I connect with my students, but not my teen. Help!

Lisa - posted on 12/19/2009 ( 5 moms have responded )




I need advice. I can connect so well with teens on many different levels as a teacher, but how do I connect with my own teenage stepdaughter? We don't communicate. She is very quiet and secretive and I don't know how to reach her. ANy ideas?

She is 15 now, but I've been in her life since she was 7. We always talked before, when she was little she once told me I was one of her best friends. She lives with her mom, whom I know is disconnected with her. I've never attempted to replace her mom, nor have I forced her to love me like one. We once had a great bond. I am a little strict, but it's because I care and I have expectations like any parent. I do have two other little ones in the house, but I try not to treat any of them different. My husband is very supportive of both of us. It just seems that she went from straight As and Bs to Fs in one semester. Plus, I found gang-related pics on my computer and my hubby caught her smoking pot. I just don't know what to do. If I say too much then I'm the wicked stepmother. If I say nothing, then I "don't care". What happened and how do we reach her?? She doesn't seem to care what we have to say, nor does she respond!

I love your ideas so far. Thanks for helping!!!


Jamie - posted on 12/24/2009




That's tough. I think when kids get to be a certain age, they think they know how the world is supposed to work. Kids know they are supposed to have respect for their teachers, but not necessarily for step parents. I suggest honesty. Don't lecture, but don't let it go. It's a balance between nagging and noticing. She will probably resist anything you try to say, but it's all about planting seeds. Good luck!

Amy - posted on 12/20/2009




I have perfect memories of being a difficult teen because it was so bad, I'm hoping it will help me as my daughter gets older. My first question would be, do you think you're having a hard time because you're the step-mom? Your students don't think you're trying to replace anyone but perhaps your daughter sees you as a threat to her mom? Do you have any hobbies in common? My daughter and her friends are amazed I listen to the same music they do, fortunately I just like new hip hop but having something to talk about and do together helps. Scrap booking, photography, sports, exercise. Looking back I wish my parents had shown interest in something I wanted to do instead of trying to include me in things they wanted to do. Hope this helps.

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Meri - posted on 12/25/2009




My kiddos are 10 and 13 and I teach first through 7th graders. I'm not sure if this suggestion will be helpful... Can you make her feel important by giving her a special role and/or job in the family? Maybe you can share some minor difficulties you are having with your younger kiddos and ask for her thoughts and ideas. Would she like to help you in any way? I have some students with signifant issues and I'm trying to come up with ways to make them feel important and change their relationship with their peers. Take care.

[deleted account]

I have teenage boys and this happened to us too- I use various techniques that are actually found in The Bible. I also have an almost 9yr old girl and she is starting to act like a teenager already. There are many articles at this website that can help you-doesn't matter what religion you are or even if you aren't they are great articles for learning how to deal with teenagers emotions and ups and dons here is one article you might like...You can find this topic and more at www.watchtower.org---How Well Do You Know Your Children, Raising Adolescents, The Role of Wisdom...In this series:

“What Happened to My Child?”
Raising Adolescents—The Role of Understanding
Raising Adolescents—The Role of Wisdom
Related topics:

Why So Many Rules?
Helping Teens in Trouble
Keys to Family Happiness—Communicating With Adolescents

Abby - posted on 12/21/2009




That is a really hard one. I'm sorry to say I was the teenage stepdaughter that didn't communicate well with my stepmother. I don't know your situation at all - ie, how old was she when you married her father, does she live mostly with you or with her mom, do they (your husband and his ex) communicate well when it comes to their daughter, do you have other kids, etc. All I can say is that however a divorce is handled, it is really hard on the kids and even when the parents remain parents first - it is still tough.

Don't stop reaching out to her - even if she doesn't reach back. Don't stop telling her postivie things about herself - even if she doesn't talk back (she is still hearing it). Don't push too hard, but most definately be paying attention. My stepmother and I had a very rocky start and my teen years weren't pretty, but once I was older and at an age where I was better able to think about things without myself in the center, I began to have a truly postitive relationship with her. She is absolutely one of the most important people in my life and is just as much a Grandma to my children as my own mother is.

As a teacher, you must have had experiences with parents that when you report wonderful things about their teenage sons and daughters the parents are flabbergasted that you are talking about their kid because they "don't act that way at home"....you are in the same rocky boat, but if you keep the door open, it will pay off, it's just going to take some time.

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