13 Things to Never Say to a Stepparent
Being a stepparent is hard enough without the insensitive comments from other people. Here’s how to avoid making a tough situation worse.
“It’s not your place to complain”
“It’s deeply ingrained that stepmoms should a combination of Mother Teresa and Mary Poppins, where they shouldn’t complain or judge,” Kelly says. For that reason, you should refrain from telling a stepparent to hold off on voicing concerns. Instead, she emphasizes the benefit—for all parties—of becoming educated about the challenges that each individual may be experiencing. More importantly, the APA notes that seeing a psychologist can help stepfamilies deal with a variety of situations more smoothly.
“You’re only in it for the money”
This comment, and other similar bold assumptions “usually come forth under distress,” explains Bahar. “A direct comment like this is probably coming from heightened feelings of anger, resentment, or injustice—or the feeling that something happened that isn’t of goodwill,” she says. It’s not uncommon for you to feel this way, though. According to the APA, “remarriage may resurrect old, unresolved anger and hurts from the previous marriage, for adults and children.” Still, Bahar suggests that it’s best for both parties to avoid making—and responding to—such overt statements.
“I don’t need therapy—you do”
“Therapists with training and experience in stepfamily dynamics can help meet the challenges of stepfamily living,” the AAMFT notes. In fact, therapy can be good for couples, children caught in loyalty conflicts, and ex-spouses. Unfortunately, not everyone is always included in therapy. “I have found that the biological dad, for example, will have therapy, or go with the child and the biological mother, but will not include the stepparent,” says Bahar. It’s important to involve everyone. Otherwise, she says, a host of unresolved feelings and assumptions—on all fronts—may prevail. Here are 9 signs you should think about seeing a therapist.