Need help with ADHD stepson and my son (ages 7 and 6)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jill2009, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Jill2009

    Jill2009 New Member

    My boyfriend and his then 6 yr old son moved in with my son (age 6) and I in June. We had been doing pretty good for the past few months, but I have a feeling the honeymoon is over for the kids. "A" spends most of his waking moments trying to **** off my son. "J" is a quiet, sort of old soul who never has a mean word for anyone. So he is shocked and appalled at first over "A"'s comments. 5 months pass...more of the same. "J" seems to just let it flow over him for the most part, but even his Ghandi-like patience has come to an end. Every morning and every evening it is the same B.S. Anything "A" can do to **** off "J" he does. Sometimes he gets caught and sometimes I just hear the yelling. "A" has a dual diagnosis of ADHD and ODD. He went to foster care at 2d of age and was adopted by my boyfriend and his late wife (they were his foster family). He was born exposed to meth, coke, alcohol, weed, heroin and tobacco. Both my son and "A" have lost a parent in the past 2 yrs.

    So here is where I need advice. I love my boyfriend and his son ( although some days I would love to strangle "A"). I am worried my son will be permanently scarred by having to live in such a high stress environment. Some days I honestly worry that "A" will inflict serious bodily harm on "J". He has tried twice in the past and just gotten lucky. At what point do I let the actions of a 6 yr old control my life? Is it solely my boyfriend's responsibility? I don't want to have to end my relationship. "J" has a great time with my boyfriend and usually with "A". I just worry that some day the angry, evil glimmer I sometimes see in the eye of "A" will be directed at my son and I won't be around to stop it. Once he shut "J"'s hand in a sliding glass door while I was watching and he had this evil grin the whole time. It was blazingly obvious he did it on purpose cause he was mad. Only acted sorry after he was caught. What the hell do I do? Help!!!
  2. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hello and welcome. Well, needless to say, you are on the horns of a genuine dilemma. Unfortunately, I see no blindingly obvious solution to it... I think that it would be good if you could discuss your very real and understandable concerns with your boyfriend, in terms of your relationship and how this affects it as well as your son. Perhaps you are already doing that. How does he (your partner) see the situation?
    I'm afraid that other than these meagre ideas, for the moment I have no flashes of brilliance. I hope the way forward becomes clearer for you.
  3. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome.......and I bet you won't be happy with my answer, lol. I have incorporated families with a non violent ADHD daughter. We have been married over 35 years. My husband and I agree it would have been much better for our relationship had we maintained separate residences. We did not have two young children. We did not have a child who was endangered. Still...our lives have been negatively impacted literally for decades. Some married parents even opt for separate living quarters to protect a easy child from a difficult child.

    I'm sure you would prefer "an answer" that includes changing difficult child's behavior but basically your boyfriend is the one who has to take ownership of his child and his treatment program. I've been on the board (or in this CD family) for over ten years and step parents, expecially step parents to be, can not solve the problems. The bioparents has to be the one to do everything possible on their own before a solution can be found. Particularly bioDads often leave the child raising mostly up to the woman. It's like playing house when they aren't working but the issues are dead serious and you can only protect your child by providing a safe environment. Sorry if I don't sound supportive. I genuinely am even though I sound like a nay sayer. Hugs. DDD
  4. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi, I do not have any experience blending families nor do I even have more than one child. I do have a child with serious behavior problems and I can tell you that even iwth TONS of support (good school, good home services, I think I am pretty good but I devote my WHOLE life to him-even quit my job) he is only getting bigger and when he loses control he really can hurt me. He is in the hospital right now in fact due to his behavior and medical issues.

    your boyfriend's son has likey experienced permanent (though brains continue to develop till well into twenties) damage from teh drug exposure. Most commonly to the frontal lobe which helps with executive functions like behavior reguation. He is likely impulsive and not really able to think ahead for what will happen and even if he gets punished, he likely wont predict that when he just wants to do what he wants to do. With his adoptive background (mine is adopted too) he also likely has some attachment may want to suggest further assessment for this. If you look up Reactive Attachment Disorder online you will get some information. Most sites I will warn do talk about the extreme of an UNattached child and it is a spectrum in reality, but looking can give you an idea on whether you are dealing with anything like that, maybe???

