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Trying to cope with teenage stepchildren

first_time_stepmom's picture

I am very happy that this site exists to help stepparents vent about their stepkids and this is my first blog entry so here goes... I have known my stepchildren for 8+ years now and overall they are pretty good although they are going through a time of testing boundaries with my husband and I. I do try to talk with them about school, friends, and their lives and they are pretty open with me however I get really upset when they break house rules or if they act disrespectful. My stepson is 18 and now thinks that he can do whatever he wants in our house (our=hubby and I). I stayed home sick from work today and I came up to my home (we share a 2 family w/my mom) from visiting with my mom and I found my stepson's buddy in his room. He said "I hope it is okay that I am here". I am soooo mad I could spit right now. I have nicknamed my stepson’s friend “Eddie Haskell” since he is so nice to my face but behind my back he is pulling all sorts of crap. My stepdaughter is 16 and has been throwing up at night for the past 3-4 months (bulemic) and I confronted her about it last week. She sorta admitted that she is doing it and agreed to go for therapy. One day later she claimed that she does not need the therapy and is doing better (but I don’t believe it). The real mom is off in her own lala land of going to school to become a doctor – she has abandoned the kids in my opinion. My husband has been dealing with this stuff in bits and pieces, he mainly deals with the son and I deal a little bit more with the daughter. They were both sent to boarding school by their mother last year but for this school year they have been living with us. Just recently I came to the realization that I cannot be their friend but that I need to be more of a parent to them. I do feel like I am between a rock and a hard place since I am not their real mom and I do try to get my husband to discipline them when necessary. You see, my husband is pretty laid back and I am more of the taskmaster in our home. My husband is getting it slowly that he needs to police the kids more than he has in the past. I am constantly questioning my decisions about how to get them to respect our house rules and each other. Most of my friends do not have children so I feel alone sometimes. And then I found this site where some of my decisions have been reaffirmed (thank god). So thanks for reading about some of my recent family stresses.


Sita Tara's picture

Welcome welcome welcome.

I was getting on here to vent about my 13 year old SD and saw the title to your post. You know how to get my attention!!!!

I wish I could give you some concrete advice, but since your SK's are basically good overall and just testing the teen angst out on you, I can't be of much help. My SD has an emerging personality disorder, shared by her BM, and I have the worst time trying to deal with her. I am about to post on the latest right now.

But wanted to give a warm welcome and say that I too feel alone in this, except for all my friends on here.

“I never gave away anything without wishing I had kept it; nor kept it without wishing I had given it away.” ~Louise Brooks

Annemare's picture

This is also my first time on here, one of my friends showed me this site, and I think it's a great way of 'us' stepmoms to talk to each other and to know that we are not alone.

I am a stepmother of a 10 year old daughter, she lived with us since she was about four and her mom wanted her back just before she went to grade 1. SD was a wonderful child, very well behaved but since she went back to her mom her whole attitude changed, she doesn't have manners or respect for anything. (I have two young boys) and she will always tease them or start a fight, and blame it on one of my sons then when we confront her she starts to lie and said it's not her. She has become very lazy and doesn't look after herself, she doesn't wash properly in the bath and doesn't wipe after she goes to the ladies (just number one)and a while ago she got some fungus on her private part, and I'm sure that is because she doesn't wipe properly and she wears the same underwear for about a week.

I did not teach her to not look after herself, even with homework and cleaning up her room, she is very lazy and has a very bad attitude. If you are trying to help her she just sulks about everything. I do love her, but I just don't understand why does she have this type of attitude (no care) and she likes to talk back a lot, if I ask her to do something she always complains about it.

I have two sons aged 2 and 4, and they are a hand full, I just feel that my husband always leaves it up to me to sort her out the whole time and he steps in now and then, and also sometimes takes her side if she was at fault. It's also his daughter and I think he must also be there for her more than me, she doesnt' have an attitude with my husband it's only when she's around me. I think her BM might have something to do with it, her BM mother wants to think of her as an adult because she's the only child (her BM is pregnant) and she always treats her like an adult and doesn't really care about what my SD does.

Please can someone help me or just give me some advice?


