Instructed to repost this here, thanks.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by stepparentincrisis, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. stepparentincrisis

    stepparentincrisis New Member

    Hello, stumbled upon this at work and I really need to vent and just hear someone else's opinion. I truly don't know how to proceed with my problems and writing it out might actually help. Some background: I am a mid 40's year old man, I have an 8 year old, wonderful daughter with my wife of 10 years. My wife has a son, let's call him "D", who was 5 years old when we first met and now he is 17. Without making this into an 1000 page document, let me summarize his issues. He was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, ADD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Personality Disorder and without having his file in front of me, let's start there. We noticed small issues when he was like 7 or 8, but we dealt with him, adjusted his cirriculum, and had IEP (custom school plans) in place for him. As he turned 11 or 12, he started to become more defiant, getting into fights, not following directions, troubles at school and typical stress. One particular day he hit a girl on his bus and was expelled from school. This started his first of literally 4 expulsions until he was placed in the last resort, prison type of school. We even had him enrolled in an Academy, got him a scholarship for tuition, and the school was for kids with learning disabilities, etc. A good school for him. The principal, an educator of 35 years, sent us a note home and to present at our hearing for residential care, that in all of his years of teaching and dealing with problematic students, he had never encountered anyone as challenging and in need of specialized residential treatment as D.

    One particular day about 4 years ago, he lost control and was kicking walls, shouting profanties, and making vague threats. As is turns out this day at school (one he was expelled from) someone punched him in the face giving him a black eye. I physically restrained him by pinning him to the floor until he regained control, and long story short, he told the police I hit him and I was charged with child abuse. The case was dismissed 2 days later but it was humiliating and I recognized he was able to use his 135 IQ to suit him when needed. I moved out during this process with my daughter so my wife could get him into a group home which we did. It was not easy but eventually he was in 2 group homes for about 3 years in total. He came back like a gangster thug, talking about getting high, drinking, etc and when returned to us he was arrested for prowling as he would sneak out at night. To top this off, he is an absolute slob, would literally raid the refrigerator, take food in his room, and just leave it there. He had debris piled up to his knees and you could not walk across the floor. We had in home counselors, therapists, and through it all he would go through cycles of taking medications, being manageable at least, then going back to the bottom. He was like an EKG chart with these ups and downs.

    To point, after his arrest and when he stopped attending school (legally they can at 16 in my state) my wife and I were at wit's end and we sent him to stay with his grandmother in another country, far away. We thought a fresh start would do him good, he could get better social services over there, but mainly we needed a break as he was tearing our marriage apart as I would try to keep my daughter's exposure limited to him. Well while overseas, he used his guilt and bullying tactics on his grandmother, who was not ready to really deal with him. He bullied her into buying him drugs, driving him around to friends houses, allowing him to drink, because as she told us "she simply could not live with him unless he had what he wanted.' He would knock on her door, literally for like 2 hours straight until she relented. Flash ahead 6 months, he gets arrested over there for battery on law enforcement and basically was sent back to us a month ago. We arranged a friend of the family who had the space and willingness to try to house him, to provide boarding with the agreement he would get his GED and find part time work. He has done neither, he ran away and went to another city for 4 days on a weed binge with his fellow delinquent, and when he ran out of money he called my wife and said come get me. When she did not, he said he would call the police and say he asked his parent for help and they refused and threatened her with abandonment. I told her to call a bus station, get his ticket back and that's what we did. Upon returning, my wife, daughter and I were out of the house and needed to return for something and we discovered he had a key to our house (unknown to us) and went in and had his buddy come over to get high out back. I confronted him and told him he is not alone in our house unless we were there and asked for the stolen key back, He refused, cursed at me. I called the police and they came out but he had run by then. The bottom line of the police visit is that until he is 18 years old, he is our responsibility and is allowed in the house unless he is in foster care or someone else is his legal guardian. So after this, the police went down to where he is staying to look for him and the person watching him rightly told us after that she can't deal with him and dropped him off on our doorstep at 9:30 last night after I put my daughter to bed.

