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Tip for Stepfather’s Raising Stepson’s – Patience


This the second post in the series of Tips for Stepfather’s Raising Stepson’s.  The first post discussed the need for a stepdad to partner with his stepson’s biological parents

 Fast - Faster - Fastest


Fast, faster and fastest – we want it now. We want fast food, faster internet service and the fastest way to lose weight from eating all that fast food. We’re willing to pay a premium for products and services that promise they are “instant” and “quick.”

When we talk about building a meaningful relationship with your stepson, the words fast, faster and fastest no longer apply. Think in terms of growing a plant. You plant a seed and you don’t have a mature plant the next day. It takes time for the seed to germinate, take root, and sprout. Likewise, it takes time for the relationship with your stepson to grow.

Also, you don’t just plant the seed and walk away. You regularly provide the plant with the nutrients and environment it needs to grow into a healthy, flourishing plant. Next to forgiveness, patience is one of the two most important virtues in your relationship with your stepson. While there are always exceptions, the majority of children tend to be accepting of the adults in their lives.

However, it’s important to remember that your stepson was deeply wounded by the two most important adults in his life. This fact alone will make him cautious of fully accepting you; it will take time. Also, your stepson may feel conflicted by a need to place loyalty to his biological dad. The loss of a parent, whether through divorce or death, is devastating to a child, and it can take a very long time for a child to come to terms with that.

It will also take time for your future stepson to accept his mother has found someone new, ending his dreams of his parents reconciling and getting back together. Additionally, your stepson realizes he will have to contend with you – his stepdad. Once you and your partner decide your relationship is heading toward marriage, you should begin developing a trusting relationship with your stepson. This will help him accept you as a stepfather once you officially become a member of the family.

While serving in the Air Force, I grew very accustomed to being heard and seeing immediate responses to my requests. As a stepparent, I quickly learned a humbling lesson: children don’t care if you were a five-star general or private. Children can and will get on your last nerve. How you react when they do, however, is your choice.

Patience Good Attitude

Ways to Develop Patience with Your Stepson

Check Your Expectations

  • Children are children – not adults
    • Brains are not fully developed until about 23 years old
    • The area of the brain related to rational decision-making is the last part developed
  • Expectations need to be age and situation appropriate
  • Are you expecting children to behave in a way they’re not capable of yet?

Don’t Take It Personally

  • We (adults and children) all make mistakes
  • You can identify misbehavior as intentional or unintentional – but not personal
    • There are exceptions if you are a total jerk
  • Your stepson’s behavior is not a measurement of your effectiveness as a stepdad
    • The two are not related unless, of course, you are a total jerk
  • Be a curious observer
    • Learn about general behaviors displayed by both yourself and your stepson
    • Adjust your behavior accordingly

Flexible Parenting Style

  • Learn what your parenting style is
  • Every child and situation is different
    • Flexibility and openness to what is and isn’t working is essential
    • For example: authoritarian style with a strong-willed stepson will probably lead to plenty of confrontations
  • Willingness to examine and adjust your approach can help minimize volatile situations


  • Take a timeout in the middle of an emotionally charged situation
    • You’re not giving in if you do
    • Your stepson wins the battle if you lose your patience
  • Take care of yourself
    • Think HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired)
    • Engaging with your stepson when feeling any of these can put you on the fast track to losing your patience.
    • Do whatever refuels and refreshes you

Disrespectful Behavior

With your wife, respect has to be established as the minimum standard in the family

  • Your wife should be responsible for handling infractions

Thankfully, patience is a skill that is developed with time and practice. As a stepparent, you will receive plenty of opportunities to develop your skill.  By learning to demonstrate patience with your stepson you will eventually win him over and provide him with a model for his own behavior. Next to patience, forgiveness is one of the two most important virtues in your relationship with your stepson. Learn more about forgiveness here

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  1. Dale Jarnagin

    I have stepped into a relationship with three children that are in their teens, one of which is a boy that is fifteen and never had a dad or anyone to hold him accountable for his actions and doesn’t understand the concept of respect. What do I do with that? I just got out of the Marine Corps and have a zero tolerance for disrespect and I do t have any kids of my own.

    • Hi Dale

      Thank you for your service.

      Having served in the Air Force and eventually becoming a stepdad I quickly learned I couldn’t have the same expectations I had of my airmen with my stepchildren. A zero tolerance for negative behavior including disrespect is essential for the Corps but when it comes to your stepchildren grace, patience and forgiveness are in order especially when considering your 15 year old.

      Based on what you shared my guess his displays of disrespect may have nothing to do with you at all but possibly transference of his resentful feelings towards his biological dad. You are just a target of opportunity.

      This is not meant to downplay your need for respect just the way to go about it getting it. Mutual respect should be the standard within the blended family. How does? You and her must absolutely be on the same page to move forward in this situation. If your 15-year-old’s mom is failing to keep him accountable, guilty parenting could be involved.

      My suggestion is you and your partner have a family meeting with your young men to come up with some house rules. One of the rules would be treating all family members with respect. Also you, your partner and 15-year-old may consider seeing a marriage family therapist to discuss his behaviorial issues especially if they continue.

      Please understand I’m not a therapist just an experienced stepdad. I’m praying for your situation.


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