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Learning To Like/Love Stepchild

Jordan3312's picture

I am writing this in hopes that someone else is either going through this or has successfully gone through this. I'm really wanting to learn how to like my SS but it is so hard.

I want to preface this by saying that I have never had issues with liking children in the past. I absolutely adore children. I was even a nanny for a few years and a Sunday school teacher before I got married. Maybe I was blessed with well-behaved children that it spoiled me and now I'm having to learn to deal with a child who is not well mannered. My husband and I also have a newborn daughter. She is just over a month old and we are so in love with her.

DH was not married to BM and has said they never even dated, nevertheless, they had a baby together. Their son is now 5 years old. When I first started dating my husband, his son was 3 and DH relationship with BM was not amicable. My husband is in the military and has lived in a different state than his son and was only ever able to visit him during his block leaves (twice a year.) 

Anyway, I had his son over to my apartment shortly after we started dating and he was mean to my cat and stole jewelry from me. After we got married we had him over for Christmas. SS was 4. He was so ungrateful for all the presents we got him and he was aggressive towards our dog. Before his last visit, I was on the phone with DH's mother when she started yelling at SS because he was hitting one of their dogs in the head with a rock. During his last visit out to us this past summer our dog wouldn't go near him.  I was also 35 weeks pregnant and he drove me up a wall. DH wanted him to learn his ABCs and to be able to count to 10 before he started Kindergarten, so I'd work on that with him every day and he hated it and tested me beyond belief. But we'd also go to the zoo, go swimming, and go to the park. After a fun day of fishing with his dad, he came home and lied about something so my husband disciplined him, and when BM called later that night, SS cried to her and said that it was "awful here." This resulted in BM telling him "it's okay baby. You'll be home soon and you'll be safe here." Insert eye roll. 

Well, Fall break is around the corner and SS will be visiting us for 10 days. I know that doesn't seem like a long time but whenever he visits us time seems to slow down. I feel like I've tried to like him but everytime I think about him coming to visit, this rage builds up inside of me. Part of me is looking forward to this visit even less now because with his treatment of animals in the past, I'm terrified to even let him in the same house with my newborn baby girl.

But I know he has a lot of issues and really benefits from being in a structured environment such as our home. BM struggles with alcohol and drug abuse and there is absolutely no discipline or boundaries at her home. I know SS needs his Dad, but it's hard when we only see him a few weeks out of the year.  My husband has tried to set up court dates so that he can set up visitation / custody rights. He even had to take emergency leave from work when he found out that there was heavy drug use going on in BM's home. BM also recently had 4 warrants out for her arrest so my husband was sure he was going to get custody, but for some reason the state that BM lives in favors mother's more and most of the charges have been dropped so DH doesn't see SS getting to live with us anytime soon. 

I'm not sure if SS not living with us has something to do with the fact that I don't have warm feelings towards him. I would hope that if he was here full time that these feelings will change but I'm not sure. I'm wondering if there is some sort of step by step process/program I can take that will challenge me into learning to like and eventually love my SS. I don't hate him, but I do have feelings of fear and resentment when he's around. My mother in law was the one who set up his fall break visit with us and I firmly asked her to make it 1 week instead of 2 because I'm still pretty busy with a newborn, but when she told me he'd be here for 10 days instead of 7, those extra 3 days made me want to cry. Since my husband works full time, I'm the one who has to entertain him. Usually that isn't a problem for me. I love entertaining kids! I used to have such a fun time as a nanny. But SS is not like any child I'm used to and I honestly just want to lock myself in my room with my baby girl for the 10 days and let my husband do everything. I hate feeling like this and I feel like perhaps God can use me to help this little guy out, but I'm not sure how or what to do when I can't stand to be around him. I want this to change. I want to change. 


Kes's picture

I'm afraid there is no program to help you change your feelings towards a child who comes from a chaotic home environment and has behaviour and attitude problems as a result.   However, you can set boundaries for yourself, to make you feel less overwhelmed by the situation.  One is not allowing your mother in law to arrange for the child to stay on days when your DH is not around.  You should say firmly that this is not on.  You have a newborn to care for.  Visitation, as I have said before, is for biological parents to spend time with their child/ren and for the bio parents to parent their child.  It is not appropriate for this out of control 4 yr old to be foisted on you when your DH is not around.  

You don't have to like or love this child - he doesn't sound loveable at all, but he's only 4, and deserves a safe non hostile environment where he is treated with kindness.  

Jordan3312's picture

Thank you for your advice. I just hate having these feelings towards a child and was hoping there was something I could do about it. And I agree. I'll have to talk with DH and let him know that even if his son has a school break, if DH doesn't have time off from work at the same time, then SS shouldn't visit. And then I'll let DH have that conversation with his mom.

tog redux's picture

Why are you trying to like an unlikeable child? Sounds like no one could like this kid under these circumstances. His parents love him, but I bet they don't much like him either.

Let DH handle the kid when he's there, it's not your responsibility.  I'm sad for him that his life is going straight to hell at the age of 5, but there is nothing you can do about that.

Jordan3312's picture

Thank you for your input. I think DH needs to have a talk with his mom so that way when SS visits, it falls under the same time DH has off work. I don't want to parent him and I think that may be part of the issue. DH put discipline and teaching on me during his last visit because he had to work and it was terrible and caused even more resentment. I told DH after SS left that I did NOT want to be the disciplinary adult. So i plan on being as hands off this next visit. We'll see how that goes!

Gimlet's picture

If your MIL set up the visit, and your husband is going to be at work, it sould like MIL should keep SS until he's off work.  SS is there to visit his family after all, so it would be good to spend some time with grandma, right?

Jordan3312's picture

She usually sets up the visits because she is the one paying for the plane tickets and/or stays with us during these visits.  DH family is a lot more hands on and unfortunately I can't say much. MIL just left a week ago from visiting us to see her newborn granddaughter. She ended up blowing up on me because she said I wouldn't let her help with the baby. My baby had been in the NICU for 10 days after she was born so I barely got to hold her. So when she finally came home, I guess I was trying to make up for lost time. But MIL got upset with me and said that she was going  to be a part of my daughter's life and I couldn't stop her (I never said anything to insinuate this...this all just came out of nowhere. Even DH was shocked at his mother's outburst because nobody said anything about not wanting her in our child's life) So I doubt she'd listen if I asked her to not set up visits with DH and SS anymore.

Siemprematahari's picture

You need to shut down MIL NOW. She's way too involved in your lives and you need to set the tone that she doesn't dictate or run shit in your home and with your family. I don't care if she pays for plain tickets or not but giving her that power to have an outburst towards you is unacceptable and she needs to be put in her place like yesterday.


Gimlet's picture

Oh Dog, is she coming to stay with you while SS is there?

Even if she isn't, why is she/your husband expecting you to keep SS all day long when you have a newborn fresh out of the NICU??

Your husband needs to take time off to spend with his son, or he and MIL need to work out care for this kid.  Dumping him on you should not be an option.

Thumper's picture

OP---Visitation is for your husband to be with, raise, teach, mentor, play with and guild his son. PERIOD

I am not going to give you advise on 'learning to like OR love" someone.