    So he stayed there last night, my wife is hysterical and does not what to do, and we cannot have him live with us in our house. She is looking on Craigslist for apartments and our short term plan is to find an inexpensive place she can house him and check on him part time, bring him groceries, have a meal with him and try to split her time with the 2 households. I don't know what to do. We have given him so many chances and the result is always the same. I am worried about my daugher being raised around him and thinking this behavior is normal, etc. but she is taking it better than anyone else, she is a great little girl. I don't want to lose my wife but I think he is tearing us apart on purpose. I don't know if I should move out and keep my daughter part time, do I get an attorney and explain what we are living with and try to get full custody? I want my daughter to have both parents and not feel pulled apart but I don't know what else we can do. My family has seen what he has done and has pretty much washed there hands of him. My wifes family is overseas and they can't and won't manage him and his biological father is a waste of space who has never met him and is not on the birth certificate. I just need to vent so thank you for letting me. I feel so alone and like this situation is so unique. We have been to counselors, family counseling and all that, no results. Please just tell me what other humans think of this..

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  2. DazedandConfused

    DazedandConfused Active Member

    When does he turn 18? Mine turns 18 at the end of June. I've never had to deal with running away, however.

    You and your family have been through a lot with this kid and have gone to great lengths to try and help him to apparent no avail. I know the feeling.

    My first thought goes to your daughter. What is in HER best interests at this point? I would work from there. It will be much easier to get you and your wife on the same page. Changing the locks on your house is in order.
  3. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    Again welcome while you are waiting there is some great reading material at the top of this forum on detachment, if don't have internet at home you might want to print it to share with your wife.

    Detachment with love is one of the hardest lessons parents of children like ours have to learn. I'm starting to think we should change the name of that thread to survival skills 101 for parents of adult difficult child's.

    sending gentle hugs
  4. stepparentincrisis

    stepparentincrisis New Member

    Dazed and Confused, thanks, he is 18 in November. 9 months exactly from today. I actually did change the locks out last night, that was my first reaction. I think my daughters best interest is having both parents in her life daily but I can't see how to do that with him around.

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  5. stepparentincrisis

    stepparentincrisis New Member

    Thanks for the kind words.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, although you are responsible for him until he is eighteen, you don't have to give him props for doing drugs and destroying both his life and yours. I would cut off the money supply, if he gets money, and if he wants a cell phone, internet, etc. he can get a part-time job and buy it himself. I would NEVER let him drive your cars. He is intoxicated too often. And his accident would still be your responsibility since the car is in your name. Plus you don't really want him to kill himself or somebody else.

    I would start attending Narc-Anon meetings in advance of having him leave at eighteen unless he agrees to go to rehab and seriously seems to want to change. Let him know that is what you are going to be doing. Try to persuade your wife to come with you. I'm not sure if you are saying she does not want her son out of the house or not. If she doesn't, then I'd move out and try to get as much custody of daughter as you can, but my son just had a custody battle with his ex and it isn't going to be easy to persuade the judge that your daughter should not be with her mother at least half the time. You'd have to prove that stepson is a danger to your daughter. If this is where you want to go, I'd start early and hire the best attorney in your town. Know that you will never be able to totally get your daughter away from your wife. She will have visitation. Even felons get some visitation.

    in my opinion you have to find a good, peaceful place, when you are not angry, to think over all your options and to come up with a plan that YOU want. YOU matter as much as everyone else. You can not change anyone else in the world except for yourself. You can change how you react to other people, but you can't control how they think or what they will do or not do.

    Hopefully you can have a private heart-to-heart with wife and work something out. If you can't, then you have hard decisions to make.

    I hope you can try to focus on the present and have a peaceful day for now. You have a lot on your plate and will need a lot of mental strength to make those hard choices.

