My Husband Treats My Son Like a Step-child

BY: - 6 Nov '12 | Home

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For years now I’ve been feeling like my husband treats our son differently than he does the other kids, like a step-child. For all practical purposes, my son really is his step-son…my son is from a previous relationship and we now have two daughters together. I have, at times, criticized my husband for the way he speaks to my son. On numerous occasions, I’ve voiced that he speaks too harshly and that he should soften up a bit. In contrast, he seems to handle our daughters with kid gloves and speaks in a much softer tone always. Of course, they are considerably younger than my son, but it still made me feel uneasy at times. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to tell my husband how much this was bothering me, and had been for so long. It was then that he explained to me and admitted that he does treat my son differently than our other children.

He began to tell me that no matter how hard I tried, I could never teach a boy how to be a man. He further explained to me that the fact that he uses a firm tone with our son has nothing to do with him being his step-son. He would be the same way if he had his own biological son…”it’s just what guys do.” He said that one of the many roles as a father is to teach their son how to be a “hunter” and that he refuses to raise a lazy or worthless young man. I appreciated the way he broke down to me why he treats the girls the way that he does. So eloquently, he said he wants them to understand and to know what its like to be treated with respect at all times and that its his job to be their first love. His exact words were, “Let me spoil them so that I can set the bar high and there will be few [men] that will be able to compete.”

After the explanation of why my husband treated our son and daughters differently, I feel very foolish. I feel like I questioned his actions and his character – the man that I chose to marry. How could I do that? I know he loves and cares about my son. How could I question this? Without beating myself up over it, I simply took my protective mother blinders off and began to open my eyes and realize that God had blessed me with an insightful, compassionate man to help me raise our children. Even though our roles cross and merge from time to time, I get it now. I understand better that my role is to also be a leader, but provide them with love and the nurturing that only a mother can provide. To also be admired by our children and set the standards high for my son, so he’ll know what to look for in his future wife. I have the soft voice that our son needs to hear, as well as the loving arms he needs to embrace him and to provide the balance that he needs. For my daughters, I thank God for the Daddy’s girls that my husband has created as I continue show them how to be little ladies.

So, yes it is a known fact that my husband treats our son differently than he does the girls, but after hearing and understanding that my husband’s intentions are sincere and seeing the amazing children that we are rearing together, I’m grateful for the difference!

BMWK – Have you ever questioned how your spouse treats/disciplines your kids (their step-kids?)  How did you handle this in your family?  How do you handle differences in disciplinary styles in your family?

About the author

Sheree Adams wrote 117 articles on this blog.

Sheree is a wife and WAHM of three who passionately blogs about marriage, family, health tips and more as Smart & Sassy Mom. Sheree is committed to helping blended families and keeping marriages strong, healthy, fun and SPICY!


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57 WordPress comments on “My Husband Treats My Son Like a Step-child

  1. Lucy Pannell

    Glad he broke that down for you. As I was reading the opening paragraph…My only thought was if he is the only boy and the oldest, he IS going to treat him different as it is his job to mold him into a man. When I read your comment that he shouldn’t speak to him so harshly, I’m thinking, that is the problem with many men today. They can take a critique and would rather be pacified.

    So glad he cleared that up for you… and you know to step aside and let him do his job as his father.

    1. Sheree

      Thanks Lucy! Its a challenge when you don’t know what to do. My gut was right, which I guess is why it took me so long to say something. I knew I was in the way, but being a protective mother is all I knew. I’m still that way, but I’m marveling at the great young man he’s turning out to be.

  2. KL

    I agree wholeheartedly with Lucy Pannell. The age of the children and the gender make a big difference. We have 4 sons. Each of us brought a son to the relationship and we had 2 more sons together. It used to piss me off that the older boys where treated firmly and the babies got a pass. Then once each of the younger boys turned 2 the man-training began. It sometimes causes me as mommy to clutch my pearls, but so far so good. Today they are 23, 14, 8 and 5. They are all growing into amazing, responsible, respectful young men. It’s a blessing.

