Frustrated Step-Mom seeks advice..

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by queenB, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. queenB

    queenB New Member

    Hello! My name is Kati I'm married to a wonderful man who is the father of an 8 year-old boy, Patric. I love them both very much and couldn't imagine what I'd do without them.

    We have recently taken custody of Patric as the household he was living in with his mother was unstable, unhealthy, and dangerous. He was only with his mother for 1 1/2 years, for the other part of his life he was living with his dad. When my husband got divorced, he sent Patric to live with his mother because as a single dad he wasn't able to provide the things Patric needed. Since Patric began living with his mother about 1 1/2 years ago she has had him extensively "monitored" for his ADHD. He was even sedated, removed from her home and admitted to the psyc-ward at their local hospital for 3 weeks My husband and I had no clue that she was only telling us part of what was going on.

    In the last month or so we have really been trying to take the time to understand Patric and his needs. The school has been the greatest help. We have learned that not only does he have ADHD but he also has ODD. As a step-mom I really feel as if I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place with him. His mother has let him and his sisters run her household. I do understand that people who deal with kids with special problems have to make some major adjustments but I have been virtually on the verge of tears due to frustration. I don't know how to deal with a child as special as Patric. I love him dearly and he has the biggest heart in the world but he continually argues, destroys things, hits himself and others, he has to have a word into EVERYTHING he argues with us even when were not arguing with him.

    The simplest things set him off: the wrong dish on the table, when he's asked to put his coat on before he goes outside, even fun things make him really angry. He thinks he needs to be rewarded for everything. We have an reward system in place now and when he's good and does what he's told to do the first time without whining he gets a token that he can use to buy toys and other items from us.

    I really would appriciate any suggestions anyone has on how to handle this behavior. He is currently taking medication for it (Guanfacine and Abilify). This little boy deserves the loving home he's in but we dont know how to show him whats right and wrong and where respect needs to be inplace.

    Thanks for listening

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. Welcome to our board, but sorry you had to come here While reading your post, a few things got my attention; symptoms of things other than ADHD.

    I think you should get him a neuropsychologist evaluation. It doesn't sound like ADHD to me or ODD. You can't trust a diagnosis to school. ADHD/ODD is often a first combo diagnosis. It often isn't the right one though.

    I think he has many red flags for Aspergers syndrome. Did he have any early speech delays or does he have trouble with transitions or social skills? Does he have any extreme obsessions? Quirks? Ever talk to himself in his room? Does he know how to interact correctly with his same age peers? Can he hold a give and take conversation or does he tend to monologue using big words? Any sensitivities, like to loud noise or certain food or clothing?

    This kid has had a tough life, but it sounds as if some of it is not just environmental. I'd definitely want him tested intensively, which is what NeuroPsychs do. I don't think you can solve anything without knowing the whole picture of what is going on.
  3. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    Hi, nice to meet you.

    I am not an expert but I have some similar experience. I have a blended family.

    Married current husband little over 3 years ago. My difficult child and he started getting acquanited when difficult child was 12. So my husband or difficult child's step has been around since we were in the almost a little boy still stage through the emergence of puberty and the terrible teens. husband has been a saint and difficult child has put him through a lot. husband takes it in stride and treats him as if he were his own.

    If it is any consolation in your situation as it sort of is in mine. The fact that difficult child feels comfortable enough with husband to treat him like garbage means he accepts husband's role as Dad. It's like if they hate you, you know you are doing your job right. :tongue:

    EX difficult child's birth Father wasn't safe, stable or sane. It did have a lasting impact on difficult child. He does have some trust issues, abandonment issues, learned bad behavior habits and on and on and on. I'm not going to sugar coat it for you. Life will be hard for you while your difficult child adjusts. Being a part of a blended family is hard for even average kids. Divorce is disruptive and chaotic for any young person. Although your difficult child has some extra problems mixed in it is still completely normal for him to have a difficult transition from his last couple years.

    My difficult child has difficulty being happy. It has a lot to do with trust. Not just trusting people to be there but trusting them to love him unconditionally even when he isn't so easy to love. Most of all he needs to know he can trust that happiness CAN and does happen. Maybe your little guy does need extra help and it will be a lot of work but being loving, patient and gentle mother he needs, even when he is a porcupine will go a long way towards him accepting your role.

