Teenage Step Daughters Wont Accept Me as Their Father New Wife in Their Lives

Updated on August 25, 2011
K.B. asks from Fremont, CA
26 answers

My husband has two daughter from a previous marriage age 12 & 13 whom refuse to interact with me/ accept our new son we now have together. I was advised this was normal for teenagers to rebel against their parents new mate. Last week my husband was leaving to spend the day with them and when i wanted to go wth him he refused to let me go with him to pick his girls up & stated that i was now beginning to interfere with his relationship with his daughters. My question is do you think the girls will ever accept me into their lives?

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So What Happened?

well sunday afternoon my hubby decided to spend the day with his daughters so i decided to get dressed and join him which made him frustrated so he decided to move out stating i left no choice but to make a choice between me and his kids so he choose to move in with his parents

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answers from Detroit on

Your husband has the responsibility of bridging that gap, he has to allow the girls to understand that accepting you as his wife has to happen while it may take time, they have to put forth the effort and show you respect. Teenagers will get away with only what we allow them to, even though they push us as parents we have to continue to show them the way that they must go.......

I wanted to add the the hubby has to spend some one on one time with the girls but while he is doing so he needs to be pounding the fact that you are his wife and you are not going anywhere.

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answers from St. Louis on

Probably not but anything is possible. My older daughter joked to her therapist when asked if she hates Troy. She said I want to hate him but dammit there isn't anything to hate. She was joking about wanting to hate him.

That is the thing, there is this stereotype that you must hate step parents. Some kids buy into it, others don't. Mine didn't.

Another problem you have is you had a child. I have very secure children but I know very well if Troy and I had a kid they would find insecurity very quickly. Regardless of what you think you do treat your own kids differently than a step child. It is not a conscious thing.

I had considered having a child with Troy because he has no kids. The problem is he would treat the new child differently and I would get all mama against my husband. It would not surprise me if your husband isn't doing the same thing. Protecting his daughters against your partial treatment of the new baby. It doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you all human.

If I haven't already made you mad may I advise? You need to talk to your husband without accusing words. Things like I feel like your daughters may feel left out with the baby. Things like that. Oh for gods sake do not make the girls babysit. That is trying for biological children (mine were 9 years apart) for step kids I can assure you watching the baby is not viewed as a privilege! It screams Cinderella.

I hate therapy being my go to suggestion but finding someone who specializes in this dynamic would help you guys a lot.

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answers from Dallas on

I think you'll have a better chance if you take a backseat approach. You are the new wife, but it doesn't make you a mother to them (not suggesting you think you are). But sometimes step-parents can get confused and think that they deserve to be in the parental role, and if they want to ruin things, then that's a great way to do it.

I would suggest approaching your relationship with them very carefully. Leave disciplining to your husband, unless it has to do with you or your child. As in, if they are doing something to your child you don't like, you definitely should speak up since you would to anyone else.

But, be prepared for a lot of emotions from them. I don't know the situation of their mother, but remarriages are difficult and they might want to take it out on you. I would suggest being patient with that...no matter how unfair or difficult it is to you. If you really want a relationship with them, you'll NEED to be patient and give it time in order for your relationship to grow. And, you'll need to approach them as a friend more than a parent (not suggesting you act like you are 12-13 yrs old!)) Maybe more approach it like you're their aunt.

My dad left when I was an older teen. My mom remarried about a year later. She had it in her mind that since he was her new husband that somehow he was our new dad. It doesn't work that way. Sure, our dad was gone for good, but he was still our dad. Step-dad approached things almost as wrong as he could. Everything revolved around him. My mom went with it for the sake of the marriage. He ended up kicking me out, my younger sister moved out right as she turned 18. And my next sister was kicked out at 17. The ironic thing is he was supposedly a child counselor, but yet, he never practiced anything he claimed to know. To sum it up well, he was an "evil step-father" in our view, and he ruined so much of our family.

I guarantee that if he had taken it slow, not tried to force the father thing, and not blamed everything on us (when most of it was truly his fault), things would have gone better. He wanted to be called Dad, and if I didn't, he would act all hurt and dejected. I didn't know this man! He wasn't my dad. So, I didn't call him anything. If I had to talk to him, I would walk over to him and start speaking, calling him nothing specific. So, don't ever do that;-)

I'm not personally a fan of remarriages. I've only shared the tip of the ice burg here, but what we went through was awful and nightmarish. It took me a LONG time to work through the harm done then and move along. Due to what I've gone through, I can almost guarantee I will never get remarried should my hubby die or if we got divorced. I have kids now and they are my priority. I never want to chance them going through anything like I did...then again, I wouldn't make the same mistakes my mom did since I have experienced it from a child' point-of-view and she never did.

I'm not suggesting you shouldn't have married him or that everyone should choose what I'm choosing...just suggesting that remarriages are very difficult.

Your husband is right to keep some things just with him and them. That is very important. I haven't read other responses yet, but DO NOT INTERFERE in everything. They NEED to have time ONLY with their dad. You are his wife, not their mom, and they need time with only him. My mom stopped doing that. In fact, she backed off so much that we felt like we had no mom. She was almost a puppet for the man she married. He had say in everything and didn't have the natural love for us that a parent has, so it was pretty awful at times. I can't tell you how badly I wished my mom would have been there for us and made us a priority to her. After my dad left, she did an AMAZING job. Then she got remarried...and we suddenly meant very little to her.

So, anyway, approach it slowly. Be understanding of their attitudes. I would suggest ignoring them and showing them love no matter what. Sure, some might say that it's allowing their misbehavior, but I can guarantee that if you get on them about it and fight back, you're only setting yourself up for a complete downfall and no growth of relationship. Just start slow and ask each girl about themselves and about things they like. Show them love by being interested in THEM. My step-dad was only interested in himself and seemed to care less about us.

Okay, enough from me. I probably wrote way too much. I've been having a resurge of emotions about it all because he recently divorced my mom because he was having an affair with a girl that had finally turned 18 (when she was 17 he was involved too!). She's now living with him and they want to get married. He's 58 years old, and she's 18. I think that's gross. I've lost any respect for him that I developed over the years (especially because he has really mistreated my mom!).

Good luck to you...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

My Father remarried when I was about 15 and my sister 17. Our Mother was deceased so the dynamic was a little different - but I remember not really liking my stepmom. Partially b'c we had been on our own with Dad for a few years, and thought we were doing quite nicely on our own, and partially because we really didn't know her, much less feel that she should have a say so in our lives.

And she tried - really she did, but we were teens with much independence and responsibility - and while we all settled in, we never were very close to our Stepmom.

My suggestion is to not try to hard - teens can sense when you are desperate and they know if they are causing trouble between you and your hubby. And they may very well try to do so. They have a very proprietorial feeling for their Dad - he was theirs first, compounded by Dad having a "new" family with the addition of your baby, adds some jealously and insecurity into the mix.

So go ahead and take a step back. Let your hubby pick them out and spend some time alone with them - they need that. When you are all together don't hover and force conversation with them, and don't correct them right now. Let it grow and develop, let everyone settle in.

It may take some time. I really didn't connect with my Stepmom until I was an adult and had my son. She turned out to be very supportive of my single Mom status (cricky, I was 30, so really LOL).

Hopefully, you will not have to wait that long. But I was a stubborn girl and resisted her through my teens or I would have known better sooner.

Good Luck
God Bless

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answers from New York on

Try to look at the situation from the point of view of your step children. The are stuck in the middle. They need to leave their home, and friends to go be with you and their dad. In addition to having to share dad with you, they now have to share it with a baby.

There's a chance that they will never accept you, and there's also a chance that someday you may be very close. Only time will tell.

As far as hubby not wanting you to go with to pick up the girls, remember they need their time with dad.

