My step son is 5. He's still struggling with the seperation of his parents. We have all been trying to reassure him in this home that he is loved. His father takes him for outings, sometimes, due to supervised visits his father takes his ex wife along too so she can can time in with him.

This is not getting any better, for anyone here. His father and I have a fourteen month old daughter. Who is not getting the same attention from her father. His spare time is dedicated to issues pertaining to his ex wife, work, or just making time to do things with his son.

I get it, she is so very young. She can't do legos with the boys. She can't play board games with them. Or cheer for a sports team with them while they cuddle up and watch a game together.

And with this divide, I feel that his son is being shown that my daughter and I are not as valuable. He makes choices. We revolve her naps/ dinner around his schedule at times. He gets to leave with daddy and go places while we sit home and I prepare dinner.

He has no interest in playing with his sister. None. He will play around her, or play aggressively. I make play dates now, outside of the home during his school time for her. And I see a difference in other older siblings with their younger ones. No child is perfect, and I know we are all responsible for how they learn. I am just growing confused.

We finally had a family outing- all four of us- for the first time in a long while. When we came home, my daughter was by herself playing while he and his father were joking at the dinner table. I was doing dishes. All laughs, but then he came out with it again: He wants his sister and me to leave. He says this probably about once a day at least. Even in passing thought.

He had gotten a bit violent with her before - choking her, kicking her off the couch causing a bad bruise under her eye. He has expressed violent behavior towards the family dog. To be honest, I'm not sure what else to do, and no one seems to think he needs help. Or is doing anything about it. I am not married to his father, I have no rights. I can't do it.

I want my daughter to have her father and brother in her life. I just don't know how to get him to not see her as an enemy?

How to show him that we are family too?

  • 3
    Thank you for this post. Can you please give a little bit more information on the timing of the events? How long have your step son's parents been separated? Why does his mother have only supervised visits? Jan 12, 2015 at 0:01
  • I've no advice for you, unfortunately. But I'm with you and I hope you manage to build a happy family. Best of luck!
    – Dariusz
    Jan 12, 2015 at 14:35
  • 2
    Sounds like you have three kids in the house, not two...
    – user7953
    Jan 12, 2015 at 15:09
  • So, to clarify, the boy is your step-son (you've formally adopted him), but you aren't married to his father, only living together? How long has his father been separated from his mother? How long have you been together? How long have you been living together? How often do you do 'family' activities with the four of you (and without the boy's biological mother)?
    – Doc
    Jan 14, 2015 at 20:46

1 Answer 1


More information might be helpful, but I'll give this a go.

Your heartbreak is clear and contagious. I wish there were great answers to offer, but there aren't. It's a difficult situation.

Although your little one needs her daddy, she does have you. Her dad will need to play a more significant role a little later in her life. Some attention is important, though; he shouldn't be a stranger to her. He can help with things like feeding her, reading her a bedtime story, letting her play nearby with toys while he plays with his son, etc. Your step son, meanwhile, seems to have (to a significant degree?) lost his mom. He really does need his dad's extra attention right now, and maybe his dad feels too guilty to deny him all that extra time.

I don't know how long your stepson's mother and father have been separated, or the why's and wherefores. If it hasn't been a long time, your step son has reason to wish his mom and dad were together again. Though it's painful to hear, it's a fact and there it is. It would help if he didn't say it every day, but it wouldn't make those wishes go away. If it's been a long time already, then his dad should have some serious conversations with him about his expression of this wish. He needs time in a stable environment for those feelings to subside. The best thing you can do for him is to help provide as much of that stability as you can (and it sounds like you're doing this).

Hurting his little sister, a dog, or anyone/anything else should be completely and unconditionally forbidden, and dealt with immediately and consistently. Please read a book or two on child discipline, and then talk to your partner about how best to deal with this. If he is acting out, he needs to find a more socially acceptable way to express his feelings. Teaching him feeling words and really working to hear him might help.

Unfortunately, none of this is easy, and it becomes more difficult if your partner isn't helping. If this is the case, and you've spoken to him about it repeatedly and nothing has changed, it's time to see a therapist together. What's really not helpful to anyone is to have a lot of tension at home. You and your partner owe it to both of the children to be united and both working at this.

If he will not go, then go alone. You need some help with these painful feelings, and some help with how to navigate these difficult waters.

I hope things get better for all of you soon.

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