Does any of this sound familiar?
You go into your marriage with an open heart. You try your best to bond with your partner’s kids. You build up trust. You nurture them, and set consequences. You help them with their homework, their dreams.
And then, BAM! Your stepkid shoves all of that in the garbage and lies to your face. Once. Twice. Weekly. Maybe even daily.
When this happens, it can feel like your heart gets tossed in the trash too.
But here’s the thing:
Our stepkids are going to lie to us no matter how nice, supportive, and loving we are.
Because that’s what kids do. They test boundaries.
We don’t have to pretend lying is OK.
But we also don’t have to take the lies personally – they are going to lie to the adults in their lives, period.
So how can we deal with being lied to and feeling betrayed – whether it happens occasionally or pretty regularly?
I know many of us may feel very tempted to sit our stepkids down and tell them exactly how hurt and betrayed we feel in the face of all the lying.
But, this will likely lead to the kiddo feeling ashamed and guilty, and create more conflict in the parent-child relationship – which no one wants.
Here’s what actually works:
Take some time to cool off, and comfort yourself. Remind yourself your stepkids’ behavior isn’t personal.
Decide on a time-bound consequence that reinforces the lesson you want this kiddo to learn. If your stepdaughter stayed out way past her curfew, maybe you tell her she has to come home an hour earlier than normal for 7 days straight to earn back the privilege of staying out late.
Communicate the consequences calmly, and give your kiddo the chance to earn back trust.