3 stepparenting hacks you need to know right now

parents hugging kiddos

When someone told me that there was a way to get my stepkids to change their behavior *without* straining our relationship, I nearly fell off my chair. 

 

At the time, the relationship with one of my stepkids was really tense. 

 

And to be honest, I thought he was the problem – HE just didn’t want to listen to me. He couldn’t change his behavior. And so we argued about it daily. 

 

I complained to my spouse a lot. 

 

We both shrugged our shoulders about what to do. 

 

Deep down, I worried there was something wrong with me. 

 

But then I learned that there was actually a formula for increasing trust and connection while also changing my stepson’s behavior for GOOD. 

 

The way I was step-parenting was simply ineffective – and EASY to change. 

 

So here are the 3 simple steps I implemented to repair my relationship AND change my stepkid’s behavior: 

 

  1. Establish a firm system of boundaries, expectations, consequences, and rewards. 

 

Kids need firm boundaries and expectations to feel safe. But, parenting approaches that rely entirely on consequences are often de-motivating and don’t work in stepfamilies. Mix it up. For me, I decided to motivate my stepkid to change with a really juicy reward (hint: it had to do with screens).

 

  1. Take your emotions out of it. 

 

Calm parents are the most effective parents, and being calm, and not reacting to negative emotions, is entirely in your control. So take care of yourself first. Take some deep, slow breaths, or pause to gather your thoughts before you have a conversation with your stepkids about their behavior. For me, I would just say: “Hey – I need to think for a bit. Let’s talk in 10 minutes.”

 

  1. Support the kiddo emotionally and validate their experience no matter the behavior outcome. 

 

Kids need to feel like their stepparents are on their side – even when they mess up. This builds trust and love. If you have an expectation for their behavior, tell them you believe in them, and they can do it. If they are upset that they didn’t get the reward, or that they have a consequence, you can tell them: “I get why you’re upset. This is OK, and I still love you. I know this is hard, but your consequence still stands/ you still don’t get the reward today.”

 

And the result for me? 

 

My stepkiddo changed. He exceeded my expectations. We argue less, and I feel a lot more connected to him. 

 

And I feel such a sense of relief knowing that the strength of our relationship, and his behavior in my home, is entirely within my control. 

 

This sense of relief. A deeper, more peaceful, and connected bond with your stepkids – it’s possible for you too.

 

All it takes are 3 simple tweaks to make it work. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

The #1 reason why your boundaries aren’t respected

Woman with head in hands

If your stepkids don’t respect your boundaries and limits, you are not alone. 

 

This is so common! 

 

*Especially if you have limited authority and influence over her stepkids to actually enforce consequences*

 

And if this is you, there’s a very good reason why your boundaries aren’t effective right now – 

 

And it’s got nothing to do with you as a human. You are worthy of respect. 

 

The number one reason your boundaries don’t work right now is because of *how* you’re setting them. 

 

The most effective boundaries rely entirely on OUR own behavior, and no one else’s. 

 

You probably were never taught how to do this – I know I wasn’t! 

 

So here’s what does NOT work: 

 

Let’s say your stepson is yelling at you. If you just tell him to stop yelling at you, that may or may not actually work – simply because it relies on HIM to change. So he keeps yelling and then you get fed up and lash out, or shut down. Or go and complain to your partner afterwards (we’ve all been there!)  

 

Here’s what actually WORKS: 

 

Same scenario – your stepson is yelling at you. But instead, you address his emotions. 

And then enforce your boundary. 

 

You say:  “Hey kiddo. I can see you’re upset and angry right now, but I don’t want to be yelled at. When you’re ready to chat calmly, I’m all ears.” And then you walk away. And you wait, until he can speak to you calmly. 

 

In both scenarios, your stepson yells.

 

But in the second scenario, you don’t hang out with him while he’s doing it. You don’t engage until he’s calm.

 

And when you walk away, you’re teaching him HOW to treat you – what you will and will not tolerate.

 

And I know what you might be thinking – ”Sounds easier said than done, Kristin!” 

 

I agree with you! And especially at first – it’s like learning to ride a bike. You’re a little shaky, and fall down.

 

But no matter what (just like riding a bike) this is a skill you can learn, practice, and get really good at. 

 

And the beautiful thing is that this one simple switch in how you set limits and boundaries… 

 

can be all it takes for you to enjoy more comfortable and peaceful relationships at home. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

The only thing you need to stop lashing out

Angry mom and child

If you lash at your family and want to stop, I want you to know it’s OK. 

