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Considering one out of three Americans is a member of a blended family, step parenting teenagers is a significant issue. Parenting adolescents can be difficult even when they are your own blood. Their desire for independence, and possible resentment, only intensifies a less than ideal situation. Here are a few tips to have a positive influence on your step teens and maintain peace in the home.
Don't Play Favorites- It is natural to have stronger feelings toward your biological children than your step kids. Just make certain those feelings do not move over to your parenting style. Teenagers are very sensitive to fairness and consistency. Treat the step kids with the same consideration and respect you do your own children. You can build a connection with the step teen by separating your actions with your feelings until real caring develops.
Spend Time- It is important to build a relationship with stepchildren that you both enjoy. Take the role of skill teacher or older friend. In this role you can play sports with them, or teach something you are good at the teen also likes. Spend one-on-one time with them without the biological children around so you can pick up on their interest. Step teens will probably resist these efforts at first, but over time you can build your own relationship based on mutual interests, separate from their biological parents.
Step Back- Depending on the views of the spouse, consider taking on a less parental role. Step parenting teenagers is complicated. The best idea is to leave the discipline to the biological parent. Once a closer bounds form, it may be possible to share this role. You role as step-parent is appropriate behind the scenes by helping with discipline decision making and supporting the spouse.
Show Trust- Trust is important to teenagers. Find ways to send the message that you trust them. For instance, maybe allow them to borrow your car on a date night. These concessions go a long way to a teen and will help you build a connection.
Be a Team- It is not unusual for two people to have different ideas on how to parent children. However, teens are fighting for independence and will use signs of division to their advantage. While the biological parent should take the lead in discipline, blended families must have a consistent message for all children. Sit down and make a plan with your spouse. If you are unable to come to agreement, take a parenting class with the spouse so you can come up with a plan that works for both of you.
Step parenting children can feel like walking on eggshells. But, in time a relationship built on mutual respect is possible. Remember you are likely coming into the picture after the teen has experienced many losses. You may encounter strong resistance as the
outsider and should not take their displaced anger personally. Unfortunately, the Brady Bunch ideal of instant love is a myth. However, after time you and your step-teens can warm to each other and form a healthy blended family.
Entitled Teens Parenting Tips
Parenting difficult teenagers usually boils down to one word, entitlement. Entitled teens think their parents owe them simply for gracing the world with their presence. These are the kids who give hard working parents the silent treatment, or worse, have a hissy fit if they don't get a $300 dollar pair of jeans. A combination of indulgent parents, the consumer culture and emotional pampering hampers teens ability to develop into adulthood. Self-absorbed, entitled teens are difficult to parent. However, just as they were spoiled children can be raises as gracious and independent teens by following a few guidelines.
Limit Media- Social networking such as Facebook, youTube and my space encourages self-absorption and time away from the family. Hours are spent reading messages and posting the details of their lives Children spend hours posting photos and descriptions of their daily activities. The self-centered focus is encouraged further by tv programs, print ads, commercials and movies that sexualize kids, promote excessive spending and value fame without talent. It has been shown, teens who spend more time with their parents, are more likely to have high self-esteem. Have designated hours when teens are allowed to watch television. Use the time ay from media to do activities with the family everyone can enjoy. Family activities take away the me, me, me's and allows teens to relate to other members of the family.
Set Expectations and Consequences- Expectations have positive and negative consequences. Indulged teens don't understand how personal effort is directly connected to the outcome. Set realistic expectations and stick to a system of reward and punishment. For example, if they want gas for the car make sure they complete their chores. Then they will be better prepared for how the real world works.
Require a Part-time Job- Spoiled children think anything they want somehow magically appears. A part-time or summer job gives teens a sense of accomplishment and earned
independence. Earning their own money helps teenagers learn the value of a dollar and appreciate their material items. They will begin to learn firsthand that anything worthwhile takes effort. Being part of the workforce will also help them acquire life skills like punctuality, organization and working as a team they can use as an adult.
Have Teens Volunteer- Let children broaden their view of the world from what only personally affects them. By volunteering they can take the focus off of themselves and help others. It will also give them an appreciation for what is provided by knowing there is always someone who has less. No matter what their age or abilities there is an organization where they can help out after school or on the weekends. The experience will help them develop compassion and a broader understanding of the meaning of life.
Be Authoritative- Due to wanting to be their child's friend or feelings of guilt for not spending time with their kid's, parents adopt permissive parenting styles. Studies show this lenient approach creates entitled character traits in teens. An authoritative parenting style creates clear boundaries your teen must honor. You are doing your child a disservice if they are not taught life's social hierarchy. They must learn before adulthood that bullying or whining will not likely win them the big promotion.