Sita Tara's picture

I was thinking you should re-post this on your own blog. It may have gotten lost in the shuffle here.

How are things going now?

I know what you are going through with trying to be the parent that makes up for the dysfunction of the BM. I am faced with that constantly.

Hang in there. I don't have any advice save this-

Always try to balance putting your SD's needs ahead of your wants, and your needs ahead of her wants as well.

That's a tricky dance. But if you aren't able to fill yourself up first, then you'll never be able to take good care of the kids.

“I never gave away anything without wishing I had kept it; nor kept it without wishing I had given it away.” ~Louise Brooks

debiamia's picture

that the rest of us have been on.Need I mention that I have always hated roller coasters? Normal teen behavior is pretty easy to handle. I read a book years ago called "Get out of my life- but will you drive me to the mall first?" I don't know if it is still in print but it had great advice on how to set limits with teens. I read it and followed the principles for raising my daughter and thought the teen years were easy. Give guidelines, set limits, withhold privleges when infractions occur. When they show you they can be trusted, allow more freedom. Give lots of praise for good behavior and remember that some teens NEVER figure it out.They are the ones that continue to flounder for years and sometimes for the rest of their lives. Now parenting my stepkids was a challenge.

Roselin's picture

My advice is don't try being a parent. It totally backfires. Our counselor said that it is something called misdirected anger - and it will head straight to you. Let their dad set the boundaries and try to get their mom involved. Let them know you are a supportive adult in their life and then try to keep your sanity as their usually clueless parents try to engage you in parenting - it totally keeps them from being the bad guy and you get to be the scapegoat. I raised my SD for 8.5 years and now she is an absolute terror and I am the focus of all her problems. It's because I imposed boundaries and some structure. New age mom and dad assumed they had an enlightened kid and let her get away with murder. Take care of yourself for the next couple of years and insist their parents BE THEIR PARENTS.

first_time_stepmom's picture

I totally agree with you on not trying to be their parent. I really do try to not parent them but when I tell my husband about issues that need to be addressed he pulls the old "it takes a village" phrase on me. Honestly, to a point I believe it takes a village but like you said he and the ex need to parent the kids. The other day I had to give each kid their own key to the house (we had a hidden key for the family to use) and I got some flack from my SD - the SS was the reason for giving out their own keys. Luckily after talking with my SD she saw my side of why we can't have a hidden key any longer (SD let his buddy into the house when no one was at home). So I will heed your advice and not parent them -- I do tell them that I am available for them if they need to talk or for whatever reason. I really don't want to be a bad guy for them in the future so I will back off from parenting them. Thanks soooo much for your insight and wish me luck.

Roselin's picture

Hang in there. And, really, take care of yourself - do whatever you need to do to take care of you. No one else will do it.

debiamia's picture

I agree with Roselin. I was pushed into parenting my SS who is now 26. He came to live with us when he was 13 and had been allowed to raise himself by his alcoholic mother. What a disaster! He was with us for 18 months and much of his behavior was from his upbringing. He went back to his dysfunctional mother and though he realized his life would have been better he continues to flounder in life. Getting the biological parent to take on the role as a "normal parent" is almost impossible. I have seen this with my husband with all 3 of his kids that he had in two different marriages. Lots of compassion for the kids related to guilt over "putting them in the situation with emotionally disturbed mothers". I love my husband but he travels for work so much that the kids were just alot of grief to him. Had two other skids live with us and saw the same pattern with them. I do my best to keep my mouth shut now and say nothing.

ecu's picture

Hello. I'm new here and frankly soooo happy to find you guys. 6 months ago my fiancee and his 14 year old son moved in with me and my 8 yr old son. We are both foreigners living in Ecuador. It's funny because it seems to be an international teen problem. My fiancee and I are both divorced. I get along great with my ex-husband with problems at times but we solve them. We even meet once a month to review and talk about our son. On the other hand my fiancee has gone through hell. His ex-wife is a nightmare. There is NO communication.

