Raising a teen boy isn’t the simplest job in the best circumstances, but raising a teenage stepson brings on a whole new set of complications. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, many stepchildren experience a feeling of torn loyalty between their biological parents. You probably didn’t grow up with aspirations of being a stepmom, but when it becomes a reality you have to arm yourself with information regarding the most effective parenting methods for raising your stepson.
Keep Your Expectations Reasonable
According to Helpguide.org, a nonprofit resource for health information and families, one of the keys to successfully raising your new stepson is to keep your expectations reasonable. If you go into your marriage thinking that you and your stepson will bond and become the best of friends overnight, you are going to be very disappointed in most cases. What you can do, however, is take the time to genuinely get to know him. Affection, love and familial feelings do not happen immediately; they need time to grow. Not forcing yourself on him will help your relationship get off to a better start, which will make raising him much easier.
Hold Off on the Discipline
Telling your stepson he’s grounded for not calling to inform you he’d be late right after assuming the role of stepmom is not the best way to take on the role of raising your stepson. According to Robert Taibbi, a licensed clinical social worker and author, your stepson likely views you as yet another person who wants to tell him what to do. If you want him to respect you, listen to you and eventually heed your rules and discipline, hold off on the discipline until you’ve built a trusting relationship. Once you have established your roles in the family, you can begin to take on more of the disciplinary role.
Offer Praise and Verbal Affection
Your teenage stepson is less likely to respond to your hugs than he is to your verbal compliments and affections, advises Helpguide.org. While raising your teenage stepson, you might find him more receptive to your attempts at a relationship if you keep them verbal rather than physical. For example, if he scores several points in his basketball game, instead of hugging him, tell him he did a great job and that you are proud to be his stepmom.
Consider Your Stepson’s Input When Making the Rules
Taibbi advises you to let your stepson have a say in the rules and expectations in your household. Raising any child, whether it’s your teenage stepson or your own toddler, requires rules and expectations. Your stepson is more likely to adhere to this set of family standards when he considers them fair, which means his input is vital. Schedule a time to sit down as a family and discuss your expectations of fairness and create a list of rules from that discussion.