Parenting Stepchildren/Too much?


My wife had a child at a very young age through a prior marriage. That marriage lasted about one year then the dad packed up and left the state. Our "kid" my stepson, has never met or talked to his biological father. He is now 15 years old. My wife and I have been married for about a year (known eachother for about 5 years).

Our son is a good kid, but I'm struggling to find reason for the behavior I have been seeing.

When my wife or I tell him he can't do something on a weekend night he throws a tantrum, argues for about 1/2 an hour, then all of a sudden wants to go to grandmas house. OR argues for a 1/2 an hour then locks himself in his room.

Grandma and grandpa played a big role in his life growing up since mom was single and working. Now it seems that grandma wont loosen up the grip. She calls him numerous times throughout the day, takes him everywhere he wants to go, comes to our house and cleans his room and the basement where he plays xbox. Everything (school or soccer practice) is always an item on conversation between my wife and her mother. It seems like her mom is another "parent" raising our kid.

Last night, which made me think about finding more answers, I walked into the kids room (closed door) and my wife was tickling his bare stomach with a piece of tissue while he was laying on his bed. The kid is a sophmore in high school, and not mentally ill............IM CONFUSED.............PLEASE HELP.

Hi Brad. I'm not clear what you're confused about. Your stepson's behavior sounds like a typical teen seeking independence. As a boy abandoned by his biodad, I suspect he has serious resentment, hurt, and anger issues that he may not be able to talk about. The grandmother sounds over-involved, and may have passed on psychological wounds to your wife:

You all may have an array of normal stepfamily problems:

Often, stepfamily couples have trouble resolving co-parenting conflicts:

If you can clarify your question/s here. I can be more specific.

Respectfully, Pete

Parenting Stepchildren

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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about remarriage preparation, stepparenting, stepchild discipline, child visitation, grieving, stepfamily norms and myths, mission statements, stepparent job (role)descriptions, communication skills, loyalty and values conflicts, stepfamily identity problems, common pitfalls, ex mate and relative problems, stepfamily merger and adjustment tasks, name confusions, choosing an effective counselor, resolving money disputes, co-parenting support groups, and the family effects of court (legal) battles. I can`t answer questions about medicine, family law, legal stepchild adoption, or financial planning.


I have studied and worked with stepfamilies clinically since 1979, and I have been a "step everything" personally. I was invited to be on the board of the Stepfamily Association of America (SAA) by it's founders, Drs. John and Emily Visher; and later was re-invited by president Margory Engle, PhD. For more detail, see this.

Former Board member, Stepfamily Association of America (SAA)
National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC)Experts Council

Hundreds of Web articles on ; I've uploaded over 150 self-improvement videos on YouTube; and have self-published 6 books. My ad-free Web site offers a unique, practical 7-lesson self-improvement course.

Stanford University BSME (1958) George Williams College MSW (1981) Hundreds of post-graduate seminars on a wide variety of "mental health" subjects

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of appreciative emails and comments on my Web site and videos from people all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
I have worked clinically with over 1,000 midwestern divorced and remarried family members, and have had over 800 stepfamily students in various seminars and courses since 1981

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