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new step parent + obstinant angry 13 year old boy, help

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
We have a truly blended family. My son who is four + my husband's niece and nephew who he has been raising for the last 6 years who are 16 (girl) and 13 ( boy). They have been somewhat raised but have gotten away with a whole lot of dysfuntional behaviors for the last several years. Now that I am in the picture and an at home mom I find myself dealing with these issues head on and wondering whether my way of raising children is different or just new to everybody because they haven't had much raising or a mom. Also, I know how to raise my 4 year old because I have one but the 13 year old is a whole other issue. He is in special ed for anger and behavioral issues. He makes life very stressful because he says no all the time when he is asked to do something or do his chores and in my mind I think saying no to an elder is absolutely not tolerable, talking about issues is but respect for the people raising him needs to be upheld. He is failing in school and really not doing much with his life at all. I have suggested getting him involved in extra-curricular activites but nothing is happening so I am going to probably have to set this up but, the disrespect is what is really getting me especially since it has become very clear that I am the one dealing with him most of the time and my son is also being exposed to this behavior. Any ideas? How much disciplining can I do as a step parent to my husbands nephew who has major anger and obstinant issues? Help?
Thank You
post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 
You all are welcome just to post comments or reactions to what I wrote. Any dialogue about this issue will be helpful at this point.
Thank You
post #3 of 11
Here's my second try at a reply - the first got eaten by the computer.

Hi, and welcome. It sounds like you have your hands full. A couple of things struck me about your post. You say that respect for elders is most important to you, but I wonder if there are things that are more important for the family unit. This boy sounds like he's been though a lot, and is adjusting to more. It's hard to have an "insta-parent" who expects immediate respect and compliance. I wonder if you could approach things to encourage him to be a part of the new "team", respect grows over time and is earned.
You might try checking out "Gentle Discipline" to see if anyone has any advice on dealing with older kids in a way that is best for the family, and not necessarily having him obey just because you are older.
Also, if you husband has been the main disciplinarian in the house, maybe let him keep that role for a while, while you all adjust to the changes.
Talk to your stepson, explain that you know it is difficult to have these changes in the family, talk about your feelings about the change how(if) you are scared too, and this is all new for you and you want to make sure that things work out, maybe he'll open up and talk about how he feels, or at the very least he'll see you as an ally, not an "elder".
Usually when kids are the least loveable, it's when they need love the most.
Try just loving him for a while.
post #4 of 11
Hiya- sorry, not spending as much time at the computer as I used to.
I think the only way of getting through this is going to be for you to take it as a voyage of self-discovery. See just how much more love and patience you have than you realised. Be prepared to reassess each and every one of your beliefs, if necessary. Find new and creative ways of handling the situation. It will make you a better parent to your own son as well.
On practical things, I'd just stop asking any question that can be answered with the word no. I'd also read "How to talk so kids will listen..." by Faber/Mazlish
post #5 of 11
I agree with the PP who suggested leaving your dh in the disciplinary role for a while. I would have a family meeting to find out what the children think about handeling different issues. Do some negotiating with them to give them some power. I'd also pick a few serious issues to be rigid about (safety kinds of things) and give them both some slack in the other areas.

You will probably need to change what you view as intolerable for a while anyway. If you are too rigid, I don't think it will work.
post #6 of 11
Agree with the PP that with an older child, the other parent should be disciplining for a while, maybe forever. It was hard for me to find my "role" in our new family. This might seem weird, but I had been a camp counsler/activities director in previous careers so that "role" seemed to fit. I was an older, authority figure, but not a "parent" I directed household traffic, managed conflicts, was fun and caring, but different from the parent. Eventually, that fading, but that role was good for the beginning of our marriage.

One of the hardest things for me about stepparenting is that I can't have the household be MY household. It truly has to be OURS so I have to respect and compromise about habits and routines that were around before me. Even when it influences my son.
post #7 of 11
Moon Mountain Mama,
I am a stepmother (non-custodial) and my DH and I are expecting one of our own. While my situation is only partially similar to yours, I just wanted to offer my thoughts.
First, my stepson does not have any more than the typical behavior problems, but I think you would benefit from counseling or from finding a group of people who are also dealing with similar situations. I have found that, as a stepmother, I have certain expectations which often go unmet. This has been very frustrating for me. It also is a big adjustment to coparent with another person, when you are not the biological parent. My husband and I are working on this. I also worry about how my stepson's habits will affect my own son, as do you.
What I have learned is that my concerns/desires are perfectly reasonable, and I think yours are too. Children should demonstrate respect, and when they do not, they should be corrected. You have a right to control your own home and make your own rules, particularly because (I am thinking) you are custodial, and the primary parent since you are at home.
It is true that you will likely have a transition period. These are teenagers, and they will have to adjust to a new parental figure and new rules, and their habits will be hard to break. But my point is-- know that your expectations are reasonable, and I think it is fair for you to expect that, at some point, they will be met.
Secondly, I'm not sure I completely agree with PPs who have suggested that you let your husband remain the primary disicplinarian. The problem is that you are the one at home with them most of the time, so you need to have disciplinary powers too. I think this is probably another transitional issue. Perhaps your husband could sit down with you and the kids and explain to them that when he is not there, you effectively have all of his disciplinary power/i.e. you are the one in charge. He could still take the primary role when he's there, but I don't know that it's fair for you to totally withdraw from that role when you are the one dealing with most of the behavior.

