Please help me reverse this and make it better :)

by Simon

My fiancé has a 15 year old son who I’ve only known for about 3 years. He spends every other week with us, and with his Dad, a mile down the road. Our relationship with his father and wife are great, other than the underlying issue, which has only been bothering ME for the past 3 years. Unlike most other teens, this boy is a bit different. I try to put myself in his shoes and remember being his age. I do know, my mother would have probably killed me if I behaved like he does.

In no particular order, He never turns off lights or the TV. Whenever he’s questioned, his replies are always the same: “I’m sorry, GEEZ, I know, stop yelling at me!! What are you DOING!?!” but never learns from the experience. He’s Absolutely addicted to video games and stays up until the wee hours playing. Swears constantly, even in front of his mother. He walks like a gorilla, has no sense of hygiene, appearance, or ambition. He’s oblivious and more naive than the average 16 year old. He does, however, have some manners, but lacks etiquette.

His mother is more “friendly” with him than parental and I sense she dropped the ball long ago. He’s clever and does surprisingly well in school, but is sloppy. He has a lot of built up rage (I can tell by the way he shoots his video game gun). I guess that comes from playing mature rated video games since age 9?

The good thing is he is polite to strangers and does have a sensitive side. He’s considerably overweight. Eats incredibly fast. Always has a snot bubble in his nose. He’s never been punished. There’s no negative reinforcement from his parents (that I’m aware of). No chores or responsibilities whatsoever. I’m not sure why … Maybe his mother feels his premature birth or his more recent sexual preference (he just came out last summer having felt this way for several years) entitles him to be exempt?

His mother does it all, and I sense she gets upset with me for not helping her with some of it. He favors his mother’s affection over his dad’s by at least 95%.

All of his mother’s family sees what I see, but won’t confront her. They just sort of “shake their head.” I’m not sure if his father is even aware of any of this. He rarely enjoys the week spent at his dad’s. Maybe there are rules there? Maybe he feels he can get away with more with his mother?

I am accused of being too critical and not liking him, but all these things are easily noticed. I’m not sure it’s him I don’t like. I want to imagine a new and improved step son, but how in the world does this happen at this stage? I was even asked once if he was "challenged" from a co-worker, after they met. In his defense, I said no.

I’ve been given authority to be a parent when his mother isn’t around, but even my most gentle step-parenting is undone the moment his mother returns. Constant coddling and sheltering. He can do NO wrong, and he'll NEVER take me seriously.
That said, I want nothing to do with rearing this kid, yet this is REALLY stressing our relationship.

Please help!!
Thanks for reading,

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Jan 13, 2013
Stepchild Causing Stress in Parent Relationship
by: Laura Ramirez

Hi Simon,

I understand your situation and how challenging it must seem. I have also been a step parent, but my husband's children did not have behavioral issues. Still, we had our challenges.

Understand that living together with people who have been raised in different ways (even if you're only living with your spouse) always requires a transition and as such, is full of challenges.

Facing these challenges together will make you and your husband stronger as a couple. Avoiding them or harboring resentment for your husband's child will only drive a wedge between you. The choice is yours.

What you can offer this child is the chance to be part of a home in which the limits are lovingly, yet firmly enforced.

You can teach him how to behave in ways that will help him create healthy relationships as an adult and create a good, fulfilling life for himself. This is the challenge to which you are invited to aspire by virtue of the situation in which you find yourself. While there's nothing that you can do about the behaviors that the birth mother tolerates and the ways in which she enables him, you do still have the power to make a difference.

Obviously, you can't do this on your own. In the very least, you need the support of your husband. Since you have been granted the power to use discipline, you have more power than you think.

At this point, I suggest two things. You can use my parenting coaching service and I can help guide you through this step-by-step or you can use the resource that I've provided below to help you and your husband get on the same page with regard to parenting your stepson.

I hope this helps.

Parenting Effectively

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