I gave up yesterday

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by canthandleitanymore, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. canthandleitanymore

    canthandleitanymore New Member

    Well, I didn't entirely give up, but I'm close. Really close. I know that in the end the answers can only come from me. I just need to vent.

    I told my story on this board a few days ago, but here it is again in brief. My boyfriend and I have been together 2 1/2 years. He has a son who is almost 11 who lives with him full-time. The mom is not in the picture, she does more harm than good -- history of alcoholism, drug use, and possibly mental illness. She never sees him. I've called the boy "Johnny", but there's something about that I don't like, so I'll just call him "B." He currently takes 40 mg of Straterra for ADHD. The kid has severe behavioral issues -- responds "no" to everything, refuses to cooperate, oppositional, challenges authority, has no friends, does poorly in school, has chronic problems at school (had the police called on him last year for physically assaulting a teacher), refuses to do school work, cries a lot, has anger issues, manipulates to get his way, lies, always seems miserable. Dad has no mental health or substance abuse history other than a diagnosis of ADHD as a kid (I sometimes wonder if that was truly accurate).

    The issue I have is more with his father, my boyfriend, than it is with B. This kid has basically run his own life his WHOLE life. Dad just lets him do it. He gets sick of the arguing and fighting, so he eventually just caves and lets B have his way. If he's asked to do something, the response is "no" or "you do it" or "I don't want to." My boyfriend either just forces him to his room or an all-out war ensues trying to get B to do what he was told. The result is screaming, yelling, crying and eventually a kid that is reduced to an emotional train-wreck. Dad just doesn't know how to deal with this kid. B has no limits or boundaries, he does what he wants -- comes and goes as he pleases, does what he feels like doing, listens when he feels like it, even chooses where he lives! When he gets sick of Dad, he runs to Grandma and Grandpa's down the street. When he gets bored there, he comes back to Dad. And so on.

    When I came into the picture, I immediately saw that this kid had severe issues. But the relationship was new -- I didn't feel it was my place to get involved. Probably wrong, but at the time it was what I thought was right. I have no children myself. In August of this year boyfriend and I started talking about marriage and that's when things with me changed. I knew that I could not marry this man with such a screwed up, out of control child. I told my boyfriend he needed to start dealing with his kid's issues. That started with a visit to the pediatrician, who upped his Straterra more than double the original dose. This didn't help -- in fact, B seems worse now. The pediatrician followed visits to the counselor, who he's seen since age 4 but never consistently. The counseling has not helped, either -- behavior charts, "talking it out," it has done nothing. I finally told Dad B needs more and convinced him to have a neuropsychologist evaluation done to find out what's REALLY going on. The counselor said this week she now thinks B is bipolar but I won't be convinced until the testing is done. That happens in December.

    Meanwhile, Dad goes on about the business of doing NOTHING with his son. If anything gets done, I have to do it. I have gotten so frustrated with B's behavior lately that I can hardly stand him sometimes. Dad knows this and now looks for me being "unfair" to B. For example, Dad took away B's computer and TV from his room. All fine and good, but now B just dominates the living room TV! I asked him the other night to turn it off so we could have a little quiet. Dad jumped all over me, telling me B "wasn't doing anything" and that I was too harsh. He told me B has nothing else to do so we can't take TV away, too. I responded, what's the point of taking his bedroom TV away. The point should be to LOSE the privilege, not move it to another room!

    Everything to do with B is tearing his dad and I apart. He just doesn't get it! He's not a bad person, he just has no idea about how to be consistent or set limits or enforce rules or be an authority figure. I try to do the right things and lately just get shot down for it. This is hard for me...I don't have kids, but I have an extremely close relationship with my sister's three kids. They are model children (not perfect, but really neat kids) and their mom is amazing. She nurtures and develops her kids and is just a wonderful parent. Their dad is, too, but she is at the heart of it all. I see what she does and it works! These kids are awesome, I love them so much and am so proud of them.

    And so I try doing for B what my sister does with her kids. But Dad just doesn't "get it." He doesn't get that parenting involves so much more than just providing a home and clothes and food. He loves his son, there's no doubt about that, but he doesn't know what to do beyond that.

    We don't live together but I spend way more time at my boyfriend's house than my own. Yesterday I came home, told him I couldn't handle it anymore. I don't want to abandon this kid or the relationship. But I can't do it all. I feel like if anything gets done with B, I'm the one who has to do it. There is no "united front" with my boyfriend and I, he undermines me and doesn't even realize it. He's consistent when he feels like it. He just seems to be clueless when it comes to parenting. I'm not the expert, I'm not saying that. I just have better "common sense."

