Resources for parents to get through the challenges.

  1. Home
  2. Parenting

When To Leave Because of a Stepchild – 3 Helpful Tips

There are times in any parents life when their children show signs of love and affection toward them, but there are also times when this doesn’t seem to be the case.

One big challenge for stepfamily households is not due to the marriage suffering itself, but because of household problems between stepchildren and step-parents or parenting the step-children together.

It can be tricky to keep everyone content when the house feels like a madhouse with so many different relationship dynamics and relationships.

If you have a challenging relationship with your step-child, then you can relate to many other step-parents who have also been through this.

Regardless of who can relate to you, we understand how lonely and uncomfortable it can feel to actually be questioning if you need to leave the home you’ve worked hard to build, solely because of a step-child.

Many step-parents find themselves asking the hard questions like; what draws the line in the sand? What straw officially breaks the camel’s back? And when it’s time to recognize that enough – enough.

We looked around for advice, experience, and situations that other step-parents have been in themselves to share with you here.

Most Step-parents Don’t Think that A Step-child Will Be An Issue When They Initially Get Married

Unless you have been through this situation in the past, it might not ever cross your mind that there could be issues with your step-child down the road.

I like to think that we all want to be the best parents possible to our children, and even our spouse’s children – even when it comes to playing the role of a step-parent.

Yet, even with good intentions, one thing leads the next and household dynamics can quickly get out of hand.

Or, if a major challenging event occurs at some point, the issues between a step-child and a step-parent can brew for a long time before bubbling to the surface.

Mother and daughter

Pinpoint The Underlying Causes of the Issues At Hand With Your step-child

Moving forward in the right direction means figuring out the cause of the issues at hand. If something specific caused the step-child to be upset with you, or vice-versa – be sure to figure out the cause of the issues that keep coming up.

If the problems are making you seek out advice on whether to leave or not, then it’s likely it has been going on for a long time.

But, it’s also possible that the problems at hand seem mountainous to climb over because they have changed your perspective about your step-child or their perspective of you as their second parent.

While it’s not easy to say that you’re in the wrong or discuss hard matters with your step-child in person, one of the best things that you can do is figure out what the real underlying cause of your problems is.

Finding out whether your step-child is mad or upset at you for a certain reason or multiple reasons can help alleviate the hatred your step-child potentially aims toward you.

This is your upper hand in the issue and setting boundaries for how your step-child behaves toward you.

In Step-families, There are Commonalities of the Issues That Create An Environment Where A Step-parent Might Question Leaving the Household

There tend to be specific situations that happen in families with step-child to step-parent issues that eventually cause a step-parent to question if they should leave.

These may be wrongful actions or lies that your step-child continues to do on a regular basis or just one major occurrence of an issue that seems too great to overcome.

Any persistent problem that parents and children have tried to resolve on their own already, to no avail, is reasonable to cause you(as a step-parent) to question if it’s a good idea to stay in your marriage and household.

Don’t feel bad for seeking advice on whether you should leave or stay – getting to the bottom of these household issues is the most important thing at hand.

Most Common Problems That Result in A Step-parent Wanting To Leave Their Home

Psychologist Thinking How To Help Unhappy Couple Sitting

Major problems in any household usually don’t simply go away on their own, and sometimes professional help is required to help a family move forward positively together.

Forming a solid plan of action to resolve the issues your family has is one big step forward if you want to make it work. There are a few reasons that are more likely to result in you as a step-parent to choose to leave.

Step-parent’s and professionals say that these area’s of home-life problems cause step-parents to end their marriage and leave the household most often.

A step-child telling lies and manipulating the truth about their step-parent to their biological parent

It’s one thing to have an adult tell a lie about you, or, in your younger day’s a classmate here or there would tell a lie – but to have your step-child constantly tell lies about you is an entirely different ordeal.

It can be extremely frustrating to have anyone tell a lie about you. Step-parents might rightfully choose to leave the household if their step-child is always telling lies to their parent and causing issues in their marriage.

Unfortunately, more often than not, if a step-child lies to their biological parent about their step-parent it results in spousal distrust. In turn, it’s not easy for your child’s biological parent to disbelieve their own kid over you as their spouse.

It can be very discouraging for you to be on the receiving end of this situation – you are in the right to feel this way – you shouldn’t have to feel like you have to work for the trust that you deserve.

