How do I set boundaries with a stepchild that are different than the boundaries for my own kids?

Jenna - posted on 02/22/2015 ( 7 moms have responded )




I have been struggling lately with personal boundaries with my stepson. He is 11 and comes into my bedroom without knocking or asking permission first when my two little girls (3 and 1) are in there with me. It is a violation of my personal space and it is uncomfortable and inappropriate for a pre-teen boy to be sitting on my bed with me. Any suggestions on how to create a boundary where there has never been a need for one before? I've talked to my husband (his dad) about it several times and he still has not taken his son aside to talk to him about not coming into our room and sitting on my bed. If it was entirely up to me, he would not be allowed in our room at all, but we have never really needed that boundary before, so there's this kind of unspoken open-door policy. How can I implement an "off-limits" zone with my stepson and still keep an open-door policy with my own biological children? Obviously this kind of boundary setting would not be "fair" so any suggestions on how to deal with it would be HUGELY appreciated.


Trisha - posted on 02/23/2015




I came into my stepson's life when he was 11 years old, and they are still just kids. He just want's to be included and loved as well.
You shouldn't see anything inappropriate about it. In order for your family to successfully merge you need to include everyone.
While your 11 yr old stepson is still somewhat innocent attempt to establish a strong bond with him, and let you know you care for him. It won't be long before he never wants to be around you... :) I absolutely love the times when my stepson comes home for school and chats with me for 30 minutes about what happened with him at school. That is all I get now. If I didn't get the opportunity to bond with him when he was 11, I don't think we would have the relationship we currently have.
By letting your stepson know that he is different, you will likely end up causing resentment of your children.
You will regret this horribly later.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 02/23/2015




If you have a "no kids in bedroom" policy, it will need to apply to your biological children as well.

Why would you even get married to someone with kids who weren't yours if you weren't willing to be a parent (and yes, parenting means that sometimes kids of the opposite sex have to enter our personal space) to ALL of the kids in the relationship?

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that your desire to set different rules for your biological kids and your step son extends to pretty much EVERYTHING that you do. That is a very poor example you're giving all of those kids, really.

If you can't treat ALL of the children equally, don't have SPECIAL rules for your own kids. That is beyond unfair, and bordering on childish (as in "You aren't MY kid, so you aren't important in MY world")

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~♥Little Miss - posted on 02/23/2015




How about lock your door? Ask him to knock before entering and do the same thing for him. Don't barge into his room, and knock before entering. Of course, that is if you are getting changed, or need privacy. But this is his home also right? That is his fathers bedroom?

It really doesn't sound like it is wrong for him to want to hang out in your room when you are in there playing with your daughters. If you don't want him in there in that capacity, then play with your girls in a common room.

Raye - posted on 02/23/2015




I agree with the other ladies. Rules need to be rules for everyone in the house. If the door is open, then all the kids should feel it's ok to come in and hang out with you. If the door is closed, regardless of who else is in the room with you, all the kids should knock before coming into the room. If you don't want to be interrupted, ask if it's important and/or let him know you're in the middle of something and will get back to him in a certain amount of time (then make sure you don't forget, and actually get back to him).

Your statement "If it was entirely up to me, he would not be allowed in our room at all" is bothersome. Why wouldn't you let your child come into your room? (Your step-son is still your son.) I have two step-kids, and we have story time every night in mine and my husband's bed. Then we usually piggy-back ride them to their beds, tuck in, kiss goodnight, and get ready for bed ourselves. My step-kids will also sometimes wake us up in the middle of the night to cuddle. They always have to knock before entering, and they don't always get to come in. Sometimes they are allowed to climb in with us. Sometimes my husband will get up and tuck them back into their own beds. And sometimes (usually when WE're cuddling) they are just told to go back to bed and go to sleep. They usually don't make a fuss if either of the latter two circumstances happen, because they know that they can always ask, and sometimes they will be allowed in.

Dove - posted on 02/23/2015




And the fact that the little two are both girls would be how you can explain to him that they can be in there during THAT time (the changing).

Definitely teach him that he needs to knock before entering a closed door... and teach that to your girls as well.

Dove - posted on 02/23/2015




If you are naked or changing... lock the door. If you are fully clothed... suck it up and let him in or keep the other two out. There is nothing inappropriate about a child sitting on his/her stepparent's bed to be included in conversations and hanging out time...

Jodi - posted on 02/23/2015




I guess I am trying to understand how it is inappropriate for an 11 year old boy to sit on a bed with you and your two girls, if you are in there sitting on your bed. He probably just wants to be included. If your girls are allowed in there, why can't he? I can understand why he has an issue with it.

However, I will agree that if your door is closed, knocking would be appropriate, and you need to talk to him about this (or you and your father talk to him together). Knocking before entering is a boundary we learn as we get older, but if the door isn't closed, then I can understand why he doesn't.

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