We’re about to Marry, But I Have Issues with His Son’s Behavior

13 September, 2020
Q As salaamu alaikum,

I trust you are well in sha Allah.

In order to best understand my situation, I think it’s necessary to provide some background information. I am a 29 year old woman, who has never been married, nor do I have children. I have known my fiancé for three years, he is divorced, and a single parent of a 10 year old son.

He was initially upfront about being divorced and a single parent who has sole custody of his son. Within the first few months of our relationship, I assumed that his ex wife was the mother of his son. Only as our relationship became more serious, he revealed that he had his son before he was married with a woman who had a history of drug abuse and endured a five year long custody battle.

He married his ex wife when his son was a year old and the child has had no contact with his biological mother since. The child is still under the impression that his "mom" is the ex-wife. The ex-wife was divorced before marrying my fiancé and had a daughter from her previous marriage.

My fiance’s son, understandably, still believes this daughter to be his sister. They even attend the same school. My fiancé was married to his ex wife for five years, and divorced in 2016.

The ex-wife decided to have no further contact with my fiancé’s son and this 10 year old boy is living with the idea that his "mother" abandoned him and chose to live away with his "sister".

When I found out the truth of the ex-wife not being the biological mother, it was shocking. My fiancé justified not revealing this truth earlier as a result of his embarrassment regarding his conception and not wanting anyone to view his child differently. I accepted this explanation and made peace with it.

However, as I’ve spent time with his son (and coming from an education background having worked with young kids on a daily basis), I noticed that his son displayed some worrisome behaviors. Most apparent of which was his severe anger issues.

The degree that something trivial would upset him to the point of him becoming livid was eye-opening.

I am not a psychologist to ascertain what causes these outbursts, but I just saw a boy who had all these emotions that he didn’t know how to handle and as a result, lashed out in anger a lot of the time. In addition, he can be highly manipulative and (to put it simply), rude.

Even when married, my fiancé and his son lived in the same house as his parents and unmarried older sister. Therefore, it quickly became apparent during multiple conversations with my future mother-in-law that they pity him for not having a "mother" and they overcompensate by spoiling him and not disciplining him.

Ever since the divorce, this child has predominantly been in adult company. It reached a point where my fiancé and I were called into his school on two occasions in one term. Regarding the child’s rude behavior towards all his teachers as well as the teacher’s assessment that the child is around adults too much. Therefore, tends to see himself as an equal who will argue and counter whatever is asked of him that is not to his liking.

Alhumdulillah, I’ve always loved children. That’s the reason why I chose my career in the first place. For whatever reason, his son levitated towards me and always sought my approval in some way. However, there are clear behaviors and norms that I, as a parent wouldn’t tolerate with my own child, and that’s where the basis of my dilemma comes in.

I have tried my best to give him my time and energy. I’ve taken the time to talk to him, understand him, and build a bond separate from what we share as a couple with him around. I knew realistically that it wouldn’t be easy. But it has begun to reach a point where I don’t enjoy those times at all and do it out of obligation.

What amplifies it for me is the fact that I helped my sister raise her son who is the same age as my fiancé’s child. I fully understand that every child is different in terms of their quirks and personalities and that it’s unfair to make any comparisons, but I’m human. My nephew is the closest that I’ve had to my own child. He isn’t angelic by any means but he was brought up with etiquette and good-manners and was never spoilt. So for example, when I spend time with my nephew, or get him a small gift, I receive gratitude and love.

Whereas with my fiancé’s son, it’s all roses and butterflies as long as he’s getting his way. For example, I can spend an entire afternoon with just him and I, but the moment I need a break or don’t want to do something to his liking, the anger tantrums and rudeness emerge.

I’ve sat with him down multiple times, explaining to him, on his level and to the best of my ability that I don’t tolerate rudeness, and that bad behaviour won’t result in me giving in to his every whim. Alhumdulillah, my fiancé always gives me the support regarding my version of discipline.

However, this is severely undermined by his grandparents and aunt. In essence, the child receives mixed messages in terms of what’s tolerated and what is not. Unfortunately, it has reached a point where I have tried to avoid spending as much time with his son.

We were meant to make nikkah in Ramadhaan but his father passed away shortly after. My future mother in law doesn’t want him to marry until after her iddat. My parents believe that this is not a valid reason to further delay nikkah.

Any advice on my situation?


In this counseling video:

Children at this age try to exercise independence.

Be consistent with your behavior towards your step-son regardless of how other family members treat him.

Try to maintain a strong bond with him, by establishing a loving relationship.

Connect with him through sharing his interests.

Set the boundaries of your home that he will follow, regardless of what he does with extended family members.

Watch more:

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.



About Hannah Morris
Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)