My fiancee is a free spirit and part of why I fell in love with him, but his parenting skills and mine are quite different. I did realize this before we moved in together, but I thought we would handle it with love and all would be fine. Things are not fine. I'm going insane. I feel terrible. My SS does what he pleases. I feel like my home has turned into his hotel. He isn't into drugs or misbehaving legally... he lies about where he is going, doesn't call to ask permission, comes to the house to eat and sleep. I have asked his dad to lay down the rules... simple ones so that there are limits. My SS does not speak to me and thinks I am responsible for his unhappiness. He is failing in school and has no responsibilities.

I have asked his father to do something...anything. I feel uncomfortable in my own home. I worry about my own child and the behavior he is seeing. It is not ok with me what is going on. The more I talk to my fiancee about it, the less he does. My SS just has no consequences in his life while he is making everyone else unhappy. It is taking a toll on our relationship. We never used to fight. ... Now... its all about his son.

I have stopped speaking to my SS or even trying to communicate. I act as if I don't care, but this is not my nature. I want to care. I want to help him even though I am not his mother. I know a 15 year old boy and a 37 year old woman are not going to be friends... but I don't expect to be enemies either.

My main concern is the lack of limitations and consequences. I do not want my son to think its ok. I am not even married yet and feel I am on my way to divorce. Just don't know what to do anymore. Should I be a free spirit and say whatever!!! ????

mediocrityrulesman's picture

There is a quote I read somewhere which read, "Mothers of teenagers understand why animals eat there young" or something to that extent. Smile

"If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?" ~ Milton Berle

had it's picture

I have two boys from a prior marriage and my boyfriend has a son and a daughter from a prior marriage too. We also have a 2 year old son together. Lately the stepson is developing bad communication habbits. He pretty much flat ignores me. I can bring him a dinner plate, and he says nothing. But if I offer to take everyone out to dinner, he is Johnny on the spot, -my best friend. Unless I "buy" his attention, I get none. I have had other problems as well. I tell his father to talk to him and do something about it. His response is " he does not like you, you took his moms place, just ignore him back". His mom is the root of the problem. He see's her mope about life in general since her husband, my boyfriend, left her. As the step son gets older, it gets worse. I do not believe "ignoring" it is a good enough answer. I have been living with their dad for almost 4 years now, since he was 12. I think whether he likes me or not, as an adult in his life, there should be a certain amount of respect for me, as I show to him. Any comments???

Most Evil's picture

Welcome to our world!! I know exactly what you mean, except my SD treats her dad bad instead of me. Sorry to have you aboard. Please join us in sorting this crazy stuff out!

I know what you mean, when I say something in the general battles that go on around here, SD/BM just ignore me; like I don't matter, unless I am offering to treat to something fun! so my gravy train is cut off for them

katecrna's picture

I married my husband 4 months ago. My previous marriage ended when my husband died, and I was left to care for a 4 month old daughter and a 1.5 year old son. My current husband had a 11 year old daughter when we met. Now the kids are 3, 4 (mine), and 13 (his). I am resentful of his relationship with her. He treats her more like a friend than a child. He discusses personal affairs with her (ie. finances), and talks to her about adult situations. They live in my house and we have shared custody of her. When she is skin crawls. He puts her on a pedastool and gives her no limitations. He drives her anywhere she wants to go, everyday. She takes 4 different dances classes, that his mother has to pay for because he can't afford it. It drives me nuts. I can't stand it when she is there, and I feel like I can't be myself in my own home. She only bothers to acknowledge my children when they get in her way!! What do I do...I only want her on the weekends...if that..I can't take it anymore...

Sita Tara's picture

Get a counselor. Your feelings are normal. I have had them myself, albeit for different reasons.

But the main worry here is this isn't good for you. And unless you are willing to leave him it also isn't likely to change. So you will have to find a way to cope, then eventually do better than cope with your feelings. Otherwise this will eat you up inside.

I don't have my own therapist, I go in to talk to SD's every so many visits. We have been going to her as a family for a couple years now, and for a while I went alone because SD didn't want to go (BM sabotaged SD's relationship with the therapist during the custody case.)