 

This is what most humans do. There’s nothing wrong with you. 

 

And I get why you do it. 

 

It’s because having a stepfamily can feel so infuriating – it’s the exact opposite of what we think our families are supposed to be like…

 

Maybe the bio-mom is trash talking you to her kids. 

 

Maybe you married a Disneyland Dad.

 

Maybe your stepkids completely ignore and exclude you. 

 

But, no matter how icky and maddening your situation feels right now….

 

There is also a way to stop lashing out for good, and enjoy more peaceful relationships at home-

 

Let me show you how with a story about a fellow stepmom. 

 

She came to me because she was having a lot of arguments with her husband about her stepdaughter’s behavior. (I’m sure many of you can relate!)  

 

She would get really mad and then lash out. Over, and over, and over again. 

 

She was worried about whether or not her marriage would make it. 

 

When we initially spoke during our free call, I explained to her that what she was experiencing was really common, and also something that can be easily adjusted. 

 

The real issue was that no one had ever taught her how to allow her feelings – instead of reacting to them. 

 

 

I simply told her it was possible to not react. 

 

She took this ONE tip and immediately changed her marriage dynamic. 

 

Here’s what she told me after our free call: 

 

“So, last week my stepdaughter covered a wall in her room with pictures and thumbtacks. She literally made hundreds of holes in my wall! I was so mad at first because I’m going to have to be the one to fix it later.

 

But then I just kept telling myself: I don’t need to react. It’s OK to feel mad right now.

 

Later on that same day, I calmly told my husband what happened and asked him to speak to his daughter and figure out a solution. He agreed.” 

 

Before we met, she would have just lashed out at her husband again. And he would have gotten really defensive. And the problem of the holey wall would have never gotten fixed. 

 

But now that she’s seen how powerful NOT reacting is for her marriage – she can do this over and over and over again – regardless of how mad she gets.

 

And she’s going to drastically reduce the frequency and intensity of her marital disputes in the end. 

 

And enjoy a more loving, peaceful marriage as a result. 

 

And I want you to know that if she can, you can too.

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

Why 70% of stepfamilies fail & How to Stop It

Family portrait

Yes – it’s true. 

 

Up to 70% of marriages with stepkids in the mix won’t last. 

 

And the number one reason why these marriages end is because of fighting over the stepkids. 

 

And it’s not just the arguing in and of itself –


It’s actually *how* the couple argues.


They yell and lash out. No one feels heard. Nothing ever gets resolved. No one changes. 

 

So if you are currently stuck in a state of endless tension and escalating arguments, I want you to know you’re not alone and there’s nothing wrong with you. 

 

And your marriage can make it.


It’s just hard work to figure all this out on your own. 

 

But I want you to consider that the only reason you haven’t figured it out yet is simply that – 

 

No one has ever taught you the skill of having powerful, and influential arguments that actually build intimacy and connection in a marriage with stepkids. 

 

So no, you don’t need to stay in the vicious cycle of intense fights about the stepkids or parenting styles anymore or end your relationship because of it. 

 

You can learn how to break this pattern for you and your marriage.  

 

And it only takes one person to totally change the relationship dynamic. (because hey, you need two people to actually escalate an argument!) 

 

So imagine having just one calm disagreement where you and your partner both understood each other, no matter the outcome. Imagine how content and loved you’d feel after just one conversation like that. 

 

Now imagine having those types of calm, loving disagreements over and over again. 

 

Imagine how much more loved and appreciated you’d start to feel at home. Imagine how much more intimate and fulfilling your marriage would become. 

 

Imagine how your desire and attraction for one another would spark because of it all. 

 

This is possible for you, and your marriage.


I know this because I’ve helped myself and dozens of women just like you learn the skill of navigating any difficult conversation with grace and integrity so that we can ultimately enjoy more appreciative and loving partnerships. 

 

And all it takes is learning one new, simple, skillset to have the lasting, connected marriage you want deep down, too. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

How to stop your stepkids from ruining your marriage

Child with laundry screaming

I have a really powerful story to share with you. 

 

It’s about a fellow stepmom, Kathy. 

 

Kathy has a teenage stepson who destroys her house – 

 

And I mean we’re talking like ‘throws his freshly cleaned clothes all over the laundry room, wipes toothpaste all over the mirror on purpose’ kind of destruction. 

