When this man with two young daughters marries a woman with a 16 yo son, and isn't happy with his stepson's 'disrespectful behavior,' he asks Reddit:
I (47m) have a stepson (16m) who for the purposes of this post, we’ll call “T”. I’ve been married to my wife (48F) for two years and have two daughters (7F & 9F) with my ex.
Since the day T moved into my house he has been nothing but disrespectful. I understand that change, especially change this drastic (moving, getting new siblings/ a new parent) is hard for a kid but some of the stuff he does just crosses a line.
For example, I transferred him to a really great private high school when he moved in because I wanted him to have the best opportunities.
He always complains that he doesn’t like his new classmates, that the school is too far away (it’s 15 minutes further than his old school, which is practically nothing) and that he doesn’t like the environment.
He doesn’t understand that later he will thank me for this, I would have killed for an opportunity like this at his age!
Additionally, he always breaks rules we have set in place. I have asked him to surrender his phone to the living room at 9pm to have some family time but he says he wants to talk to his old friends.
He constantly claims not to like the food his mother or I make even when he hasn’t tried it. His mother and I try to have a date night once or twice a week and he always claims he is too busy to watch his step sisters. We have asked him repeatedly for the passwords to his social media accounts and he refuses to hand them over… etc.
I’m sick of the disrespect in my own house, so I set some boundaries. Either he starts treating me with respect and listening to me, or he can find somewhere else to live.
Obviously I wouldn’t really kick him out, but I’m hoping this scares some sense into him. My wife, however, said I took it too far and need to apologize and tell him I wasn’t serious. Also, I just want to clarify a few things.
He did not change schools when he was sixteen. We had him change when he was 14, when he moved in to my house, so about halfway through his first year of high school.
Also, he did know about the change, we talked to him about it beforehand. He wasn’t excited but he did know that he would be changing schools. Anyway, I feel slightly bad about my threat. But apologizing I feel like will undermine my authority though. AITA?
YTA. So you rip this kid out of his school and away from his friends and you’re pissed that he isn’t kissing your ass in gratitude. Then you change up all of the rules he’s ever known and are pissed that he’s resistant to the change.
You expect him to give up his social life to watch your kids so you can go out and you don’t understand why this would upset him. You can’t be serious.
YTA. 9pm is absurdly early for a 16yo, especially since you deprived hom of his friends by changing his school. That's my cutoff for my much younger children who see their friends all day.
If you can afford private school (which he didn't ask for or want) you can afford a babysitter. He didn't ask to be a parent to your kids. You're being incredibly disrespectful, so I'm not surprised you're getting it right back. I'm sure his social media is full of ranting about you. Mine would be too.
YTA. Threatening to kick him out over minor disrespect is going too far, and will damage your relationship and his trust in you. Apologize sincerely, explain your frustration, and speak honestly from the heart.
Also, it sounds like your stepson has been uprooted from everything he knows without having much choice, despite being nearly an adult. Was his old school a bad one?
The private school may be “better”, but one can still be highly successful with a public education. Did you talk to him before you made this choice for him? It sounds like he’s pretty resentful, and he may have good reason to be.
Also wanted to add - your kids are YOUR kids. Your stepson is not obligated to babysit them. He’s allowed to say no. Are you offering to pay him?
And he’s entitled to some privacy. I think demanding the passwords to his social media is kind of invasive. Maybe compromise on him putting you or his mother on his friend list.
YTA you’re having a pissing contest with a depressed 16 yr old. You treat him like a child in one aspect (forced family time and taking his phone away, giving up his social media passwords.) but then in another breath want him to be an adult and watch YOUR kids.
This boy has no control over his life and while YOU would be grateful you are not him. So instead of expecting him to put himself in your shoes and be grateful maybe put yourself in his instead.
My mom was military and we moved every 3 years and I cried and it hurt everytime. Missing his friends and being the new kid in a new family is hard. Especially when you go home to a bully step dad.
YTA, he’s 16. All this sounds like normal teenage rebellion. Teenagers are disrespectful? What world do you live in? Show me a respectful one! I dare you! I’ve never heard of such a thing. Not wanting to do “family time”? What teenager does?
Dude, I’ll trade you my stepson any day if the stuff you mentioned is such a problem for you. I’m frankly jealous your stepson is so well behaved.