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answers from Redding on

Blending families is very difficult, especially with teenaged kids.
My step son hated me and resented me. He was 13. He acted like I was to blame for his parents divorce even though they had been divorced 12 years when I came along. He never even remembered his parents being married.
Things got better when I told him that I didn't want to be his mother because he had one and he loved her very much as he should. I would never try to replace her.
I also let my husband have plenty of time with his kids one on one. The oldest son really liked me and was no problem, but the youngest was a different story. Just because I was now the wife, it didn't mean that things they had enjoyed doing together, just the guys, had to change.
We did family things, but I knew that the boys needed time with just their dad. Even after my husband and I had a baby together. A new wife and new baby did not replace them. They needed reassurance of that.
My husband and I eventually divorced, but let me tell you, those boys adore my son. They came to fully accept and love their little brother. He's 16 now and they are in their 30's with wives of their own and they are very close.
Give it time.
Blending families is no bed of roses. Let him have time with his girls. Let him talk to them about accepting the new family situation. It doesn't happen over night.

Hang in there and best wishes.

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answers from Chicago on

You've gotten some good advice. I just wanted to let you know that you should not be offended that he didn't want you along, although I know it hurts. It's probably best that he spend some alone time with them if they are having trouble accepting you. Probably they are worried that you are "stealing" their dad away, so some alone time is good reassurance that it's not the case. He should not have said you are "interfering" with his relationship--how rude! I do know my husband also had issues when I came along, he believed that his one-on-one relationship with his daughter was being ruined by having me along as they had their own little world together for so long (4 years). At first he wanted to do things alone with his daughter without me along and he was as rude and as vehiment as yours is! I was hurt, just like you.

But then, I just let them do it and I stopped complaining. Now they ASK me to go along and they hardly ever do things alone, just the two of them. Now it's the three of us, and they both think it's "not as fun" without me along. I know a few times he took her places (like once they went to a county fair) without me (and I didn't say a word and wished them fun!) and they came home a bit dejected and said "we saw some things you would have liked...we wish you would have been there." (I was not invited, remember).

So, give it time and try not to take things too personally. Everyone is trying to adapt here. I think the more you pull back in this situation (without accepting disrespect) the better it will turn out. Step-parenting is a dance...step UP, step BACK. Step UP, step BACK. This is one of those step back instances...but it may turn into a step up instance in the future!

Hang in there!

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answers from Chico on

I didn't read every response but the ones that I did read. .. wow. . . off base. Your husband, while we all can understand the stress he is under with having two daughters whom he loves be so nasty, needs to grow a set. Of course he needs to have alone-time with his girls but he also needs to let THEM know that the they WILL treat you with dignity and respect. I'm guessing their mother is probably trash talking you. Did he leave her for you? If so, you may never be able to have a good relationship with them. Still, they must treat you decently and act like civil human beings when with you. For him to blame this problem on you by saying that you were interfering with his relationship with his daughters. . . wow, find a counselor quickly. It will really help his relationship with YOU.

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answers from San Francisco on

It could take a few years -- you have to be patient. And I think it's fine if he goes to visit them without you.

If you keep being nice, and fun, after a while they are going to have a hard time not liking you (notice Jo's story about Troy). And eventually they will accept you into their lives.

Remember how it looks from their perspective. You replaced their mother. That's not your fault, but that's how they see it. And it's not their fault they were placed in that situation.

Keep being nice and fun. (But that doesn't have to mean phony.)

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answers from Anchorage on

I know how badly it must hurt you! But you can not force a relationship. Let them come to you on their own time, but show them love and support whenever you can, even if you do not get it back. I can understand you hubby wanting to be sure he still gets time with them, so if they need it give them the space. BUT, you husband needs to address the issue of the way they treat your son. He is their brother whether they like it or not and they must treat both you and him with respect.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

I read through some of your history so I could answer and this seems like a HUGE blending of families: you have a daughter going to college as well as a 16 year old, he has girls from a couple of relationships (and it looks like he wasn't paying child support), you married when you were expecting and are suffering the loss of your baby at twelve weeks along. This is a lot for kids or anybody to handle at this time. I'm willing to bet they are jealous that you and your son get Dad all the time and would appreciate time with HIM.

