


answers from Boston on

Some of this - very little - is relatively easy to manage: your stepson keeps his toys in his room or behind a child gate (even those adjustable pens for puppies would work). He can get over the barrier, the baby can't. So put his stuff out of reach, or put her stuff inside the area, either one. But enforce boundaries, not separate rooms. If he leaves his things where she can get them, it's his fault. But the choking hazards would worry me.

The attention-seeking when there's a baby - normal. But she's 10 months old so this is getting old.

The food? You CAN make healthier options, like your own nuggets and oven fries which are delicious and nutrition-packed. I've done it for 2 stepkids, one bio kid, and 4 picky grandchildren. Message me if you want the recipes. Is that what he eats at his mother's house? No? But if the adaptations won't work? Then who is buying the sugar, the packaged nuggets, the chips, the candy? Who is cooking the unhealthy meals? You? Then stop. Your husband? Then that brings me to the hard part.

You don't have a stepson problem. You have a husband problem. Your husband wants to be the Party Dad, the Weekend Warrior. He doesn't want to be the parent. He wants to be the buddy. He's making this about HIS feelings instead of HIS parenting! He's not "sensitive" - he's in denial because he won't talk to you, his wife and supposed best friend. You're walking on eggshells because you don't want him to be sad.

So, you have a problem with the stepson, but you're also getting a preview of parenting of your daughter: you're going to be the bad guy, always, and he's going to be the pal, always. You say you see it already in your daughter. So, yes, she will be jumping on furniture and so on, refusing food, demanding a second meal of junk.

BTW Your husband's excuse that he "only has him 3 days a week"? That's almost half time! That's 40%, damn close to 50%. So that's bogus. What else is bogus? That this behavior is normal "for boys" - it's only normal if it's allowed. Boys get permission and excuses, girls get expectations. If you and your husband allow yelling and furniture jumping and indoor cartwheels, that's on you, not on your stepson. Unless your stepson has a diagnosis of ADHD or something like that, this is a parenting fault and not a kid fault.

Marriage counseling asap. Parenting classes asap. Otherwise you've got 18 years of hell in front of you, with both kids unable to respect rules.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

Nice. You're married to Disney Daddy. I don't understand your question, "Should I discuss this with my husband?" Who else should discuss this? It's his son. It's your house. He doesn't get a pass from doing the heavy lifting of parenting just because he's part time. He'd better step up and be a real father or you and he and your daughter are all going to be paying the price for it. Wait until your step son is 16 and acting out and not respecting your home and your rules and your 10 year old sees that. You think he's negatively influencing her now? Just wait. Your husband needs to grow up, grow a pair, and stop thinking he gets to be the fun parent while his ex carries the burden of actually raising the boy. And by the way - 3 days a week? That's pretty much half the time. His ex-wife could just as easily throw up her hands and say "well, I only have him 4 days a week, why should I parent him?" You married a limp d!ck. Yes, in answer to your question, yes, you should discuss this with him.

ETA: Thank you for your SWH. I see your question is different now than it was. You talk to him honestly but firmly. "Honey, you're such a good dad. But being a good dad means not only doing the fun stuff, but also the hard stuff. You and your ex need to lay ground rules that are consistent from home to home, and we have to have consistent rules for both kids in our own home. Our daughter needs consistency and so does your son. If we want her to follow our rules, if we want him to be an upstanding young man, then we need to start doing things the right way now. He must respect our rules." Your husband is not a part time dad - he's a full time dad. And he doesn't only have him a few days - he has him 50% of the time.

Parenting is hard. No one wants to be the bad guy, even when you're full time. But he's not his son's friend - he's his dad. Time to act like it. Good luck. Your step-son is already being screwed in life by having a split home. Kids don't think "Oh yay, I get to have two bedrooms! I'm so lucky!" It's very disruptive to go from home to home every few days. It's destabilizing. And inconsistency of rules and discipline is a big part of it. You, as step-mom, would be doing your stepson and your daughter a HUGE favor by befriending your stepson's mom and communicating, even if dad is too limp to do it himself. But he needs to stop seeing himself as part time. Period. He needs to grow up so his son can.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It sounds like your husband has embraced the stereotypical role of the part time dad, always expecting the wife or girlfriend to do the messy, hard stuff (probably why wife number one left him.) I suppose I would approach it in this way, I would say to him, look, Billy is certainly not allowed to act like this at school so why should we allow it at home? Beyond that I don't know what else you can do. He has stated directly that he expects YOU to do the parenting, not him. I can't imagine why you decided to make a baby with such an uninvolved man but I truly wish you luck.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We have kids (guests) who come to our home, and they act however they want at their houses, but at our house, there are rules. No acting like that - unless they are outside. They don't mind. They adapt. They still want to come back and they have fun.

