How should a stepfather respond to “You are not my Father!”?

2017-03-19 10:41:58

So the situation is that I'm not the real father of my son. I call him my son since I love him very much, but he is my girlfriend's son from her previous relationship.

I'm afraid though... He does listen to me.. for now. But I'm afraid that when the time comes, and he will be a teenager who rebels against everything, he will pop this line.

I do think that I have a good relationship with him. He does love me, too. I can tell as much, but you know... Children are children, he will change his mind the first time I forbid him to smoke a cigar or whatever.

So how should I handle this? This IS an ultimate defense. And a hurtful one too.

I was brought up by a stepdad, and yes, "You are not my real dad" is an "ultimate defense" used to hurt, and only to hurt, when you feel wronged, and you feel you have no more arguments left to why you should not be allowed to do something/forced to do something. It's the equivalent of saying "You are stupid". He will not change his

  • I was brought up by a stepdad, and yes, "You are not my real dad" is an "ultimate defense" used to hurt, and only to hurt, when you feel wronged, and you feel you have no more arguments left to why you should not be allowed to do something/forced to do something. It's the equivalent of saying "You are stupid". He will not change his mind about how he feels for you, or maybe he will, and that's okay.

    Don't be hurt by his words. Admit that he is correct in that "you aren't his real dad". Reaffirm that not being his biological father is not important to you because you still care about him. You are forbidding him to [smoke, drink, whatever] because you care.

    2017-03-19 10:45:48
  • As someone who was adopted at four my advice is to ask why the child feels that way, does he feel you are treating him differently than any other child in your family? And then ask what exactly constitues being a "real father". Then I would explain the best you can that you are his real father, you are the one raising him, you took the legal and financial responsibilities, you are the one who is involved in every aspect of his life caring for him and protecting him.

    You are his father, he needs to understand and respect that.

    I don't recal ever saying this to my dad, but my brother used the line "you are not my real brother" on me when he was mad and it hurt a lot.

    2017-03-19 10:49:44
  • As Lennart says, he may say it just to hurt you, but whether it comes out or not, it has nothing to do with whether or not he'll obey you. If you were his biological father, he'd just find some other biting remark.

    That said, by the time he's a teen, doing the right thing (mostly -- we all make mistakes) should be the result of his good judgement, not yours. If he can't make good decisions for himself by then (with your advice, but not just out of obedience to you) you've already failed as a parent.

    Good parents teach their children to be progressively more independent and capable, not to simply do as they are told as teens the same way they must as young children.

    2017-03-19 10:51:07
  • I've never been in that situation but the first response that comes to my mind is to say

    "Thats true, and I love you anyway. But you still can't ..."

    2017-03-19 10:59:15
  • Tell him:

    Father is not only a title, its a job.

    You may not be his biological father by title,

    but you have the job of his being his father and you plan to do it as well as you can.

    2017-03-19 11:03:11
  • I used to live with my stepfather and my mom for many years and at one point I told my stepfather "you are not my real father" in response to him trying to discipline me. I think it was hard for him and he let my mother do the disciplining part. That didn't work either.

    I think as a stepfather you are in a very disadvantaged position, especially if the father is a figure that the child can admire or like.

    I hadn't seen my father for more that 34 years and when I finally met him it felt like for 30 minutes I got out of him more than I got from my stepfather for 30 years. We just have immediate connection that seems to have always been there.

    So I think you should acknowledge in your heart this possibility and try to build an emotional connection with the child by being available, open minded, accepting and loving. You can never replace the birth father as he is a huge part of the identity of the child, even when the father is absent. And you cannot reinforce this identity and have

    2017-03-19 11:03:16
  • Let him know that you love him very much and that you have rules for his betterment. Also, If you feel hurt by that statement you should tell him. It is important that people in general understand when they have hurt someone. If he knows how much you love him and realizes that he is hurting someone that loves him by saying that then he may start to think better of it. It is not a weakness to let children know that they have hurt you. It is also not a weakness for them to see you cry. Don't turn on the tears to make him feel guilty, but if makes you cry don't try and hide it to "play the man".

    2017-03-19 11:11:53
  • My experience as a parent of three children, ranging from 12 - 19 years old, is that all children are different in how they react to boundaries being set, and the more familiar they are with the adult setting the limits, the more freely they will express their particular style of objection.

    I've also had the situation of trying to introduce a new man into my children's lives (their father died when they were little) and forming a relationship with his daughter.