    Maybe there is no such thing as using common sense with a disturbed kid, I don't know. All I know is my life is crumbling down around me and I'm ready to just bail. I don't want to. I just don't know what else to do. I didn't give birth to this child. He's not my flesh and blood. He treats me like ****. But I'm the only one who seems to know what's good for him. And I'm the "bad" one, the one who is "mean" to poor little B. I'm truly not mean at all, I try giving this kid the structure and parenting he so desperately needs! But all it does is make me the bad guy.

    If I don't follow up and stay involved, Dad will go back to how things were, I'm sure of it. B will end up a very troubled and messed up kid and then adult. He'll have to deal with me abandoning him, too. I don't want to do that to him. But I don't want my life destroyed by this kid and his clueless father, either. I'm constantly stressed out and upset. Life is not fun anymore, it's just a matter of getting through the day...waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. I am resentful and frustrated and don't like this person I've become.

    I'm worn out and sick of it. Thanks for letting me vent.
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I hear you!

    At some point, many of us have felt the same way.

    However, you are in a position where you really can leave. But you would have so much guilt.
    What a dilemma.

    Unless your boyfriend gets in-depth counseling and parenting classes, things will not change. Perhaps you could use that as an ultimatum for staying in the relationship.
    There are lots of classes out there and thousands of books.
    It's not necessarily your job to teach him. But he does have to learn, whether you stay or go.

    Bless you for staying with-this family as long as you have.

    by the way, it is typical that those who enforce the rules are the Bad Guys. You're in good company!
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Very hard situation.
    I would say, however, that it is likely that the child is not going to turn around just because of a change in discipline. This kid needs a complete evaluation. in my opinion ADHD doesn't explain all of his behavior--with the history of substance abuse on the mother's side he more likely has some sort of mood disorder, which can make kids extremely defiant, angry, and immune to discipline. Straterra would make a child with a mood disorder even worse, not better. in my opinion the first thing your boyfriend has to do is to get him a neuropsychologist evaluation so that he can get his son better treatment. If he wont' do this, then in my opinion again it's pretty hopeless. There ARE kids you can't discipline because they don't care and won't listsen--and the majority of those kids are that way due to some psychiatric or neurological disorder. Kids don't WANT to misbehave. Some CAN'T behave.
    Is this child seeing a Psychiatrist (with the MD?) Has he ever had a neuropsychologist evaluation? When was the last time anyone tested him? Like with physical disorders, psychiatric and neuroloigal disorder need updated evaluations as often the early diagnoses are wrong. You see more as the child ages.

    If boyfriend won't have an evaluation for his son or consider changing his professionals who are treating him or digging deeper to see the big picture, then you have two choices: 1/Stay, knowing that nothing will likely change and could get worse 2/Leave because you did the best you could, but boyfriend isn't--and this isn't your child. You can only help so much. If you have other kids, this one will probably take up all your time unless he is stablized and the status quo just isn't doing the job. Good luck.
  4. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Once the testings are completed in December,hopefully B will have a more accurate diagnosis and can start a medication to help in feeling better. However, even if he finds the right medical answers, his lifestyle of disobedience has become a habit and will take a lot of work on his part to turn around. He has to realize that when the medications start working and he is feeling better, he will still have a fight on his hands to become the young man that he should be - respectful, kind, ect.

    Once the testings are done, maybe you can convince boyfriend of the need for family counseling in addition to individual counseling to face these issues.

    I hate the ADHD diagnosis because it is too easy for doctors to use that as a cover all for any behavior. They then start prescribing medications that may have the opposite effects than needed and as parents we have a hard time differentiating between personality and medicated state.

    I can tell that you do love these guys. The holidays add more stress factors so end up being hard. I would suggest that you may want to wait until the test results are complete and see what kind of help comes from that before taking things further. You can take a break for a few weeks if you feel like you need to. I do agree however to hold off on a stronger commitment until you can see a clearer picture of the future.
  5. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hey! I'm ringing in with agreement with Midwest Mom. The key to me was that upping the Stattera made him worse. Some of the various diagnosis's that our kids get are actually aggravated by stimulants. My difficult child became "devil dog - hound from hell" on strattera.