At 16 expecting some privacy on social media and things like that is reasonable. Why would you think it’s reasonable to treat him like he’s 5 years old? He’s old enough to start treating him like a human being who can make decisions for himself. In fact he needs to because in 2 years he’s an adult sweetie. It’s time to get some practice in at making his own choices and finding out the consequences on his own.
If he doesn’t want to babysit, he shouldn’t have to. If he does want to he should be paid to do so. They aren’t his kids, he isn’t the parent, you are. He should do a few chores since he lives there, but if he really doesn’t want to babysit your children, it’s not really cool to force him to do this chore. Hire a sitter like a responsible parent instead of bullying your stepson to do it.
As for transferring him schools, he may not thank you later. He may resent you his whole life in fact. 16 is old enough to have a say in what school you should go to.
My parents were more strict than any of my friends parents and after I made it through the 8 grade they asked me which high school I wanted to attend (we had been in a private grade school and had a choice of 2 private high schools or the public schools). YTA.
Update: Thank you for everyone who has taken the time to comment, and thank you further to the people who have offered helpful advice. I didn’t come here to be vindicated, I came to find out if I was doing everything I could for my stepson and clearly I am not.
I am going to try to fix what I have done wrong, i’ll offer him the option to switch back schools (although I understand that it might be too late) and I will drastically ease up on the restrictions that we have been set in place.
Furthermore, I am going to sit down and apologize, I want him to know he is cared for and that I was wrong. Forgive me for any mistakes, I’m a long time lurker who made an account specifically to ask about this issue.
A little bit more than a year ago, I asked for advice on how to deal with my stepson. I was ripped to shreds in the comments, and deservedly so. For those who haven’t read the post: I didn’t feel like my stepson was respecting my authority after I imposed overly strict rules upon him.
I’ve had a few people ask for an update, but first, I wanted to clear up one thing. Many people assumed that I took an under privileged kid and put him in a school full of rich kids. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Before we married, he and his mother were very well off. We both have really well paying jobs, the only reason he was in a public school was because the schools in our area are really great. The only reason he was switched to the private school is because it is a STEM school and I thought that would be beneficial to him.
Now on to the update. After reading the comments telling me how horrible of a stepfather I was, I felt sick. This may seem unbelievable but I was genuinely trying to do right by him and I was beside myself realizing that I did more harm than good.
My stepson never knew his father, and I jumped at the chance to have that special father/son bond with him.
I eased up on many of the restrictions I placed, he no longer has to surrender his phone and while we still do have family time, it’s about once a week instead of every night. He no longer has a bedtime and while his mom follows him on his socials (I do not) I no longer demand this passwords to anything.
The only time I have asked him to babysit is in the case of an emergency but surprisingly, now that I’ve stopped, he’s been offering to babysit every once in a while.
As for the school issue, he is still at the school we switched him too. We had many long talks about this very issue and he ultimately decided to finish out his high school career at the school because, while he missed his friends, he was able to recognize that this new school offered him the best opportunity to get into the college he really wants to attend.
Since all of this, the relationship between my stepson and myself has drastically improved. For his 17th birthday we offered to get him a car and he and I had a really nice time picking out the right one.
I’ve taken him to a few basketball games which he loves (and I’ve enjoyed learning about the sport from him). He actually got a girlfriend and came to me for advice about dating which is not something that would have happened before.
I will say this, I am blessed with an incredibly smart, kind and compassionate stepson; Other kids may not have been so forgiving, and rightfully so. I urge other stepparents out there to really listen to their stepchildren instead of automatically trying to take over, you may not be as lucky as I was.
Well done, OP! It might be worth taking this lesson and making it explicit for all your kids/stepkids - you donked up but it came from a place of caring, you sincerely apologised and changed your behaviour (that bit's important) and it massively helped! A mistake isn't the end of the world, changing and apologising and owning your mistakes helps!
I'm so happy to hear that things improved. You might consider writing out your thoughts as a letter for your stepson - maybe for high school graduation or another big celebration.
Just saying directly (not just with your actions) that you made a mistake, you worked to repair the harm you caused, you're so grateful your stepson has allowed you to make it up to him, and you're proud of the man he's become.