But SD has gotten into a lot of trouble since turning 13, so part of her "punishment" for making bad choices was "making" her go to therapy again. I think she actually wants to go, but doesn't want to appear that she does. So when DH told her after all the trouble at school, that she would HAVE to go, I believe despite all her protests that us making her go saved face for her.

So.... I would go if I were you. I would look for someone who specializes in blended families. I saw a therapist a few times during our custody case to deal with my resentment toward BM and in someways SD.

"Om Tare Tutare Ture Mama Ayurpunye Jnana Putin Kuru Svaha"
~Sita Tara Mantra

Tired of Eggshells's picture

PLEASE HELP ME, I AM A GOING TO BE A STEPMOTHER OF A 17 YEAR OLD. My Fiance' has a 17 year old daughter we've been together approximately 1 year we are living together, I've got older 23 and 20 year old boys 23 college and very good polite, helpful, respectful man now. The 20 year old was adhd and disrespects me now and again but will never disrespect my fiance'. I also have an 8 year old daughter. My daughter is very good and polite. My 20 year old is polite and respects my Fiance as well. My Fiance' told my boys when he moved in he just wil lnot put up with any disrespect on their part. No problem hasn't happened and will not happen. His 17 year old daughter on the other hand, disrespects her dad and me. He has now been divorced for 1 year. She lives with us and visits her mother whenever she wants. Her mother really does want to deal with her, when there is a problem her phrase is " I'll take care of it" and does absolutely nothing. My SD was an Honor roll student up til the 10th grade when grades just went down and also 11th grade .067 grade average, tries to use divorce as excuse, however bad grades started before divorce. Her parents never even took cell phone away even with bad grades and $500 phone bills. She leaves says she's going to mother's house and my fiance tells her to call him and she doesn't call the entire time only when she wants something. As soon as she wants something her father jumps to get it done at the snap of her fingers. I asked him to tell me one thing she has done, that he has asked her to do, when he's asked her to do it. He could not give me one thing she has done. Her mother just gave her a car and she was on her father to get it fixed that day and he jumped to get it fixed. I had a long talk with him, that she will never learn responsiblity or respect, if you keep doing for her and jumping to everything she wants even with her disrespect towards him and I. I said make her wait at least a week to see how she does at school. He agreed that evening, the very next day he had that car fixed for her. Her disrespect is getting worse. I told him of her disrespect towards me and he attempted to give me a lecture as to how to talk to her and basically to walk around my own house on egg shells around her. I was so upset, that he's going to tell me how to talk to her, but he won't set her straight and or tell her no. He sure can tell my daughter NO and one time she acted up in the year and he sent her to her room and he can tell my son off when he disrespect's me. I've talked to him as to how this isn't right and he's even apoligized for her behavior to me. I'm tired of walking on eggshells in my own house and can't stand it anymore. I love him with all my heart, he is my other half, we are so connected in every way, except when it comes to his daughter that he will not and cannot say no to for any reason. P.S. she even put up pictures of her dad and mom in each other's arms after he told her three times to take them down. He said you can have pic's up of your mom and me seperately but not together. Sorry so long, but I'm new to this SM thing.

Please help me, desperate and very tired of eggshells

frank's picture

i have an 18yr old son who live with me. my wife, my 18yr old stepdaughter, my 16 yr old stepson and my 2 stepgrandchildren from my wife's oldest daughter who is 22 and is living with in new jersey with her boyfriend.. yes she left her children behind to pursue this loser leaving us to raise these beautiful 5&4 yr olds the problem is that my wife complains about my son not being more family oriented. Frank jr. goes to college part time, works full time, and is very involved with his church, tomorrow he leaves for Honduras with his church on a missionary.3 yrs ago Frank moved in with me because his mother could not handle him any more so she sent him to me. he smoked pot, got left back, and hanged out till about midnite during school week. he turned his life around and gave his life to Jesus. my wife's biggest complain today is that hedoes not really talk to her. he doesn't have anything against her. i asked him and he said that she does not initiate any conversation with . only when he says good morning to her and thats it i tell my wife that she is the adult and that she should initiater she only talks to him if she needs a favor like pick up the little one at the daycare or pick me up at work i can write forever but i will stop here for starters PLEASE HELP