This month’s Ask Coach Kathy is about troubles brewing in a blended family.
My teenage stepson is so disrespectful to me that I don’t want to even be in the same room with him.
What do I do?
The success of a blended family starts from the top and goes down.
I recommend you and your spouse put together a plan you both can sign onto on how you both can teach your stepson to show you respect. Ground rules need to be set for all family members around respectful behavior. It goes both ways. Having a family meeting where respect is the topic is important. You, of course, need to model respectful behavior to one another and to him – he will learn by osmosis.
It’s also important to verbalize what you would like from him and allow him to do the same. I encourage you all to ask for what you want rather than what you don’t want. The words, “don’t, not, and stop” need to be left out of your vocabulary. People can hear what others desire when their request is a positive declarative statement. For example, “I would like to speak without interruption,” “I would like for us to speak to one another without cell phones present,” etc.
Remember, think teamwork as a couple, and teamwork as a family will be a natural outgrowth.