Counseling with your husband would be great to try to get this family on track. Best of luck.

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answers from Washington DC on

Maybe not. What I would ask is that he back you up as the woman in his life and even if they don't adore you, that he show that you (as his wife and mother to his son) deserve respect. He also needs to look at their behavior and see if they are now putting a wedge between you and him and impacting your marriage. It's a tough place to be, but I would be hurt if my DH told me I could not come along, especially since an outing like that might help give us common ground.

Now, you didn't give further background, like how long you have been married, the circumstances of their parents' split, etc. Those could be other factors.

If a middle ground of basic respect cannot be achieved (and it may take a long time) then you might consider family counseling but with someone who has REAL experience with stepfamilies.

We also have his and ours and I don't think it's cut and dry. My stepkids are not insecure about their little sister. They may not adore me like their Mom and Dad, but overall we can at least be respectful to each other and mostly like each other (and who doesn't sometimes not like a family member, really?).

I do agree not to make them babysit. Allow them to just be kids. Occasionally my sks will watch DD for us, but rarely do we go out for an evening without having another sitter.

And while I'm not saying that a dad and his daughters should not spend time together, I do think that the context matters. Us vs Them (or You) is not a good thing to promote. He should find time to take them out and do things but also facilitate husband and wife time and family time.

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answers from Charlotte on

You and your husband would benefit from counseling. You really need to get him to do this for your marriage's sake.


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answers from San Francisco on

Being a step anything is not easy. My parents divorced when I was a teenager and my father married when I was 20. His wife tried hard to fit in but we always felt like she was trying to replace our mother. I realize now that she was just rrying to be loving and supportive but we didn't want/need that from her. It has been 12 years now and I think within the last 2-3 years we have opened up and excepted her. We were never rude or disrespectful we just weren't as loving as she wanted us to be. She never gave up on us and continued loving and supporting us through everything. I am now a step mom of 4 and 6 year old girls. I think it's a little easier because they are young but I don't force myself on them and never have. They asked to call me mommy and love that I am involved in their lives. I also know my place and would never try to replace their mom. We talk openly about thier mom and how I am mommy A. but she will always be their mommy.

I think you should take a step back and realize it is not all about you. Relationships take time to build. You can't possibly expect them to run into your open arms. When you have a child they are born to love you. They have known only you and love from you. A step child has none of that. I think you need to give them time and space. I do not think it is unreasonable for them to have time without you and if you force this issue you will loose in the end. Any good parent, when forced to choose, will choose their children.

I assume he probably only gets to see them once or twice a week and you have him the rest of the time. Take this time to bond with your own child. They will come around if you allow them to. The worse thing you can do is try to force a relationship on anyone let alone a child. It seems like the advice you have gotten so far is all leaning in this direction.

Good luck.

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answers from Sacramento on

I think they probably will, but that they are more likely to if you don't push the issue too much. They are at an age when typically teens are going through all sorts of relationship issues with parents anyway, and it's pretty normal for a child to resist the fact that their own two parents are no longer together. This may have them falsely feeling that by not accepting you, somehow their family will magically get back to what it was prior to their parents separating. Right now, it's important for them to have the relationship with their father, so you need to be very supportive of that, without pushing yourself into the picture with them. I know it must hurt a lot to not be included, but try to be patient.

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answers from San Francisco on

I think they will, but it will be a balancing act for you for a while. While you don't want to push yourself or a relationship on them, you do want them to know that you love them and want a relationship with them. Also, they may need to see that their relationship with their father will not change because of the addition of your new child. I bet right now they're just feeling a bit insecure. So, I would let my hubby go and have his time with his daughters and not make a big deal out of it. I think it would be a great thing if you were to send something along with dad from you, like homemade cookies or a music CD with their favorite singer or just something. that way, they will know that you care about them and that you are encouraging their time with their father. That may make them a bit more secure and actually want to spend some time with you. Also, don't push the half-brother on them. As girls, they won't be able to resist a baby for long.

