Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Step parenting a teen

Subject: Parenting issues in stepfamilies.

Question: I recently married my husband who has a 13 year old son  from a previous marriage. We live quite a distance away from him and therefore visits aren't as often as we would like. For this reason we purchased a new cell phone for step son and allowed him to pick out one of the best available so that we could all text message, call and send pictures at any time.

My husband has been getting very upset and frustrated becuase often he tries to reach stepson and the phone is not on,
or he leaves a message and does not get a returned phone call. He will also call his mothers house and leave messages and still will not hear back for days.

After much discussion, I have advised him that he may want to talk to his ex-wife and set a schedule for calls since they have been inconsistent. I have also said maybe he should remind step son that the phone was purchased so that contact could be maintained and give him a couple of warnings that if this continues we may rethink the phone situation.

My husband's stance is that he doesn't want to force his son to call him, he wants him to call on his own. He also doesn't want to be the bad guy and reprimand him. His reason for this is that we are so far away and don't get to see him on a regular basis.

It is to the point that this gets us into arguments becuase I have a hard time seeing how upset my husband gets, but at the same time he doesn't do anything to fix it.

My Master's degree is in Counseling and I am a Nationally Certified Counselor, but it is very different when you are dealing with your own family and your own feelings. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: Dear Anonymous:

Regardless of your credentials this issue is not yours. You may not like how your husband handles his relationship with his son and his ex however, not your problem to solve. (Remember problems require solutions and fixing, people need you to listen from your heart not your head).

He needs to determine how to handle it and that you are getting into arguments means... you are overstepping your boundaries...back off.

If you don't respect him for how he handles it maybe this was something you needed to figure out before you got married.

Of course you already know this, you just needed an outsider to tell you this as well.

When your husband posts here and asks for my assistance then you will know he reallizes what he is doing is not working.

In the meantime listen and ask a simple question, "how is that working for you?"

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller