An angel of a step mom of two teenage kids reached out to me for help with the oldest, a boy. She reported to me that his bio-mom's past ineffective parenting created enormous problems for the boy, and his new family. He seems to have given up with his school work, he became addicted to entertainment media, and he doesn't care about life in general. This step mom was also concerned that his behavior may have negative influence on his 13 year old bio sister and his new, younger, half siblings. Here is my response to her:
- provide adquate school supplies, a place to do his homework, and a schedule to meet those needs
- limiting fun stuff and entertainment electronics (Nintendo, TV, and computer) to minimize distractions
- being ready to say NO to some (not all) of the things that we "wants" from you (rides places, friends over, $$, etc.)
- NOT with holding unconditional love (time, love, affection, listening, participation, etc.) from him because he is choosing this path
You are right to be concerned about what the other children see, but I wouldn't worry too much that they will want to take that same path. Sheild them from seeing what's going on with him as much as possible. Keep conversations with and about him, private from the other children. If they say something like "It's not fair that he doesn't have to...," redirect them to something else and do not discuss his situation with them.
And as you indicated, you may have to contine more "lock down" steps to keep him safe and away from temptations; computer monitoring software, surveillance cameras in the house, baby/house sitters while you're away, and more locks and padlocks. You may have saved these two kids lives and it may be years before you ever receive your thanks. You are an angel!