    Glad you joined us, but sorry that you had to.
  7. stepparentincrisis

    stepparentincrisis New Member

    Thanks for your input. A few things, I don't give him "props" for using drugs and drinking. We discourage it and one of the reasons I called the cops yesterday was because he was smoking dope in my backyard. The money supply is totally accurate and I am all for cutting off every penny except to provide him with food and shelter. My wife "lends" him money sometimes and I know it goes to cigarettes and weed. That is stopping. Also, he does not drive nor does he have the desire to get his licence. He relies on my wife to get him a ride and then texts her repeatedly to get him until she does or shuts her phone off. My wife does want him out of the house as well, we both agree that is in the best interest of our family. I do not want to restrict her visitation whatsover if I did have custody. She jsut called me and said she has found him an efficiency downtown and it is week to week with no lease. She is going to put him here short term until we get him to either check into rehab or he gets arrested.
  8. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Hi, I am a step-parent as well as a biological parent. I have big problems with my son. My husband, his step-dad, tends to just avoid the situation and doesn't get involved. Firstly I would say that being a step-parent is not easy at the best of times. It sounds as though you have been there for your step-son and have gone way over the line in doing whatever you can to help him over the years. I think that you need to put your relationship with your wife first, as that is also what is best for your daughter. I would make it clear to your step-son that there is no way that he will manipulate a break-up between you and your wife, if that is possibly what is in his mind to do. I understand that moving out with your daughter seems to be the best option, but he may see that as some strange sort of victory. I think you and your wife need to show a strong united front. I wonder how your relationship has been with him, outside of the horrendous behaviour issues. Have you had a father/son relationship and how have you dealt with discussing the issue of his absent father with him? Sometimes step-chidren can push the boundaries to the extreme as a way of testing whether the step-parent is really their true parent or is likely to disappear from their lives like the biological parent. I'm not making any excuses for his atrocious behaviour - I am just pondering some of the issues that I have read about during my own journey as a parent and step-parent. You have another 9 months to survive before he becomes an adult and your wife is no longer legally responsible for him. You and your wife need to have a strategic plan of action to survive those months and ensure that you emerge from this time still in a strong marriage. Once your step-son is 18 then you can reassess the situation as 3 adults. This site has helped me to see that and to detach from my son's behaviour as a separate adult, responsible for his own choices. I hope you and your wife find the necessary strength.
  9. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    A week to week efficiency sounds like a great temporary solution, he has shelter and you and your family can sleep without needing to keep one eye open so to speak.

    If he tries to use "legally responsible for till 18yo" to try to get back into the house point out to him your wife (bio parent only) has option of having him legally declared incorrigible which would get him a room at juvi or Residential Treatment Center (RTC) until he turns 18yo. With his age and history I don't think they would even look for a foster care placement.

    It sounds like you are doing everything you can to keep your family intact and safe, we are here for you and your wife while you experience this awake nightmare.

  10. stepparentincrisis

    stepparentincrisis New Member

    Thank you for reading and replying. I have gone through all efforts to be his dad, he really did not start to fall apart until 12 or 13. We fish together, talked, did normal step dad stuff and we all have been to family counseling. He just does not see things the way others do, he views himself as the victim. Your words helped, thank you.
  11. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    stepparentincrisis, welcome. You have a sad tale. I'm glad you found us. You've received wonderful support and it sounds as if you've come up with a plan until he turns 18 in November. 9 months is a long time in hell though. If he smokes weed in your home you can call the police. You can also call them if he is violent. I'm sure you know that.

    You might read the article at the bottom of my post here on Detachment, it's helpful. You might call NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental illness, they have excellent courses for parents and I have found them to be very helpful in giving us parents all kinds of resources for our kids. Once he is 18 they may be able to steer you in the right direction.

    As mentioned, getting support is vital for us parents, this is a treacherous journey we're on. Family anonymous, therapy, a parent group, a minister, whatever you can find to offer empathy, understanding and real tools to help you to disengage and bring back your health and your peace and your joy.

    I'm sorry you are going through this, I know how devastating it is and how it impacts relationships. It helps to post here, for our clarity and also to receive understanding and support from others who are living in a similar kind of hell. We're here if you need us.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
  12. stepparentincrisis

    stepparentincrisis New Member

    Recovering enabler, I cannot express to you how profoundly your words and article resonated within me. To an extent with me, but completely with my wife, that is exactly what she is doing. It is almost like I read that and someone has been observing us for the past 10 years. It brought me to tears, in a good way, and helped me more than I think I am able to express with my words. I printed this and just called my wife and begged her to read it when she is alone or with me. My wife is a member of NAMI but I never heard her bring up detachment before but what happens when you don't detach, that particular section, that was written for her, she is suffering from every thing in there. I don't know the equivalant of a hug in an email, but I genuinely thank you from the bottom of my heart. That gave me strength.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Sorry I put it this way...props. I meant things like paying for his cell phone, internet, etc.

    Sounds like you have a good plan in place and are ready to move on with a more peaceful, serene life.
  14. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Welcome, stepparentincrisis.

    I don't have anything to add to the wonderful support and advice you have been given. I just wanted you to know I was reading along, too. I am so glad you found this site. It really is a safe place for us, a good place. I think the week by week apartment idea is a good one. It doesn't sound like your wife would be safe living alone with this son, if you were to be the one to find another place to live.

    Yours is one of the most frightening stories I have ever heard. I am so sorry this is happening to you and your family.

