I need some help here!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Chris Honey, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. Chris Honey

    Chris Honey New Member

    My girlfriend and I have been dating for some time now. She moved in with me over a year ago. I lost my job shortly after that, and my unemployment let us scrape by until I started working about a month ago. So we have lived on a very tight budget since. Her oldest easy child treats me like ****. From simple teenage disrespect, breaking anything & everything he gets his hands on, to actually threats where the police are called. He has been off from school for the last 3 days, and made his mother's and my life hell. We use a level system in our home, and he has been at the bottom of the system for a good week now. Today I was at work, but was told he did pretty good today. Came home and he was at level 2. Good sign, still low, but glad to see he tried. We went shopping and she starts throwing things in the cart without even talking to me about it. I got upset cause I'm still on a very tight budget till we're all caught up on the bills, and they decided to get breakfast items for next week because he doesn't like what the school serves, and it's not enough. His school feeds him a whole lot better than his mother or I eat. Instead of talking to me about it when I said no, she storms off. I finally catch up to her, I had put the cart to the side and said we can either talk about this or just go home. She is upset cause he had a good day today, and I'm not willing to just buy him whatever they see fit. Needless to say, or trip ended there, and now I'm this bad guy. I know with special needs children you have to praise the good moments, and let the bad ones roll off your back. I never get to see many of the good moments. They usually seem to happen few & far between, and almost never when I'm home. I just feel like I'm either this bad guy that ruins it for everyone, or I'm the dictator of the house.
  2. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome! My first suggestion is to change your user name if you are using your real name. Many people see this forum, some that you may know so we always recommend not using your real name. Also if that is your picture I would change that as well.

    You said her oldest treats you terribly. Later you mention he is a special needs child. It's hard to give suggestions or ideas without knowing a little more so I hope you don't mind some questions. Can you give us some more background?

    Does he have any diagnoses and if so who diagnosed him? How is he in other environments?

    Again, welcome!
  3. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    hi and welcome,

    We are also on a tight budget and that is hard to keep a teenager motivated without money. We have the problem of my X being disney dad so difficult child 1 will refuse to eat our food or wear our clothes because they aren't good enough (i.e. aren't what X gets him.)
  4. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Just so I understand, the "SHE" that was throwing food in the cart without asking is your girlfriend? I would say that you have a communication problem. OR it sounds like girlfriend is might be a difficult child herself.

    If "oldest easy child" has been at the bottom of your level system for a period of time, I would say your level system is not working for him. Could it be that he is somehow getting the message from girlfriend that "you" are responsible for the level system and that there is no money. Does girlfriend work? If not, why not? If she does, where does the money she gets going? Does "easy child" have any diagnoses? I can't remember from your previous threads, sorry.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Money doesn't usually solve problems, but a lack of money definitely causes problems! (been there done that)

    Try and look at this from the kid(s) perspective... maybe they see it as: ever since YOU came around, things have gone downhill? No idea what their situation was before you came along... but when you and girlfriend moved in together... you were soon without work and $$ has been a problem ever since. They don't understand the condition of the economy etc. They don't know what its like to hunt for a job, to fight of creditors, etc. All they know is that they are "different" from the other kids at school, and they HATE it. I'm just guessing here... You'll have to write your own script. But try and put yourself in their shoes. It might give you some clues about what they are thinking and why.

    We know what its like to stretch the dollar every single minute - and have the kids screaming blue murder about it. We took time to listen... DS is prepared to wear thrift-store second-hand jeans... as long as he has ONE "new" pair that he can wear once in a while at school. Rationale: He can then say that he wears rattier jeans because of shop class - and it doesn't look like its because we can't afford "good" jeans. Know what I mean?? So, we really hunt down sale and clearance racks now, and make sure that he has ONE "new" pair that fits - and he no longer complains about the rest of his jeans.

    Maybe the kids need to be able to have a "junk breakfast" on one specific morning a week (Saturday?). Then, when the other kids are talking about liking X over Y etc., they will be able to enter into the conversation. What did you have today becomes... well, mean step-parent won't let me have that on school days, but on Saturdays we get to pick... comes off WAY better at school.

    Kids are mean - as in, the other kids may be mean to your GFs kids because of the situation. How can you help them work through what they face at school?
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hate to be t he first one to bring this up, but my hub was the stepfather.

    Most likely your girlfriend's kids may be hostile to you being with their mother. They didn't pick you, she did, and you aren't even her stepfather yet. And trust me when I say many stepfathers get the disrespect as well. What helped our household was to have new hub back off in the discipline department and for me and my ex to discipline together. Hub took on role as a friend. This probably goes against your grain (it did my hub at first), but they are HER children and SHE is the only one with a longterm relationship with them. I don't think boyfriends and steps should just step in there and do the discipline.

