Step parenting and teenager family issues - FamilyEducation
Step parenting and teenager family issues
12/08/2010 at 18:00 PM

I just found this board and this is my first post. I have a TON of step parent issues. My wife of almost 5 years and my almost 13 year old son do not get along. I take that back...he gets along fine with her, and she rides the hell out of him and knit picks on everything it seems to me.

She says I make excuses for him. I feel bad for him, and only sometimes I take her side. She yells and is pretty mean I think.

Gawd. I could type forever on this. Can somebody just tell me if my son needs to listen and follow directions better for an almost 13 year old, or do kids forget, space thigns off, and not do a job very well when given chores. Can you give your kid too many chores?

I am so fursturated I cant even explain myself right now. I should just delete this.

Should a step mom be yelling at my kid? Should she be bossing him around and telling him what to do. Should she talk down to him? (ok no). Shoudl she even be doing any discipline. When is it too much discipline? Seems like she makes him write sentences every night for not doing something he was told to do. He keeps a list of chores to get done after school. But he will forget things we told him that seem common sense -- like putting dirty dishes away instead of back in the sink to be re-ran through the dishwasher. Just doing half assed chores type of stuff.

Sit down with your wife and discuss your concerns and expectations. Clearly define your wife's role in your son's life. Agree upon acceptable discipline. Make it clear your son deserves to be treated with respect and love by you both. No yelling at your son, being "mean" or any of the other negatives you list. Your son's behaviors may be the result of stress from how he is being treated by your wife, some may be typical 13 y/o behavior. Putting a positive behavior plan into place for your son (and your wife) will be a good start for him.

I agree with 2xstepmom,have a calm conversation with your wife to find out why she is acting this way. I also think that being proactive, rather than reactive is essential, esp. for this age. I recently started using a ticket system with my kids (12yrs and 9yrs) and it gives them incentives to do chores, help out and be respectful overall. They receive a ticket anytime they do a chore or act nicely by doing something not asked (kind of like being caught doing something good). They can cash in their tickets for priveleges like tv, computer time, one-on-one time with mom or dad and also for money to use towards something they are saving for. Of course, if they don't do chores or are unkind, they lose tickets. I can forward you link to the whole program if you'd like. Jamie Willett Co-founder of LLC Tell us your biggest parenting challenge and get a free video gift.

Positive parenting is a great idea. It can be difficult to figure out the difference between being genuinely and effectively positive and being coercive. Coercion does work well in the short term, but if there is a behavior that you want your children to really internalize, coercion ('earning' rewards and taking away tickets for failure) can be counterproductive in the long term. Simple sincere acknowledgment of the behaviors you want is very effective.

There was a study done where they recorded the amount of time children spent coloring. Then, with some groups they did a typical behavior modification like the program mentioned above. While the behavior modification was on-going, the coloring increased for all children. Immediately after the behavior modification ended, the coloring time decreased. For those who had not liked to color before, the amount of time they spent coloring was slightly above the amount before the study. For those who DID like to color before, the amount of time they spent coloring decreased significantly from the level before the behavior modification. Follow-up much later showed that those who had not liked to color before eventually reverted to the pre-study levels. The decrease in behavior of those who had liked to color when the study began continued at the later follow-up.

A similar study was done, only the intervention was simple, verbal praise. The coloring increased during the intervention. After the intervention stopped, coloring time remained elevated above the original level for every child in the group. I haven't heard if there was a later follow-up.

I haven't yet read the other responses but hope I can help coming from the other side. I have been with my husband for almost 11 years and he has a 13 year old son who has lived with us since he was 4. His son and I do not get a long at all. I think you should talk to your wife and definatly be honest but at the same time look at your parenting too. Is your feeling sorry for him making you less of a parent to him? My husband feels sorry for his son and in return lacks consistency and follow through with every aspect of his parenting. There are issues that he is begining to notice now that I tried to nip in the bud early and he fought me tooth and nail. Our relationship has suffered because of his lack of respect for me parenting. Everything his son does effects me and our 3 year old son together. So..sit and have a complete heart to heart with your wife-it might save your marriage.

First and foremost you have to work together. It takes 2 and communication is key. My exhusband and I understand that now. Yes I said ex. When I met him my stepdaughter was 15 on drugs etc etc and I tried to help and seemed to make things worse. They didnt want to discipline but I did. I wanted her to go to school. They really did not care. I wanted her to be a success in life she had the intentions to but very low self esteem. I tried to build her up but I seemed to fail everyday. It was a constant battle all the time and the worst year of our marriage. Still today a little slap on the hand and nothing. They must learn..that should be the goal for him from the both of you. Chores must be done. School must be done. COMMUNICATION must be done. Once the latter is gone the marriage is too. Good luck.

If you feel that she is too harsh on your son, that is the opinion that matters. My wife does not discipline my kids. She can send them to their rooms, but I am the disciplinarian. I grew up with a step-mother who was fairly mean towards me. My father worked nights and she took full advantage of his absence. Do not allow your son to be constantly beaten down by your wife. Our purpose as parents is to build our kids up, not constantly punish them. Kids forget to do chores. Kids make mistakes. Your son is being told by your wife that he does nothing right. In his eyes, if you do nothing about her strong-arm style of “parenting”, then you approve of it. Your son is just starting out in life; do not allow his spirit and confidence to be broken down by someone who is on a power trip.

SnglDad, You have remarried? Congratulations!!!

Yes I did! Thank you. Maybe I need to change my screen name.

Now you are married Dad!! Congrats!!

Wishing you much continued happiness!

If you do, keep the "Dad". You offer a great deal of insight into many issues regarding parenthood, single or otherwise. Though may not always agree with your posts, it is always good to get the male perspective. You have helped me personally many times.

Thanks Marti, Maya ,and Stepmom.