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Should You Treat Your Step Kids The Same As Your Own Children?

Updated on May 30, 2012

In an ideal world when you meet a partner that has children who will need to move in with you and your children (or you move in with them), you’d love it if everything could go swimmingly well and you all live together happily ever after. But in truth there’s probably going to be many bumps you’ll crash into at the speed of light along the way and one of them mega bumps is deciding if you should treat your step kids the same as you would your own kids.

On first reactions you might think well of course you should because it would be wrong to single anybody out but there’s a little bit more to it than what first meets the eye and you may have to consider and make allowances for their individual needs, personalities and aspirations.

Someone’s Got To Change

If you take on someone else’s children then you should try to remember that they are probably used to living life in a certain way, possibly different to yours and if you intend on treating all the children in the same way then someone has to change, either your children or your partners children.

It may be that they have had different rules, different clothing allowances, pocket money different coming home times if they were allowed to play out or different levels of attention and space needed.


But It's Not Fair!

You may hope that treating the kids all the same will illuminate the "it's not fair" tantrums but believe me when I say it can lead to just as many!

There are a number of things the children will see differently to you and they will be quick to hold you to ransom if they think you are treating any of them differently.

The Age Factor

You'll get off quite lightly if all the children are of a similar young age as they are far more open to acceptance and change, but this can vary massively when they are reaching the teenage years. They are not so forgiving and will usually not be shy in voicing any opinions they may have if they feel you are treating them with an injustice so you would be well advised to get it right with them as quickly as possible.


The Money Issues

If you consider yourself to be loaded then first of all lucky you! You can just keep throwing money at the kids until they've flown the nest, they may end up a bit spoilt but you'll probably make it out to the other side alive.

No I'm kidding there, you'll probably still face the same regular grilling like the rest of us by the kids "but they've had more than me!".

Pocket Money

If all the kids are the same age then it's easier to just give them all the same amounts of pocket and you can get away with telling the younger ones that they will receive the same amounts as the older children when they are that age too, but first you've got to decide if the kids take an increase or a decrease in pocket money.

What if your partner usually gives their children a lot more pocket money than you can afford to give yours, what happens if you both can't afford to increase the pocket money to make it even?

You can bet your life that no kids will be happy to suddenly have a decrease in pocket money and the last thing you want to create in your blissful happy families is resentment.

Club Money

Not all children have an interest in attending outside school football clubs, drama groups or dancing lessons etc but when they do, it's you picking up the bill for it and let's face it, that doesn't usually come cheap.

So how do you keep things fair, equal or the same when it comes to one of the kids attending football twice a week at let's say five pounds a time and the other four children have no interest in going. Do you tell the other children that if they attend a club, you will pay for it but they don't get the money or do you simply hand over forty pounds between the rest of the children? Either way in the children's eyes there could still be an injustice going on. "But he/she gets more money than we do to pay for the club". "But my money goes on my club, you all get more spendable pocket money than me".

The Outsiders Money

Being able to figure out how you will spend your money wisely among the children is one thing, but then how other people distribute their money is a whole other problem!

How will you tackle the problem when one of the children comes home one day and says "My Nan gave me twenty pounds today". You can see she hasn't given any money to the rest of the kids, it might be through not thinking or it might be that she hasn't entirely taken your children on yet, it might be that you don't get along with her well enough to say "look this isn't fair on the rest of the children". Do you insist they share the money out between the rest of the kids, do you take it off of them, do you tell the other kids well I'm sorry but nothing I can do if she has twenty pounds more than you or do you and your partner agree to give all the other kids twenty pounds each to keep the peace?

In one way or another this will be seen as hugely unfair by some of the kids, all of the kids or even you and your partner. Would you want to share your twenty pounds? Could you be happy if your siblings had more money than you? What if Nan started doing that weekly and you had four more children, could you afford to cough up eighty pounds a week for them? In this economy probably not!


