Many parents and stepparents complain that they’re having a hard time dealing with their teenage (step)kids. Parents see them as rebellious, lazy, and just plain moody. Environment and friends play important roles in how our teens function, but so does parenting.

Part of parenting is trying to understand what your teenager needs from you and to support them on their journey.  This can be hard for a parent especially if your child doesn’t even know what they themselves want. Dr. Ron Dahl, who specializes in adolescent development says:

“9- to 14-year-old range, kids become more interested in being admired and respected. We don’t know exactly what it is that kids become sensitive to, but it’s something about status, being accepted, belonging, being admired, and being valued that becomes more salient.”

For children of divorce, where parents are at odds with each other and the kids feel they need to “choose” which parent to love, it becomes more challenging for them to feel valued, accepted and part of a family.

As a stepparent,if your teenage stepdaughter or stepson doesn’t want to get close to you, remember that it’s not about you but your teen’s own struggles with identifying and carving a place in this family.They may feel like an outsider in their own family, similar emotions to a stepparent in their new family.

What can you do as a stepparent?

Communicate! Easier said than done, I understand. Here’s the thing. If you’re not the one talking with them, your teen will go and talk with someone else, trying to understand who they are. Wouldn’t it be better if you had that conversation together?

Listen to the video I did on this earlier where I share more about what you can do as a stepparent.

To read the full article, go to Greater Good-What Adolescents Really Need From Parents

Did you enjoy this video? I invite you to subscribe to my Stepfamily Lifestyle Series on YouTube. Here’s the link:


  1. Tandy Elisala

    Such great advice, Claudette… LISTEN to our kids. I often had ‘mommy days’ where I spent 1:1 time with each of my 3 kids and this helped me know what was going on with them, share their concerns, have fun and connect. Listening to what they are saying AND what they aren’t saying is key! Thanks for sharing this valuable article.

    • StepmomCoach

      AHHHHHh Thanks Tandy. Our kids (and adults alike) need more people who are willing to sit with them and listen instead of “hurry up and tell them what to do” type of interaction. We would be surprised at just how much we can learn from one another if we took the time to listen more.

  2. Jackie Harder

    I don’t have kids or stepkids, but from what I’ve seen of family dynamics, it’s tough to deal with teens. Your comment that it’s them, not you, is so true — and in true in many of life’s situations (kids or adults). Communication is key and it’s difficult to do even under the best of circumstances. Keep trying! That’s my advice.

    • StepmomCoach

      Thanks Jackie. Communication is a skill that takes time to master – AND even then, we never get it right 100% of the time. When we take issues and problems personally where these might belong to others, we’re creating more problems and issues.
      Teens are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in this world. Adding to their confusion by taking things personally just creates more chaos. And yes, I would agree that it would be the same for adults as well.

  3. webly Alfred

    You shared a lot of really valuable points in improving communication with teenagers. My son is turning 11 soon and I notice that making him comfortable to talk to me about ANYTHING without judging him makes him willing to come to me first, and yes they have a fakemeter. LOL

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