How to cope with a troubled step tween?

by Amanda

My step son is 12 and is acting out at school and at home. He knows that I will not tolerate his behavior at home so he doesn't act out as much there as he does at school.

We recently had a meeting with his teachers. This is the first meeting that I have been invited to since his father and I are not married yet. We have been together for 2 years. His son came to live with us last summer and has stayed. He has visited during spring breaks and summer vacations before and has never acted out as much as he is now. He keeps saying he wants to go back to live with his mom but a day later he will change his mind and decide he wants to stay. I really think he's just saying it to get attention but I don't know.

His teachers told us yesterday that he wanders around school, is never where he is supposed to be and stays in the bathroom for extended time. He back talks his teachers and goes through their personal things. He has even started bullying other kids. I just thought his behavior was bad at home, he is twice as bad at school.

I have tried everything with this kid. I have grounded him to no avail. I told him yesterday that I will be the "bad guy" and that he will listen to me or else. But I really don't know what "else" would be. I even threatened to come to the school for a week to follow him around in his classes but I don't know that that would even work.

I feel like he is testing the boundaries that we have established. I think the school has finally decided to get me involved because his dad has taken such a laid back approach to things. It has caused BIG problems between us and I've just about had enough.

I've always told him that I won't make him choose between me and his son but that I will let them both go before I put up with his son's behavior anymore. He has finally told his son that he won't tolerate his behavior anymore but I think it's too little too late. He knows his father won't do anything but I will.

I love this kid to death but I'm not sure where to start with trying to repair our relationship or even where to start with different discipline techniques. I'm at my wit's end. Any and all comments are welcome!

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