Playtime's Over

If the children are allowed out to play and have previously been given different 'coming home times' then you may need to make changes in order for fairness to have its rightful place.

You will stand a better chance of survival if you were to extend the children's playing out time than you would if you were to suddenly try to reduce someone's in time.

However, brace yourself because you can almost guarantee that the children will still find something unfair if they can. "But she's two month younger than me and I wasn't allowed out that late until it was my birthday."

Individual Needs

Every child is unique in their own little way and they may need you to adapt the fairness policy a bit in order for you to help them blossom into aspiring young adults. The children could have had different upbringings, come from different backgrounds (good or bad), they may need extra attention, help with home work, discipline, support or incentives. It might be that some of the children are used to a quiet environment and suddenly it's a whole lot louder and hectic for them.

Ripping Up The Fairness Policy...Erm...Maybe!

Dividing your love and attention at a suitable amount to avoid jealousy, resentment and unfairness will never be an easy task but one thing you can be certain of is that fair is not always fair, equal is not always equal and parenting will never be easy!

If the children have set their hearts on the fairness policy then you are more than likely to be faced with it at every corner you turn. Remember you are the adults and that you will have to draw the line somewhere before they drive you insane with it all, that's if they haven't already.

Always try your best to discuss any arising issues with your partner and when you both feel like you are hitting your heads against a brick wall then don't be afraid to ask the children to come up with a solution of what they think is fair. You will possibly be quite surprised at what alternative suggestions they will come up with.


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    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 5 years ago from London

      Hi thougtforce,

      Thanks for having a read and for the votes.

      I should have mentioned about former partners in this article actually, sometimes they are harder to deal with than the children. There will always be more difficult moments than you can ever imagine when raising other peoples kids, but it's how you deal with each situation that will ultimately determined how successful bringing the two families together goes. One word that first springs to mind is 'tactful', 'very tactful'. xxx

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      This is difficult and I don't think it is possible to do it in a way which will make everyone satisfied and think it is fair. There must be adjustments from everyone and it will take time. You have written a fantastic hub and listed so many different situations. I also think that many of these situations are hard to foresee so this is a useful hub for many people. To make a mix of two broken families must be even harder if some of the former couples disagree!

      I am full of admiration of those who can handle this. Thanks for an interesting hub, voted up, interesting, useful


    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 5 years ago from London

      Hi Angela Brummer,

      Thank you, I appreciate your recognition of this interesting but very complicated subject. You are right that every situation is very different and unique, and every step family has the agonising choice of deciding what will be best for their family.

      Very grateful for you stopping by. Best

    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 5 years ago from London

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thank you for having a read and for taking the time to comment. I totally agree the parents should be the ones telling the kids how it is going to be, it's so easy to feel a bit swamped by it all at first because you so desperately want to get things right and for everybody to be happy, but if both parents are playing a very active role in discussing each problem then it's defiantly a whole lot easier to not let the kids dictate the situation.

      Much of the time you don't realise just how many issues you are going to come across and what all those issues are going to be, so it's not always possible to have everything ironed out first but it does help to have as much as possible planned in advance.


    • Victoria Stephens profile image

      Victoria Stephens 5 years ago from London

      Thanks kashmir56,

      Bringing two families together is a massive change for everyone and it's so important to find just the right balance for each individual.

      Best wishes and thank you for having a read.x

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Oh this is complicated in half a million different ways and would be so unique in every situation. Wow what a topic! You are brave to take it on! Great hub.

    • Author Cheryl profile image

      Cheryl A Whitsett 5 years ago from Jacksonville, Fl

      Well in my opinion it should be discussed with your partner on how these things are handled. Children should not be given a choice regarding cerfew, money, punishment. If these issues are decided before the move then it wont be a problem after. Both parents sit down with all the children and tell them How its going to be.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Victoria, this is all awesome information that will help anyone who has or will have step kids,well done !

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

      Take care my friend !