    Sometimes these children of divorce are used to chaos as the parents relationship disolves. That takes a long time and they are a lot more in tune to things than we may think. Life is out of control for them for a long time, they can't make choices. Sometimes making the choice to be out of control is about regaining/taking some control.

    My difficult child is slowly coming around but we had zero resources or ideas on what to do with him. First few trips to psychiatrist were useless. We just got decent help after being desperate for almost 2 years. In spite of all of that I can see some light at the end of the tunnel even if the ride is rough from time to time. You are waaay ahead of the game by being here and having at least sort of a direction so early on into him moving back.

    Most of all make sure to keep your marriage solid. It can be hard to have a difficult child, I know my difficult child has strained my marriage. You HAVE to take breaks to go on dates or just soak in the tub. I know when husband and I have quarrels it stresses my difficult child out. Having a stable marriage is one step toward difficult child knowing that everything is well in his world.

    It did take husband some time to learn to be a Dad. I had to accept this new person stepping into a long standing parent/child relationship. I had a bad habit of stepping in and undermining husband's authority because difficult child and I were used to a certain structure. I suggest you and your husband sit down and discuss your roles and expectations. The last thing you need is a difficult child who learns how to play you against one another and manipulate. Mine did for a long time and we are just now getting the kinks out of that.

    You will be fine. We all get worn out and want to pull our hair out. Some day when this little guy is a man he will probably look back on YOU as his Momma. Someday all the work you put in and all the tears you cry will just make him more of YOUR little guy. He sounds like a cutie with a lot of potential. Maybe he needs a healthy Mommy figure and thank goodness he has you!;) He's just a blessing in disguise.
  4. ML

    ML Guest

    I'm glad you found our group. You sound like a very loving and kind person and Patric will definitely benefit from your love. Having a difficult child is extremely hard and when they are not your biological kids it puts even added stress on your marriage. If you can try to get on the same page with dad, right from the beginning, it will be very helpful for everyone involved. Make sure you present a united from whenever possible because it is not helpful for a kid to have the power to divide and conquor. But of course they will always try :)

    I hope you are able to get some testing done and find answers. In the meantime, welcome.


  5. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip


    I'm in a very similar situation. I'm a frustrated stepmom too, with a - how shall I say it - extremely behaviorally challenged teen - Onyxx - and a developmental-issue tween (Jett).

    I've learned a lot, posting and reading others' posts. It's a long road but it is very possible to get through it.

    Again - more HUGS!!!
  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hello and welcome,

    I want to echo MidwestMom's suggestion about getting a neuropsychologist evaluation for Patric. Your descriptions of his behaviour do sound somewhat Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)-ish to me. ADHD/ODD is often a first diagnosis. ODD describes behaviour, not the underlying condition. And so many other disorders mimic ADHD, that it's difficult to tell what you're dealing with at first.

    It's like the old saying...when you see hoof prints in the sand, assume it's a horse, not a zebra. Well, a lot of our children are the zebra's so sometimes further investigation is needed.

    So glad you found us.

  7. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Hi Kati and welcome.

    I'm not a big self-help book kind of person, but I think you might want to read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It sounds like with the transition from mom's house to yours, there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed. Dr. Greene uses a basket method of prioritizing which behaviors need to be dealt with. Basket A is nonnegotiable stuff - in our home, it was violence. Basket B is important stuff but not really worth going to the mat over, and Basket C is stuff you can let slide for now. The idea is to identify a couple of Basket A behaviors, address them diligently, and as they (hopefully) become less of an issue, you can move stuff from other baskets up. It's impossible, in my experience anyway, to consistently address *every* issue and stay sane. Also makes for an extremely unpleasant home life.

    I also found the book incredibly reassuring because he talks about some specific kids' behaviors - I thought my kid was the only one who behaved like that, LOL. Also good insights into their thinking. For example, what applied/still applies to my kid - he has always thought he was equal (acutally, superior) to any adult authority, and he is an optimistic child, meaning he just knows he's going to win/get his way.... someday. Any time I gave up/gave in, usually out of exhaustion, I was just reinforcing his behaviors.

    It's a relief to hear that school has been a help. That's at least half the battle right there.

    Again - welcome, and I'm glad you found us!
  8. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome! What type of docs does he see? Is he in a behavior program? What about school - how is that going?