13 answers

Misbehaving Stepson

My stepson, who is about to be 12, can't seem to make it through a week without getting in trouble at school at least twice. His teachers have started calling home with weekly reports and no improvement is being made. My SO, his dad, doesn't seem to want to deal with it. He will ground him but it doesn't stick. If he grounds him from t.v. then it is only the t.v. in his room, but he still watches in the living room. If it's the phone then he'll look for reasons to "need" to use the phone and is given permission. Basically, he's only "grounded" in theory. He is still able to do all the things he did before and doesn't learn any sort of lesson. Maybe I'm too harsh, but when my son is grounded he is GROUNDED. NO t.v., phone, computer, etc. He can read or play his guitars. When I try to talk to my SO about it he immediately goes on the defensive and accuses me of picking on his son. I love my stepson very much and have been raising him for the last 6 years, but I feel punishment should be equal and carried out the same way for both of them. I am a firm believer in say what you mean and mean what you say. Am I approaching this wrong? How can I make him understand that his behavior will not change when his son knows there won't be any real consequences for his actions? Help!

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Since you said you have a SO and not hubby, I am making an assumption that you do not go to church. Otherwise, I would suggest getting counseling from your Pastor. And since he is a SO you must realize that he will NOT change if you get married. If you are not happy/satisfied/comfortable with the way he disciplines now, DO NOT expect things to change; also, expect son to get worse in behavior because children always challenge the boundaries (except your SO hasn't set any; but don't worry the police will someday). I suggest you wake up and smell the coffee......you might realize things are not as wonderful as you think.
You get what you settle for.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with your thoughts about the grounding. When my 11 yr old is grounded, we enforce every TV, computer, game system, phone, etc. I do not believe this is unreasonable.

It sounds like the new baby may also be something to think about. Have you discussed how this situation makes your stepson feel? Just a thought; not that you can change this.

Just my 2 cents worth.


P. <><

I agree with you, grounded should be grounded. I wouldn't exactly consider a 15yr old grounded though if he is still allowed to play his guitar & read. If he is an avid reader, that's not punishment & the guitar gives him a really good outlet to get his frustration out and can focus on that instead of being grounded. I'm sure he loves the guitar as much as the other likes his T.V., computer & phone. I hated TV but loved to read. Another son we couldn't get him out of his room to do anything but play his guitar.

Why is he having a choice of dealing with it? It's his child. Teachers can become very irritating - and you shouldn't be the one fielding the calls. I am honestly afraid that you are in for a world of hurt and heartache with this man, and this child - and were you not pregnant, I'd advise you to run far and fast - but you're fairly tied now.

FWIW, we ground my daughter (step) from given things - i.e. All things that plug into the wall. Computer, Telephone, TV (it is only in the living room, no tv in bedroom here, and she gets 30 minutes to be in the living room because it has to be off if she's in there), her violin doesn't plug in, her books don't plug in, her art pad doesn't plug in, skateboard, and her Ipod (as long as it doesn't need recharging) - so those are all fair game.

Or she gets 'house arrest' whereby she can go no further than 200 feet from our front door. No friends houses, no community pool, no Nana, no going to the store (yes, someone has to stay home with her), no going further than 200 feet from our front door - unless she is going to the ER for her own personal injury. She hates house arrest, and we never use it for more than 48 hours.


Early bed time

Fines (from allowance)

It is what it is, and by not grounding her from everything at once we accomplish several things - we can make it hurt her freedom more and limit the effect on ours, we still have things to take away... and the world is not hopeless.

Okay, if you love your STEP son than he should be called your SON. I have a 12 yr old boy (my husband is not his biological father BUT he calls him his SON). Do you or your husband talk to him about his day? There is a reason he is acting out in school. As a parent, it is up to us to find out what is going on in our kid's lives.

I talk to my son all the time. I don't make a big deal out of things but I do give him advice on of to handle things a different way. He tells me about fights in school, things he said to people, his work, girls, his friends, even about sex. All I do is open the door and he does the rest. I don't push him to talk and I don't gripe at him for doing things a 12 yr old would do. It can be hard at times but I want to keep that conversational door open at all times.

Well, good luck w/your family.


I agree with the others who said have questioned why the teachers call you instead of your SO. You should not be resonsible for those. And, where is his mother? If she is completely out of the picture, then you and your SO need to see a counselor so that a third party can assess the situation and give you advice. He is not going to listen to you because you are all in the situation. If he doesn't agree with you treating your sons alike in discipline it is likely he doesn't agree with your style and that is not going to change without significant and professional help. I'd get it soon before the fourth one is born and you start having trouble agreeing on your mutual child. It sounds like it will only get worse if you don't address it now.

I agree with the other mom. If your SO is not willing to relent and discipline him correctly or stand by you as a unified team then your stepson has no reason to listen to you. His own dad doesn't. Let him take the calls from teachers and discipline him as he sees fit. That way he will have to realize what is really going on with his son.

Is your husband taking the calls from the teachers? If not I would suggest that he start so that he is able to see/hear first hand what is going on & that something needs to be done. Maybe you could even have a meeting with his dad, teacher and maybe the school counselor so that they can give detailed information of what is going on & what the consequences are going to be if his behavior does not improve.

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