Hi tdpat, welcome
I've had lots of experience with being a step dad. One relationship the boy was 2-8yo, the next girl was 17-27yo with a daughter and step son 14-24yo. Their mother a step son to my daughters as teens.
With my 14yo stepson he had resentment from day one. He didnt speak to me for the first 3 months. I had a key to his mothers home and arrived mud arvo before she arrived home from work. The stepson would be with me for 2 hours but he'd avoid me.
One day I bought a multi tool for him. He ignored it then later that night he g iddled with it. The next day I bought ingredients to make donuts. Well when his mother came home from work we had flour in our hair and stomachs full of donuts.
Each situation is different. At 16yo we worked on a car for him when he got his license. They grow up quick in that period.
Its extremely hard to back off especially if his mother is a softy. A young man sees his role as protector and resents a man stealing love from his mum. Its more complex than that of course.
In basic terms, a stepdad needs to be a friend to the child and do things friends do in order for it to work. The mother needs to respect the frustrations you endure from signs of disrespect and discipline needs. But its difficult all round.
A few thoughts...
Within 3 years he'll be on learners asking you to take him driving!
The difficulties you experience with him now could have occured if he was your own child
The mother is the "meat in the sandwich" and is torn. Thats a heartwrenching situation to be in
Thats all I can think about atm.
Being a step parent is a tough gig.
Being occupied helps. For me that entailed having a hobby room where from 7-10pm I'd build my model airplanes or I'd attend a gym. My stepson was left alone with his mother for that time. It worked much better.
You are trying all the things I tried. Praising instead if criticising is great but the underlying jealousy he might have/resentment etc is likely not going to go away.
I think family counseling is a good move. You cant solve all challenges with other humans. Ie you arent superhuman.
I'm sorry for the latest update. I know that hollow feeling.
Now, can I suggest (as its on my mind) that you bank that $50 in an account under your control for use by that young boy when he needs it for that purpose. Then you'll know the money will be going where it is meant.
A tough decision. It's great you are doing the good things, church and BB among other actions you think will help. Very important you get into activities that keep you busy and get adrenalin acting. Please google these
Topic: the best praise you'll ever get- beyondblue
Topic: depression, distraction and variety- beyondblue
All the best. You know you can repost anytime.
Allow yourself time and grief. Then rebound and make your life what you want from it. You'll heal and life will be great. I wish you every happiness.