Hello - an introduction.


New Member
I am a step mother. Because I am a step mother if I say 'bad' things about my step son people assume I am bitter.

I believe, with all my being, that my step son has antisocial behaviour disorder. However he has no diagnosis.

Because his mother died when he was 7, excuses were made for his behaviour all along - even by me. His grandparents now tell me his behaviour was in place before his mother passed. However, it is true his father is not a nurturing individual, and they were hard times I'm sure when they were alone.

He moved in with me aged 11.

Two referrals from the doctor to the mental health team have expired because he doesn't make appointments, lies about when they are, doesn't attend, 'forgets' to go, is 'working'. Both of these were made during 'crisis' times in the family, both passed and by then the situation had 'calmed'.

He is now 20.

I am at the end of whatever resources I had. His father does not want to evict him, because he would be 'condemning him' - I get that, I really do - last time we evicted him he was made homeless several times (non payment of rent, caught growing cannabis in his room), ended up with court appearances and county court judgements and after only a year and a half or so ended up sleeping in our garden, so we let him back in again.

He fails though to abide by the simplest of agreements - attending mental health referrals was one, we have now allowed him to choose a counsellor privately, pay for it, I take him - and still he has only managed two appointments out of five weeks. He does not come home the night before, texts that he has 'forgotten', that he has to 'work' (I phoned them, it was his day off). He has also told his Counsellor that he lies and is uncaring because his father neglected him - she has told that to his father, just to add to his guilt I assume.

The only other condition was that daily he told us where he was, if he was or wasn't coming home. He can't seem to do that either.

Tonight, apparently, he is coming home - for the first time in a week. And given his father is physically ill with worrying I have decided to talk to him myself. No point in pointing out to him that his Dad was so upset last week he showered sitting down at the end of the day because his legs just wouldn't support him because once again we hadn't heard from him.

He won't care. He has absolutely no care. No one seems to understand what that means. He has no empathy, no remorse, no care. His father took a brain injury at work, for weeks couldn't be left alone at home, he was disorientated, had no short term memory, was fearful. My girls and I took whatever time off we could, supported him, took him out - I left his son with him one day - ONE - both times a sibling dropped by he had left his father alone in the house - once apparently to get his wages (a two hour round trip - he doesn't drive, he took the driving lesson money, spent it on drugs and lied about the lessons - took me 12 weeks to work out he wasn't going, made him repay the money out of his wages) - the second time to go and buy the drugs. He was untouched by his fathers condition, totally untouched. I have loads of those. I'm trying not to give examples, but you 'justify' all the time, you get so used to it - I am NOT biased against him, I'm not a horrid step mother - I've spent 10 years raising this child and the list of 'offences' could fill pages and pages and pages.

We have given him all of the life lessons we gave the others - I suspect his sister has the same disorder, but she left home to go live with her maternal grandma at 16 (a rescue mommy) - the grandma has taken in four cousins - two are now in mental health units - one sectioned, one voluntary, one has moved out again and is coping and my step daughter is still there. She has no contact with us - not even a thank you for money on significant days. She did attend mental health appointments because it was clear as a minor that she had issues so I could take her - she was diagnosed as 'probably on the spectrum'. But she wouldn't engage with therapy or treatment as her grandma told her she could move there the day she left school. So she did.

My step son however has remained at home - I do not want to deprive my husband of his son, I get that he is condemned if he no longer is provided a roof by us - but good grief surely an expectation of his attending one session a week to work on functioning in a more reasonable way and telling us where he is sleeping isn't too much to ask!

I don't want to be heartless, I am not a bad person, but I don't want to have this person in my house, taking up my head space, hurting my husband, taking from my children, and acting in such a completely isolated manner anywhere around me any more.

So - hi, perhaps I can find a way forwards with some help from people who understand what 'he doesn't care' means.


Well-Known Member
Hi there. Sorry you have to be here, but we all came here for the same reason. You are not alone.

I respectfully disagree with your husband that if his 20 year old has to leave your house he is condemned. Condemned to what? Getting a job, growing up or facing hard consequences that may push him toward growth? To me it is more a condemnation to let a 20 year old man be a 20 year old child with no consequences, no job and not even respect for rules. How is this good for the son?

Does your husband plan to live forever to support him when he is 50? Or if son makes him sick maybe he will die young. This son has not learned to think on his feet and has no ability to face hard times or survive on his own. And he knows he doesn't have to learn. His lack of respect for simple rules and his getting away with it is a spit in his father's eye. It is like Son has all the power. This is bad for all of you. Obviously it is affecting your marriage too.