What I'm saying is, you and hubby need to agree on house rules. I don't see this about child. I see this as you need consistent, behavior/house rules. Get hubby on board, and enforce them. Ultimately, it should be husband enforcing them (his child), but I mean, so long as he backs you up, you both say "No jumping on furniture" and if he has endless energy, you say "Cartwheels outside" and hubby can take him to backyard or out to park, or whatever. (I'd watch how much sugar he's having).

As for disturbing your daughter's naps, etc. and your husband not stepping in, why can't you tell your husband that you don't appreciate having to deal with his son every time? He's the parent. It's his responsibility.

Yes, your husband is not stepping up (his problem), but ultimately don't let it become your problem. Stand firm. Don't take it on as your problem. You don't have to. Be assertive. How do you discuss - you say "Deal with it - he's your son. I will support you - but he's your child, you handle the parenting." Then back him up.

Also - if son is looking for attention, maybe dad can do more one on one time with him if that's a problem *not sure if it is, but having a new baby sister, and only seeing dad 3 days a week can be an adjustment for kids, and dad might want to make some extra special alone time with his son, like outings just the two of them and see if that helps - maybe to a trampoline park, throwing a ball around, etc. to burn off some of that energy.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

1. You already know you need to talk to your husband. When you do, set aside a time when your stepson is not there and your daughter is sleeping or maybe at grandma's. Ask him to listen to your concerns. Write them out if you need to. Present it in a way of what you need to see happening and why. Ask for his input and how he can/will help.
2. You can feed the child better food. Do not have the junk in the house. Prepare meals as you normally would and serve him. Tell dad you are not allowing the crappy food in the house and make sure you do the shopping. If the boy is hungry, he will eat and adapt. If you absolutely cannot stand it if he refuses to eat,let him opt for a healthier meal like a cheese quesadilla or a pb&j.
3. Attend counseling with your husband so both of you can air your views with a neutral third party and try to come up with a mutually agreeable parenting plan.
4. If you believe your stepson's behavior is worse than it should be, tell dad there needs to be a consult with the pediatrician to see if assessments are needed. What you describe as his behavior is not typical just because he is a boy.
5. You have somewhat of a fall back here since your husband has specifically stated you can discipline his son. In many mixed families, the step parent is not to discipline at all. Since you have permission - do it! You can discipline with firm and consistent boundaries and patiently enforce them over and over until the child gets it. You don't need to yell or be harsh at all. This is how parents parent every day and they are not thought of as the bad guy.
6. If nothing works, visit family when your stepchild is there and lay out the conditions for you to resume being present when he is there and reiterate your concerns for your stepchild's well being and your daughter's health as well.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You and your husband need counseling. Start with the pediatrician. Get an appointment to discuss "behavioral concerns" and take your husband. Tell the pediatrician all of this in front of your husband. In fact, read your post just like.

Your husband needs to understand how much he is hurting both of his children. And this little boy needs some help. It appears that neither his mother or his father are helping him.

