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Step sibling bullying

Discussion forum for parents in Australia


Step sibling bullying

My 9 year old son is having ongoing problems with his 12 year old step brother when he goes to his dads house. He has been hurting him physically and emotionally. My son doesn’t feel he can confide in his dad as is too scared this will make the situation worse. I have tried discussing it with his dad however he is very dismissive. I do not however feel this is “normal sibling behaviour” as it is so one sided. My son is now refusing to go to his dads and I do not feel like I want to send him. Advice much appreciated Thankyou
Super contributor

Re: Step sibling bullying

Hi @Kate834, thank you so much for sharing. I am really sorry to hear about what your son is experiencing. It must be such a difficult situation for him and for you, as his parent. It seems as though you have done the right thing by raising this with his Dad, although no action has been taken. If you still feel that your son is at risk of any type of abuse when staying with his Dad, then it would be best to avoid that situation as much as possible. It is not fair for your son to visit an environment if he does not want to and is also subject to abuse. This is something that you could also report to Child Protection Services in your country. This might impact your custody arrangement (if you have one) and unfortunately we are unable to provide any legal advice. It would be best to discuss this with local authorities if appropriate.

Does your son have any support to help cope with what he is going through? Heart


By the way, I have also moved your post to the 'Concerned about my teen' section as it is more likely to receive some support from other parents here. 

Active scribe

Re: Step sibling bullying

We've had to counsel my daughter (who is extremely passive) to be very assertive to her step sister who is extremely dominant, and probably 3 times as strong physically. It has come to the point of physical confrontation where the stronger one was preventing the weaker one from leaving a place... The stronger one is trying to control my daughter's behaviour, and it's usually because my daughter is trying to do something she thinks is unfair and she doesn't want to let her get away with it. My daughter is pretty agreeable, but when confronted with dominant behavior retaliates passive-aggressively, which naturally makes things worse. Unfortunately the stronger daughter always feels like she's the one getting blamed because her behaviours are the ones that are more egregious and easy-to-see. 


We've told my daughter that she should use her voice more often. She very occasionally rises to the challenge of calling her step-sister out on her BS. We've also made it clear to my step-daughter that it's not ok to physically restrain someone from going somewhere. While I have seen this behaviour as bullying, it really IS typical sibling behaviour... I've seen way worse in my own family.


When you say the 12-year-old is hurting him, what exactly are the complaints? I'm not trying to dismiss your concern, but I know from my own experience (You would not believe how angry I have felt toward my step-daughter... before accepting that she is just another kid and that she's very different from my own kid, and that she's responding like a normal kid with her predispositions) I do feel sad for my daughter, having to fight this fight with her step-sis, however they play well together 90% of the time, and if she wasn't learning this lesson from her step-sis, she'd be learning it the hard way, like I did, in school, where I was bullied constantly