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My two teenage daughters get along really well. My new husband has four children. My daughters have been the ones to suffer, as we have moved school and house. They get along well with their step-father, but fight with most of their step-siblings. Fights include shouting. calling each other names, and even hitting.

I've tried family bonding trips and days out but they all just fight. It's usually my two against his oldest three. I understand it's hard for my daughters to accept a new school, house, and family, but I want this to work out.

I don't want to punish his children when they misbehave, which is most of the time (the two girls are constantly throwing tantrums), and he won't punish my daughters either. This is frustrating for my daughters, but I want his children to like me.

How can I make them stop fighting?

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    First step would be for both of you to discipline both sets of children equally, and back each other up when doing it (to avoid the whole "you aren't my mum/dad"). – Richard Dalton Feb 29 '16 at 14:46
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It seems to me that you and your partner's attitude towards each others' kids is actually fostering discord here. If you really want to become one family, treat everyone like they are part of one family, not two families who happen to live together.

What I mean by this is that when you refuse to punish your partner's kids (and vise-versa), is that you are actively driving the kids to not like each other. Anyone who has ever had kids has heard the cries of "it's not FAIR!!". By punishing your own kids and not your partner's, you are passively saying to your child "you can't do that, but so-and-so can get away with it." And that breeds resentment among the children.

It also makes it harder for the other children to learn to like and respect you. Children crave direction and love (even if they won't admit it). When you are totally permissive, you don't show that you care what they do or what happens to them. You show that you don't care. And that doesn't help to bring a family together.

First, you and your partner need to get on the same page. You need to come up with house rules for everyone. Make sure you are both willing to back each other up in enforcing these rules no matter who breaks them. You don't want to get into a situation where the kids pull the "you're not my mom, you can't tell me what to do" card. What you say should have just as much force as if your partner said it, because he should be backing you up. This is especially important in blended families because kids already try to play one parent against another in traditional families. They will exploit that even more if you give them the ammo to do it. Don't let them.

Once you two are united and ready, bring in the children to talk about what is going on. Hear their concerns and try to accommodate where possible. This might involve some discussion all together and some one on one time. Make sure they each know that both of you love them.

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This is a tough one and I hate to say it, but you might be in for a rough ride, I hope you and your spouse have a strong relationship. You are dealing with a house full of adolescents & hormones. YIKES!!! I would say that the first thing that needs to happen is a set down with the entire family aka The Family Meeting. I find that it is best if my husband (the step father of my teens) and I set down and talk first. We make a plan; -What is the goal of the conversation? -How will we handle and "tantrums" that might occur during the family meeting? -When is the best time/place to do this? (I would suggest someplace neutral when the kids are all fed and rested) Not in the heat of the moment.

I also wonder, have you both asked the children what they like and don't like about the situation? It's hard on kids when they feel like they have no say, they're just being pull/pushed around with no voice to how they feel. Maybe some of the things can't be changed or adjusted but at least they will know they're being heard. This is a great opportunity for your children to get a lesson in conversation and the skill of expressing how they feel in a healthy way.

Start by stating the goal of the meeting and the rules, keep it simple, you can't tackle it all in one set down, this will take time: One speaker at a time, no yelling and no name calling. If someone needs to get up and walk away, let them. Let your children know that it hurts you and their father to see them so upset. Then let each one take a turn talking about how they feel about the current family situation. Keep any blaming or harassing in check.

I think a primary goal of your family meeting might be to first put a stop to the hitting/yelling/name calling. This is unacceptable and unnecessary. Once we start yelling/hitting/name calling then we stop listening and walls are built. It is much easier to listen and hear someone when they're calm and this is also a great lesson for your children to learn right now. You can't go to work and start freaking out every time your upset can you? No. They need to learn this and they are ALL at an age where they can learn this.

You can't force them to love one another, you can't force them to even like one another and I hate to tell you this, but as a step parent...don't get too hung up on them liking you all the time either. It's the great unkind reality of step parenting. However, over time and with trust, you can become their teacher and friend. Someone they respect and look up to.

You discipline your children and he needs to discipline his children. Your roles for one another are to be supportive and back one another up (and if you don't, never disagree in front of the kids, they will take advantage of this eventually) Set down together and pre-set consequences together so that you're both on the same page and showing a strong, consistent front when dealing with the kids. They need to know that you are a team, you are partners and you will NOT be pitted against one another. When my husband and I discipline the kids we discuss it privately then implement the consequences together. That way everyone knows what is going on.

IDEA: When my boys were in their early teens I got so tired of the fighting I just punished them both. I didn't care who started it any more, they were both feeding into it so they both got consequences. It didn't take long for them to get a clue and stop. They both learned to just walk away.

I would also suggest getting some books and doing some research on blended families. It's a trial and error thing but keep working at it and find what works for your family. You can't fix this with family trips and forced socializing. The issue is poor communication. If you can't communicate well with the people you're living with, you're going to have issues.

I hope that some of this helps and remember this is just an offer of advise from my own personal experience, I'm not at expert. We still have rough days and it's never perfect. It's so hard to blend a family, especially at the ages you are dealing with because they're all going through their own changes inside and out.

Good luck!

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Perhaps, you can begin with Family Meetings. Family Meetings: (15 to 30 minutes a week for one of the most powerful parenting tools your family can use)

Family Meeting Process:

  • Compliments

  • Establish positive atmosphere and tone

  • Kids learn to look for the “good” and appreciate family members

  • Each member compliments all the other members of the family

  • Kids fight less when they feel more gratitude towards other family members

  • Reduce negative tension by verbalizing positive comments


  • Evaluate last week’s solutions

  • Did solutions help resolve challenges?

  • Try something else from the list you made the previous week


  • This week’s challenges (challenges, issues, questions)

  • Focus on Solutions

  • Respectful

  • Related

  • Reasonable

  • Helpful

  • Revealed and decided in Advance


  • Weekly Calendar

  • Meetings, Practices, Rehearsals, Rides, Special Assignments etc.

  • Meal Planning

  • Allowance

  • Additional Needs (e. g. Materials for School)

  • Establish Recorder, Chairperson, Time Keeper for next week’s meeting


  • Family togetherness event planning

  • Plan an event that the family will do together (e. g. Family Vacation, Family Picnic or BBQ, Family Excursion)

  • Family Fun

  • Always end the family meeting with a group activity (e. g. Family exercise, Dance party, Basketball game, Dessert or Treat etc.)

Please don’t expect perfection. It’s normal to have a bumpy start when beginning to implement family meetings. Avoid using family meetings for lectures, or establishing control, or placing blame. Maintain the atmosphere of mutual respect throughout the meeting. Keep the family meetings to no more than 30 minutes to help maintain focus of all family members. Rotate the family meeting job schedule.

You can begin this process by simply stating that the fighting is making you and your husband very sad and upset, because you wish that your kids could communicate peacefully. From now on, tell them that you won't get involved in their fights. You're going to tell them that they are old enough to find solutions to their challenges together. So the way for you to handle the fighting will be to stand around and not get involved in any way, or leave the area telling them that you have faith that they will find a solution together and that they can handle it, OR, that they can take the fight elsewhere... Like outside, and come back when they've found a solution, OR, that they can put it on the family meeting agenda and the family will confer and make a decision to try for the whole week until the next family meeting. Have this conversation at a neutral time when there is no fighting going on. Say it calmly, say it firmly, say it kindly.

When you speak to your kids, whether yours or his, speak to them as a unit. Instead of singling out any one, get used to saying "you kids". Agree to do this with your husband. A good way to stop having to figure out what punishment you will impose on who, is to stop punishing altogether. You can begin to use real logical consequences, natural consequences, limited choices, family meetings, follow through, and much more.

There's a ton more information you can get from reading Positive Discipline, by Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, 2013. Work with a Certified Parent Educator and Positive Parenting Coach like who can guide you through the process in person or by phone. Attend a Positive Parenting workshop for Effective Discipline (Positive Discipline).

Family Meetings give every member in the family a voice, and submits challenges for the family to resolve. Good start to get the results you are looking for. Best to you and your family.

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