hello everybody. i come here as a mom /step mom at my wits end with a marriage on the brink of divorce, trying to find some help from anybody willing! so a little background: Me: 26 husband: 33 DSS: 13 almost 14 (end of the month) (i guess he would be the challenging child) daughter:10- 1/2 months Married: 3 years, 3 months and 5 days all total husband and I have been together for 7+ years. i used to adore DSS. he was the sweetest kid you could ask for. i used to send husband out on boys nights and stay home with his son on the weekends and watch movies and order pizza, you know, fun stuff! i would send him to bed and make sure the second his dad got home, he went to tuck in his son! it was great. as time went on i was the one who would spend hours at the kitchen table (or even my desk here at work) with him doing his homework and helping him in trouble areas. it truly was a great relationship. as he got older his grades were still dropping and his attitude got worse, but i thought it was just a phase. he would have good days and bad days. his grades were low because even after spending hours at the table helping him, he would not turn in his school work. i would talk to him and tell him how important it was for him to turn it in and do well in school, and how it also hurt me when he did not turn his stuff in because i spent so much time helping him, that it made me feel like he did not appreciate it. things improved for a bit, then husband and i got married, a few months later, we moved out of our apartment into a house, and not too ong after that his son moved in with us. his mom could not get him under control with school work and she was too busy raising her niece and 2 nephews to take care of her son the way she needed to be. we took him in, changed his school and for the first time in a while, he was eligible for middle school sports! as soon as wrestling season was over though, it went back down hill. when he was eligible, i was chekcing his grades online, daily. i made him prove his work was done and yes, i was a "drill sergeant" so to speak over it, but he stayed eligible. once he proved it was possible, i stopped doing all the things i did. he needed to be able to do it on his own, but his mom and dad also needed to step in and fill their roles too, not just me. eventually our talks and everything stopped because i got a better response from a wall. once i backed off, he went back to barely passing and under a 1.0 gpa. school is just the tip of the iceberg though. DSS literally has zero respect for women. the reason i say that is because when husband and i first got together, when DSS would really act up, his mom would call husband to deal with it (that finally stopped about 2 years into the relationship). He back talks like no other! HE is SOOOOO lazy! he was told to clean his room 3 weeks ago and it is still not done. nobody makes him do it. he gets told to and that is it! there was one night about a year ago now, i asked him to clean the front bathroom (the one he and guests use). i had a thing of bubble bath in the cabinet and the rest was decor and bathroom stuff. he told me he did not see why he should have to clean a bathroom everybody used. i explained he was the one who used it most, we rarely have guests and the only time i used it was maybe once a month to take a bath and i cleaned up after myself, otherwise his dad and i used ours. his response to me was " well if it's my bathroom, why is your stuff in there too?" i quickly solved that by taking everything of mine or for guests out! i told him if he wanted it to be solely his own, he could have it that way and he was responsible for the upkeep. the last time it was cleaned well was over 6 months ago, when i refused to allow my brother in law and his girlfriend who were staying with us to see the filth hole! oh and i had to sterilize the bathtub after daughter got very sick and i had to give her a bath, but i had to bleach the tub before i would allow her near it (a couple weeks ago). i keep the doors closed to all the rooms because daughter is crawling and pulling herself up more. this past weekend she crawled in to DSS room and he and husband were playing on the ps2. i have told DSS in the past that if he was going to be allowed pocket knives, they had to stay off the floor out of daughter's reach. sure enough daughter crawled in and i looked to see her reaching for a pocket knife on the floor. i snatched it p before she could reach it and tossed it onto a table as i pulled her back by me. well when it hit the table a wire in the ps2 shook loose a bit and messed up the sound. both husband and DSS proceeded to gripe and whine at me about messing up their game! naturally husband and i ended up in a fight. husband's take was: yes, the knife should not have been on the floor, but it was closed and his son realized it the same time i did and said "you probably should not play with that." my take was: omg, you are griping at me about the ps2, when there is a knife on the floor at all with an infant in the house! after numerous back and forth arguements we agreed that i would try to relax a little more and not push the panic button or be so quick to get angry with issues involving DSS. DSS would try harder to listen and be respectful to me, and be mindful of things that could harm or affect daughter. Then came yesterday! I stayed home from work because daughter was ill and very very clingy to me. DSS was on his last day of Christmas vacation. We hung out and watched movies, just like the old days. everything was going great! DSS's cousin kept texting him and finally called. the next thing i know DSS is on the phone with his grandma telling her to come get him. When he hung up, i asked him if he thought he didnot have to ask permission first to take off and do as he pleased. i explained he always calls his dad to ask permission if we were both working and i deserved the same respect if i was the one at home with him. he asked permission finally and i told him he could go, but only because his grandma was already on her way, but next time ask first. i also told him since it was a school night and as punishment for not asking first he had to be home no later than 7:00pm. he tried to make an excuse about well he may not be able to get a ride home. i responded with " you have a cell phone you whined and begged for that your mom bought. if you cannot get somebody there to give you a lift home by 7:00pm, call your dad and he will get you from wherever as long as it is before 7:00." i also explained it was time for him to take on some responsibility for himself, and i was putting full responsibility for him getting home by 7:00pm, solely on him. i personally don't think that is asking for much seeing as he had atleast 4 options to get home. husband came home from work and i told him about DSS goingong to see his cousin and the whole 7:00pm thing. 7:00pm rolls around and nothing. i got a little angry and told husband " i told him to be home no later than 7:00 and gave him plenty of options to get home." husband instantly gets mad and tells me to lay off. it is only 7:21 and i better not say anything about him being late when he gets home because i better not ruin a good night over that. 21 minutes is not too late and i beter back off or pack up because if i get mad or say anything that is the end." husband then picks up the phone and calls him to find out they were at home depot and finally on their way to the house. naturally it lead to another fight with husband for undermining my authority (which happens often). husband says i am too hard and expect too much from a almost 14 year old boy. i say he needs to set boundaries and make DSS stick to them and have serious consequences for not listening, but most importantly we need to have a united front now (no undermining each other) or our daughter does not stand a chance and neither do we. when it came to it and when things were good, we did everything from taking away privledges and giving rewards for good, to making him spend the day/ night grounded to writing sentences as to what he did wrong and how he could have done things differently, all with no positive outcome and no lesson learned. i am literally about to give up and cannot stand being around my DSS. i love him but i just can't take it. i have suggested family counseling and it gets brushed off. i have talked and fought and drained myself repeatedly over this mess. husband gets mad if i refrain from getting involved in DSS life and if i try to discipline him or tell husband there is a problem, it gets tuyrned around to i am the one with the problem and "hate DSS," which is totally untrue. i just no longer have a desire to be around him because i am tired of the fighting and the total lack of respect and being blamed for everyhting. TIA! sincerely, "sick of being wrong"