“I didn’t asked to be born!” shouted my teen from the bedroom. “It’s not fair. Nobody else has to do this! You’re so mean!”
And the door to the purple room closes with a slam.
“Good thing you didn’t ask to be born today,” I thought to myself. “Today the answer would be No, not today, because nothing is going to come out of my body, and turn around and talk to me like that.”
“Well tell God, because He thought it was a good idea—at the time,” I replied toward her bedroom. “And your room still has to be cleaned before you go to Michelle’s house.”
I whispered a prayer. “Father, help me to survive this child, and please make sure she gets caught on everything that tries to divide her from you.” (From String of Pearls ~Diane W. Bailey).
Disrespectful talk comes out of many teenagers whether they are in a stepfamily, single parent home or in a family of birth. In a stepfamily you are facing children that you cannot punish for bad behavior as you would your own children, and your birth children resent that you are stricter on them than you are on the stepsibling.
Disrespectful talk is a child trying to become an adult through a situation in which they have little or no control. Listen to what they have to say and make sure you are setting the example of respect. Your calm, respectful and answer can teach more than what yelling or anger can accomplish. Babies learn by watching and copying, and so do teens.
- Acknowledge with you child that being in a stepfamily can be difficult. This is not going to be any news flash to them, but verbalizing the obvious can eliminate some of the tension. You can use this time to pull your child on board. Ask them to help you come up with good ideas to work through the problem. The older they are the easier this conversation can.
- Work on your relationship with your child and stepchild. The better your relationship is, the easier it is to encourage respect and the rules. Sometimes, when things were really difficult, I would check out each child from school. This was individual, special time with each child. Though, a checkout from school just to hang out is probably against school policy, it was important and helpful to our relationship.
- Talk with your spouse about how to keep respect and consequences consistent. When there is a former spouse involved in the lives of the children it can make expectations and rules split the home down bloodline. Some may think the former spouse should not have any say, but the sooner you face the fact that they do have some influence in your home, then you can move forward. Who knows, the former spouse may have a good idea that would work well for your children as well. Be the mature one in the situation.
- BE patient. Making rules and keeping them consistent takes time to develop and time to hammer out the details, even in a family of birth. So how much more patience and time will it take stepfamilies? If the husband and wife will keep communication open between themselves as they develop the structure of the family then this will work out. Pray a lot! And be patient, this too shall pass.
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