    He probably needs a highly structured and highly supervised lifestyle. I am only saying that NOT because it is impossible or undoable, but to help you realize the committment you and your son will have to live with. It is not fair to yourselves, nor is it to this child to have someone join his family and not be fully prepared for what is likely a life long disability. You might be just that person! I am NOT trying to tell you not to do it. I actually LOVE my life with my son (not some of the challenges, but I would do it all over again...never would change my mind). I just want you to realize what kind of a decision this is.

    There are community supports and you can hire specialists to help. All is not lost. As for the relationship part...I can't advise because I am not in your shoes. An obvious concept though is that you both have to be on the same page and be very clear about expectations for safety, limits, discipline, therapy, etc.

    I admire that you are seeking advice and that says alot about you. Keep checking in, there are many who have walked your road here. Lots of very experienced folks as well as some newbies who have posted lately in very similar situations.
  5. keista

    keista New Member

    Hi and welcome!

    FWIW, this is a VERY supportive community. However, it is also VERY realistic. The collective "we" of this board have seen, experienced, lived through and dealt with just about every possible parenting scenario there is. For example, in my home, all the knives, pointy scissors and power tools are out of DD1's (my oldest daughter) reach. I am *considering* bringing them back out because I am very comfortable with the fact that they had to get locked up due to a bad medication she was on. BUT they are all still locked up because I just don't really know if it's "safe" yet - maybe I'll never know. It's also important to mention that DD1 has much milder issues than many on this board.

    Having said all that, I'll reaffirm that although it may seem that DDD is being a nay sayer, she is speaking the truth from an experienced an supportive (to you) point of view.

    I get that you are in a committed relationship, but you aren't married - yet. So, one, you do have more (IOW "easier") options, and two, the "usual" welcome questions haven't been asked yet.

    Who did the dxes on your stepson? How old was he at the time? Is he on any medication? Does he have behavior problems at school? Does he have an IEP? The answers to these can help us help you 'navigate' this boy and ultimately help you decide if you really want to stay in this relationship or not.

    IF you think you may want to be leaving this relationship, it would only be fair to everyone involved if you left sooner rather than later. If you decide to fully commit to it, you need to be REALLY sure you can manage in the long run while also keeping your son safe.

    Now the 'buttinsky' me has a concern about you and your boyfriend. You've both lost spouses within the last two years. That alone can cause you to feel you have a deeper connection than actually exists. If the two of you actually met at some kind of grief support group, then the illusion can be even more intense. I am not saying that this is the case, but is a possibility, given your timeline. Love is deaf, dumb and blind, and you can both be really awesome ppl, but that doesn't necessarily mean you can make it work in the long run, and especially blending two children and one of them is a difficult child (gift from God - our term for a difficult child)

    Again, welcome! :notalone:
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have adopted many kids, one who was actually too dangerous to live in a family. Adopting an older child is a risk to your child.
    My advice, as unwelcome as it probably is, is in my opinion realistic...break up with him before you and your child are destroyed. He is unlikely to get better. He was exposed to drugs which affects his brain and he has so many problems that you can't possibly expect boyfriend to fix them all. Why expose your son to somebody as damaged as he is? He may end up the brunt of abuse as years go by.
    If you have to stay together, I'm on board with living in two seperate residences. And, good heavens, don't have a baby! This boy is likely to act out in a very cruel way to that baby!

    Hugs and I wish I could be more optimistic. Just seen too much, I guess. A most likely has attachment disorder which is far more serious than ADHD/ODD. You may want to look it up. One of our adopted sons sexually abused the two younger kids and we didn't know about it because they were too afraid of him to tell us...he threatened to kill us if they did. I would not take that chance since you have a child of your own. It is not worth it.
  7. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    I can't respond to some of your questions as I haven't had experience with it. I can tell you what I do to keep everyone safe in my home.

    My difficult child 1 has tried to kill most of his siblings. He has been through therapy since age 4. He also was in a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for a year. He got much better in the Residential Treatment Center (RTC). His behaviors are escalating again.

