Being a stepparent of a child or multiple children can seem overwhelming, especially if you are unable to instantly connect and openly communicate with them. Children act out against stepparents as a way to rebel, often out of anger or confusion that comes along with introducing another authority figure into their lives. Knowing the biggest ways that kids act out against stepparents is a way for you to connect with your stepchildren on a level that allows you to truly see the root causes of the issues at hand. Because each situation varies with the children and stepparent individually, it is important to assess your family dynamic and triggers that may be causing your stepchildren to act out against you.
One way to tell that your stepchild is acting out and rebelling against you is their self-righteous attitude by ignoring or avoiding you altogether. Stepchildren may refuse to speak or see a stepparent if they are feeling hostile or have negative emotions that are provoked when in the presence of the stepparent. Your stepchild may also be feeling isolated and not included in decisions in his or her parent’s relationship decisions, causing them to want to avoid the situation altogether.
Not acknowledging you as a stepparent is another way kids act out when they do not want to accept a new authority figure in their lives or if they have difficulty communicating the issues and emotions they are struggling to overcome. By not referring to you as their stepparent or refusing to listen to rules or advice you give, they are rebelling and attempting to prove their dominance and place in the family, which can make it increasingly difficult to get the acceptance you may desire.
When kids of stepparents feel inferior or any anger towards the stepparent themselves, they may begin tattling or gossiping about you to their own parents, finding flaws in your behavior and issues with your personality. Tattling to their parents is one way to help with reassuring their place in the family while also staying closely guarded emotionally, allowing them to disconnect from any authority you try to show.
Putting the blame on stepparents is an infamous way that kids of all ages act out, especially when they are having difficulty accepting you as a new member of their family. Blaming stepparents for relationship troubles, communication problems and even arguments the children are having with their own parents is a common way of keeping their distance from you while showing you in a negative light. Openly communicating with your spouse is highly recommended when you are dealing with a rebellious stepchild or teenager.
When there is enough tension between a stepparent and child, acting out by completely rebelling is a possibility. Whether your stepchild begins talking back during conversations, skipping school or even sneaking out without permission, these can all be signs of issues stemming from the household dynamic and the relationship they have with you. Acting out by rebelling is a way to attract attention to themselves, which is common if they feel as if you have taken their place or spot in the household. Spotting the signs of rebellion is necessary if you want to make positive changes in your household with your spouse and stepchildren.
Joseph Peterson is a family counselor who enjoys helping families work together to overcome stress related to parents who have remarried. Joseph enjoys sharing helpful and useful information with his readers, and he has contributed to educational material for future counselors that can be found at marriageandfamilycounselingdegrees.com.