  3. kw

    i agree that you do have to be firm with boys, but it shouldn’t be that drastic of a difference between your son and your daughters. how is your husband showing balance with your son? and how does your son feel about your husband and they way he treats him? there are too many black boys that are not receiving balance when it comes to parenting. either they are being babied, or they are being handled roughly. if they have a good relationship overall, and your son loves and respects your husband, than you should feel more at ease. please go with your gut. and it’s ok to question your husband about they way how he is treating your child. you are that child’s mother and you are his protector. he came first.

    1. Sheree

      Thanks kw for your comment. I didn’t pounce, I wanted to find out from my son who never seemed bothered by any of this, if he felt like he was mistreated. He said that he felt like his Dad was strict and old fashioned! LOL Aa long as he (my son) was ok I was fine.

  4. Janubie

    If the mother was confused how do you think the child feels? It is very easy for a child to feel like they are being treated differently by a step parent. Actions need to be taken to show the son that he is loved by his step father just as much as his siblings. And there is nothing wrong with a boy being comforted by his father.

    1. Sheree

      I have always talked to my son and exposed my vulnerability as a human as well. My son and I are very in tune to one another. He can always tell when something is bothering me. I asked him his feelings because I wasn’t sure of them. He assured me that he was fine and didn’t understand “where all of this was coming from.” They have their bonding moments that I’m not included in. That makes me happy.

  5. Shawanda

    Shree, I had virtually the exact experience with my husband. And when we talked, our conversation went down virtually the same way. Now, we have a son together as well, and he treats him the same way that he treats my oldest son (his step-son), and I fully understand the difference now. I think it’s really great Sheree, that you and your husband were able to talk about it openly. It’s a testament to the strength of your marriage. I was so grateful that my husband and I could talk about this issue openly, and it made me love him so much more, because he truly cares about his step-son. He doesn’t even call him his step-son; he calls him his son. Because the biological father of my oldest son voluntarily checked out, I respect and love my husband enormously for stepping in voluntarily to be his dad, and to love & cherish him the way he does his biological children.

    1. Sheree

      Thanks Shawanda. You can relate then. My kids are my heart. That son of mine was here first, but I had to decide if I was doing him more harm by being in the way. My husband would never be abusive. I just don’t have the testosterone to understand, I guess.

  6. Tyrease

    My 1st thought after reading this is “was your husband harsh with his step son before the birth of the girls?” My husband & I have a son & daughter together. Since our son’s birth my husband has been more hard, tough, harsh or whatever term you want to give it. BTW: our daughter is 5yrs old & our son is not even 2yrs old yet. It really bothered me initially because I watched him with our daughter when she was a baby & he handled her like a baby dove, but with our son he handles him like a mature hawk. I must admit our son does some things our daughter never did or even thought to do. He’s fearless, a risk taker & rough around the edges. His dad, my husband, was a lil rambunctious child & says he doesn’t want that from his son. However, there has never been a question of how much he loves them both. The time he spends outside of disciplining makes a tremendous difference. The alone time he spends with them individually makes an ever bigger difference. I agree with a few who have stated there should never be a question of “does he love the stepchild?” There shouldn’t be such a difference between the children that they actually notice it. Kids pick up on every action, word & tone that comes from parents & at a very early age. These actions help shape & mold them into who they will become. I am one who tries to praise in public & discipline in private away from the other child. I think it helps eliminate some of the sibling rivalry. With all that’s been said it might be a good idea to have some family meetings so everyone can share their feelings in a respectable, loving & caring environment. I think its actually OK to get the kids perspective on issues like these. I think it helps to keep a line of open communication amongst the family members. In the end all any child wants is unconditional love. #prayingforallparentstodotheirbest

    1. Sheree

      Thank you Tyrease for your prayers. My husband loves my son dearly. No matter what challenges my son tried to throw in my husband’s way, he has always, overall been more patient than me. Its just that I am a mommy. And mommies love differently than daddies, something I had to learn. BTW, we used to have family meetings all the time but have now gotten away from them. If we had some pressing issues, I guess we could start them again. Be blessed.