Sometimes a husband/father will listen to the doctor when he won't listen to anyone else.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

it's a pity your title blames your stepson not your husband. because this is not the 6 year old's dealio. it's the adult who has abdicated his parental responsibility and is content to make you the fall guy.

you need to address this calmly and sensibly, but not tentatively or apologetically. maybe set it up in advance so neither of you is blindsided. 'honey, we need to get together on a parenting philosophy and we need to do it soon. i'd like to take a couple of hours on sunday evening after bartholomew goes back to his mom, please.'

don't go into accusingly, with 'you make me do all the work' or 'you don't ever discipline your son.' remember to make 'i' statements like 'i would love to have your backup when we set boundaries' and 'we need to decide together how to handle it when bartholomew jumps on the furniture.'

it won't be fixed in one conversation, but you should start to see SOME improvements moving forward.

remember- the boingy little boy won't fix this. he can't. your husband is the one who needs to make the effort.

if he chooses to continue not to parent, you will become more and more resentful. i think your family unity and your marriage depend on this course getting corrected.

but there ARE things you can do. no 6 year old eats sugar and junk food all the time unless the household is geared to feed him that way. and unless you want your child turning out exactly the same, fix that right now. if you keep healthy food in the house, that's what will get eaten. your stepson will not deliberately starve himself to death.

nor will your husband.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

You've got a big problem.
It's not so much your step son as it is your husband.
You and Hubby are not on the same page regarding his son - and it seems Hubby doesn't care how his son is affecting his daughter.
You decided to have a child with a guy whose parenting skills were not stellar to begin with.
It's entirely possible you are going to have issues with Hubby however long you live with him.
Discipline isn't being 'the bad guy' - it's teaching your child(ren) rules of conduct which will help them get along in society and with others - friends, family, neighbors, etc.
If son is acting this way in school I'm sure allowing this to continue isn't doing him any favors.
A 6 yr old doesn't have a lot of interest in playing with a 10 month old and an infant sure is an attention magnet.

For the 3 days a week you have step son over - how much time is your Hubby actually spending with him?
I'm thinking son and Dad need to be out doing things together - having some quality time and doing whatever can be done to burn off some of that energy.
It would certainly keep him from interacting so much with your daughter.
In some areas there are taekwondo classes that parents and kids can take together - it's a good workout for everyone.
He can't eat junk food if you don't buy it or have it in the house - but if Hubby gets it for him - it's just another example of you guys not being on the same parenting page.
You and Hubby should take some parenting classes so you can learn how to deal with all the kids and get the adults working as a functioning parenting team.
You're going to be raising the son for at least another 12 years and your daughter for about 17 years.
The parenting classes would do you all a world of good.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Maybe you can help your husband see it this way: tell him to picture his son a few years in the future. Maybe as a young teen, say 13 years old. His son is out with friends, at a movie or just riding their bikes around. Would your husband mind if his son had an older boy buy him a beer or if he started smoking cigarettes or doing drugs? Will your husband object if your son shoplifts a few things or trespasses and causes vandalism to someone's property? Or imagine his son at 16, with a new driver's license. Will your husband mind if the boy gets parking tickets, dents up the fenders, or worse - speeds with a group of friends in the car, or drives after he's had a couple of beers, and causes an accident and injuries or even death? Would it matter for ONE SECOND to your husband that he had his son for a few days a week?

Now, I'm going to assume that your husband would not want any of those things to happen. So you tell him, time goes fast, and the time to start establishing rules and responsibility is NOW. If your stepson has no rules at home now, it will be nearly impossible to try to frantically develop some trustworthiness and reliability and responsibility and character in him when he's old enough to go to a movie with friends, or to a mall, or when he's old enough to start driver's ed.

Your husband is currently being the bad guy. The bad guy is the one who doesn't establish any standards, who doesn't teach responsible behavior, who doesn't provide security and structure. The effective parent establishes a code of conduct, establishes logical consequences, follows through, and stays calm. Your husband should sit down with his son, and calmly explain that he has been reluctant to make some rules, but that was a mistake and everyone is going to start living in a peaceful home.

Ask your husband to spend some good time with his son. Can they cook together? Can they get a cool kid's cookbook and make something? Get matching chef's aprons? Can they build a model, or do a puzzle, or maybe take a class together (karate or woodworking)?

And remind him that the bad parent doesn't have any rules, and the good dad has logical, consistent rules that help children develop into responsible teens and adults.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Leave dad with BOTH kids more often and see how that goes.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

ETA: I don’t know how you communicate with your husband, so I can’t tell you how to discuss it. What would work in my house would be an educational discussion based on facts (so no one feels guilty). Such as: children’s hierarchy of needs ( security which comes from clear boundaries and clear realistic expectations as well as consequences), how limit setting develops healthy self esteem, etc.
Tons of parenting books ar library...check some out, encourage him to read some and/or start a discussion with him.