    A neuropsychologist will allow you to slim down the target if you will. It will level the playing field so that you can better pinpoint ways to work with him.

    Some dads tend to latch onto someone that will tell them what to do when it comes to their difficult child's. You seem to have the knack. But if you don't mind my saying so (please please please don't take offense!!! You don't need cr@p from anyone else - lol!), but I think you're seeing that trying to parent him like a typical kid isn't working. I think he gravitates to you because you're willing to lay down guidelines and set limits and no one else is. I'd take a look at the Explosive Child by Ross Greene to get a better handle on HOW his way of thinking works. If you better understand what's prompting the behavior, the better your tactics can work.

    Personally? I think this kid's been abandoned by his Mom and is being let down by his dad, and he's looking to you for guidance. I also wouldn't be surprised if it came back that he's high functioning on the autistic spectrum (my boys have Aspergers Syndrome and your guy sounds EXACTLY like my oldest one!). The good news on that type of diagnosis is that we're seeing that he's going to be able to be a fully functioning adult (if I let him REACH that age - he's driving me nuts today!).

    For now, I'd make an appointment. for a neuro, run to the book store and read the book and relax a little. Rome wasn't built in a day and you've undertaken more than most would be willing to do!

    We're here for you - vent away!

  6. 627666

    627666 New Member

    Wow, do I understand your pain and frustration! I can hear it in your "voice" and I can tell how much you love this family. I am amazed you have hung in there so far, considering all you are dealing with.

    I am going to offer some advice, based on what I believe my husband would tell you. You see, he came into my life and my son's life when my son was almost 4. My son will turn 12 next week. Since that time, it has literally been a day to day struggle keeping our marriage and family in tact. We spend thousands of dollars trying to help our (we consider him to be our son) son, trying to stay married, trying to protect our 6 year old daughter, etc. Almost every argument we have ever had is due to the tension of dealing with our son. We recently decided to let our son stay with his paternal grandparents so we can have a break, and I cannot tell you the differences we are seeing and feeling in this home!

    So, as the bio Mom I do not have the choice of completely running away but I feel I can tell you what I think my husband would say. My husband and I are very much in love. He is the real deal, a wonderful man who loves and takes very good care of us in every way. He has done more for our son than my son's bio Dad, much the way you have for your boyfriend's son. He gets up in the middle of the night when our son has a nightmare, he does all the math homework I don't understand, he teaches him how to fix things around the house, he takes him to do Dad/Son things, he comes to ALL the therapist's apts, doctor's apts, etc, and so on and so on.

    And our daughter is the light of his life! Once our son's issues started affecting our daughter on a daily basis, we had to make the decision to send him away temporarily. I believe if you asked my husband if he would do this all over again, he would say no. Not counting our daughter, of course, but this is not what he envisioned for marriage or for his life.

    I agree you are the only one who seems to be clued in on what this boy needs. And it sounds like your boyfriend is in such denial about his son's issues, he simply takes the easy road to deal with him. He reminds me of my son's bio Dad. We call him Disneyland Dad for these same reasons! It is beyond me how any parent would place a computer in any child's room! This is playing with fire, especially when you are dealing with a child with issues like you have described. His Dad will continue to make excuses for him and blame you. I did this for the first several years of our marriage and my husband left at one point, for a few days, bc he could not handle it any more. This is not the right approach. These kids need to see a united front by their parents, bio or step, so they learn they cannot divide the family. They need to feel the security of knowing their parents are stronger than their (the child) behavior.

    I agree you need to get him evaluated by a good neuropsychologist! Pediatricians should not be prescribing these medications. And Straterra for all these issues is not a good fit at all. From what we have been told, this medication is ok in conjuction with others but not by itself. I will also tell you we are about to take our son off his anti-depressant, so be wary of those. His behavior has deteriorated to shoplifting, agression, etc, since we put him on one. His doctors are now thinking the anti-depressant could be the culprit for the recent decline.

    I have to tell you, as painful as it may be, I would continue to put your life on hold until this boy and his father are stable. They need a good doctor(s) and the correct diagnosis and they need a plan for continued behavioral therapy. At that point, I feel you can say you have done all you can and you would be free to make the decision to leave. You have a right to happiness. And I will tell you, if you married this man and then chose to have your own children, the problems would simply multiply! You also have the choice of staying for the long haul and fighting each day for this child, but my advice would be to not have any kids of your own if you choose this. You would be helping save this boy and you will need your energy for that and for your marriage. You and your boyfriend should find a good couple's therapist who works with families like ours. We found one and she has helped us immensely, bc she understands the issues surrounding these kiddos.