  7. Andriea ISH

    This is a beautiful story! I’m glad that you decided to talk to your husband about it. Often, we put things together in our heads and hold on to the emotions those thoughts cause without ever checking out the actual situation. In this case, you did and it worked out for the best.

    1. Sheree

      Thank you Andrea. This is all still new to me: marriage, motherhood….because everyday is an adventure (good, bad, exciting and frightening) and I lean on God for His guidance and reassurance. There is no other way.

  8. PR Brown

    It is very important that we raise our son’s into manhood with a strong hand. We must remember that the Criminal Justice system eagerly awaits those who are not up to the many challenges that face good men.

  9. Furtherance

    I am a father of three children. My two oldest children are from a previous relationship but they live with my wife and I. I often times feel that my wife is very hard on my son. I tell her all the time that he has a father, what he needs is a mother. Someone to be nurturing, loving and compassionate to him. I have pleaded with her to allow me to do the discipline and correction but her response is that I create a situation where my son only has to respect what I say and not what she says. I do understand this. However, I know that the absence of my son’s (natural) mother in his life weighs heavy upon him and he needs some love and affection. I have tried to pick up the slack in that area but he is getting older and I don’t want to hug and kiss on him all the time. I feel like that is a mother’s role. I married, partly to have someone nurture my son and now I feel like I have to constantly protect him from her harsh treatment. Please help me understand how to properly deal with this issue. ~ A Daddy’s Boy

  10. Cenia

    I had the same problem with my husband and my son who are biological father and son. I felt that he was too hard on him while he was very easy on our daughter. He broke it down to me the same way and I am so glad that he did. My husband and my son have and awesome relationship now. My son is now 19 and in college. He is very respectful and independent and I am now greatful that he was and is the father that he is.

  11. Bekki Woody

    A mother clearly knows when anyone (husband..stepmom…grandparents…aunts and uncles) are dealing with their child out of love. If you ever have to question it or feel confused nine times out of ten you are seeing it for what it is. Just always make sure you take off your blinders and deal with it accordingly. Men teaching men is fine and well…but love my son first and the rest should follow.

  12. Anonymous

    My husband has 2 Sons prior to us being married they were 7 and 9 now there 21 and 19. Because, The first one is not his biological son he raised the both of them. Thats fine but, when it comes to these boys and their mother. I have to take the back seat. The kids mother has kept up so much drama through the years these kids barely speak to me when around me.
    Every family event on my husband side of the family I dread going. Not wanting to be made uncomfortable by her and her sons.
    Their mother still keeping it going and when I mention this to my husband how uncomfortable this makes me feel. He totally ignores it. Every time we go to visit his mother shes always there. I understand that this is how his family play games but, Ive explained to him that I have no control who your mom invites to her home but, it doesnt mean that I have to come around it.
    I know Im off the subject a little bit but, I have contemplated divorce over this many of times its like too much sometimes.

    1. Bekki Woody

      Anonymous…..I feel your pain and understand fully your concerns. I see this is not only your husband not understanding your discomfort. But the feeling of his being absent when it comes to being your partner and having your back. You would probably never allow anyone to make him feel this way. Since it is so late in the marriage and the boys have grown counseling may really tell open your husbands eyes to your dilemma. And it also may help you come to a better understanding as to why your husband continues on like this. I will say you are very Blessed to have a family man that keeps even his extended family together. That is to be appreciated. I wish you the very best in your marriage.

