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What can I do to earn acceptance & respect from my 5 yr old step son?

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I have known my fiance's five year old son for two years. His biological father hasn't been in his life very much, maybe a phone call once a month, a few hours of visitation every two months or so. My fiancé and I do not live together yet, but are talking about it as we now have a newborn daughter together. Our five year old has temper tantrums and acts out with both of us together and individually. He and I spend time alone doing things we both enjoy. Sometimes we have good days and other times we have not so good days. He is a special boy, I love him and try to help him, teach him, encourage him. I have three older children from a previous marriage, so it's not that I am new to being a parent. And I grew up in blended families, I remember the difficulties when someone new entered the picture. That's why we took it slow in the beginning. Now after two years of being his primary male role model, I had hoped our relationship would have gotten stronger, but it has actually gotten worse. My fiancé tries to encourage our relationship, doesn't take sides and tries to help both of us be closer. He seems to be fine when we do what he wants, when we have fun, but any other time, he is defiant and sometimes down right mean. We are very careful to not let him see violent images, neither my fiancé or I are violent people, but sometimes he does and says violent things that we don't know where it comes from. People tell us it's a phase, my fiancé hopes he will outgrow it with consistency from us, but it's harder for me when most of his issues are vented towards me. He does not accept me, respect me or listen to me. It is starting to affect the relationship with my fiance. What do I do?

answers (1)

Sometimes people push other folks away to see how committed they really are. Yes... it can be like "testing"; however, he may be feeling the sting of rejection from his bio-dad and he may be concerned about you rejecting him, too. One thing that can be helpful is pushing past the "armor" he's wearing. It could be helpful when he says something hurtful to say something to him, like, "Wow. You sound really (angry, frustrated, annoyed, irritated...whatever you think)! What's up?" Also, remember that as the adult, you have more capacity than he does to communicate. When you and your fiancée are feeling angry or frustrated, be careful to model good communications and coping skills. Children do what you DO, not what you say. :-) I hope that's helpful!

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