    I tell everyone to continue praying. I know alot of people suggest reading "The Explosive Child", which I plan to as well, but praying is the best answer. Regardless of your religious or spiritual affiliation, pray for answers and pray for this child! Stormy O'Martian is a wonderful author who writes the "Power of..." series of books. Go get "The Power of a Praying Parent" and start reading it asap. This will give you specific prayers to say for this boy's future, health, friends, school, etc. It will at the very least give you some hope in knowing you have done one more thing for him. I truly believe in the power of prayer! Answers will come to you and you will know what to do with your situation.

    God Bless and Hang in there! ;)
  7. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    just chiming in to say I agree with the great advice you've been given by so many here and to add my support. I, for one, do not think you should feel guilty if you do decide it is too much and break off the relationship. Your boyfriend is going to have to make major changes in his parenting if he is going to have a chance of success with his son. Seems to be he is not willing to do this. You cannot be the primary disciplinarian--you are not the bio parent.

    I am the bio parent of my difficult child and my husband is the stepdad. He really had to take a backseat and let me be the one to do the disciplining. He had to take it very slow with my kids and be more of a support to me than anything. It isn't right or fair for you to have to be the "bad guy" with someone else's child, that is their dad's role.

    Please do put any plans on hold and again if you decide this is not something you can take on then leave with a clear conscience. You have done everything you can, you have been amazing!

  8. ML

    ML Guest

    I don't have anything to add, you've gotten incredible input. The only thing I would say is don't rush into anything. (keep your separate house). Whatever you decide, we are here to support you. Hugs, ML
  9. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I am gonna give my advice from another angle. The one from the single mom who had the out of control 11 year old, and married a guy who thought he could help, despite the initial red flags flying high.

    Being a single parent to these kids is the most unbelievable challenge. No support, no sounding boards, no breaks. Like your boyfriend, I had my own distinct way of parenting my child, that was at times simply a survival technique for me to get the kid to school and me to work every day. From the outside in, it is easy to judge. suggest, and criticize. But unless you have walked a mile in his shoes, be careful.

    My boyfriend was great in the beginning, but already the judgment was there, him telling me how to handle certain things, him being displeased when I didn't. Unfortunately we married anyway, and he started to try and become the parent he thought my kid needed. It backfired in every way possible. I won't even go into the details - but suffice to say the whole relationship became a power struggle over how to handle my difficult child, and my difficult child became even sicker.

    Your boyfriend will figure out what is best for his kid. I promise. I think it is honorable and awesome that you want to help - but trying to parent him to parent his child will not help. It will only make it worse. In my opinion, the only way things will work for you in that relationship is if you are committed to stepping back and continue to let him parent the way he has been - and only offer resources and suggestions of where he himself can get more help on parenting, therapy, or more help for his kid.

    There is an esteem component to this that often goes unrealized. Think how demoralized he feels when you tell him how to parent. My self esteem and confidence was destroyed after my marriage, it took me years to trust in myself again, and believe I was a good parent, a good person. It was all just not a good path, it lead to a cliff with no way down other than to jump.
    Sometime true love is letting someone go.
  10. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member


    I just wanted to jump in and add my support. Others have already given you sound advice, and I think Steely's perspective as the bio-parent in this situation is very valuable.

    I am like you in that I fell in love with a man who had a very troubled son. My difficult child was in his early teens when his dad and I got together, and like your boyfriend, husband was at a loss as to how to deal with him. I ended up in the role of primary disciplinarian, not so much out of choice but because it's in my nature to do so. This was with husband's full support and only AFTER difficult child had accepted me as "mom". Despite having husband's full backing, it's been a very hard road. Without it, I would have taken Little easy child and run away from home a long time ago.

    I think that the neuropsychologist evaluation results are essential, to help you all figure out what's going on with B, but I agree with the others that if boyfriend is not supporting your efforts to provide discipline and structure, and is in fact undermining your efforts, then you need to step back.

    Keep in mind that you need to decide what's best for you in this situation. If the best choice is for you to leave, then that's what you need to do. Don't beat yourself up, whatever you choose to do. If you do decide to stay, then you and boyfriend need to ensure that you're on the same page with respect to discipline. Not just HOW you discipline, but who delivers the message, and that you both need a united front.

