March 02, 2013,
K.J. asks from York, PA on May 22, 2009
***16 Year Old Stepson Got His Drivers License!!!!
Help!! My 16 yo just got his license and hubby said that he could use our 2nd car!! He is a good kid, but still a kid and in the last year has made some poor choices @ schoolwork, social activities, behavior, etc. Being 'stepmom', he thinks it's ok to talk back to me and disrespect what I say. Now, he's going to be using a car that's in my name and he's on my insurance. I want to lay down ground rules, in writing, like a contract. He'll roll his eyes and call me crazy and psycho, again. But I can't just let him have full reign. Any suggestions?
So What Happened?™
We're still working on this situation, but I wanted to clarify things. The car has been sitting for over a year and my stepson has paid for every expense to get it back on the road. Inspection, registration, repairs, insurance. So far has totalled @ $450.00. He has agreed that he will keep a C average (st least), also, not more than 1 passenger (usually his brother), also he will follow curfew, which is 11:00. and call me whenever he moves from 1 place to another. Like I said, he is a good kid, most of our problems have been because of not listening to each other or not communicating well. Things are going better. I'll let u know more soon. Thanks for all your input!
A.B. answers from Reading on May 23, 2009
When I was 17 and got my license my mom had me sign a very clear contract, which I was ok with. She was going to let me drive and that's all I cared about. The rules AND CONSEQUENCES must be very clear so that there's no argueing when the time comes to implement them. I think it's a great idea and is something I even use often in the 8th grade classroom I teach. Good luck - you only have a few more years of being the 'wicked step-mom.' He'll appreciate you and how difficult it was to be you during this time as an adult.
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S.Y. answers from Pittsburgh on May 23, 2009
He can call you crazy and psycho until he is blue in the face, IT IS YOUR CAR, girlfriend! I am going to affirm here what you already know:
It is in YOUR name. YOU are responsible (legally and morally). So WHAT if this kid doesn't want a contract? Oh, well, kiddo...guess you don't want to drive the car. Simple as that. If Dad doesn't back you up, (which it sounds like he doesn't, otherwise this kid wouldn't dare be such a brat to you, plus Dad should have consulted you first!!)still stick to your guns! This actually may be a good exercise in assertiveness for you. If you are absolutely unwaivering then you will get more respect in the long run (maybe in other areas, too).
Plus, think of it this way: you know have an INCREDIBLE motivational tool to use. Is he acting irresponsibly? Ah, well, too bad, I guess you are choosing not to use the car. Backtalking and disrespsctful? I see in our contract that you made a commitment not to do that lest you revoke your car priveledges. PUT EVERYTHING in that contract. This kid seems to have "a sense of entitlement" and thinks just because he HAS a license, he has a RIGHT to drive the car. Ummm, sorry, kiddo...NO! Driving priveledges need to be earned. If he gives you guff about a contract, too bad for him. THOSE ARE YOUR TERMS. Tough doo-doo!! lol
Also an AWESOME series for handling teens is "Love and Logic". RUN to your library and get the book and order the dvd. My parents just saw it and were lamenting that they didn't have those tools when I was a teen! Plus both you AND you hubby could watch it together and be on the same page (don't let the teen get ahold of it).
Any-hoo, you are in the right here, hon....good luck!!! :)
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D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on May 22, 2009
Sounds like you already know what you have to do. Discuss w/your husband. Come to an agreement & ground rules and/or contract. Your husband needs to acknowledge YOUR concerns and issues as well as his own. He needs to step up as the parent and not put the unpleasantness on you. Unfortunately, if your husband won't do this, then you're most likely stuck with his (poor) choices. and I doubt that, in that case, he will ever take your concerns into account when dealing with his kid. Not to be harsh, but that's just how it will probably be until he recognizes you as a co-parent to his son.
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L.H. answers from Philadelphia on May 24, 2009
I am adjusting to the stepfamily life myself. I have 3 children of my own and one stepson who is 15. I have also been a teacher for 19 years and of those 19 years, the majority of the time has been in secondary ed, so I have a lot of experience with teens.
My fiance and I have an agreement that we don't discipline our stepchildren, but allow the natural parent to do so. We maintain that there isn't anything that is such an emergency that it cannot wait until the natural parent can be spoken to and allow them to follow through with disciplinary consequences when needed. If it is serious, like making a major decision concerning their life, such as their schooling, we encourage the natural parents of the children (the exes) to talk it out and make the ultimate decision.
It respects the fact that even though the parents of the children are not married anymore, the parents are still parents, and need to work together toward solutions. It also helps the propensity that children have to try to work the ends against the middle, trying to manipulate the situation so that it gets them what they want.
But, we have another ground rule, and that is that we are not allowed to disrespect each other. If I ask my stepson to do something or to not do something is the course of life, he needs to answer me with the same type of deference he would a teacher or another adult friend. I don't allow the students in my classroom to speak to me disrespectfully without consequences, and I do not allow my stepson (or natural children) to do it either. But I don't initiate the consequences, his father does. Therefore, if he thinks he can get away with something with me that his father doesn't know about, then he's wrong.
About the car, I think that its perfectly reasonable to expect that anyone driving your car should respect your ground rules. I've known many parents who have had the kind of contract you describe. In fact, many car insurance companies highly recommend that ANY teen driver should have one. Look at the Allstate website, for example, and they have an example of a teen contract that you can copy and use, or use as a guide to make your own.
