Future Step Dad
Dear Positive Way, I am a single man (never married or had kids) soon to be married to a wonderful woman who has been divorced 2 times. She has children from both marriages and there lies in the problem. We can not come to an agreement on raising the kids…primarily the two teens. One is a 15 year old step-daughter who has an 18 year old boyfriend who comes over and stays at our house on almost a daily basis. The “hang out” in her bedroom with the door open and he has to leave by 9:30pm during weekdays and 11:30pm on weekends. My problem is I get tired of him coming over ALL the time and would like some peace and quite once in a while. He also goes to the pantry and grabs food like its his own house which I’ll admit annoys me. I think him coming over 2-3 times per week would be better. On top of it, whenever her boyfriend is there, she pretty much has nothing to do with the rest of the family. Since we bought her a car, I told her she has to work 8 hours a week to pay for gas and spending money. Since school started she has only worked one day and it was only 4 hours. We pay her an allowance of $50 per month because she really is a good kid–gets good grades, doesn’t do drugs/alcohol, and is a cheerleader. We also pay for her cell phone and occasional clothes but make her pay for her “date” night dinners/movies, etc.
The second teenager is a 17 year old boy who comes and goes as he pleases. He’s a handful who just pierced his lip with a baby pin yesterday and dresses in goth. His real dad just spent $5,000 a month for the past 9 months sending him to a boys school where he got his GED. We thought that when he got back things would change. They haven’t. Of the 3-4 weeks he’s been home, he hasn’t came home at night several times and has left for 3-5 days at a time. He won’t get a job and he just wants to hang out with friends. He spends the day at home on the computer and then leaves in the evening to be with friends. What should I do? signed, FutureStepDad, age 36
Dear FutureStepDad, You are wise to question these things now before you marry and become a Stepfamily. Stepfamilies are the most challenging family unit and they require different rules and guidelines. We have done extensive research on this subject and are also a stepfamily unit and we have some advice and some suggestions for you to consider:
1. The biological parent is the one that has to do the discipline and set the rules. The stepparent has to allow this to happen and not take over the role of disciplinarian for at least the first few years.
2. The children need to see a united front so you and your soon to be wife must meet in private and create new family rules that you both can agree on and support.
3. Be very clear with your partner on what you like and don’t like and discuss openly and honestly about what you would like to see changed or improved upon. Negotiate new rules and then let her explain them to the children.
4. Your role as stepfather is to be one of friend and mentor. Don’t try to be their Dad. Let them know you want to be their friend and try to support them in their hobbies and interest. Try to have some one on one time with each one of them as often as possible.
If your future wife refuses to listen to your concerns and reevaluate and negotiate new family rules that you both can support and uphold then take that as a sign that this relationship may not work in the long run. Since she has been divorced 2 times already the odds are high that this relationship may not work if you can’t work all of these issues out before you marry. Marriage will only make the issues worse not better unless they are resolved ahead of time. Please read our article on Tips for Stepfathers and Stepfamily Resources and Reading Recommendations.
Please understand you have free will. This advice is given only in the realm of personal growth and self-help. This is not to be considered a substitute for therapy or professional counseling. We wish you well.