    I also recommend The Explosive Child. Love and Logic may also provide you some concrete ideas that you and your boyfriend might be able to put to use.

    Sending many gentle hugs.
  11. canthandleitanymore

    canthandleitanymore New Member

    Thanks for all your comments. Steely, yours in particular. Maybe I'm way out of line and need to just back off. It's just that Dad has never tried, so it's hard for me to sympathize with what he has "struggled" with. He has passed this kid off on his parents every chance he gets. He ignores the obvious. Quite frankly, he is a lazy parent and doesn't want to sacrifice in his own life for what his son needs. He gives it lip service, but at the end of the day the responsibility lies with me (or his parents). It's easier for him to plant his son in front of a computer game or TV than deal with the issues in front of him, and that's exactly what he does. He does not "try" at all.

    Last night, for example, I talked to Dad on the phone. He was downstairs watching TV, B was upstairs watching TV. That is a typical night in that household. There is little interaction and no "quality time" whatsoever. This kid is BEGGING for it. B even said it the other night, "you never spend time with me." How much more direct does it get then that? His dad just doesn't listen, doesn't hear his own kid crying out to him. Dad only does what's convenient for him. Period. I have planned outings, gotten B into Band and basketball, I take him to workout (he loves it), take him swimming, involve him in activities with my nephews and niece, take him to school events. Dad does none of this. He'll go along if I ask, but he would never initiate any of this himself. I do what I do because I think it's what B needs...what every kid needs. Even a troubled kid.

    I need to back away and let them figure it out. As much as this kid needs someone who can provide some direction, I can't be that person. Obviously when I try it's wrong and when I do nothing it's wrong.

    I'm done.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    When my hub and I married, it was with the understanding that I did the disciplining with my kid's birthfather. It helped the relationship. My kids weren't open to listening to him--they resented his presence. That doesn't seem the case with you, but the only one who can really help this boy is your boyfriend. He is the one who can give him the proper help, not you. You legally can not do it. There is way more to this than just his parenting style--something is wrong with this kid and he needs to know what it is and to get him interventions. (Check your e-mail) :)
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think many here have given excellent advice. I would weigh Steely's very strongly. Just because he is not doing what YOU see should be doen does not mean he is doing it wrong. He simply is doing it very VERY differently than YOU feel should be done.;

    My question to you is this:

    Why on EARTH would you WANT to be with a man who you clearly feel is such a terrible parent? For that is EXACTLY what you are saying. His child needs help, needs activities, needs parenting and he is REFUSING to do it.

    WHAT does this relationship give you? A chance to show him how to do it "right"? A chance to be the better parent? How would you feel if you had a child with this man and he parented YOUR child this way?

    You have VERY different values than this man. Unless you can find other common ground, you don't seem to have much to build a relationship on. But I KNOW I am not seeing the whole picture. And you truly don't have to tell me any of the answers to these questions. You need to tell yourself the answers.
  14. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    Well, Susie said what I was going to say after reading your latest response. What on earth do you see in this man? And if you want children yourself you already know what kind of parent he will be. Somehow I am getting the impression that this is not a healthy relationship for either of you--you seem more like your boyfriend's mom than girlfriend. I say you should cut your losses at this point....
  15. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I've been on both sides of the fence with this issue. My first husband would drop his kids off on me, take off with his brother to do whatever, and then get PO'd about something I did or didn't do. I couldn't win. We divorced after 18 months.

    My second husband was Miss KT's father. I was a single parent even though we were married. Dumped Useless Boy, case closed.

    Hubby is "third time's the charm", though he doesn't understand parenting a difficult child. It has not been an easy 8 years, but he wanted so much to do the right thing for both me and Miss KT that we were able to work things out.

    It sounds like you and boyfriend are not on the same page with anything regarding B. However, he's not your kid. You can state your opinions, but you can't make any real changes unless his father allows it, whether you are married or not. The only person you can make decisions about is you. Is this how you want to live your life?
  16. Jena

    Jena New Member


    i'm so so late to this. I just wanted to offer suppport. What the others said pretty much covers it all. Dad has to learn to handle his son, and by you being a really good person and wanting to help this child it's allowing dad to still "ignore" him and his issues.

    Hopefully if you give them some space Dad will soon see that his child needs him and his attention and he will make the steps towards doing so. It wouldnt' be fair to you to enter into that type of a situation for yourself.

    I am sure you will make the best choice for you.