How do You Handle Step-Kids Who Don’t Like You?

How do You Handle Step-Kids Who Don’t Like You?

From time to time readers send me some complicated issue they are dealing with to see if I might be able to help them through it. This is one such question from somebody who is having struggles with alien creature children who have married into her life, and they don’t like her. So ya, that never happens right? Here it is in her own words: What do you do when your step kids don’t like you? They don’t like rules. They don’t like change. They want to be entertained every second of the day and won’t free play. They and their mom blame me for there being rules and tie behaviour to identity and behavioural corrections are seen as character attacks. They want to go back to visiting only their dad at their grandma’s house and not participate in the family we have that’s been in place for over a year. They think they can choose where their dad lives. They did the same to their mom but it was not tolerated but this is being indulged because she is mad her ex isn’t miserable. Signed: The Stepmonster Wow lady, you are fighting a war on many fronts, which any military strategist will tell you is akin to a battlefield disaster. Fear not however, it isn’t your fault. Honestly, you could be any new partner for your dude, and they would hate you because their Mother is clearly being an asshole and feeding them the bitterness of her cold black heart. More precisely, she, or even possibly your dude, may be the suffering from a low EQ and is bestowing that on the kids. As for the former wife, maybe she can’t get over herself (which often comes with the whole EX anything situation). Sadly, the children have bought in, and everybody is locked in their own funk. All troops have taken their positions, and your ass is hanging out in the wind as the only reasonable person who will inevitably take a bullet in the butt. So now that we kind of have the dynamic figured out, what to do? I will start with advice that I get from my own circle of friends, who are far nicer people than me. They always say not to go to my “scorch the earth” default, and try reacting with kindness instead. What they aren’t putting into words (because they are kind) is this: “Don’t be an asshole when you are mad.” Huh. OK so now I try it, and although sometimes responding with calm kindness feels a bit like I am attempting to contain a spiky cactus in my mouth, I do make the effort to respond to strife and drama without using a flame...
Crap, I Think I Might Be Sexist

Crap, I Think I Might Be Sexist

I consider myself a bit of an armchair feminist. I tut-tut news stories about Hijabs, the glass ceiling and systemic limitations of women’s ambitions. I am not the protesting and bra burning sort, however I stand strong when faced with overt sexism wherever I see it. I do something about it with ferocity, even if I wouldn’t march in a topless gathering of angry women. Having one of each gender as children, I am raising them in an equitable manner. I tell them both that they can be whatever they want, but they can count on dealing with assholes of both sexes their whole lives. I explain that they are best not to participate in the monkey games, don’t put up with any crap and just treat everybody decently, full stop. As for my own private thoughts, I do like men, truly. They are fun and differently smart and mostly reliable, the good ones anyway. Through my career I have encountered great mentors and colleagues who encouraged me. I have also dealt with malicious schemers who would undermine me at every opportunity. Both types have come in both genders so it isn’t that. Really, I would like to think that I view the sexes equally. Or at least I thought I did until I peeked in to my mental box of biases and had an honest look at them. It dawned on me that I might be a hypocrite. I hate when I figure out some aspect of myself is an asshole…. dammit. I started to have a clue during recent vacations and business travel. When flying, I would board the plane, and as you do (or at least I do) I check the cockpit to see if the pilots look like they know what they are doing. I started to notice that I would have a subconscious calming of my nerves if there was a female pilot. Seriously, a palpable sense of relief would wash over me to see a woman at the helm. Then I noticed, when driving through border crossings between countries, if I had an option to, I would try to pick the line by the gender of the border guard. My thundering bias that the women were tougher and might call for a search of my car suddenly struck me and I would try for the more potentially amenable dude. I feel the same way about police officers, and I have no idea why. When lining up for a customer service agent, I pick the women if I can. Are they going to try harder to help me than a dude would? Probably not, but apparently my secret sexist has the illusion that she will...