It is good for kids to know what should happen if they get into a scrape, an accident, or get a ticket. All 16 yo should have these things laid out for them. What will happen to the car? What will happen to his driving priviledges? Who will pay for the repairs? Will he need to pay his own ticket?
First, talk to your husband and get his support. Work this issue out before his son drives you car. Then sit down with the stepson and lay out the ground rules. Have him sign the contract, and you sign it, and post it somewhere.
And by the way, you'll get through the teenage attitude. It wouldn't matter whether you are the stepmom or the natural mom, you get attitude. Just remember to be loving and fair, but respect yourself enough to set personal boundaries and ask your husband to support you in that as well.
Hope that helps a little,
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C.C. answers from Philadelphia on May 25, 2009
My suggestion to you would be to talk to your husband and let him know how you feel. A teenager should act responsibly before being given privilages like driving (I would know,as I didn't make great choices at sixteen and had to wait for my license). It is your car and your insurance so he should be showing you some respect and your husband should put his foot down was well. You cannot always look like the bad guy. He is only sixteen years old and should not have the use of the car anytime he wants nor should he be able to go where ever he wants to. Just talk to your husband and the two of you should then talk to your stepson civilly and reasonably (at leat as much as you can with a 16 year old) and if he doesn't like the rules than he can't drive. Good luck!
T.M. answers from Allentown on May 22, 2009
agreed . you are 100% correct ... you are solely responsiable for this ' minor' child if he looses control and hits a steet lamp, a man on a bike or another car ......and #1 what if he gets hurt ?[ medical bills]
I can just about garentee he will 'trash ' , smash, scratch, nic a tire, loose a muffler .... now who pays for this ??????
DO NOT GIVE HIM YOUR CAR . ever !!!!!!!!!
IF YOU ARE FORCED TO IN ORDER TO KEEP HUSBAND HAPPY >>>>
TRANSFER[ oh , i ment sell] THE CAR < THE INSURANCE BILL$$$$<EVERYTHING TO THE CHILD ..... stay out of this.
danger ahead . let every one call you phyco , crazy ...
you are smart .. ahead of the 'wild' and thinking like a
concerned adult ...
both my children totaled my cars at seperate times
thank God they were alive !
DO NOT BACK DOWN .
if everyone yells ...blah blah he has a lic. now ... say,' so do I' fight for your rights .
good luck .
K.B. answers from Philadelphia on May 23, 2009
You're absolutely right on this, whether he's a stepson or biological. Disrespect is not tolerated. Privileges are lost because of it. Driving is a privilege, not a right! He needs to understand this and apparently so does Dad. Dad needs to back you up 100%! You're his wife. Kids come and go but your spouse is there for life and you do not want a riff over this. Dad should not tollerate his son's mouth towards you either, and neither should you. Eye rolling is bad enough, but calling you "psycho"? That alone would cause my children to be stuck in the house or in their room with nothing and I mean nothing to do for quite some time. No phone, no cell, on TV, no video, no music, no nothing. Absolute disrepect is not tolerated. The longer it is allowed to go on the harder it will be to break. The boy needs to know that the house is not Dad's house, but Dad and step-mom's house. He needs to understand that the rules in his mother's house will not be the same rules in your house, period. Lay down the law now and Dad needs to back you up. If the boy is using the second car in YOUR name, what will you be driving? In my home, our children did not and will not use our cars as theirs. They borrow it IF we aren't using our own 2 cars. If the boy wants a regular car then the boy needs a job! Again, all of this is a privilege that is earned, not a right. After all, you and Dad had to work to earn the cars that you have. They weren't given to you. The boy needs to understand the same idea. Earn it or walk. It's cheaper to buy a pair of sneakers! And who is paying for the boy's insurance? Is the boy not going to work to put money toward the car insurance? How will the boy learn responsibility and how life will be for him in just a short couple of years on his own if he doesn't start learning now? When my oldest was 16, he walked to Burger King almost daily to his job and started buying his own clothes and the state of NC would not allow his to get his license because he carried at least one F. So he paid the price and walked to work, bought his own clothes and what not. If he was able to go on our insurance, if he couldn't afford to pay all of his share then we would look at his pay checks and decide together what a good amount would be for him to chip in. It would have been fair for him to keep some of his money for his own expenses. It would have been cruel to take 100% of his checks. It would have been a percentage on every check, whether he worked 38 hours or 8 during a week. The point is, he would be learning the responsibility of paying for his insurance and realizing how working a job pays for his needs so when he was out of the house he wouldn't flounder and expect others to help him out. He left home at 18 when he decided he didn't want to pay rent as an adult in our house, which was fine on both sides. So he left, moved in with a friend and worked until he joined the Marine Corps and his been on his own ever since. He has never borrowed money or anything from us. He learned early on that he's an adult and takes care of himself.
Where is the boys mother in all of this? She should be paying half of his car insurance if the boy is not going to pitch in. And she should pay half of any other driving expenses with the boy. Who will be paying for the gas and maintenance on YOUR car while the boy is driving it? I would tell him he needs to get a job and pay for some of this stuff before he takes any keys. Not sure if there's laws for 16 year olds for driving hours. There were in NC when we lived there. I would expect grades to be kept above a certain level or the keys are gone as well. Grades are first, chores second, privileges last. Respect and proper behavior are always in place as well!
mom to 5 including triplets
D.S. answers from Allentown on May 22, 2009
It sounds like you and your husband are on different pages about discipline.
I would suggest that you locate a family mediator at your local medication center and set up a contract between you two on how to set boundaries on your son.
Look up on the web for a mediation center in or near your local city.
Good luck. D.