  13. Zaynab

    I have similar issue with yours but my own child is a girl, she ll be 12 yrs by Feb. He s harsh on her when he talks to her which he doesn’t with his 17 year old daughter evn when she s wrong. This is breaking me apart psychologically

  14. SLS

    Hello Sheree, Ordinarily I do not comment on the things I read on this site, I just count it a blessing that so many people our open enough to share their experience and knowledge for the benefit of others. Your particular story I felt inclined to share a different perspective – that of having been a step-child. Your son, no matter what your husband attempts to do, will always know he is not his father’s child by birth and for him, deep in his heart, he will question how much your husband loves him in comparison to how he perceives how much he loves his ‘own’ children. That is a very difficult thing to change, if ever. And being the mother of both a boy and girl, I definitely understand there is a need to teach them different things that are appropriate and necessary due to their gender both from their father and their mother; however our first obligation is to make sure I children know that they are loved unconditionally because without that all other lessons will fall short. The fact that you perceived your husband treats your son different and he acknowledged that he does should have been a moment to consider how you can continue to raise your son together in a manner that makes him feel loved by his father just as unconditionally as your girls do and then instill the lessons he believes he needs to grow into a strong man. A step-child naturally starts out feeling as though they’re being treated ‘less than’ because you can’t change the fact that he is not your husband’s biological child and they only see the black and white. So to me your first priority to your son is to make sure he feels like he is your husband’s son, to the fullest degree possible, before he tries to teach him how to be a man. Trust me that lesson will carry far more weight than anything else he learns from your husband when he becomes a man – the fact that another man loved him so much that it was as if he was his very own, so not only does he not hear the word ‘step’ he doesn’t feel it either because with that kind of love he can’t help but to be a strong man.

  15. Tashell

    I disagree with this article. I felt the same as Deanna. A loving tone should be used at all times regardless if your a male or female. Parents do not want to rear children who rear children and use two different tones. Are we Bi-polar? A firm tone is only required when warranted. There is always a better way to doeak

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  19. cindy

    My daughter from a diff relationship was 6 when we got married. One year later, the first of 4 children between my husband was born. My husband was so strict from the day we got married. (kind as a dove prior to) I think it was all about his own image and how others would percieve his success with this new ‘family’ That first summer he was on her about everything. It wasn’t just discipline, it was guilt tripping and shaming for such as, throwing candy wrappers over the neighbors fence while playing outside with friends, picking neighbors pretty flowers to give to me, picking bark off of any tree, coming in even a couple mins late after the streetlight. Frustrations with homework would lead to extra 10 pages, and groundings for several day stretches. A friends mom came to the door and actually pressed me as to why my daughter was grounded so much. Sleepovers at Grandpas were cancelled at times when my sister and her similar aged girls were visiting from out of state as a means of control. I understand discipline is important, but it was the methods. Not creatively inspiring a cooperation, but void of any empathy of the new living arrangements and that perhaps my daughter was grieving that I and her real father would have no chance to get together. (logical that a child would want his/her bio parents to be together, right?) Everyday I would call from work and ask how they were doing and I would always hear about what an attitude she had… Any attempt to plead with my husband to simply speak kinder and show a little more understanding was met with that I was being Anti-dad, etc. He would end up with her in the basement in the dark. She would cry her eyes out and scream until she eventually quieted, not in peace and restoration but as a broken will and broken spirit. Upon her apology for said wrongdoing, my husband could then feel he conquered and would move on from there. Looking back as I confront my husband with those awful techniques, he would say He thought it was ok because that is how they dealt with things at the childrens center for troubled children where he worked. She is now 25 yrs old and will not talk to him, barely if at all, she avoids him and totally lays low. She has never smoked, drank, been sexually active, done drugs. She has acquired 2 degrees in the med field and works now as an RN at a local hospital. With our other 4 children, ages 11-18, my husband treads so lightly, he teaches the boys how to be men and tough things… I think that is great. But when they do ‘dumb’ things, as youth often do, my husband’s technique is so different, in fact it is usually with the consideration and working to be patient, that I always wished he could have shown with our oldest. He is not out to intentially bring shame in order to somehow control them. And believe mye, my oldest is no more selfish, rude, emotional, or disobedient than any of our kids. In fact tey are angels, gems… their grandmother, after a 10 day visit at her house, was in tears, and said “I just can’t believe how good your kids get along, I’ve never seen such well behaved kids that could go so long without arguing, I am so amazed!” The only thing is, if my oldest says anything such as ‘do you guys have to argue first thing in the morning…” My hubby goes right back to the same attitude towards her that she is so awful for saying even that one sentence, but the other kids will say the same thing, ‘Do you have to argue?!, or get into why we have to argue in front of them, and he will not make them feel bad for saying and even joining in for the next half hour. It seems so inconsistent to me. I think it is terrible for us to argue in front of them but we do often, and I feel if they are subjected to it, they should ALL be able to express their pain over it and question it. But only one of them gets slammed for doing so, and that one sentence will bring about her condemnation for the next hour or so…

