The relationship between a stepparent and stepson is often delicate. He may sense that you are in a relationship with his parent but might not feel that you actually care about him as well. When you are still figuring out your relationship with your stepson, finding the right balance of love, discipline and forging a relationship can be challenging.
Speak with your partner to set some ground rules for discipline. If you are often alone with your stepson, there will be times that you need to offer some discipline, but often leaving most of the discipline responsibility with the biological parent might be the best choice until you establish a firm bond with your stepson.
Ask your partner to speak with your stepson about the rules you and your partner established to ensure he is aware that his parent is giving you the permission to enforce discipline and that your partner will back you up on your choices regarding the discipline.
Set aside time to spend with your stepson to forge a meaningful relationship. Take him to see his favorite sports team, visit his favorite restaurant or spend time playing his favorite game. Often children will not respond to discipline when it comes from an adult that the child has developed no bond or trust with, according to Judy Osborne, director of Stepfamily Associates, as quoted on the Parenting website.
Be patient with him and have open communication with both your stepson and your partner. Listen to his concerns if he pushes back from some of your discipline and continue to ensure him that you care about him and want to have a meaningful relationship. It will likely take time for your stepson to view you as a member of the family, instead of just an interloper in his life.
Discipline your stepson only when you are able to remain calm and collected. Yelling and physical discipline is never a good choice when establishing a trusting relationship between a child and adult. If you are unable to discipline in a clam manner, step away from the situation for a few moments until you are able to calm down.