Of course, it helps if it’s obvious the step-child is lying, but oftentimes the constant fighting over the lies about you just becomes too much for anyone to keep playing detective and not guilty victim.

Fighting with your spouse is exhausting, and it can be discouraging enough to want to leave when you constantly have your family believing lies revolving around you.

A step-child who won’t listen to their step-parent at all can be frustrating enough to leave

Upset little girl covering her ears

You might find that your step-child is acting out constantly, and you’re the one that has to do the reprimanding…except one problem…your step-child won’t listen to you about anything.

Maybe your step-child is completely open about not wanting to listen to you in any way, or on the other hand, your step-child is doing things behind your back that proves you are not someone they’ll listen to.

Either way, a step-child that won’t listen to you can be extremely frustrating. It’s one thing to get your own children to listen to you, but when a child that isn’t your own obviously doesn’t care what you have to say – it somehow hurts even more.

It can be awkward trying to get a child that isn’t your own to listen to you. And if your step-child exhibits a bad attitude toward you in the process of refusing to listen to you – it can cause you to question if you want to stay in your family home.

It can truly become a problem if your stepchild doesn’t listen to you and your spouse feels that you’re in the wrong about their child. Your partner might feel that you’re being too rough or hard-headed toward their child.

If a teen step-child is causing problems for the entire family, it can be disheartening

Some step-children have learned behavior that is less than favorable toward their parents, and especially toward you as a step-parent.

This can be especially true for your situation if you’ve been married into your family when your spouse’s children are already pretty much grown.

In this situation, step-parents find it difficult to build positive relationships with their step-children because once a child reaches a certain age, they might become a lot more defiant toward family life in general.

Even toward their biological parents, teenagers become resistant and might want to run away from home at times. Throw all of this mixture into a pot with a married step-parent and you might find yourself questioning if it’s you who wants to run away.

A study was done by FamilyLife who asked a group of Stepmom’s why they feel like they want to run away, they repeatedly responded by saying:

“I live in constant fear and the only place I feel safe is in my bedroom.”

“A sense of dread fills me when I come home.”

Responses like this from step-mothers and step-fathers are not uncommon, step-children sometimes really can toe the line of bringing their step-parents to insanity.

It’s not right, to say the least, and as much as you wish your step-child would know the boundaries of right and wrong, some kids don’t understand the act of hurting another human.

Mom and teenage daughter

This situation really goes deeper than thinking back to your own teenage years and realizing you acted out in many ways yourself. You might want to leave your home if your step-child consistently takes you for granted as a step-parent.

Even if you have done your best to resolve the situation from where you stand, the problems might be more persistent than what you can handle as a step-parent. You don’t have to continue putting up with your step-child’s hurtful attitude toward you.

Teenagers are practically adults, so it’s really hard to continue putting up with an older teen’s attitude toward you – especially if you have done your best to make amends with your step-teen.

3 Steps That May Help Point You In The Right Direction If You’re Questioning Whether To Leave Your Home

A situation where a step-parent might question whether to leave their family home is a lot more common than you might think. In fact, many step-parents find themselves wanting out of their step-household asap.

Don’t feel bad for wanting to leave your home if you’re in this situation – if you’re confused about what the right direction is – do these three things to gain some clarity before making any concrete life changes.

1. Get your spouse on your side about the family issues you’re experiencing

There might be times that your spouse isn’t seeing the situation the way you are, oftentimes a step-child will convince your spouse that you’re the bad person.

This is tricky to navigate in the end because any mother or father will want to believe their own child over their spouse.

This can be especially true if you have married into a family with older step-children – older teens will lash out on their own biological parent at times too.

It’s easier for a teenager to describe any lies about you in full detail so it happens more than with young children. 

When you notice this is happening, it’s best to talk with your spouse about how you’re feeling in full detail. Try to nip this kind of behavior from your step-child in the bud – tell your spouse how you’re feeling.

Include examples of the lies you’ve caught your step-child aiming toward you, even if they seem like ‘white-lies’ children have a way of slipping in a lie at just the right moment in a way that you might not notice right away.

Mature couple talking

Once you’ve explained the issues to your spouse, remember to ask your spouse how they feel about the situation.