 

This isn’t just your average ‘kids are messy’ situation. 

 

On top of that, she and her husband have zero authority or capability to make him change his behavior. 

 

As you can imagine, Kathy was losing it – she felt like her stepson was trying to get rid of her and she was taking it out on her husband. Her marriage was in trouble. 

 

She ultimately came to me because her husband is her best friend, and she didn’t want to let her stepson ruin her marriage. 

 

So I helped her focus on and strengthen what’s truly in her control: Her perception. Her reactions. 

 

I helped her understand that when kids behave this way it’s a sign of deeper emotional issues – unhealed wounds from the divorce, insecure parental attachments, or maybe something else entirely.

 

Her stepson simply didn’t have the emotional and developmental abilities to regulate himself or listen to the adults at home. 

 

She didn’t need to condone his behavior, but she was able to stop taking things so personally. 

 

Then I taught her the skill of processing her anger instead of reacting to it so that she always felt in control. She practiced and got really good at it. 

 

And now? 

 

Her stepson still destroys her house. On purpose. 

 

But she doesn’t let it get to her so much. 

 

She reminds herself he’s suffering. 

 

And she can manage her anger.

 

She’s not lashing out at her husband anymore. Her marriage is healing. 

 

And here’s the beautiful thing about this story. Kathy’s story is extreme – AND, if she can overcome her situation, that means it’s possible for you too. No matter how challenging your stepkids are. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

Why your stepkids lie + how to deal

Stepmom scolding child

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. 

 

Why? 

 

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. 

 

Now you may be wondering  – yea…but Kristin: If I do these things, will all the lies stop?

 

Maybe. Maybe not. 

 

But no matter what, these steps will help you feel calmer in your own home and will allow you to enjoy more peaceful bonds with your stepchildren.

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

Why you feel like a wicked stepmom

Woman with a hat on

Do you ever feel like a wicked stepmom? 

 

If you were just like: ” Yep! This is me!” You’re not alone. This is really common.

 

 

So let me tell you about my friend, and fellow stepmomma – C – who also used feel this way too.

 

When we first met, C told me she couldn’t stand her stepdaughter. 

 

And, on top of that, anytime C felt frustrated, annoyed, or angry with her stepdaughter, she would criticize herself for being a “wicked stepmom.” 

 

So whenever her stepdaughter came over, all this negative self-talk made C totally check out from her family.

 

What she didn’t realize though, is that because she disconnected from her family, she was also missing out on the chance to build more connected and loving bonds.  

 

And what she also didn’t understand is that all parents – regardless of whether they have biological kids or not – feel this way sometimes around the kids. 

 

Negative emotions are a normal part of parenting – and don’t make anyone a wicked stepmom.  

 

Just by judging herself for having negative emotions, C was missing out on the opportunities to build the authentic bonds she craved.

 

So I let her know that the easiest thing to do here is reset her expectations. 

 

It’s not normal to feel content, calm, and loving 100% of the time as a parent – parenting is 50% fun, 50% sh*t. 

 

It’s normal to feel annoyed, frustrated, and angry half the time. 

 

And once C stopped putting so much pressure on herself to feel good all the time as a stepmom, she was able to relax and connect more with her stepdaughter in the good moments.

 

And whenever she did get frustrated again, she’d just accept it as part of life. Part of the parenting experience. 

 

What’s beautiful about this is that C isn’t a magic unicorn. One subtle shift helped her stop feeling like a wicked stepmom, and allowed her to build a more loving relationship with her stepdaughter – even though her stepdaughter still throws tantrums and talks back regularly. 

 

And if C can do it, maybe you can too. 

 

 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

Read this if your marriage is being sabotaged

Couple yelling at each other

Do you ever feel like your marriage is being sabotaged by the other bio-parent? 

 

If this is you, I want you to know that this is all too common and you are not alone.

 

Maybe he or she tells the kiddos to ignore you, or not to listen to you. 

 

Maybe he or she has banned you from attending the kids’ sporting events. 

 

Maybe he or she is actively trying to get back together with your spouse.

 

And all of this can totally suck. 

 

But – here’s the thing: 

 

Just like you can’t force this person to stop causing all the drama – (and I’m sure you’ve tried!) –  the other bio-parent also doesn’t control you, your marriage, or how you react. 

 

Imagine this: there is a world in which this person still won’t stop texting your partner AND…

 

Instead of getting upset, you’re totally nonchalant about it because you feel confident in yourself and your marriage. 

