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Stepfather-Stepson Relationship Problems

"I feel I have my son on a better path with his ODD/ADHD. The extreme behavior and fits have calmed down and his grades have improved. I use the material I purchased from you, and he is on a small dosage of Adderall. There is still a problem I am having a hard time dealing with - my husband!

My husband is a stepfather to my son who has had the trouble. I have another son from the previous marriage and one son after getting remarried to my husband. I struggle with my son's father as he doesn't see the problems we do (his father only sees him on the weekends). And, then most concerning I struggle with my husband at home. My ex feels there are only slight problems and I blow things out of proportion (even calling the police on my son after he attacked me twice at the height of the problems) and my current husband feels I am not hard enough and feels I can't see the problems as he can because of the biological tie.

I do not fear my husband leaving and I don't want to think of leaving my husband due to my son, but I am almost at the end of my rope. Finally after months and months of trying to get help for my son, he is feeling better and smiling. He is still a teenager and still gets angry and he still says things he shouldn't (and swearing). However, the progress we have made is tremendous -- in my mind. Grades have improved, suspensions have halted, teachers calling have subsided, and the outbursts are much less intense. My son even does chores -- not happily, and a lot of times not without a struggle -- but not battles! It is considerable progress.

My husband still refuses to accept the progress. He tells me it is only time until another outburst happens and says the only difference is we are giving him his own way. Without a lot of detail, that isn't the case in my mind. I feel I have given him privileges and some room to be trustworthy.

I have given up on trying to convince my husband he is wrong. My son has overheard some of these comments and kids aren't stupid. They sense things just as we do. My husband and son do not get along. I truly believe my son wants my husband to take an interest in him, but my husband acts somewhat like a child himself because he says he isn't just going to forget what has happened! He isn't going to just let H___ talk to people that way whether it is a short amount of time or longer fits. It is so uncomfortable in our household! I am tired of being pulled left and right."

You said it, and you see it – your son is making progress!!! Who would know better than you?

When a man marries a woman with children, it is almost guaranteed that it will take longer for the household to settle down than he thinks it will.

Stepfathers must resist the urge to straighten out the kids' behavior. It takes time for an emotional bond to develop, and it isn't possible to successfully discipline without that bond. Stepfathers who try to discipline too much or too soon end up feeling inadequate, frustrated, and disappointed. The stepfather is active in disciplinary decisions, of course, but works with his wife behind the scenes. The children's mother should be the one to announce the discipline - but she says, "WE have decided..."

Promoting an emotional bond includes the stepfather telling the children how he feels and showing that he recognizes and understands their feelings. It’s important for a stepfather to tell his stepchildren that he’s not their father and is not trying to replace him, but will be there for them.

It is unfortunate that stepfathers may have to deal with a biological father who has no intention of being cooperative or helpful. Fighting back, however, will make things worse.

If the child has a good relationship with the biological dad, competition could turn the child against the stepfather. Thus, it’s important for the stepfather to say good things about the bio-father (e.g., complimenting the stepson on a good pitching arm by adding, "you must get that from your dad"), and if possible, try to work with the other man to set policies that can be used with the child. If there can be a working relationship with the biological father, it will make the stepfather seem less of a threat to both the father and the child.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

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