Instead of wasting time talking to a man with no empathy, I'd urge your husband to get into counseling with you and getting him to work on his misplaced guilt and responsibility for a grown son who is unpleasant and won't follow house rules. None of us need to "protect" our children who are old enough to get jobs. In fact we can't protect them
And none of us need to take abuse from anyone, including adult children. That hurts us and does them no favors either.

I am sorry you have to go through this. If husband won't seek counseling with you, go yourself. You could probably use independent help regarding this sad problem. You can decide with counselor how you want to move forward and with whom.

Have a peaceful, sane day!!!


New Member
Hi. I feel for you. My brother caused many problems between my dad and my stepmom over the years. (In fairness, her oldest son caused them both problems as well.)

I hope for your sake that your husband is wired like mine is where I give advice, he rejects the advice and then 6 months later, has a "brilliant idea" that is, oddly enough, the idea I gave him 6 months earlier.

I agree with the counseling idea. I've found the author and psychologist Harriet Lerner helpful in creating boundaries so others' issues do not impact me as much. "The Dance of Anger" was particularly useful to me and has remained so ever since I read it.

Sadly, other than drawing your own boundaries with the step son, there isn't anything you can do about how he treats his dad. That is on him and if he allows it, that's not something you can intervene on. (Sad reality, but reality.) But you do need to draw boundaries with your husband and his son on what you can and cannot tolerate. Since your husband won't kick him out, you two need to work out what the rules are. I would suggest coming in at this in a different direction with hubby. Something like, "I understand that you do not want to kick him out, but there are behaviors that are negatively impacting me, so let's work out some ground rules that he needs to follow so we can all live here peacefully".


New Member
Thank you.

He works. He works in a kitchen. And has done for around 6 years, he started washing up and is now running the kitchen. He has nearly lost it many times, but his boss supports him (took his money direct from wages to pay rent direct at one point) - he has called and chased up my 'sick' step son who wasn't, and I took him straight in because it was 'crunch point' - but he does work.

No ambition, he enrolled in college to learn catering, told us he was going, never attended......... but he works.

We both feel he is condemned to homelessness, not next week, but eventually - he lacks the organisation to put money into a bank and pay bills. He spends it as soon as he gets it on instant gratification.

And for legal involvement - he is not aggressive, or violent - but he is a drug user, and has done 'small' things that have brought him to the attention of the police, trying to break into next doors house in error when drunk, riding a moped with no insurance....

We started looking at disorders when in conversation I said to my OH 'it's not that he isn't learning, it is as if he can't learn'.

He doesn't plan, he loses things (6 driving licences, 7?) - he isn't 'organised' in any way at all. So I think he may well end up homeless. It's not our responsibility, I get that too. But I really believe he has a mental health problem that prevents him from functioning effectively.


New Member
mcb thank you too - I have tried disengaging, it isn't my nature unfortunately - and it is a largeish household, so hard to do.

We try and put in boundaries - currently it's attending counselling once a week and letting us know where he is. We have lowered them a long way to that! There is't anywhere further to go really other than 'do what you want', and I think that's a disservice to everyone.

He has a new (and first really) girlfriend at the moment, I worry for her, she is vulnerable. So he is spending most of his time at her fathers house with her.

Snow White

On the Mad Tea Party Ride
Welcome, Corris. Sorry that you have landed here but you will find a wealth of support and info!

You are not a bad person. I can't address anything from the step-mother perspective but I can totally relate to the husband with a brain injury. Mine suffered a workplace traumatic brain injury and difficult daughter could care less. Our daughter has been on her roller-coaster ride, stopping medications at 18 and leaving home; returning when plans didn't work out. She is now 25 and still with the same behaviours.

My husband was a little slower to come around to detachment and boundaries issue with our daughter. He worried constantly that something bad would happen to her if she were to be out on the streets. But lately, the stress of this is really getting to him. He can't quit smoking and is more depressed, yet our daughter keeps traveling the world without a care. We are entering our retirement years and he now sees that our enabling and supporting her current lifestyle is going to either kill us or bankrupt us.

We've been to counselling; both together and separately. I think it was really good for my husband to talk with a counsellor alone - with some of his head injury symptoms he needed someone to pose things in a different light. Your husband's head injury may be impacting how he views things and/or his inability to set firm boundaries with your son.