 

And maybe no one ever taught you how to control your reactions in this way – and that’s OK. I know I definitely wasn’t taught how to do that in school.  

 

But controlling your reactions is a skill you can learn. 

 

If you’re like – OK. Yes, Kristin. Tell me more… 

 

The first step is to remind yourself of all the ways that the other bio-parent is truly NOT in control of you, your marriage, and your reactions. 

 

This person gets to say whatever he or she wants to your spouse but doesn’t control the love you guys have for one another. 

 

This person may not allow you to come to sporting events, but he or she doesn’t control the interactions you have with your stepkids when they’re in your home. 

 

Not letting the other bio-parent control the health of your marriage and your own happiness can be as simple as making the most of what’s truly in your control – and letting go of the rest. 

 

You’ve got this.

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

Why you might be stuck in the outsider’s paradox

Couple yelling at each other

Do you ever feel like an outsider in your own home? 

 

If this is you, you’re not alone – this is so common!

 

And, what’s also true is that sometimes our stepkids really do consciously or unconsciously exclude us. 

 

Yep. This really happens. 

 

But, here’s why they do it: 

 

They do it because they’re rejecting the fact that their parents aren’t together anymore, or they’re upset because they no longer get so much attention from mommy or daddy ever since we showed up.  

 

It’s not personal – any woman in our shoes would suffer the same fate. 

 

But here’s where things get tricky: 

 

When we get offended by this type of exclusionary behavior, we disengage from our families. We might go hide out in our rooms, or start doing chores – anything to avoid feeling like the outsider. 

 

But, avoiding our families doesn’t make us feel better – it only makes us feel more disconnected from everyone else in our homes. And, by not being present, we miss out on critical opportunities to build more loving and authentic connections. 

 

It’s the outsiders’ paradox: when we feel like we are outsiders, we disconnect and get the opposite of what we really want.

 

So you might be thinking now – OK…so what I can do? What’s the solution? 

 

It’s not to change your stepkids – because hey – you’ve probably already tried and given up. Changing their behavior takes time and patience, and it’s the slowest, most painful route to feeling better. 

 

Here’s where you can start: 

  • Decide for yourself why you are an important member of your family no matter what your stepkids might think or do. Maybe it’s because you’re kind. Maybe it’s because you and your spouse can model a really stable, healthy relationship. You’re in your family for a reason. Your presence matters, even if your stepkids don’t show it. 

  • Every time you start to feel the urge to hide out and avoid, stop yourself and stick around. Start showing up as if you mattered. 

 

Your stepkids and spouse will always fall short of giving you the validation you crave. Not because they are terrible humans, but because they are perfectly flawed humans.

 

Taking the time to affirm why you matter to your family is the only way to break the cycle of the outsider’s paradox….and start developing the loving, connected bonds that you really want deep down. 

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.

Stop Resenting Your Role as a Stepmom Today

woman smiling holding a cup of coffee

How often do you resent your role as stepmom and wife? 

 

If you just thought – a lot, Kristin! – Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

 

Maybe you feel like you have to keep the house clean…because no one else will. And then you resent cleaning the house

 

Or maybe you think you have to discipline your stepkids, because your spouse won’t, or doesn’t do it in a way that aligns with your parenting philosophy… And then you resent your spouse.

 

But here’s the thing – and I know this might sound crazy at first, so stick with me. 

 

You don’t really have to do anything. You could stop cleaning the house, and stop parenting your stepkids.

 

And I know what you might be thinking… That’s crazy!…If I don’t, no one else will! And then it will be chaos! 

 

And that may be true. 

 

But when you tell yourself you have to do something, it feels like you’re being forced against your will. It builds resentment and ultimately, an unhappy marriage. 

 

So that leaves you with a choice – 

 

What do you want to do for yourself and your family? 

 

You can make a choice – not out of a sense of obligation, but because it aligns with your values. 

 

Maybe you want to keep your house clean – not because you have to and no one else will – but because you love a clean house. 

 

Maybe you want to keep disciplining your stepkids – not because you have to – but because you care about them, and want to give them rules and structure to thrive. 

 

And whenever you start to feel resentful about what you’re doing, you can tell yourself this: I’m doing this because I want to…not because I have to.

P.S. Want to know more? I created a free training to help you create better relationships with your stepkids and spouse. It's really good. Click the button below to watch.