No, you are not overreacting.
A ‘hands on dad’ does not allow his children to behave this way.

No, this is not normal behavior for a six year old boy. Please get that out of your head.

If I were you I would go visit family with the baby the next time your stepson visits. For the entire time, and I would leave a list of chores for your husband to do while you are gone. Do not answer your phone. If you have no family, go to a hotel or girlfriends.

Your husband does not know how to parent or set healthy boundaries with HIS son.
Yes, this is HIS son.

Check your local community for parenting classes, sometimes they have free ones through the school district or library.

As Mamazita says, does he act like this at school? If not then he does have the ability to behave, he chooses not to.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Talking about all this together is good but it is important to remember that all that behavior is normal, especially for a very young child who is jealous of his sibling who lives with his dad full time while he only gets 3 days. All this change is harder on kids than on adults and he is simply crying our for attention, any attention. I would consider having dad do more one-on-one activities with him during his stays. They could do projects like building a fort or working on a repair job together, go play sports together, a trampoline park or pool, ect, just the two of them. If he feels he is getting the attention he is seeking he will stop seeking negative attention to fill the void and the jealousy should ease up.

It is entirely possible, if you had another child about 6 years from now, that your daughter would show much of this same jealous behavior...consider how you would want her handled when deciding how to move forward with your step son.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Yes, you should talk to your husband about it. But you should also read books on the childhood development of 6 year olds and get to know other 6 year olds! You should also work very hard at bonding with this little boy and thinking of him as your son too - and an important part of your family. The first and most important issue is your husband has to stop being "fun dad" and just be dad. He needs tom communicate with his son's mom on what the house rules are with him and what methods of discipline are used and they need to agree. It needs to be consistent at both houses. He needs to step up and be a parent! Not a fun dad! He can be fun too...but he also needs to teach his son how to behave, morals and values, helping around the house, how to treat others and be respectful, etc. Second, having a big brother IS GOING to affect your daughter and you have to accept this! He is going to disrupt her at times and vice versa...when she gets older she is going to disrupt him! You work with him on the rules and how to behave and how to treat his little sister. You think of him as a work in progress. My kids are 5.5 years son was 5.5 yrs old when my daughter was born. They are 14 and 8 now. My daughter looks up to her big brother SO MUCH and tries to copy him all the time. The good and the bad! You are thinking of your 6 year old stepson as being stressful to the though he is "other" and a visitor. You need to stop thinking of him this way. He is a part of the household and yes, 6 year old boys can be stressful, loud, have tantrums, have too much energy, and just be all around "too much"! But you have to embrace it! Work with him! Work on him. He will improve with age. YES talk to your husband. You need house rules. He needs to step up and be a parent. And YOU need to accept your stepson more and become closer to him. Good luck. Look into Family Therapy if you cannot achieve these things yourself.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Talk to your husband and tell him that while you understand he only has him part of the time, he still needs to provide guidelines and needs to discipline him. His son doesn't get to act however he wants and not follow commonsense (no cartwheels in house) or rules at your house.
If your husband won't tell him to be quiet when the baby is sleeping, you can nicely tell him then see if he wants to play a game with you.
Try giving his son some positive praise & attention. Trying to build a positive relationship with him. This will help is self esteem as the years go by. Also, when you do need to tell him something like "please be quiet because the baby is asleep" he won't see you as always getting on his case.
Find a little time each day to get outside for his son to get some exercise. If your husband is inside with your napping baby, maybe you could just go downstairs with your stepson, take him outside for a little play time. Try to get his energy out by running on the grass, playing tag etc. If you see other kids in the complex outside, try taking him out there to play with them so he makes friends & get some energy out.
Try approaching the dad & talking with him about disciplining his son when necessary. Lots of kids come from 2 home families but that doesn't give them the excuse to run wild. Parents of two homes sill need to lay out guidelines and need to control their kids.
Another thing to do is go places & do activities (all 4 of you) go to parks, fairs, go on walks, go on a picnic, go to a nearby lake for a few hours w/food etc.

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