Wednesday, May 8, 2013

the "no yelling" challenge

As previously mentioned, I have an almost-teenager at home. In just a few days, this almost-teenager becomes a full-fledged teenager. And with 13 years of life experience under his belt, comes an attitude, a desire to do nothing but play video games and whine about wanting an iPhone, and a know-it-all demeanor that is annoyingly stubborn lacks responsibility to do homework.

Oh, and this teenager, who I will be lovingly referring to from now on as "the teenager," is my boyfriend's son, which means I get the line, "You're not my mom. You can't tell me what to do." live in my house, buddy. Yes I can.

The teenager causes a lot of tension in the house and I am really really really working on not yelling or raising my voice in order to maintain the peace, preserve my sanity, and keep a balanced relationship. Because honestly, I have yelled a lot in the past and while some of it was probably deserved, it also could have been handled differently.

I recently stumbled upon The Orange Rhino Challenge and became instantly inspired. This woman is a genius. Her concept of "no yelling" for a year is an incredible goal and I hope to be able to follow suit.

I am working on my "no-yelling" policy and in order to do that, I am focusing on one major area for a few weeks that I will really work on in terms of not yelling....

The dreaded homework issue. At 13 years old, should a parent still have to check to see if homework gets completed? Because I feel like, unless I ask about it and look it over, it doesn't get completed at all or it is barely completed. It's always something.
When the teenager came to live with us a few years ago, we were VERY diligent about checking his homework, staying in contact with the school...almost to a point of obsessive. As a teacher myself, I wanted to do everything I could at home to support the teenager. Especially because the teenager came to us from a very different type of lifestyle ( responsibility, no effort, no life-lessons being taught). As the teenager's teachers say, we put him through "boot camp" and it was the best thing we could have done for him.
Now though, it is causing fights between my boyfriend and myself, and fights between the three of us. I am working on not getting involved so much but the problem is that I feel anxious knowing that there is homework or studying to be done but nothing is happening.

So, when I get the weekly report that there were multiple missing homework assignments, I will not yell.

I will not yell on a daily basis to ask "did you do your homework? Let me check it".

I will not yell when my boyfriend and I have different views on how to handle it: His idea is along the lines of "whatever, it's just homework" and "I'm sick of having to punish him". I, on the other hand, would like a consistent consequence for missing homework: lose electronic privileges (TV, computer, video games, etc) until the next weekly report comes in. If its a good report, you get your privileges, if it is not a good report, well've made your bed, now lay in it.


I have to let it go. I have to let him fail a bunch of homework assignments and let the school take responsibility for that. I have to understand that, at the end of the day, the teenager isn't my son and I don't want to jeopardize my relationship with my boyfriend and my relationship with the teenager anymore.

Therefore, no yelling about it. I am letting myself ask/gently probe only one time per day about it and will drop it after that. I am learning to relinquish the control freak in me. I am also taking a lot more bubble baths when I am feeling worked up.

Yesterday was day one of no-yelling. Well,  no-yelling about homework. But hey, it's a start.


  1. I also have a teenager that isn't my own. My boyfriend has been her sole caregiver for many years before I came into the picture. It's hard for me, because she isn't the only kid in the house. I have two of my own and my boyfriend and I have one together. We set rules and expect everyone to follow them. She also has the mentality that I'm not her mother so she doesn't have to listen to me. It put so much strain on my boyfriend and I's relationship that I have wanted to call it quits several times. I know how you feel. It's hard not to yell and let things go, especially if it were my kids acting up. I try to treat them all the same, but for some reason it doesn't work like that for her. It's just so frustrating sometimes. Hang in there. Let me know if this really works for you.

    1. hey there! while I would love to admit that I have completely abolished yelling, it isn't the case. However, the orange rhino challenge is a great reminder of patience and helps! what has also helped was setting up a homework contract with the teenager this year that CLEARLY defines the "good" and the "bad" as well as what the rewards and punishments are for them.

      It is soooo frustrating being a step-parent! ANy tips? How do you guys handle the discipline and when you have disagreements on how to handle certain situations?

    2. It has been difficult. She's very sneaky and likes to play us against each other. Clever girl. It wasn't until recently that her Dad actually started seeing the truth. Until then it was mostly us fighting until one gave up. I think the contract is a really good idea. I think it helps the kids to know what the rules are and see them written down. We have a "good behavior" jar for when they do something outstanding and a "punishment" jar for when they misbehave. The reward jar has special activities. We try to do special things with the kids twice a month, but with four it's hard to get the one-on-one time. The "punishment" jar has extra chores in it. My house has never been cleaner! Haha. It's easy to focus on the bad and not reward for the good. That's what we've been really struggling with. We are so quick to yell but slow to reward. As for parenting tips with teenagers, I really don't have any...yet. She's my first and this has really been some uncharted territory. I'll let you know if I find anything that works. :)