    At one point or another each of my children have told me they hated me (when young and being told they couldn't do/have something they wanted). I've never taken it to heart and my response would be something like, well I love you, or that's a shame and leave it at that for the time being. If their behaviour has been explosive or over the top in an attempt to get their own way, I firmly stand my ground; but it is later when things are calm, that I will sit down with them and discuss their reactions.

    I generally tell them, th

    2017-03-19 11:21:10
  • How you should handle comments like this will depend on the situation, and what language is used around it.

    There is a difference between:

    "You're not my father! I hate you!"

    And:

    "You can't tell me what to do, you're not my father!"

    There's also a difference between a flippant remark, meant just to irritate/hurt you, and an outburst used as a final argument when logic and reasoning have been overcome by irrationality and emotions. It's not necessarily an "ultimate" response.

    If your child is in a state of emotion that takes them beyond the point of reasoning with them, then the best response would be to ignore the comment itself, despite its sting, and instead hear it as a cue that the situation has escalated too far.

    If it's a matter of them saying "I hate you!" along with it, then their statement is pretty much the equivalent of a child saying "I hate you!" to biological parents: That is, it's the most hurtful comment they can think to say at the time. Comments like this

    2017-03-19 11:21:50
  • I'm not sure if I have an answer per se, but I do have a point of view based on my own experiences.

    When I was a pre-teen, my mother remarried to a man who had a temper problem (no physical violence) and felt the need to control every situation. One day I was having an animated conversation with my mother. My stepfather walked in to the room at the end of the conversation and heard something I had said facetiously. He barked at me, "Your attitude is bullshit!" So I barked it back, "well, you're not my father!"

    The "you attitude" comment is not what precipitated this episode. What precipitated it was the constant tension caused in the household by this man. He was judgmental, off-standish, verbally abusive to a degree, and very controlling and dismissive of other people's points of view. The "you're not my father" comment wasn't the war; it was the nuke to end the war and emerge the victor.

    So, my point of view is this. Maybe this is idealistic fantasy, but if my step-fathe

    2017-03-19 11:27:08
  • I think when (if) he says it, you should not appear overly hurt by it, even if you are. And especially not angry. If he is saying it to hurt you, in a moment of anger (as all teenagers tend to have from time to time), knowing that it is a way to get to you could encourage them to do it more often.

    It may not happen, I had a step dad and a step mum, I felt more rebellious towards the latter than the former. This was just to do with the interactions I had growing up.

    2017-03-19 11:36:17
  • One possibility is to stop calling him "son".

    Obviously you love him and want him to think of you in that way, but he already has a father, and he's aware that you're not him. If he doesn't want to think of you in that way, it might be better to use his name, as if he were just a friend's child, and see how he reacts. He might prefer it, as it means you're treating him more like an adult and equal in his mother's life; or he might decide he prefers the father-son relationship and go back to calling you Dad.

    Bottom line, accept his terms on how he wants your relationship to be. He may well be worried about being abandoned again, and have negative connotations about how much "Father" actually means.

    2017-03-19 11:43:01
  • My daughter has said this to her step-father, and it was of course in a situation where she was in trouble. I felt he handled it pretty well under the circumstances. He kept calm and pleasant & simply said to her "No I'm not your birth father, but I love you guys and I work really hard to support you and make sure you have everything that you need" and went on to ask what she felt constitutes a "real" father, to which she didn't really have a response. The issue was calmly resolved, however my husband's feelings were still really hurt and it still sticks with him, but I think he handled it great. Hope that helps :)

    2017-03-19 11:46:42
  • As a stepdad of a 21mo I've been thinking about this one. I figure if/when he throws this attack at me my reaction ought to be apathetic. Lennart's answer is right, its just a last-ditch attack that doesn't actually mean anything. So I'd try to let it roll off (of course I'm sure its easier said than done).

    2017-03-19 11:48:14
  • Ive been a single parent to a boy who's not my biological son.

    I see it this way...I am his real dad as in 'The one who's loved him, raised him and has been and always will be there for him.

    A father is biological not spiritual, as in 'I fathered the child', but this could just be a sperm donor or someone the child doesn't even remember.

    As a dad...you'll have all the same problems as a

    father who is a dad. Just do the best you can. We all make mistakes along the way, but let love be paramount, and you'll be fine. It's not easy always thought is it?

    2017-03-19 11:55:01
  • There is a reason why God put you with us and not your old dad. Be grateful.

    2017-03-19 11:58:32