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Why Does My Husband Dislike His Stepchildren?

by Erica Loop

Roughly 20 percent of all kids who live with two parents are part of blended families, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics -- on its Healthy Children website. Blended families include stepparents and stepchildren who are brought together into a new family unit. If you're part of a blended family and your husband seems to dislike your children, it's normal to wonder why he would feel this way about his stepchildren. Although there's no simple answer, understanding their relationship can help you to piece together this puzzle.

Child's Reaction

Although you may have a loving and caring relationship with your own children, your husband may not yet have this with his stepkids. While you can't place all of the blame on the kids, some children may make it difficult for a stepparent to like them. Children may get jealous of their new stepfather and the attention that you are paying to him, according to HealthyChildren.org. This can cause the child to emotionally distance himself from his stepfather or act in a hostile and aggressive way. Your child may also feel like he's betraying his biological father or like he has a conflict on loyalty in caring for a stepfather, according to Stepfamily. org. His actions may cause an equally unpleasant reaction, making it seem like your husband doesn't like your child. If this is the case, having regular family discussions or seeking professional help from a family therapist is a must to smooth over the tension. Let your child know how much you love him, and that his new stepfather isn't going to change that. Additionally, talk to your husband, helping him to see your child's perspective.

Immediate Love

The idea of your new husband immediately loving your children -- or your children immediately loving him -- just because you love everyone involved, is a myth, according to the National Stepfamily Resource Center. Everyone in the family is an individual, and will develop their own relationships on their own time table. While you might hope for the best, your husband may take some time to warm up to your children. If you expect that he will automatically love them because he loves you, it's possible that you're in for a letdown. Your husband may not necessarily dislike your children, he may instead simply not know them well enough to care about them in the same way that a parent would. Biological parents often view their own children as an extension of themselves, according to the Stepfamily.org website. Step-parents, on the other hand, often don't have this same mentality and may not feel a similar type of connection to the kids.

First Timer

While you've been a parent for your child's entire life, if this is your husband's first time around the parenting block he may not know what to do. Think about the time that you've had to learn about parenting and get used to having kids, and then remember that your husband is being thrust into this position. Although he chose to marry you, he may not have necessarily chosen to have kids and may not exactly know what to do with them. Your new husband's seeming distaste for your children may come from his lack of parenting knowledge or self-doubt in his parenting ability. Talk to him about his feelings on parenting, and help him to better understand children, their behaviors and their development. For example, your husband may interpret perfectly age-appropriate behaviors -- such as your toddler's inability to share or tantrums -- with bratty actions.

It's On You

Sometimes, but not every time, the biologic parent may see the disappointment that she feels in the lack of an immediate family bond as dislike by the step-parent. The idea that blended families will instantly mix into one happy group is a myth, and isn't likely to happen right away. A family unit -- such as your children -- may reject the addition of a new member, much in the way that an organ transplant patient's body rejects the foreign tissue, according to Stepfamily.org. If you expect that your family will gel soon after your wedding ceremony, you may feel let down and disappointed. While you might expect that your new husband throws himself head first into developing a caring relationship with your kids, he may not be ready for this yet. He may even go as far as to feel jealous or resentful of the affection and attention that you shower on your child, not understanding why it isn't directed at him. Instead of putting your own expectations on everyone involved, let the family dynamic develop over time and give your husband room to get to know your children in his own way.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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