I say this all gently because we are in the current midst of detachment as boundaries don't seem to be working and we are struggling with our decision. It hurts.
Welcome! Your son sounds a lot like mine. One thing I have learned is that counseling does nothing for these kids until they are invested in wanting to change. I shudder to think how much time and money I have wasted on therapy for my son with no effect. So how do we get them to want to change? Its hard to know, but I certainly think one way is to get out of the way of life's natural consequences. Things like allowing them to experience hunger or homelessness if their horrible choices have led them there. The more we put off life's consequences, the more we are putting off them traveling the path that *might* just lead to a desire to change. And thinking of it that way, it makes it about love and what is really best for them in the long view. An added benefit is being able to have some semblance of sanity and peace in our own homes. My son was just asked to leave for the final time. It took me a long time to get to this place, and it's ok if you are not quite there yet. This is a safe place for wherever you are in your own journey.

A dad

Active Member
Oh he works this is not that bad actually. I was thinking he was totally depended on you and your husband but things are not that dark. I may seem overly optimistic but is he has antisocial disorder you can not do anything to change him but the fact that he works mean that he will not become a total problem for society.
Now yeah he has a drug problem but how does that affect anyone else but him but sure lets take him and put him to jail so he can become a problem for others.
But the solution is after all distancing yourself from him cutting contact that is the solution that is always the solution you can not change him and he can not change himself.


Well-Known Member
Drug addicts are huge problems for others. They steal, cheat and create sometime violent crime to get money for a fix. One of my children's birth father was thrown in prison for armed robbery. It was not his first rodeo. True addicts are problems for everyone in the U.S.

Not saying they all do this to this degree, but the more addicted they become, the more their brains seem to go to waste and they don't think about consequences. They will steal, even hurt for drugs.

A drug addict with a job, like my daughter was, is a bit safer to others because she had money of her own for her drugs. Still, she was semi involved in a robbery of a liquor store and dang lucky to be able to charm the cop into arresting everyone but her. I think it was 100% her extreme attractiveness and the cops youth. Everyone else was male.

A dad

Active Member
Well the OP's step son was caught growing canabis in his own room that he rented. Who did he hurt?
But again you can not expect him to change if he has antisocial disorder you can not make him have empathy is the part of the brain that governs it is broken beyond repair. So yeah kick him out. Counseling sessions are mostly a waste of time and money for such a disorder.
Probably the best they could teach them is how to fake empathy but its only if he gains something not genuine but hey I say its pretty good.


Well-Known Member
ADad, totally agree on the points. Pot rarely causes violence and antisocial personality disorder can not yet be fixed, if the young man was diagnosed right. I am very aware that psychiatry is an inexact science.

Yet a lack of empathy is easy for anyone to see. My oldest son lacks empathy. I believe he is a narcissist...I noticed this lack of empathy from his earliest days. Yet I don't think he sees it. Breaks my heart, but there is nothing we can do and I could never live with him. I would be sure to be screamed at and called a stupid FB (figure it out) any time I said anything he disagreed with. He talks this way to his generous dad and girlfriends too, holding it in at work.

I am so grateful for my three kids and granddaughterms who ooze empathy. You appreciate it more when you see one who doesnt seem to care about anyone but them. Actually, my Dad is much like him too. I can honestly not think of one touching daddy/daughter moment we ever had. He was like not having a father at all.

Sorry for the hijack. It is not fun to have children who don't care about anyone. In my son's case he does love his child and is never unkind to him. I give him that. But if my grandson ever hears how he talks to others... he hides it from him now.
Last edited:


New Member
I must stress again he has no diagnosis, apart from Mine.

We had family support work when he was in school, but he can be very charming and engaging when he isn't being sullen and indifferent.

We did speak to him Friday, re iterated terms that he attends counselling and tells us where he is. He called the counsellor, but they left smswerphone messages for each other so she is waiting on him again.

He also pays rent here, fifty pounds a week, we instigated it to cut down his drug money a bit, I save it. To try to support him I gave spent a couple of months pushing him to set it up as a bank transfer.

I'm sure you will sell get the issues, it's like pushing treacle up hill, he has no internet code, it didn't come on the post, he hasn't had time to go to the bank. He gets paid in cash, so I figured on if his problems with living independently was that he never paid money in, so never covered bills.

Last week he said it was set up so he didn't give me cash (I use it for counselling fees too). Anyway, went to the bank yesterday, got the account updated, no rent. Of course he wasn't surprised when I messaged him on face book, apparently he will give me cash today when he comes home.

Currently we only have Facebook to contact him, when his dad said why don't you answer your phone he said he had a new number, we said why on earth haven't we got it and, as always he's like 'well of course you can have it, I've on,y had it a few days, I'm not hiding it'. But still hasn't given it to us.