Unfortunately, I can’t give you a time-tested and proven master list that spells out exactly what you should expect as minimum baseline behavior from your adult stepchildren.
You can be sure that a slew of new or evolving challenges will test you. They will make ever changing demands on your expectations, hopes, dreams, wishes and desires.
To be sure, there are some minimum baseline requirements in any relationship that form the foundation to support it. Without them, the relationship fizzles.
But when you have stepchildren, as long as you are married to their father, you will have some level of relationship with them unless they are totally estranged from him. Or you.
The odds are, no matter how difficult the relationship, you will be in their company or affected by their behavior for many years to come.
So, that begs the question, are there some behaviors that you should absolutely expect from your adult stepchildren?
Here’s where I draw the line on what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable
My list of minimum baseline behaviors boils down to two expectations. All our children should conduct themselves respectfully and courteously. They should treat us with the same basic common courtesy they offer a stranger they just met on an airplane.
Just because we’re all humans sharing the same planet.
Just because of our common humanity.
Nevertheless, I’m willing to consider that even when they don’t behave respectfully and courteously, nothing’s gone wrong.
Because everyone in this world is on his or her own unique life’s journey.
Other people’s decisions about their behavior have nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with their own thoughts and feelings. Their struggles and obstacles.
However, what I’d like to emphasize is that my minimum baseline behavior requests (notice the italics) are more well defined as they regard my husband’s handling of his adult children’s behavior toward me.
Here is what I ask of my husband regarding my relationship with his adult sons:
- Accept that I will not host a disrespectful or inconsiderate adult in our home
- Just because he desires to get together with his children and grandchildren, while I might be invited, I am not expected to join him
- He will respect whatever decisions I make to create the boundaries I need to feel that my mental and emotional space is protected
- If conflicts arise, he supports whatever decision I make regarding the integrity and honesty in my relationships with his sons
- He does not need to run interference for me, but he does need to respect and protect the sanctity of our marriage
We have come to the understanding that these requests are fair and reasonable. I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to his children’s intentions and in return he is willing to consider my requests.
But let’s be clear, my husband is an independent adult with a mind of his own. He is free to think, feel and do whatever he decides is best for himself.
And here’s the most important part, I love him no matter what.
I do not base my feelings of love for my husband on whether he conforms to my expectations.
I chose to live in emotional adulthood as the key to thriving in my second marriage and engaging in all the ups and downs of stepfamily life.
Once you willingly take responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings and behavior, you place the control of all your emotional experiences exactly where it belongs. In. Your. Own. Hands.
You decide how you want to show up in any given circumstance. No matter how someone else chooses to behave.
Their behavior has nothing to do with you. It is a consequence of their own constellations of thoughts and feelings.
No one has the power to control or manipulate me.
What minimum baseline behaviors to you wish to see from your husband or his children?
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