Joshua and the Terrifically Terrible Threes.

This is my three year old step-son, Joshua.

As is this.

And here is a picture of him sans any kind of crazy get up. He was getting his hairscut.

This child is one of the cutest human beings on the face of this earth. He is his father in miniature, without the goatee, and he MELTS ME.

Lately, however, he has been pushing everyone's buttons. He has turned into the most defiant, snotty, strong-willed little BOOGER you can imagine. Also, Zack and I have decided that he has the DNA of an ant somewhere in his body as he can smell sugar in it's smallest minutiae and find it. This morning Zack came downstairs to get the boys up and ready for school and when he went into Joshua's room he found him, in bed, without pajama pants or underwear on, a bottle of Gatorade, and the floor of his room littered with candy wrappers that he had stolen from Phoenix's room in the middle of the night. When Zack gave him a spanking (it's the only thing that SEEMS to work, anything else and he just laughs at you) he yelled at his father. And other things. Zack told me all about it, but I've forgotten the rest of it. It was bad.

I am learning how to be a step-mom. Caleb is a cinch. He's actually thanked me for loving his dad so well. He tells me he loves me and we talk and he's really a great kid. Joshua, on the other hand, will not listen to me when I ask him to do things and while he says, "I love you!", when I tuck him in at night, he's hit some kind of defiant, EVIL stage.

I know that I am not his mother, but I worry about him and Caleb both. I do not want to steal their affections or anything like that at all. But I do want to make sure that what's best for them is being done and Zack does, too. I am trying to find the line of what I think is best and where I need to just realise that they aren't my boys to parent in the way I think they should be.

I need prayer on how to best love and parent these boys and provide them with consistency. But to do it in a way that isn't overbearing. And with love.

How to do this?

Anyone have any insight?