It is challenging for a parent to deal with disrespectful children, but it gets even more challenging for a stepparent. As a stepmom or dad, you may not feel you have the authority to change how your stepson behaves. However, allowing kids to misbehave is not doing them any favors as children need to understand the importance of treating other people with care and respect.
One of the most challenging areas of a step family is how to navigate parenting to handle discipline. Who makes the rules? Who executes them, and who is in charge of discipline? As a step-parent, you can quickly go from smooth to authoritarian parenting. It is usual for stepchildren, just like your stepson is testing your limits to see what works and what doesn’t. Let’s look at the dos and don’ts of step-parenting to understand better why your stepson won’t listen.
Resisting the Changes
Probably your stepson is accustomed to living alone with their biological mom or dad. As you and your partner start living together, the child may not be ready for the changes. As the new family progresses, so are the recent changes like new rules, a new house, and sometimes new siblings. It becomes overwhelming for the child. Understanding your stepson is still dealing with the pain, loss, confusion, resentment, and anger from the divorce, separation, or marriage. You may see their behavior as outright disrespect for you but remember they need time to process the changes. Your stepson will try the new rules set to test the waters, and sometimes they can press the button and see how you react. Please don’t take it personally and remain calm and mature when handling his annoying behavior.
The You Can’t Tell Me, Mentality
Almost every stepparent has heard of this phrase in one way or another, “you can’t tell me what to do. You’re Not my mum or dad.” Some stepchildren will not say it outright in your face, but their actions will indicate the same. It’s most likely what your stepson is doing by not listening to you. It’s important to understand as a step-parent to understand your stepchild will test you in one way or another because you are a new person on board. They can even play one parent to the other. Don’t take that your stepson hates you, and perhaps you will never have a happy family together. Be patient with him and continue to talk with your partner about parenting. Find ways you can have a positive connection with your stepson to build a relationship. How do you handle a stepson who won’t listen to you?
Set Realistic Boundaries
Every family needs a set of rules that everyone is supposed to follow as society runs through a set of rules; children need to be prepared to become excellent and functioning members of the community; these teachings start at home by encouraging children to behave appropriately. It will give the child a good sense of self-control. As children are encouraged to express themselves, they should learn to do so without hurting others. Let your stepson learn that refusal to follow house rules has consequences and state them clearly. The biological parent should also let the child know if you disrespect my wife or husband, you disrespect me. The biological parent also needs to clearly explain to the child the difference between respect and love.
Don’t Be the Disciplinarian
Experts advise that stepparents should not be the chief disciplinarian. Let your partner discipline their child even if you feel like their parenting is too lenient. Despite your feelings about what the stepson needs, harsh behavior from most stepparents is likely to backfire. Until you and your stepson have bonded over time, he likely will not see you as an authority figure in his life and will resist anytime you try to discipline him. This behavior can be annoying to you as a stepparent. Instead of hurting and getting harsh on him, see your role as a babysitter to remind him of the house rules and report him to his biological parents instead of punishing him.
It is hard for a stepparent while dealing with a child who doesn’t listen, instead of getting worked up whenever you remind him to tidy his room or put the toys away. Reward him whenever he does pick his toys or cleans his room to encourage good behavior. Remember, your stepson is still going through changes that may take time for him to come around. Try and bond with him and get to know him better before you go the discipline route.