    He is again on 24/7 supervision. Even with this I don't catch everything. We work on his relationship with his siblings in therapy and on my own. difficult child 1 spends a lot of time in his room because he isn't safe with the other kids. There are alarms on all the kids bedroom doors. His 3 year old sister was in therapy because she thought he was going to kill her. He tried to hit her with the piano bench. The therapist stopped the therapy after she stopped wetting the bed. I keep a phone in my pocket at all times. (difficult child 1 is why I started doing this, but there are other reasons I do it as well.) I also keep the keys in my pocket at all times. (He has locked me out of the house.) We don't have toy guns or swords or baseball bats. We censor what they watch to the point of ridiculousness. No tickling is allowed. We have a huge van so we can all go in one car. difficult child 1 sits up front and can't reach the other kids. There is an empty bench between him and the other kids.

    The toll difficult children have on siblings is very hard. If there is any doubt about who did what difficult child 1 is blamed and put on more supervision. He has lost our trust. Eventually we find out that our suspicions were correct. Kids need to feel safe. Even if that means excluding the unsafe child. difficult child 1 is learning that siblings are a privilege and you have to be nice to them.

    I hope your step-son isn't as affected as difficult child 1 is. He does sound like he could have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Sometimes I have wondered that about my difficult child 1.

    Has your boyfriend had any testing done for A?
  8. Jill2009

    Jill2009 New Member

    Thank you all for your responses. "A" does have an official diagnosis of ADHD/ODD and was seen for several years at a clinic that specializes in genetic/developmental disorders. He takes the max dose of Straterra daily (I know cause I give it to make sure). He is doing very well in school at the moment, thanks to having more structure at home and two adults around. His mom was terminally ill for the whole 6 yrs she was with them, so he got very little discipline and structure. His physical behaviors have declined and are absent at school. Last year he had to be picked up many times from school for destroying property (mini blinds, bulletin boards, etc) and for punching a teacher so hard it knocked the wind out of her. Took two adults to restrain him...and he's only 6. He had an IEP and a full time aide at school. We have cracked down hard on anything physical, and that has deterred him pretty well. Now it's all verbal. He now tells "J" that he is stupid, fat, a girl, anything he can think of whenever he thinks we can't hear him. He delights in telling "J" all the things he is doing for the week with scouts, etc and reminding him that he can't go, that he's not invited. Anything he can do to hurt "J"'s feelings. We are looking for a counselor for both of them. Fortunately they have a couple good ones through the school. Have any of you tried anything to help with the constant pick, pick, picking on siblings. It seems when there isn't enough chaos for him he sets out to create it himself.
  9. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Now that you've got the physical under control do the same thing for the verbal that you did for the physical. I am very strict on verbal bullying just like I am on physical bullying. For us the physical is not to far behind the verbal. I also try to build the relationship between the two siblings. I don't force them to do an activity together. I do point out to difficult child 1 opportunities to better his relationship with easy child 1. I try to structure interaction between them, but never force it. If easy child 1 doesn't want to be around difficult child 1 she doesn't have to be. (difficult child 1 is trying to get to a lower level of supervision, so he normally wants to work on this.)
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    You now Liahona, this is where we are really stuck, should start a whole thread on this...once the physical has gone down ( and mind you, we always said to him... USE your words...., and every team agreed the kinds of words at that point were of no consequence, they just had to stop the physical aggression). Now when the reigns were pulled tighter on verbals, guess what happened??? physical came back. if people have ideas for this, we can move to a separate thread, do you guys think it is worth it? I would love the million dollar answer for this one. We try, but???? (and yes, I get it that mine has the whole compulsive blurting issue but still, I wont give up trying if it can make his life easier)
  11. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    I think it'd be good in a new thread.

    I have an idea that with our kids what works for difficult child 1 isn't going to work for Q. and what works for Q might not work for "A". That is why getting so many different perspectives (even conflicting ones) from the board members is so nice. You pick the ones that you think will work for your difficult child.
  12. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    It also probably comes down to why they are being physically/verbally aggressive in the first place. difficult child 1 is because of jealousy and impulse control. Once in a blue moon he is because of a hallucination (once every few years). How we handle the hallucination aggression is much different than the impulse control aggression.
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Has anyone brought up insecure attachment? Not as extreme as Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but still an issue.
  14. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I would imagine that is huge too, IC. A lack of trust in this big could he not feel that way? Would take a super resilient kid if you ask me. Kids in those situations must really have to just learn to rely on their own selves and without guidance and security, whatever works, works. Just survival. Must be very hard to undo that.

