The teenager it is sad looks upwards

Ask Rene:
I Despise My Husband’s Stepson!

I recently married a man who has an 8-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old stepson from his previous marriage. I love his daughter; she’s a wonderful girl and I’ve become friends with her mother (my husband’s ex-wife).

However, the stepson Brian (the ex-wife’s son from another relationship) is awful! He lies, has stolen money from me, and he runs away from home. My husband has been in his Brian’s life since he was 5 or 6-years-old. Even though the stepson’s father is involved in his life, I know my husband has been a constant influence and a better father figure. I wouldn’t dream of asking him to end or limit his relationship with his stepson. But I have to be honest: I don’t want him coming over. How do I handle this?

Signed: Not-So-Evil Stepmother

Dear Not-so-Evil Stepmom:

I’m gonna give you some advice, simple first and then I will explain. I’m almost POSITIVE you will not like me for saying it. But here goes.


Right now.

This situation may not be ideal (when is it ever) so you’re going to have to make the most of it. So here’s what I would do if I were you.


Man look at woman look seriously And was trying to say on your mind

First things first, time for a heart-to-heart with your husband. He’s your partner and soulmate so you ought to be able to be honest with him about how you feel. I’m a big fan of starting problem-solving with good, honest discussion; skipping this step is like trying to build a house on an unstable foundation. You also need to get this out in the open because, whether you know it or not, your feelings toward Brian will seep into your everyday dealings with him, if they haven’t already. He won’t know or understand why that is and that’s unfair.

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I’m not a mental health professional but it sounds like Brian is acting out. I mean think about it; Brian’s had a father figure in his life for the past decade or so. Then the relationship between his mother and your husband imploded, leaving  Brian and the life he used to know, in its wake. How on earth can he NOT be affected?  Cutting Brian off from the only stable, male influence he’s had for the last several years just feels wrong.

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You are an adult.. Brian is a teenager. It goes without saying that you have a wealth of life experience from which to cobble together coping strategies; he’s had 15 years. That’s not even a fair fight. Brian needs your help; he needs to see that there are some adults who will not give up on him and that he has a safety net. He needs to know that he is still loved, even when he’s not lovable. Stop looking for an easy way out (kicking him out of your life) and commit to finding a solution.

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In no way am I saying give Brian a pass; in fact quite the contrary. This young man lacks clear boundaries, aka discipline, which sounds like exactly what he needs. Make sure he knows what the consequences are for stealing, running away from home and so on. You have an opportunity to change the trajectory of Brian’s life. When he looks back on his youth, he may be able to point to this as the moment where he dug in because there were adults committed to him. Or this could be the place where the wheels came off because the adults in his life, checked out.

Choose wisely.

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What advice would you give Not-So-Evil Stepmother?