    You do not state what the problems are with these children, but you may want to re-evaluate your relationship with your girlfriend. The kids are part of the deal and she will likely choose her children over you if push comes to shove. You are not just taking her on...you are taking on all of her baggage. If it doesn't make you happy, taking the relationship further isn't going to change anything. If you dislike the children AS THEY ARE it is unlikely to get much better.

    If you still wish to stick it out, I recommend family counseling for all of you. You sound a bit hostile toward the kids, which is understandable. Steps and boyfriend are usually (not always) not as tolerant of the special needs children that they inherit. Where is birthfather in this? Does he see his children? This is also important. Children prefer their parents to stay together, even if it is intolerable to the adult, and the boyfriend or step becomes the bad guy. You can't avoid this under most (not all) circumstances.

    Things did not improve in our house until hub saw the wisdom of stepping back. Now my older kids are grown and get along great with my hub (probably better than with their bio. dad). However, it took a long time before the kids really understood why there was a divorce and why Mom picked somebody else to be in her life. Stepping into a situation with difficult children is a challenge that not everyone can handle.

    If you can't do family counseling, you may want to go into counseling just for yourself to see if this is what you want for the rest of your life.

    Welcome to the board. Lots of smart people hang out here :)
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Im unsure about what is going on in your situation but I can see how the financial issues can make things difficult. They can in an intact family.

    Unlike midwestmom, I dont have such an all or nothing thing about step-parents and step-kids and how things should go. In our family, the steps have been integrated by the parents and treated exactly the same as the bio kids. My oldest son is Tony's step-son and he treats him as his own. He always said he wanted 3 boys and the fact that I came with one was just a plus in his book. My oldest granddaugher has a step-father and he treats her the same way he treats his own son. We have no issue with that. Maybe in our situation it is different because the kids were so young. Tony came into my son's life when he was two and I think Lindsay married Jeremiah when Keyana when she was 2.
  8. ready2run

    ready2run New Member

    being that the child is older, i would step back and let the mother take the reigns on her own child. you can't just step in and become the father figure with a teenager, they won't take to that. you can be a 'friend' to the child by being there to guide them and making yourself easy to talk to. mom is going to have to set the rules and enforce them at least until the child has accepted you as a parental figure which may or may not even happen. secondly, i'd like to say that as someone who is a stay at home mom i would be increadibly offended if my other half decided that i was not allowed to buy my kid cereal or whatever they needed on a tight budget or not. i certainly would put up an opposition to him telling my what i may or may not buy in any aspect. i don't blame your girlfriend for being upset. once you live together and are in a serious relationship your money becomes her money and vice versa. i get needing to put the breaks on the spending if she's out buying new shoes all the time or collecting handbags, but i don't think it's appropriate to tell her she can't buy cereal especially if the kid is still hungry in the morning. teenagers are notoriously hungry beasts and need to be kept well fed or they won't be able to even try to behave. the boy probably is against you coming in and taking control of his and his mothers lives(as he would see it) and telling them what they can and can't do.
  9. MuM_of_OCD_kiddo

    MuM_of_OCD_kiddo New Member

    Hi Chris,

    in order to get a better idea of the kid in question, I took a moment to read some of your old posts and by extension some of your girlfriend/SO as well. I think you are brave in taking on and trying to parent this kid - kudos to you. I would think your stress level is really out the roof - I know all about being the one who is making the moola and paying the bills and at times having virtually no $$$ left over with a lot of month left to cover [the fate of many selfemployed folks in this economy], and the urge to catch up on bills and get a little security green tucked away again. Couple that with a serious difficult child in the family and trying to step parent and have a good relationship with your girlfriend as well - that is a tall order!

    I kind of agree with some of the other advice you have been given, in letting the mom do the parenting and disciplining - in accordance to the guidelines you both have decided on. If you two are not presenting a strong unit in front of the kids [no matter if you all disagree or argue about it behind closed doors], it'll add an entire new dimension to the problems and the power games and manipulations many of our difficult children run on us. If you two do not communicate well about this, or one thing is agreed upon, but not followed through with by you or your girlfriend - then you have serious relationship issues, and this will be something that will be hanging over your head for years to come. I would like to suggest counseling for you two as a couple [as well as the young man if he doesn't receive any yet], and I think it is very important that you both learn to detach and simultaneously work on getting him help as well.

    If you think he is hard to handle now at 13 or 14, wait until puberty and hormones fully kick in, it will really get hard to hang on then. You need to talk to her and both get on the same page, else there will be no making your relationship go anywhere in the long run. Hang in there, and do give some serious thought about getting counseling - if not couples therapy, then for yourself for clarity. Friendly Hugs to you both!