Anyway, I'm not sure if what I'm saying is much help to you, but I just wanted to express my empathy and support. I do believe steppareting, particularly stepmothering, is very challenging. I can't say I've found my niche yet, but I think if I (and you) keep working on it, we will.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you to all of these really great replys. This is a difficult issue I find myself feeling really good about it somedays and other days I just want to give up and am depressed. I started off creating a loving environment and jsut cooking and loving and playing and building relationships with them. But, several months have passed and it is apparent especially since I am around most of the time and am dealing with the behavior issues and problems much much more than my dh I have to establish some sort of disciplinarian role.
I wonder if any of you that have children/stepchildren with emotional and/or anger issues/deffiant issues have any ways or tools for dealing with the behavior. I am trying to make our life as structured as possible, breakfast at the same time, dinner at the same time, HW at the same time, play time at the same time and chore time at the same time everyday. I've cleaned out his room and repainted it the color of his choosing. I give him hugs and tellhim I love him several times a day and talk with him.
I just wonder if any of you have gone through counseling or have dealth with difficult children?
Thank you for all the great suggestions and work.
post #9 of 11
Just to clarify, went I say that the bioparent might remain the primary disciplinarian, I do not mean to say that you have no role. I think a stepparent should deal with the little things, pick up your towels, don't run in the house, don't argue with your sister, type of things. The larger issues, I feel, should be dealt with primarily by the bioparent with the input of the stepparent. It's like my "camp counsler" role that was comfortable to me. I dealt with all the small day to day things, but bigger things went to dad.
post #10 of 11
Just wanted to share a realization I've made recently that has helped my sanity a little. I kept feeling for a long time like my husband should be the one to discipline my stepdaughter (15, major attitude, lives with us), and he hasn't always agreed with me. I recently realized it's because I believe that when I make a request or an order, it's personal. When it comes from him, it's automatically parental. BIG difference. So, I think it makes sense that I should say something to her if it affects me personally, and I am only talking to her about how something affects me (ie that's too loud and the baby's sleeping or please don't speak to me that way), and when it's something with a message more like "what you did was wrong, there will be a consequence", I think that should come from my dh. It took me a long time to figure this out. At first it felt like I was trying to leave that stuff to him so I could be friends with her. I realize now it's not that at all. I know I will never be her true parent (maybe if I'd met her before she was 12), and I will never really be her friend. I am a hybrid something or other, and I just have to go with it.
I have insisted she be in counseling, though, and I do (often daily) ask dh to speak to her about something. She knows it's ultimately coming from me, but it works because he is the messenger and is backing it up.
This child is also dealing with having been raised with no structure and has I believe been damaged to the point of having no sense of personal responsibility at all. So I also tell myself I have to take her "handicaps" into consideration when I become frustrated.
Hope that makes sense and maybe helps.
post #11 of 11
for teenagers love and logic works well. I know some will diss it but what I like is that you can be on their side and empathise with them while giving a natural consequence. It makes you less advesarial and you can do it for you even if your dh doesn't back you.

a part of LL is that you have to let him have some things that don't effect you- so you have to drop the rope on some things.

in the example you posted disrespect to elders I agree with another poster that you need to have some respect for the household rules prior to you...so if talking back was OK you need to let this go some of the time or you will be in a power war over really nothing and no one will win.

But lets say the kid says to you when you ask him to do something "NO- stupid" then I would do nothing and say nothing but walk away, if he tried to be with me I would insist he not be as I don't care to be around people who insult me and when he next asked me for something (and he would because I would do NOTHING for him at this point) like say dinner I would act surprised that he would think I would cook for somene who has been so rude to me. I am far too tired to cook after I had to do the x that you didn't do earlier when I asked. but you can have empathy for him suffering and be caring, even offer to teach him how to make something to eat.

they always need something from you so you always get your lesson in the end.

if you give me other examples i can give you other suggested responses.
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