Step- son acting out - FamilyEducation
Step- son acting out
01/22/2008 at 21:41 PM

I'm the step-father of a 3 year boy.  He is acting out and fighting with his sisters, kicking things when he is mad.  He tells me and my wife it is cause he misses his dad.  But his father only comes around for a day every 3 or 4 months he calls his dad but his father but he is always too busy for him.  We have no idea how to help him deal with this to keep him from acting out so much.

Please help and advice is appreciated.

Here are some thoughts and I could be completely off base and I am not an expert on anything!  That was a disclaimer.

   Have you thought about terminating the father's rights and adopting the boy?  Then his "real dad", that would be YOU, would be there all the time.  I think it would be a very powerful symbolic and legal action.  It might not fix anything.  It might fix everything.  I don't know.


The biological parents of this child need to put differences aside and come together in a joint effort to help their child. Joint counseling, with both parents actively participating is what this child needs. This father needs to know that his child needs him more than what he is currently offering. This child also needs to see that, no matter what happens, his parents can always work together when it comes to him. From the moment I learned that my wife was pregnant, I knew that every decision I made would have a direct impact upon this young life. This father needs to know what his decisions are doing to his child.

As for terminating the fathers rights, there are no legal grounds to do so. This proposed fairy tale ending has more pitfalls than Indian Jones would care to deal with. The child is acting out because he wants his father, not because he wants a father. The notion that a legal maneuver will somehow suppress this child’s need to be with his father is not based in reality. Again, too much emphasis is placed upon legalities rather than reality.

Stepdad, there is no reason that you cannot actively participate in this child’s life and help fill the voids created by his father’s absence. Actually, I believe this is what you are doing, not because of anything you said, but simply because you are here asking this question. It tells me that you are concerned for this child, and for your family as a whole.

As for the child acting out, there still needs to be consequences. Though he may miss his father he still needs to understand that there are boundaries in his life. Boundaries and structure are what give children the security they so need. Not one among us can say they have not had a thought, that if acted upon, would land them straight in prison. The difference between those in prison, and the rest of society, is that we have learned that there are boundaries, and we have also learned to control our impulses. He needs to realize that missing his father is no reason to act the way he has been acting.


At such a young age he lacks the vocabulary, and life skills to help him cope with, and communicate his feelings. When he is missing his father and, Dad is unavailable, sit down with him and let him write a letter to his dad, or  just let him draw a picture. Write down exactly what he says and send it to his father. This will help him get some of his thoughts out in the open, who knows, he may say something new that may give you more insight. Though it is no substitute for being with , or talking with dad, it may help him to feel as if he is still communicating with him. Good Luck.