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How to Deal With a Teen Stepson

by Tiffany Raiford, studioD

You might think your teenage stepson hates you because he imagines you are trying to run his life or become his new mom. And he might assume that you think he is in the way of your marriage to his dad or that you won’t treat him as well as your own children. There are issues for all stepfamilies, but you don’t have to have them with your stepson.

Allow your stepson to set the pace for his relationship with you. According to Ron L. Deal, the author of “The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family,” you should let your stepson set the perimeters for your relationship. For example, if he seems open and loving, return the sentiment. However, if he seems aloof and reserved in your presence, don't force yourself on him -- go with what he's comfortable with.

Behave in a manner that is similar to a camp counselor or older friend toward your stepson. According to the American Psychological Association, if your stepson is 13 or 14 years old, he is at the age that is most difficult to adjust to a stepparent. If he is older than 14, he likely will be less invested in your family, which means he might be a little more tolerable of your new role in his life. By ensuring your teenage stepson knows you are in no way trying to be his mother, you are establishing a relationship that is less formal and more friendly, which might make him open up to you more.

Discuss your role as disciplinarian with your husband and even with your stepson’s biological mom, if you feel that is applicable to your circumstances. According to the American Psychological Association, you should deal with your teenage stepson in a way that everyone finds appropriate. For example, this might mean your role as disciplinarian is simply to monitor his behavior to ensure he is following the household rules and report his misdoings to his dad for punishment. Dealing with your stepson when it comes to discipline is a personal decision you and your family must make together.

Offer verbal, not physical, affection at the onset of your relationship with your stepson. According to Helpguide.org, boys appreciate compliments and praise far more than hugs and kisses from their stepparents. When he brings home good grades, or makes the winning catch during his baseball game or volunteers his time helping others, give him sincere compliments, which he is likely to appreciate.


  • Treat your biological children and stepson equally. It's much easier to deal with your teen stepson if you are not making him feel alienated or less important than his stepsiblings.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.

Photo Credits

  • Ezra Shaw/Digital Vision/Getty Images