    Just some thoughts.... He likely has the deep down ability to attach that happens at an early age before mom got really sick....(they say birth to 1 is most important and birth to 3 is the usual age range given for events leading to Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) to happen, not that it always leads to Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) at any age, every human is different--but can cause a range of issues obviously. So, I would think this possibly could be an issue now that could really be helped using the right kind of therapies.
  15. Jill2009

    Jill2009 New Member

    Insecure attachment...had never heard of it. His mom had her first major hospitalization for 6 weeks when he was 18 mo old. And I would love to follow a thread on physical/verbal aggressiveness. Thanks again guys. I think I have finally found a place to help keep me sane! :)
  16. buddy

    buddy New Member

    For us, when my son was 3.5-4.5 we went throgh attachment disorder therapy. The therapists were experts in this area (and one was also an ed. psychiatric too). They had a lot of advanced training in Reactive Attachment Disorder. I had researched and searched hard for them. I knew attachment was likely to be part of the issues for my son because he had been possibly neglected to age 7 months (not terribly but not sure they said) and then in foster care (same one, a good one) but he had a brain mass and chronic pain for over a year with seizures etc. (chronic pain--even if it is unavioidable--to a baby is just not getting comfort, some premies and other sick babies have been diagnosis with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) from this experience I have read). So, after working with them for a long time they said they see Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) on a spectrum like autism and he is not full blown symptomatic of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) but seems to be insecurely attached. He loves to attach but doesn't trust it so at times does the "i'll get you before you can possibly hurt me" thing, he gets very upset when things get lost...or he loses a connection to someone, and he does this push pull thing with his bond with me...wants it, pulls away, wants it, pulls away.. So, that is how it was explained to me anyway. It is still kind of a part of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), kind of like Aspergers is a part of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) or Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)... it is a spectrum disorder and kids are not just attached or unattached. Does that make sense?

    So, if you look up Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) sites, you may find SOME things that make sense or are helpful but may not fully be what is going on. Only you know what it looks like to you

    Nancy Thomas works with really tough kids, and some of her approaches are hard to imagine for many of us, but she runs a therapeutic foster home and lives the life so she does have some good points. I think another site is Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)-Kids something like that, you'd have to google it.

    May be relevant, may not, but given the situation, both in terms of timing of the illness, how you describe his care and then having to switch caregivers.... could help.
  17. JLyen

    JLyen New Member

    I have a friend with a son like that. He is always disobedient and trying to get a rise out of his brother. A few things to mention are that it is always a hard adjustment to have to share someone that you have never had to share before i.e. his dad. And that moving is hard in itself. Some of this could be that he just does not like the facts of life.
    Now, A few questions, have you spoke to your boyfriend about "A" actions? and how serious does he see them? No you should not let him run over you in this way. Set ground rules and post them in a highly visible place in the house with the consequences for the actions. Never fail on carrying out the consequences. If these consequences seem to fail then change em to something that will strike a nerve with him. Another consideration is that he has a severe case of ODD and some depression issues. Counselling is an option. In addition make sure that you speak with your son about his feelings on the whole thing. I am all about preserving your relationship but making sure that the timing is right and that your son does not feel he is being replaced is vitally important too.
    I hope this gives you some ideas.
    Good luck.
  18. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi Jill, I wanted you to know I posted a thread about the attachment continuum and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) I believe yesterday... from the website.

    how are things going??
  19. Jill2009

    Jill2009 New Member

    We sat down to dinner last night and discussed words that make people feel bad about themselves. The boys came up with a list of 6 words: shut up, stupid, dummy, fat, hate and ugly. I find it rather telling that "A" was the one who came up with stupid and dummy. We agreed that anyone using one of these words would have to put 50 cents in the bad word jar from their piggy bank. The words are posted on the fridge. "A" had to pay once last night and was NOT happy about it. Hopefully this will help remind them that words can hurt as much as being physically hurt.