Baffled by my teenage son’s behavior, I stood speechless as he slammed the door in my face. Usually a mild-mannered, easy-going kid, his outburst of anger surprised me. Had I done something to offend him? I quickly rehearsed our conversation in my head but couldn’t determine the root of his anger.

I’ve learned a few things in the midst of raising five teenagers. Sometimes they have bad days — just like we do. Their behavior likely has nothing to do with us!


How often do we take things personally when our stepchild looks at us crossways or snarls at our innocent question about homework? I remember doing it in my younger years as a stepmom, particularly with my adolescent stepchildren. I didn’t recognize the influence of raging hormones and teenage insecurities that contributed to out-of-control behavior.

When my son calmed down, I dared to enter his room and find out the cause of his meltdown. In tears, he relayed his difficult day at school and cutting remarks from a friend on the bus. I acknowledged his pain and asked how I could help. Before I left, I counseled him on the value of self-control and the consequences for lack of it. Then I reminded him of God’s unending love for him, even on bad days.

If you’re in the midst of raising teen stepchildren, dive beneath the surface of emotions you see. You’ll likely find an insecure soul looking for identity and affirmation during some difficult years. Don’t take their behavior personally!

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14, NIV).


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at




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