Parenting a teenage son can be challenging. He may be at turns wild and energetic and then depressed and angsty. Becoming the stepparent to a teenage boy can be even more challenging since you may be seen as the reason his parents are no longer together -- or at least the final symbol that they will never get back together. Finding ways to connect with your teenage stepson can help you slowly build your relationship into something positive and rewarding.
Make time to spend together one on one. The best way to get to know your stepson is to spend quality time together, and you can't do that if you're juggling the needs of the other family members. Go out to dinner together, head to a movie or go for a walk on a local trail. The key is to get time alone together.
Learn about your stepson's interests. Dinner and a movie might sound like an enjoyable outing to you, but if your stepson is more into adventure and physical activity, that could sound like a night of torture to him. Ask your partner about your stepson's interests to get a good starting point, and pay attention to the things your stepson talks about and gets excited about. Try to start conversations about those topics or plan outings around those activities.
Choose shared activities. The Super Nanny website recommends choosing activities that require both of you to do something together, such as ice skating or bowling. If it's an activity that allows you to be a little silly, all the better. It may be just what you need to break the ice.
Talk about the other parent. Your partner's ex -- and your stepson's current parent -- is the big elephant in the room. If you avoid talking about this parent, it could create tension and foster resentment. Dr. Phil recommends clarifying your role as an ally and supporter -- not as someone who wants to replace a parent -- and to support your stepson's relationship with both of his biological parents. In doing so, you may open the doors to a friendship with your stepson, which could lead to a closer relationship later.
Be open. Expecting too much from the relationship too quickly can put pressure on you both. Don't take it personally if your stepson doesn't warm to you right away. Relax and accept the relationship as it is -- you just might find that it builds more quickly if you do.
- Don't try to hard to seem "hip" or "cool." Teenagers will see through this and may reject your efforts.
- Never badmouth the other parent in front of your stepson. This will damage your relationship, perhaps permanently.
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