My 13-year-old stepdaughter lives at our home 50% of the time. We have had many issues with unusual behaviours that seem to be getting better, and that we think are the result of different rules and expectations at each home. To select some issues that we are not sure how to tackle: refusal to brush her teeth, or to be kissed goodnight or refusal to take responsibility for actions that require her attention. It does take a few days (sometime a week or more) for her to accept that the rules are different (no TV during the week, no access to facebook, but lots of sports activities) but before she has to leave, she seems relaxed and enjoying herself. Tonight she said she did not want to eat, but we requested kindly that she sit at the table with us and once she was served dinner, she ate it and enjoyed it. Our question is: are there resources online or local groups of parents that we could consult about the importance of some common ground rules for young teenagers? Respectful communication is important to us and we emphasize and encourage it, just as eating together and respect for other’s property, and these are some of our rules.
You are doing exactly the right thing. You are setting expectations and following through in a warm, supportive, but firm way. You are creating family traditions and memories that will strengthen the relationship you have with your stepdaughter. You are creating a shared future vision.
This is the cement that will bind your child to you and your spouse. This is the foundation that will serve her well in the challenges that all teenagers have.
There really are few resources for families with teenagers in how to communicate effectively. But you have hit all of the right issues. The formula is working and you are helping your stepdaughter learn how to manage her life.
My colleagues and I are working on an interactive web program for this exact issue. Please contact me if you wish to participate in the development of the program.