  15. stepparentincrisis

    stepparentincrisis New Member

    Kind words and not feeling alone help immensely. Thanks for sharing with me.
  16. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    What's done is done in so far as where he has been and who he has lived with. If your state says that you must provide him with food and shelter, then you must. He's not above claiming abuse/neglect by you so I would be very careful to not do anything like lock up food or feed him anything other than what you and the rest of the family are eating. on the other hand he wouldn't have anything other than that food and a bed. No phone, no MP3, no computer, no TV, no money. I'd invest in a good strong in-wall or in-floor safe to store my valuables every time I walked into the house - even my wallet, and I'd be absolutely certain that there is nothing available to him that he could use as a weapon against you or your family. Many of us locked up all of our knives and tools when we had kids like this in our homes. It's crazy, but it's the way that it is.

    By the same standard, you are not obligated to allow him to break the law. It's important that if he breaks the law you are ready to call the police on him. Kicking walls and other such violence is against the law. We had our son arrested for it. I think that in this day and age it is also important that when you call the law you understand that if there are weapons available to your son that you are taking a chance that the police will harm or kill him. If you have locked every possible weapon (screwdrivers, saws, everything) away, you can tell dispatch that there are "no weapons of any kind in the home" when you call, and your son is likely to be safe. It's terrible that we have to say something like that, but we do.

    We had to call the police on our then 16 y/o son when he became violent and struck my husband. This was after more than a dozen years of acting out. He was arrested for and charged with assault - my husband's bloody lip was a good bit of evidence in our favor - and we were within our rights to say we were frightened for our safety and we would not allow him to come home. That was 11 years ago, and the start of a long road for him of sleeping on couches and taking advantage of other people's goodwill. He's doing better now, barely employed but not in trouble. We moved from the West coast to the East coast and he is a grown man with his own life to live. We talk from time to time and we have supplied him with a cell phone. He gets nothing more from us. His college fund was never started because we were busy spending money on therapists and treatments for his behavioral issues.

    If he wants to run away, then he should run away and you should report him as a runaway. That doesn't mean that you have to go looking for him. He needs to deal with the natural consequences of his actions. He will likely be caught shoplifting or smoking pot. We contacted an attorney to better understand not only our obligations but our rights. See if you have him declared an "out of control minor". I think you should do the same if you can, and you need to be sure that you and your wife are on the same page. No more money to him.
  17. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    ONe of the most helpful things about this board, for me, was reading other stories that mirrored my own to a startling degree. For starters..the food in the room so common among our kids! My son used to leave dirty dished stuffed under the couch, or in drawers or closets...sometimes the effort to hide the dishes was clearly more than it would have been to simply take them upstairs to the kitchen. I too, thought my situation unique, my son uniquely damaged/impaired, no one else could understand...but really all our kids have so much in common.

    Their only concern is their own, immediate self gratification.

    They can be surprisingly manipulative...I say surprisingly because we tend to think of them as sadly incompetent, unable to deal in the world..but in the arena of maniuplating their parents, or anyone who has what they want...they are surprsiginly good.

    They are also quite resourceful, and rarely end up on the streets unless, like my son, they choose that (a few others here have had kids choose that too). They sleep with groups of similar others on each others floors, cots, couches, together in tents, under bushes, in cars...wherever.

    Your particularly difficult problem is your son's age.

    Can you call the cops next time he is smoking pot? Won't that get him arrested and out of your house?

    My son walked out when he was 17 1/2, so I didn't have to face this part. IN a lot of states at least in terms of mental health they are independent at 17 (that was true I couldn't have him hospitalized, or make him take his medications, or even get his doctors to talk to me without his permission...) have to live in jail. You must lock up your belongings and your potentially dangerous weapons. Is it possible to lock him into only a part of the house? If not, you need to lock your bedroom and your daughters bedroom. If you are really afrraid of him then maybe she should be sent to live elsewhere for a while if you aren't certain you can keep her safe...which, if he is brinning friends home (that was always my biggest fear), may be the case...

    For a while we only let my son live in the was warm there, we gave him a sleeping bag. I can't remember what he did for a bathroom, but he had to leave the house when we left and couldn't come home till we came home (yes, we changed locks). And he could sleep where it was safe and warm, but he couldn't get into the rest of the house...which let the rest of us sleep. Ugly, but better than sleeping with my eyes open afraid I would wake to find him standing at my bedside (that never happened, but who knew?)

    I am sorry for the trap you are in. You need professional advice.. a lawyer to know what your rights and duties are, a therapist or gropu therapy to find others who are dealing with similar situations. And the days will pass. When he is 18 he has to leave. You, your daughter, your wife, can't be held subject to his bullying and narcissism.

    Keep posting, we are here to listen, empathize, share, and voice our opinions.