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answers from San Francisco on

it is ok for your husband to have some time alone to be with his kids. you don't have to do everything together. i have a stepmom and it took me a long time to "include" her.

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answers from Cleveland on

I guess i would ask myself how you handled it when you were just dating before you decided to add a stepbrother to their lives. If they were ok with you at the beginning I would imagine they might eventually settle down. But alot depends on their dad, and if he can convince them that he really loves them and will always be there for them, They need to feel secure before they will accept you.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Here is the thing I think no step parents wants to hear. Dad married you, he loves you, but no offence that does not mean they have to. If they feel it is forced on them, they will resent it.
Think of it from their view.... they had not choice in their parents divorce. Most likely no choice in visitation arrangements. And now... they also have you and a new half sibling. It sucks.
There was another post not long ago about a teenager resenting visits with dad. They are getting older, and the impact of divorce goes to whole new level. In addition to hating that your family is split apart... you now have teenagers who may be angry that their lives are disrupted by visits. they miss their friends, they miss out on things.
I am not telling you to give up. I am not saying that you should have to deal with rudeness and disrepect. Your husband needs to address it if that is happening. While he can not make them adore you... he can and should remind them they need to show you the same respect you show them.
Remind husband that while you understand his need for 1:1 time with them... you also need to schedule family time.

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answers from Chicago on

Hhhhuhhh you are interferring. Okay that doesn't sound good....I'd be more concerned about why your husband thinks that you are interfering with his relationship. You should be included in his relationship with the girls. He needs to make it crystal clear to them that you are part of the family, that you are to be treated with respect. I think that it has to start with him laying down the law.

I think that it will take time to establish a relationship with them. I would recommend you spending one on one time with each of the girls seperately doing something that they enjoy doing. Build your own individual relationship with each of the girls - maybe your husband could spend a few hours on the weekend with daughter A and you could spend a few hours with daughter B....then the next time reverse it. I think that the best way to win them over is going to be by spending individual time with them - start off small...maybe at first it is just for an hour...going to pick up something at the store with them or for ice cream, or taking 1 to a movie they want to see, etc. Build up to longer blocks of time. But I think that you should divide and conquer the girls...this way they get to know you without having to put on "a show" for the other one of how much they "dislike you". I think it will also cause them to put down their defenses. Good luck.



answers from Detroit on

I would say probably not for a long long time. years probably. I know that sounds harsh but 12 and 13 are rough ages. Not to sound mean but I'm glad your husband noticed there was a problem, and decided to set up a boundary that would make it easier for the kids. the kids should have time with just their dad and it shows that he is a good dad to put those kids first. A divorce is really hard on kids and the more you push to make a relationship, the more they are going to push back plus add a new son in it and wow that is probably heartbreaking for those kids. I'm sorry it is probably not what you imagined.


answers from Phoenix on

Step parents can be in a huge hardship. I would pray for the relationship. I would support your husband's connection and time with his children, I would ask him to encourage his kids to accept you and include you on a few things a year but understand if they are not ready. I would get counseling for you on how to deal with this alone as a person coming into this family and I would get counseling for you and your husband to help navigate a plan on how to grow and get acceptance from everyone.