One of the most important things you can do to resolve problems with your step-child is to approach the situation with your spouse as a team.

You need to get your spouse on your side in other words, if you can do this it will eliminate spousal problems in the midst of this family chaos.

Many parents, especially parents to young children view themselves and their child as a package deal.

Therefore any new spouse included in the family, or even step-parents who have been married into the family for a long time get the short end of the stick when it comes to resolving issues.

Your job is to help your spouse see your side of the issue’s through maturity and fairness. Don’t go out telling your spouse how unfair it is that their child does this and that… Be sure to use language that sounds calm, cool, and collected.

Your words are your point of power, and you have to use them wisely to maintain your dignity and resolve the issues directed toward you.

Let your spouse know the way you feel, while still expressing kindness toward their child so it doesn’t feel like an attack on their kid.

They will be more likely to get on your side of the concerns if you express understanding toward it and not anger, which will help everyone resolve the issues even sooner.

If your spouse just won’t see your side of it in the end and is won over by being on their child’s side – it might be time to present your concerns with you needing to leave the household – in a non-threatening and thought-through manner.

2. Recognize and navigate the fears or emotions you have revolving around your home life

If you’re still unclear about how you feel when the issues with your step-child arise, it’s time for you to do some deep emotional work.

Sometimes when we feel upset about something, we will just feel overwhelmed, except we don’t yet pinpoint exactly what it is we’re actually feeling. Thus not being able to fully resolve it or build a better relationship with our family members.

Generally, this happens before we entirely understand why we are feeling the way we do. Think of yourself as your own therapist, and ask yourself the hard questions each time you experience intense powerful emotions.

Blonde woman sipping a cup of tea

Try to stop for a moment and ask these questions: what emotion am I experiencing? Who do I feel the way I do toward or is it directed toward myself? Why do I feel the way I do?

Some of the most common feelings that a step-parent like yourself might experience within the time that conflict exists are the following emotions; rejection, isolation, or estrangement.

Even though these are difficult emotions to navigate in a healthy manner, how you end up responding to your circumstances is ultimately your choice.

It’s your choice how you respond to your circumstance

Rather than responding with being bitter toward your step-child, it’s better to respond in a constructive manner that encourages your relationship in a positive direction.

Oftentimes, if you haven’t worked on managing your own emotions, it’s difficult to build positive family relationships. You have to love yourself before you can entirely love another person.

3. Encourage your step-child’s biological parent to have alone time with their own children

The fact that your step-child has lost their family probably means that there is a huge gaping hole in your step-child’s or children’s hearts. You don’t come out of having the first family you ever knew being torn apart perfectly happy.

There is a healing process, and that involves your step-child having alone time with both biological mom and dad. It’s your job as a step-parent to encourage your partner to have beneficial alone time with their own children.

If the kids don’t get enough one-on-one time with their biological parents, resentment might form manifesting in hatred toward sharing their biological mom or dad. In turn, that hatred turns into disliking or not accepting you, step-parent.

Oftentimes step-parents don’t see this one coming and will try to push time with their step-child not seeing that forcing a relationship with their step-child instead of encouraging more alone time with their real mom or dad is a big mistake.

When your step-children feel confident that they have both of their real parents in their life, then they’ll be more open to having a relationship with their step-parent.

Middle aged couple talking

In Conclusion

You might find that you’ve been questioning whether or not you should divorce your partner and leave your home – all because of issues with your step-child.

This rings true for many step-parents, and while leaving your family is never easy it can be even harder to navigate the issues at hand in a healthy manner.

This situation could be completely new to you, as you may not have been in a family with such intense problems before, and it can be especially disheartening if you are the one that all of the issues revolve around.

Your step-child might have had a previous step-parent before you, making it even harder for them to fully accept you into their lives. It’s advised to seek family counseling in any situation that feels out of your hands, that you need help navigating through.

There are many step-parents that feel alone, and like they want to run away from home. Rest assured you are not alone. Aim to resolve these matters in a positive light, bringing you and your family back together if at all possible.


When To Leave Because Of Stepchild – 3 Actionable Tips

Leaving a marriage because of stepchild but not because of the marriage

Stepchildren Ruining Your Marriage? Here’s How to Erase the Damage…

How to Protect Your Marriage in a Step Family