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5 Helpful Stepfather and Stepson Relationship Tips

Did you know that there are over 1.3 million stepfathers in the United States? 1300 new blended families are formed each day and at least 50 percent of children aged 13 and under live with one biological parent and a stepparent.

These figures have become a reality due to the staggering divorce rate in the US. Studies have suggested that the average marriage lasts just about seven years and that roughly 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.

The children in these blended families do not have an easy life. In fact, studies have shown that children whose parents are divorced are twice as likely to develop behavioral problems as those whose parents remain together.

James H. Bray is the former president of the American Psychological Association has said that ‘stepfathers who are more engaged tend to have stepkids that are better behaviorally adjusted.’

But why are relationships between stepfathers and stepsons so fraught with problems? Here we take a look at some reasons and what you can do to help ease the relationship.

Why Does My Son Hate His Stepfather?

It may not be that your son hates his stepfather but it is common for conflict to erupt between a child and a stepparent. This is especially common once the child reaches adolescence.

What was once a happy and harmonious relationship is now filled with hostility, confusing roles, and split loyalty.

Your son may be feeling that he doesn’t know his place in the family dynamics and this may be more apparent if your son does not spend all his time with yourself and his stepfather.

Split Loyalties

A stepchild can often feel like they have split loyalties. They may feel happy and content when they are with you, they may be enjoying spending time with their new stepfather, step-siblings, and all that comes with a blended family.

But they may then also feel like they are not being loyal to the other parent, that they are somehow betraying their trust in them. It can be a very confusing time for children and children can be easily manipulated by a hurt or angry parent.

Mother And Teenage Son Arguing At Home

If you feel that your son may be dealing with some or all of these feelings then it may be a good time to acknowledge them and talk in an open and frank manner. 

You could try to assure your son that he is not being disloyal to his biological father by allowing his stepfather to be part of his life.

He needs to understand that caring for and enjoying spending time with his stepdad is not a betrayal of what he feels for his biological dad.

How Can You Fix The Relationship Between Stepfather And Stepson

Adjusting to a new family life can be tough and no more so than on our children. If we are feeling confused imagine how they are feeling.

But if the relationship between your partner and your son is beginning to show some cracks there are a few ways that you can help to fix that relationship. Here are our top 5 ways to help to build a better relationship between stepparent and stepson.

1. Present A United Front

Do not leave all the discipline to one parent as this could potentially lead to the Good Cop, Bad Cop scenario – this is the last thing in the world that you need.

You need to be prepared and happy that your new partner is going to be putting in place rules and consequences if these rules are broken.

If you provide this united front that it doesn’t matter where the punishment comes from it will have the same level of severity then this will help your son to understand that the rules are laid down by both of you and not just one.

2. Always Be Honest 

No matter what be honest with both your son and your partner. This may mean that there are going to be some uncomfortable conversations but it is surely better for it to all be out in the open rather than festering away.

Of course, this does not mean that the relationship between your son and his stepfather will be all bows and sunbeams.

But it does provide them with an open and truthful relationship which should help them develop a relationship of mutual respect.

Middle aged mother and teen son portrait

3. Do Not Bad Mouth His Father

This one is really important do not allow your partner to bad mouth your son’s father.

This will cause your son to have split loyalties, which can be a recipe for disaster. It can also lead to more conflict or a lack of trust between your son and his stepfather.

Ensure that your son’s father and stepfather are not competing but that their roles in his life are clearly defined so as to avoid any confusion.

4. Look At Things From His Perspective

Your son may have some irrational fears when it comes to his stepfather and having a relationship with him. But you need to hear these fears and let him know that you are listening to his concerns.

Provide your son with ample opportunity to talk to you about how he is feeling and to talk to his stepfather if he wants to.

This will allow you to find solutions to the problems and ensure that there are always open lines of communication between the three of you.

5. Be consistent

If you have rules in place ensure that you stick to them consistently.

If there are other children in the house make sure that they are all treated the same, the same rules, the same expectations, the same consequences. Of course, this is dependant on their age.

Is It Too Late To Fix The Relationship?

It is never too late to try to fix a relationship. They may never be the best of friends but it is never too late to try to repair the relationship.

Children are really good at an open and honest talk and so be honest with them. Talk about problems and the feelings that are coming to light.

It is far better for things to be out in the open rather than them all being bottled up – this is where things can erupt and small disagreements can become huge issues.

You may have to accept that just because you have fallen in love with your new partner doesn’t mean that your children will. You have to come up with a plan before things become messy and out of control. 

Mother and son

The Final Thought

Being a parent is a hard job and accepting that you have made mistakes that have seriously affected your child can be even harder.

But being honest with your children about these mistakes and that you are trying to move forward in your life is a great way to not only help yourself to heal but also to have an honest relationship with your children. 

You may have to accept that just because you have fallen in love with your new partner doesn’t mean that your children will. You may have to just give their relationship time to grow and bloom rather than trying to force it.