Step-son is disrespectful and doesn't like me
08/16/2011 at 12:10 PM

I am having a very hard time with my step-son. He is very disrespectful to me, talks back, tries to tell me what to do and corrects me all the time. He is 12 years old and has basically never had his real mother in his life, or any mother figure at all, except for his grandmother. His father has had sole custody of him since he was 4 years old. I am 28 years old and do not have children of my own. His father and I have been together for a little over a year and recently got married. He works overseas a month at a time, so when he is at work, I am the primary caregiver and disciplinarian, but he backs me up 100% and calls home and talks to our son about his behavior when there has been a problem. There is also a 10 year old step-daughter, but I have no problems out of her at all.

My problem is that I am the ONLY person that my step-son is disrespectful to. He is a perfect angel for his father, grandparents, teachers, and any other adults in his life. But with me, he has an attitude and tries me constantly. The minute his father leaves for work, he changes into a completely different child. It's like a switch gets flippd as soon as we leave the airport. He becomes loud, obnoxious, mean to his sister, and defiant. If he doesn't get things exactly the way he wants them, the day is ruined and he has an attitude with me. I have tried talking to him, fussing at him, taking away sports, little "flicks" of the finger to startle him when he is being disrespectful, etc... Nothing works. He even told me last night that he doesn't like me. I asked him what I could do to make things better and he just said he didn't know what to tell me. I asked him if he thought maybe he was just saying he didn't like me because he was mad at me and wanted to hurt my feelings and he said, "No, it's true. I don't like you."

At the beginning of me and my husband's relationshp, the boy and I got along fine. He has just recently started be disrespectful to me in the last 6 months or so. I don't know what has changed besides the fact that I am now the primary discipliary figure in his life and he doesn't like me controlling his life. But his grandparents and father have had the same approaches to discipline as I have for his whole life and he's always been good for them. They are believers in spanking, which I agree with, but I am not comfortable spanking a 12 year old boy. I am afraid that is what it is going to take to make him see that I am serious about his behavior and will not be disrespected in my own home, or corrected and bossed around by a 12 year old.

He has to learn that I should be treated with the same respect as any other adult in his life and that what I say is not negotiable. How do I make him realize that I am the boss and he is the child? And how am I supposed to approach the whole "I don't like you" situation?