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Seduction: How to Love Your Man To Life

BY: - 6 Nov '12 | Home

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When you ask a man how he feels, he may only be able to tell you what he thinks. Men are thinkers. Their feelings are hidden as the intellectual property of their soul. Feelings are filtered in their head and they are rarely able to get to them. It’s not that they don’t want to feel, but rather that feelings are hard to get to, because they are not “wired” that way. Men are challenged by this paradox because they are always running into situations that force them to the ocean floor of their emotions.

When tears are hard to hold back and anger is crying for revenge and violence, men rush to rescue these feelings with logic; calculated thought that gives rise to stability and control. If anything is ever important for a man, it is always to control his emotions. Feeling is a dance they fear having because thinking is safer and more promising. Thinking keeps them from the explosive realities of their emotions. So, it’s not that they don’t feel, it’s just that they don’t feel like women feel. Which brings up an interesting dynamic. The thought that if men do not do it like women, then they are somehow doing it wrong.

Men don’t have to do things like women to connect with women. Men need to learn and accept that the way they are “wired” is OK. Somewhere along the line, men have learned that there was something wrong with them. The way they sorted through sexual development by exploring as many girls as possible; the way they perceived their realities and responded to their environments; the way they sought attention and popularity; the way they ran from their responsibility when life left them with no resolve; the way they cried, without tears because they really loved the things they lost. There is nothing wrong with manhood, but there is something wrong with life, and men have had to live in it and figure out how and where they fit.

The man’s environment needs to take responsibility for restoring him to leadership and ownership. Society has stripped away so much, so fast. They lost everything they once had authority over. Somehow sociological progressions lead to their regression at the cost of their families.

They are not bad.

They are not lost.

They are lonely.

They are tired.

They are confused.

Even their churches and Sunday school classes are feminine in nature. Their schools were geared towards non-aggressive interactions and soft talk. And their women, well, their women have written them off as irresponsible, seed sowers with no significance. Their courts have determined that they make bad parents, compared to women. Their world has concluded that only sex sells to them and has used them for capital gain. For black men, which I won’t elaborate on extensively in this article; they were de-masculinized by their slave owners, who thought it was a good ideal to rape their wives and breed their daughters, while selling their sons.

So, men are not lost. Men are lonely and one of the greatest, most powerful institutions of restoration for them is marriage and family. Their women stand at the pinnacle of their rescue. Their women can love them back to life because real men want nothing more than a reason to belong to something.

So women, love him, like you have lost your mind. Cultivate an environment that breaks his soul and makes him collapse into your arms. Give him a touch that reminds him that life is not over yet. Look at him as though your life depends on his success. Get behind him, beside him, underneath him, and even above him when he needs to be pulled forward. But most of all, get inside of him. You will find things there that will even secure your own insecurities. Cry the tears that won’t fall from his eyes. Literally, take your tears and place them to his face. It’s been too long for him and he knows that this marriage may be the only chance he has to find his life.

About the author

Leroy Scott wrote 9 articles on this blog.

Leroy Scott, MA, MDiv. is a published author, Licensed Professional Counselor, motivational speaker, Life Coach and relationship expert with over 15 years of professional counseling experience. His counseling services and innovative techniques have impacted thousands of people throughout the world.


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