Teenage step children(13 Posts)
Feeling a little alone in all this!! Despite being marries to my husband for four years and everything gping quite well, relationships between me and my two step children (17 and 13) have deteriorated recently. I also have my seven year old daughter, and we all live together most of the time. I know it's probably usual teen behaviour but their rudeness and general disrespect is driving me to distraction!!! It's so upsetting especially when the first few years have gone by relatively trouble free. It's a hard business. Anyone got any tips? Think recently I have perhaps made the mistake of having an opinion!
All teenagers can be challenging, it is doubly hard when they are your step children.
I have three teens at home, two mine and one is DH's adopted child from his first marriage. They all live here with varying contact with their other parents. We have no kids together.
What has worked for us is disengaging. DSS is rude to me and my kids, so we limit the time he spends with us. He eats in his room, totally his choice. I used to argue about it and insist he eats with the rest of us, but it made meals so tense we gave in. I have very little to do with him, I can go days without seeing him. All communication, food, clean clothes etc is with DH. We have tried various things over the years and this is what works best.
DH also finds my eldest DS challenging, so he allows me to deal with it and only offers his opinion if I ask for it.
The third DS is a dream and gets on with everyone.
DH and I only argue about the kids, but we know it is a trigger so we work at ways to lessen the stress for each of us.
A lot can be changed by your DH. He can tell his kids that they are to speak to you with respect or he'll take them to task over it. However, in this situations the DF is often caught between a rock and a hard place with the kids and ex-wife, so he may shy away from this, or not have the balls or whatever.
I wouldn't disengage. I would just have your own boundaries. Read 'how to talk to teenagers' and use the very simple method of never offering any opinion (you a both wrong and stupid!), just eliciting information and then making neutral comments (really? gosh. what did you think of that, or just go 'oh' interestedly). When they are rude to you, don't reply just remove yourself (I usually said 'how rude' and stalked out) and wait for them to need something, food, lift, whatever, then say, I'm not doing anything until I have an apology for the rude way you spoke to me. Take any old apology, even a rude one. Move on. Be kind to them, make them nice food, tell them nice things about themselves (i will say, I find this last one very hard but it does work even if you are just saying 'wow you know much more about politics than I did at your age' even if it isn't true. They have to warm to you.
Don't do anything for them if they have something outstanding. If they haven't done x or y say I will start making dinner when you have done x. I will give you a lift when you've done y. Welcome to transactional parenting - everything is currency.
When you have them in a quiet moment try to tell them as honestly as you can how much it upsets you when they speak disrespectfully to you and that your DD hears someone speaking to her mother like that.
I realise all this is much easier to say. I am six years in (12 to 18) and the rudeness has tailed off. But even now if he's rude I bristle and the conversation ends.
Similar here, quite a good relationship for 7 years has now deteriorated completely. I'm afraid I've disengaged too, am polite and friendly, but a bit distant and leave the parenting to dh. Will listen when he talks about problems but am cautious about offering too mic of my own opinion.
Thanks everyone for those words of advice. Hopefully with time and patience things will improve.
What I've learned is that you have to look after your own kids and general peace of mind in the household first. Be reasonable and fair to your step kids and DP. But any reactions, bad or goid are out of your control. My DSCs froze me out because I asked for a minimum of cooperation, and DP only partially backed me up. I worried and tried to fix the distance. But you can't.
Teenagers are difficult. My kids are that age and I too face that sort of behaviour at times. It is weird that one day they will act so mature, I feel like I am dealing with another adult, and the next day, I still have to treat them like I did when they were 5.
All normal though, I have heard it so much previously from my friends when their kids were teenagers before mine. The good news is that all of them are reporting a fantastic relationship with their children who are now young adults.
I now have 4 teenage DSC, as well as a teen and a nearly-teen of my own. TBH they're all different and my relationship is different with each of them. I think the key is getting your DP to agree with you what's acceptable and to back you up if they're disrespectful.
Whether disengaging works I think depends how much they're with you. If it's just EOW or less it might work, but 2 of ours are here most of the time now so I don't think I could live with ignoring each other. I try to grab the opportunities when they arise to chat with them and take an interest in their lives. You need to grab the moment when they happen to be in the mood to chat though. If you try and force a conversation at other times they grunt or shrug at you.
I do find you can't discipline and pull them up on rudeness if that's all your do, you need some positive interaction too.
I think your comment about 'recently having an opinion' is key. It's totally different being a step mum to teens, than a mother. Usually resentment can seep in and you just need to stand firm and stick up for yourself. If they've got used to you being a pushover quietly in the background, then you have done the right thing. You don't want your daughter to grow up seeing that you have less of a say than your DP, right?
Bananas in pjs I think you've hit the nail on the head. I have absolutely been a total pushover...probably making a rod for my own back. I think the world of the kids...which makes this recent development all the more difficult. I do think it is mainly due to them hitting the teenage years with gusto...but I think they are finding it difficult to accept any requests for help (which are very seldom). The 17 year old complains regularly about the noise in the morning as we all get ready for work and school as her college course requires no early starts as such, which to be honest I think is totally out of order. She also doesn't exactly work hard at college. A large part of her course is sourcing her own experience...which she is yet to do. When I backed her dad up about her needing to do this world war three almost broke out. Hey ho. The joys!! Thanks for your comments everyone ☺
Good luck op. If it's any consolation, I was a pushover too, at first, it's hard when your DPs kids are teenagers too, as they are less likely to accept or adjust, my DSD told me quite clearly I had no say in her house (ahem, our house!), after I'd cleaned her clothes etc for 6 years! She'd never have said that to her own mother!
I have, and will always meet rude/disrespectful attitudes towards me, with a palm stretched out towards the offender, and a very firm...'If you wish to speak to me, or have something given to/done for you, then you ask in a polite and respectful manner, until then I simply will not be listening'! Then promptly ignore them for as long as it takes!
I'd just step back and disengage. I wouldn't ever get involved in 'backing up' their Dad about things like work experience. Leave that to their Dad.
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