answers from Sacramento on

I'm a stepmom to a 12 1/2 yr old girl, I also have a 14 yr old son my husband has accepted as his own and we have an 8 yr old daughter together. So, I've been doing the stepmom thing for almost 10 years now. I know it's a bit different because I've been in my stepdaughter's life since she was 3, I have always loved her as if she were my own. With your stepdaughter's being older, that is not a realistic goal.
First of all, you need to sit down with your husband, and have a conversation that is not accusatory, or angry. You need to listen to him also, hear what he has to say about his daughters. This tension and separation is not healthy for you son. It's apparent he loves his daughters and I can only assume his loves his son as well, therefore wanting the best for all 3 of his children. Maybe he doesn't want you to go with him to pick them up because he wants alone time with them to transition. Going from family to family is hard on kids, no matter how old they are. Try to understand where he is coming from, and how is girls are handling things. It's not all about you, and how you feel.
Second, don't try to be their mother, you're not. You are their dad's wife, and they should respect you, as they would any other adult. If you have any problems with them, it's up to dad to correct them after you've had a private conversation with him about it. He needs to tell them his expectations that they need to respect you, and you both need to be united on that fact. If he is not willing to back you up on this, then he can't be the husband you need in this situation, and you should probably move forward with the separation. His daughters will always be in his life, therefore will always be in your life, and your son's life. Don't push it, take his lead on this. Eventually, maybe you can start doing things with just the girls. Leave dad with your son and take them to get their hair or nails done, or shopping. Let them buy something they might not be able to with mom.
They will accept you into their lives, eventually. You need to give them space, so they can adjust to you, their brother and their dad having a new baby/family. You don't need to be friends right away, but be kind, don't give up, and hopefully you and your husband can present a united front for everyone's sake.



answers from San Francisco on

You are entering their lives at a very difficult stage. Some resistance to a new spouse is very normal for children who have experienced a divorce. They may not reject you forever, but how long it takes to build a relationship depends on how long has it been since the divorce? How long have you been with their dad? How long were you together before you married him? IMO and IME, it works out better in step family situations if you work out some of the issues with the stepkids before you get married... and that takes time. If things were rushed, then it's probably going to take longer for everyone to settle into new arrangements.

Regarding your husband spending time with his daughters without you present.... it is totally critical for them to have that time together. They need 1:1 time (or 1:2 time) with their dad. That in and of itself doesn't mean they're rejecting you or not accepting you. I think a balance of spending time with them by himself and all of you spending time together as a family is the best arrangement.

In the end, you are going to have to let things unfold at their own pace. The more you rush or try to push a relationship with them, the more likely they are to push back. That said, standards need to be set regarding minimal acceptable behavior, e.g., they must at a minimum be polite and respectful to you.

I have completely been there done that with step-teens, so if you want to PM me, feel free.

EDIT: I just read your SWH. Honestly, I think you probably made the wrong move by forcing yourself into their day together. See my answer above about them needing to have time alone together. This stuff takes time to work out, hopefully you will be able to figure things out with your husband.



answers from Provo on

It will take time and maybe it will work and maybe no. I know adult people who hate their step-parents. Gentle encouragement from their dad might get more results. He will need to stand firm and if they are rude to you or your son in front of him then he needs to take a stand. Sometimes you can try to explain to them that you just want to be their friend and not step in the role of their mother. I know my daughter used to complain that her step-mother was trying to become her mother and that was never going to happen. I had a step-son who was 21 at the time who was very jealous of me and his new brother. It is really immature thinking when one person is not able to love more then one person. That is the key word immaturity.



answers from Salinas on

I think you should have them spend alone time with him so they can talk freely to him and they can not say 'you act different when she is around.' They can be invited to see you and your child/children and be included in birthday parties and such. I do feel you have a right to decide if your child is around them without you present. Your son/daughter should not hear them saying things about you. If they sit around talking badly about you, then he as a mature adult will see they are trying to find things wrong with someone who only has a title "step mom." I do think 12-17 age is awkward for most girls regardless of divorced parents. The fact that they have this might add to their teen angst. I do not think you should discuss/argue in front of the kids (especially step kids). You and your husband need to be a united team. Their mother and your husband might have different parenting style than you. You tell your husband and your rules and you and he come to an agreement, and then he tells his daughters. If they are in your home you have a right to protect you home from illegal activities (smoking anything underage for example) without his input...period. You did not mention how often he sees them. If it is 4 days a month than he really needs to bond and let them have more say on their sacred time. If it is over 10 days a month then it is not fair to you and his son to not include you both a few times. My days are only examples and could be different if he is a fireman/pilot and travels away from you for days at a time.

There is no way for us strangers to tell you if they will accept you. Focus on your little son and husband and allow him to focus on you and all his children.

Next question: 13 Yo Having Problems Dealing with a Step Mother