One challenge that many step parents face but few will admit is that they do not like one or more of their stepchildren. They love their partner, they love their kids, and they find themselves particularly challenged by the behaviors of their step kids.

When a stepmom presents this problem to me, the first thing I do is "get" her on how frustrating and irritating the situation is for her. We explore all her feelings around it and get a sense for what's really getting under her skin in relationship to the child that is not "hers".

After doing some emotional "excavating", we then shift the focus to look at the ways the child is a gift in her life. We explore what this child is there to teach her and show her about herself.

The easiest way to receive the gift that is in front of you is to ask yourself what life was like for you at that child's particular age. What were you going through? What did you need from a parental figure at that time? What were the messages you received about how to be a good kid at that time?

So often we focus on someone outside ourselves, thinking that they are the problem and that they need to change in order for us to be happy. The truth is that who they are and how they behave is really their business, and the only thing we have control over is how we choose to respond to what is in front of us.

If we tell ourselves that the child is mean, rude, disrespectful, and inappropriate, that is what we will see and react to. If we tell ourselves that the child is hurting, scared, lonely, and sad, we tend to be more empathetic and understanding, and possibly even loving, as we support them in working through what's not right in their life.

Author's Bio: 

Emily Bouchard, founder of, has a Masters Degree in Social Work and is trained as a marital and family therapist. She also has a Bachelors Degree in Child Development with an emphasis on Adolescence. Most of all, she learned in the trenches what works and what does not by being a stepmom to two teenagers! She performs "open heart surgery over the phone" with her coaching clients. She helps them to be present to what's in front of them and celebrate strengths. She brings out the best in the people she work with and she brings back the joy you want to experience in being a family and as a couple