    Certainly if he runs away you do not need to go looking for him.
  18. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Stepparentincrisis. You've received really good advice and support from those of us who have walked or are walking in the same shoes as you are. As you said, to know you are not alone is a huge thing for us, it can't be put into words how much that means to all of us here who've been alone on this desolate path for so very long. I am so glad you found us, we will circle our wagons around you and your wife and offer what we can to help you.

    Listen to what everyone is telling you. Many of us have been exactly where you are with younger children still at home while they wreck havoc in our lives and hold us hostage in our own homes. Make a plan of action. Look into restraining orders. Get all your ducks in order and make sure you get A LOT of support because you will need it. This forum is a great source of that. As you continue to tell your story, others will show up and offer their experience as well as their insights or guidance and you will not only find it helpful, but you will begin to understand, as we now do, that what you are going through is not uncommon around here. We are a weary bunch, but we are an extremely helpful group of parents who truly understand what you're up against. It ain't pretty and we know it.

    Hang in there, stay the course, learn those detachment skills, keep posting, we're here.
  19. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    I knew this forum would get better results as far as people with hands on experience dealing with this stuff. As I was reading all these words of wisdom a couple times it occurred to me laws are very different from state to state. Then I wondered you said Gma across the ocean... are you in the USA? Canada? Not that it matters except if we are going to quote stuff as being "the law" we need to know which countries or states rule book to look at.

    I can tell how what I've read applies to my family and if it applies to you use the info to help. I'm in Michigan a 17yo can run away &or deny medical treatment and parents can't force it, but they have to provide shelter, bed, food & clothes till the kid is 18yo. If they are caught on the streets past curfew and not listed as runaway with the police the parents get included on the ticket & court appearance also; so in the room by the week deal one of you adults would have to stay with him during curfew hours. This would also prevent him from using you to provide the after hours party spot for every teen in town. (another legal jackpot waiting to happen).

    The advise to lock up all the weapons is good in theory but when consider Angel was only 9yo when almost broke my neck swinging her body weight from my hair, I shudder to think of the damage a 17yo young man could do to an 8yo girl or his mother with his fists or feet.

    I'm not sure if pot is abundant in my state or our jails are just full but he could be sitting with his bong and anything less then an ounce and they wouldn't take him to jail here; they would confiscate both and write him a ticket for minor in possession of controlled substance then mom gets to haul him to court and probation for the next year (and spend a couple thousand dollars)
    I'm not sure if Angel had blown off probation it would have been on her or me to pay it? it was shoplifting not pot so guess doesn't matter.

    In my state destruction of my property did not get Angel a trip to jail or the psychiatric evaluation I was begging for. She had trashed the house threw TV, computer printer thru window, my oak file cabinet exploded when she threw it across the room then went out window tried to bolt into a 8 lane road with a 50mph speed limit, it was January sub O temperatures and she was barefoot. The police were wading thru about $500 worth of destroyed property when finally got her to come back into the house. Understand these police had been out to my house about once a month dealing with Angel since she was 8yo, they know her mental health history. She was clearly off her rocker and a peace officer can order the psychiatric evaluation but they didn't. Anyway because she was 17yo and said "I don't want to go to the hospital" they pretty much told me "good luck with this and left".

    She started up again about 2 minutes after the police left (not my best parenting moment) but I caught the glass thing she had just thrown at me and splattered it on the wall right next to her head, told her "I'm done playing if police come back tonight it's gonna be to arrest me, cause I brought you into this world and if I'm going to prison I'm gonna take you out" the good news is she voluntarily admited herself to psychiatric hospital the next day. That was her most recent stay and last time police were here (need to stop typing to knock wood now)

    The point I'm trying to make with this long ugly story was in my state 16 & 17 yo's seem to hold all the power, younger kids parents can admit them places against their will, over 18 the parents aren't legally obligated to tolerate it but with a 17yo you are really stuck.

    I hope you are in a place where the law lets parents be parents and have control, if you are forced to let him back under your roof I would have so many rules & lack of perks that he would run away and not want to come back.

    Guess now you understand more of what I was talking about with all choices seeming wrong, I believe the most right thing I did with Angel was threatened to kill her (and that is just so so wrong!) sending prayers out for a peaceful night for all of you.

  20. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    You've received wonderful advice from the wise warrior parents on this board. I echo every word of it. On a practical level, witzend gave sound counsel. See if your local pd has a "community officer" and talk to them. Share your stepson's school & criminal records. You may be able to get an order of protection aka a restraining order against him. In some states, those orders supersede his "right" to be in your home as a resident or minor.

    Good luck to you, keep posting; it helps.